Nintendo: Quality the best deterrent against used games

Reggie Fils-Aime says re-sale is a bigger problem for generic products and annualised sequels

Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime has pointed to game quality as the single best deterrent against the used game market.

Speaking to Polygon, Nintendo's North American president explained that the re-sale of games has the biggest impact on games made with less emphasis on originality: specifically, annualised sequels and "undifferentiated" genre fare.

Nintendo is protected against players monetising its products through the second-hand market because, "the replayability of our content is super strong."

"The consumer wants to keep playing Mario Kart. The consumer want to keep playing New Super Mario Bros. They want to keep playing Pikmin," Fils-Aime said. "So we see that the trade-in frequency on Nintendo content is much less than the industry average - much, much less.

"So for us, we have been able to step back and say that we are not taking any technological means to impact trade-in and we are confident that if we build great content, then the consumer will not want to trade in our games."

At present, the role that the used game market will play on the Xbox One and PlayStation 3 remains unclear. Microsoft and Sony have different policies regarding game sharing, though both are allowing publishers to place their own restrictions regarding the re-sale of their games.

However, Fils-Aime is optimistic about the future for consumers.

"The fact of the matter is, we will see what happens with publishers," he said, "but it seems to me that every major publisher has come and said we don't mind used games."

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Latest comments (19)

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Well... that and if you hoarded a sealed copy of Earthbound back in the day, you'd get upwards of a grand on eBay today if you resold it... so, er... oh, never mind...
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Teut Weidemann Consultant Online Games, Ubisoft Germany4 years ago
Thats a wrong approach. good games are lend most. Bad games are sitting on the shelf even on rental places.

The inherit problem is the price. Users who got burned once for $60 and a bad game won't buy another one blind anymore. So to try it they lend it from someone - and here comes the problem: if your game is short he will finish it and won't buy it.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
@ Teut

I totally agree with you, up to this point:
if your game is short he will finish it and won't buy it.
Games can be more than something to just complete. As an example, back in the day I rented Yoshi's Island on the SNES. I completed it in a couple of days. Then I went out and bought it (second-hand, admittedly, but still...), because it was so good a game that I knew I'd play it over and over again.
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Show all comments (19)
Jason Avent VP, Studio Head, NaturalMotion4 years ago
There are plenty of great multiplayer games on PS3 and 360 that people play for years that it make's Reggie's point seem frivolous and insular.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
As an old fart who finds this sort of debate amusing, I'll offer this: length really does NOT matter in games at all if you're old enough to remember or have actually played enough of them to realize it's a combination of learning curves and appreciating what a developer has done MORE than how fast you blew through their game.

I think MANY of today's players fail to realizes that MODERATION helps extend a game's lifespan particularly if there's no clock ticking away. NO one asked you to sit there for eight hours or less and last through on one of five difficulties, missing some stuff because you were so hooked in and liking the game that, like a pint of ice cream, you were upset it's all done.

Hell, I can think of a few dozen Atari 2600 games that would be considered jokes today for a few reasons that were replayed endlessly because they were FUN. On the other hand, timed games like, Gauntlet get the adrenaline pumping and you want to play it and again just to see how far you can get on that credit. Er, unless you have one of the home ports and just tap out unlmited credits, of course...

That said, I think price should be partially based on certain genres (e.g., BIG open world games should cost more than quickie licensed games, which seem to have gone to tablets and mobile anyway based on the last few I've seen)...

That and you know all those speedrun vids on YouTube? Other than that rare genius player with the reflexes of a freshly born guardian angel, who gets THAT good at playing a game ONCE and shifting it back to the store. Other than Morville, that is... =^P

I think ONE of the problems is some gamers who don't grasp that not EVERY game needs to e a "perfect" length as NONE of them if asked can ever come up with a number that another gamer will agree with ALL of the time. five hours? Too short! Twenty hours? Too long! Of course, hand that five hour game to an unskilled player and he or she's got it for a good week and that twenty hour game lasts a month plus...

It's perspective at the end of the day. Try lending a game you finished quickly to someone who's not so good and watch - it actually helps understand this a little more...
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Other than Morville, that is

I used to be so good at so many games... reflexes of a ninja-cat. Not anymore. :(
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University4 years ago
I'd agree completely with what Reggie is saying. Which is bizarre, as usually I think he's a front for vapid marketing speak, but hey, everyone has a good day every now and again.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.4 years ago
Exactly, John.

Go tot he bargain bins and count the volume of Nintendo games compared to other publishers. It's a very small slice compared to the actual sales volume respectively. Why do so many gamers hang on to their Nintendo games? Reggie just answered it: quality. When you buy a Nintendo game, you know you're likely going to be playing it again years after it launched. That's just not always the case with other games where you beat it once and then it becomes a cost reduction device for your next purchase.

With many games the moment you complete them you don't think, 'I wonder when I'll play this again?" think, "I wonder how much I can get as a trade in?"

