At this point all video game platforms have a download service that offers older games at low prices, but when Nintendo announced the Virtual Console in 2006 it was a first for the industry. Even though Microsoft and Sony followed with their own collections of older games, Nintendo’s Virtual Console has always been the platform with the most potential.
Even if Nintendo had never gained access to Sega and other non-Nintendo platforms, the library of games for Nintendo platforms alone outmatches what Microsoft and Sony can offer. Unfortunately, Nintendo has done a terrible job of leveraging their advantage and the Virtual Console is largely stagnant.
After Nintendo launched WiiWare, they seemed to quit supporting the Virtual Console, but with the recent launch of the new Nintendo 3DS eShop it looks like classics games are getting another chance in the spotlight. Unfortunately, there are still a few major problems that need to be addressed before Nintendo’s virtual console has truly shine.
Nintendo needs to ditch the weekly release schedule and do a better job of advertising what is available.
It used to be Monday, but now it is Thursday. Regardless of the day, Nintendo has kept a strict release schedule for all downloadable games. The releases are always accompanied by a press release letting everyone know that new games are available. This whole program needs to go.
Instead, release games whenever. Not necessarily every day, but multiple times in one week so that when I start up my Wii there is something new more often than there is now. Of course, I doubt anyone turns on their Wii expecting to see something new because Nintendo did a very poor job of promoting anything new for the platform.
Nintendo needs to learn from Microsoft and use the console interface to advertise what is available for purchase. I’m not a huge fan of the way my XBOX 360 is constantly showing me advertisements, but browsing through the information they offer has led me to find some great games. Nintendo has chosen to rely on a press release that only the most devoted fans and video game journalists will ever read. If they want people to know about their new games then they need to show them off in a place where players will actually see it: the console itself.
Nintendo needs to maintain one virtual console across all platforms.
When Nintendo announced that the Nintendo 3DS would have a virtual console, the first thing I wanted was to play Super Nintendo games on the platform. The Wii’s virtual console is full of fantastic Super Nintendo classics that I’ve always wanted to take on-the-go. Sadly, that dream was crushed when Nintendo launched a completely separate virtual console made up of only Gameboy games.
The Nintendo 3DS is capable of rendering decent 3D graphics (and in stereoscopic 3D). It also sports the d-pad, four face buttons, and two shoulder buttons present on the Super Nintendo game controller. There is no reason that the majority of games on the Wii’s virtual console could not be played on the Nintendo 3DS.
The only exception may be a few Nintendo 64 titles because the Nintendo 64 controller has two additional face buttons.
Simply put, Nintendo needs to maintain one store with one interface and provide mostly the same content for each.
Nintendo needs to release more worthwhile games, more often.
There are some noticeable gaps in the virtual console lineup, and Nintendo is slow to fill them. The best games seem to be saved for special occasions or for droughts where nothing else is available. Most of the time, the virtual console sees week after week of either no releases or a game few people remember even existed.
In some cases, the same game is available more than once for “two different platforms.” A great example of this is Sonic the Hedgehog. They released both the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis versions. If that wasn’t bad enough, they released Sonic the Hedgehog 2 twice as well.
I’ll give Nintendo some credit: Recently there have been some great releases in a short time period: Megaman X, Chrono Trigger, Megaman 5, and Final Fantasy 3 (6). I’m still waiting to see if they keep this up. I’m afraid that the Nintendo 3DS eShop and the upcoming release of the WiiU are going to steal the spotlight from the existing virtual console.