And to be fair, even many great games find themselves in the above scenario anyway. It's just a different culture with Nintendo games.
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Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions4 years ago
He's right..
I actually cant remember the last time i traded in a nintendo game. Even though i never owned a wii or wii u I've passed on my older nintendo and handheld consoles to my nephew rather than trade them in.

Heck the pokemon games are a perfect example. Every release they make ridiculous sales and you rarely see trade ins.

I have alot of respect for nintendo right now, theyre doing their own thing and even though the industry as a whole is telling them their wrong and could be doing better if they did X theyre sticking to their principles.
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Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions4 years ago
Also nintendo seem to be great at creating games you form an attachment to. The experience seems personal even when shared..

for example
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee4 years ago
Bought Smash Bros. Melee, bought Mario Kart Double Dash, bought Wave Race Blue Storm all on the Gamecube and played them for 7 years... That said, I bought none of them new back then. A bargain plus great games I played for a long time into the future.

I bought Metroid Prime brand new, loved it. Still sold the game eventually when I felt a sense of obsolescence in using the system and playing the game.

Quality can definitely make people hang onto old games for a longer period of time, in my opinion. There may be a bit of evidence to support that but still, I don't really think anything is going to stop people wanting to buy and sell used games with such an ocean of software and a desire to 'transfer the value' of these products in order to get more, or save money.

Like new cars and used cars, I stand by my belief that they should remain a parts of the normal market, and there continue to be many ways publishers can make money from their games, through new sales or other business models. Why has no-one done this with movies or standard audio CDs? I wonder... To me restricting used games or even bemoaning them is silly.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 4 years ago
This is actually a very good point I really never even thought of or noticed. I replay more Nintendo games then any other companies games. It's really almost impossible to get bored of Super smash brothers, Mario Kart, and Mario Party. They are always fun no matter how many times you play it. It always feels like a new experience.

It even works this way for me with older games. I don't find myself going back to play playstaion 1 or 2 games. I tend to go back playing SNES, Nintendo 64 or Gamecube games. I am a huge fan of SEGA, but I don't really go back to playing genesis games other then for Sonic.

However, this isn't just the case for Nintrendo. i have experienced this with other games such as Skyrim. Nintendo does have the most though.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
OMG. Staggering arrogance.
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Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions4 years ago
@Paul I wouldnt say its arrogance so much as totally justifiable pride.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
They need to come around my house then. I have a Wii U, a game that got played once and two more still in shrinkwrap. £100 to collector.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.4 years ago
Paul, go work at a Gamestop or other video game store for one week.

Compare the sales volume of retail Nintendo published titles with the volume of Nintendo published trade in titles. The ratio is always greater than any other publisher.

That's not arrogance, that's fact. And that means there must be a reason for that fact.
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Jason Avent VP, Studio Head, NaturalMotion4 years ago
Could it be that Nintendo consumers (especially of Wii) don't realise or care that they can trade in their games? PS3 and 360 owners are older, more sophisticated and aren't led by their parents. The vast hordes of households with only a Wii to play on probably feature younger and more casual players. I realise Nintendo still have many fans who love their games from the SNES and N64 era but the vast majority of Wii players are new to the hobby and very different from their late-teen and early twenties+ PS3/360 players.

Before Wii, people didn't trade games in so much I'd say. It's really this generation where in-store trade-ins have really taken off.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 4 years ago
Honestly i have to agree with Reggies statements. Till this day I play old classic Nintendo games. In fact I still seek them out and try to collect as many as I can. I replay them over and over again. I still play Nes and SNES era games, 1080 Avalanche is still an awsome snowboarding game, starfox 64 is also fun. It never tires, it never gets old.

You can focus on making a game that is timeless, or make a yearly iteration of a game, with the current game simply being an inferior game to the game the will come after it.

But nintendo carves every game without considering a sequel. Each game is designed to be its own thing.
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Yvonne Neuland Studying Game Development, Full Sail University4 years ago
Replayability is genre dependent. Video games started out with arcade style content that was intended to to have endless replayability because most consumers played them in arcades. Replayability meant more quarters inserted. As home console platforms became ubiquitous and people no longer were inserting quarters into machines to play them, genres with less emphasis on replayability became popular. Narrative heavy games that tell a story have much lower replayability than platformers or arcade games.

They are more like books. There are not many books that have "replayability", because generally once you know the end of the story it isn't interesting anymore. There are those rare books that you finish and will want to read again, and there are those rare narrative focused games you will want to play again, but in general, when you know the end you are done with them. They lose their value to the consumer at thus point, and trading them in for new ones is the only remaining value.

The article makes a good point, but I don't think that you can simply focus on length, or game mechanics, or even quality, to solely determine whether or not a game is going to be one that gets resold a lot. You have to evaluate individual games based on all of these qualities, but also on their individual characteristics and content.
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