“These Older eShop Titles Paid Our Office Rent” – 3DS And Wii U Devs Discuss The eShop Closure
While many of us appreciate the wide range of games that modern games offer us through download stores, we are regularly reminded that these platforms – and the creations they host – are finite. This came to light recently when Nintendo announced the closing dates for the Wii U and 3DS eShop. While a number of games from this generation are available on Switch or other systems, there are also a number of exclusive and lesser-produced games that will theoretically disappear from the market for good next year.
Much attention has been paid to how players and consumers feel about this, and feelings have run high. However, we decided to reach out to some of the publishers and developers who have had notable releases on these stores to get their opinion on the upcoming closure.
We asked the same set of questions as follows:
- Manfred Luntzner of Shin’en Multimedia – FAST Racing NEO, Art of Balance, Nano Assault Ex, Nano Assault NEO, Fun! Fun! TOUCH mini-golf! and the Art of Balance TOUCH!
- Jules Watsham of Atooi – Mutant Mudds, Bomb Monkey, Xeodrifter, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge, and Chicken Wiggle
- Stuart Ryall of Mojo Bones – Siesta Fiesta
- Martin Pichlmire of Broken Rules – Chasing Aurora
- Dylan Cuthbert of Q-Games – X-Scape, Starship Defense, Trajectile, Art Style: DIGIDRIVE
- Chris Chau of CIRCLE Entertainment – Fairune, Adventure Bar Story, Quell Reflect, Parascientific Escape Cruise in the Distant Seas and more.
Were you notified by Nintendo of the eShop closure prior to the announcement?
Jules Watsham, Atui: No, I do not remember receiving any information about the closure of the online store prior to the public announcement.
Stuart Ryall, Mojo Bones: Yes. Nintendo has always kept in touch with us about any important news related to the developers.
Chris Chau, CIRCLE: I can’t remember if I received a notice, however, I wasn’t surprised that they decided to close the 3DS online store.
Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games: No, we have not received any notice from Nintendo, but they are not required to, as our contract and royalties have expired. (the games are already quite old!)
Manfred Linzner, Shin’en: I can’t answer because I’m not sure!
Did you foresee the closure in advance, or did you think much about when it might happen?
Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games: I think it was predictable that sooner or later it would be closed.
Martin Pichlmayr, Broken Rules: I don’t think I’ve ever actively thought about this development, but I’m not surprised either. This is the logical conclusion of how online stores work at the moment.
Stuart Ryall, Mojo Bones: We considered closing the store (especially due to the launch/success of new equipment), but did not really think about when this might happen.
Of course, it’s sad to see them disappear, on the other hand, each developer can decide whether to put extra work into these games and make them available somewhere else.
Chris Chau, CIRCLE: No, it was not. But I was fully aware that it would eventually happen, as did the DSi store.
Manfred Linzner, Shin’en: We expected this to happen sooner or later, as has happened to WiiWare in the past.
Jules Watsham, Atui: I guess closing the 3DS and Wii U online stores was inevitable at some point, but to be honest, I didn’t think much about it.
How do you feel about the fact that your games are not available for purchase on these platforms?
Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games: I’m saddened by this, of course, but there’s nothing to be done, since the platforms they run on are quite old. I wish people would keep buying and playing these games.
Manfred Linzner, Shin’en: In our case, we will lose 6 games (Fast Racing Neo, Art of Balance Wii U, Nano Assault Ex, Nano Assault Neo, Fun Fun Minigolf Touch and Art of Balance Touch). Of course, it’s sad to see them disappear, on the other hand, each developer can decide whether to put extra work into these games and make them available somewhere else. Whether these old titles will get an audience again is a question that needs to be answered differently for each title. A while back, we decided to create a Switch version of Art of Balance because we felt we really deserved to do another round on the new system.
Jules Watsham, Atui: It’s sad to know that the end of the 3DS and Wii U era is coming to an end in the near future. I always hope they survive. But honestly, from a business standpoint, it makes sense. Sales of our games on the 3DS online store have been very low over the past few years and most people have focused on the Switch. I expect many of the reasons Nintendo will close the 3DS and Wii U online stores is to move their resources to other areas within the company that make them money.
Stuart Ryall, Mojo Bones: Honestly, mixed feelings. In an ideal world – and primarily as gamers – we’d like all platforms/games/hardware to stay alive and fully supported for the foreseeable future: I think most gamers would. But we also need to be honest and realistic about the ultimate nature of digital sales/stores from a business perspective.
Chris Chau, CIRCLE: To be honest, 3DS sales have dropped a lot, revenue is almost zero now, unless we have sales. So for me it’s acceptable.
Will the store closures affect your studio?
Manfred Linzner, Shin’en: Well, of course; naturally. These old online store names have paid the rent of our Shin’en office for 2021. Although I want to point out that our office has not changed since 1999 and is not that big!
Jules Watsham, Atui: Very little impact.
Stuart Ryall, Mojo Bones: Siesta Fiesta was always intended to be exclusive to the 3DS, so it’s more disappointing that the game won’t be available to future players than the big financial implications.
Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games: No, because our agreement has expired.
Chris Chau, CIRCLE: It won’t because we’ve recently adjusted our business model and cut costs so it’s now balanced. For example, COVID had a greater financial impact compared to this.
Have you noticed a change in the number of downloads since the announcement?
Manfred Linzner, Shin’en: Recent sales have shown an increase of around 300% for some of our older games in the online store. So it looks like people are taking risks!
Stuart Ryall, Mojo Bones: It’s not something we’ve appreciated yet.
Jules Watsham, Atui: Yes, there was a small jump in sales. It might have been more if our games weren’t also available on Switch as well as a physical 3DS version called Atooi Collection published by Limited Run Games featuring all five of our 3DS eShop games: Mutant Mudds, Bomb Monkey. , Xeodrifter, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge and Chicken Wiggle.
Chris Chau, CIRCLE: I haven’t seen any changes yet.
Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games: We have not had access to download numbers since the end of the agreement period.
Do you have any thoughts on the save game aspect of these shops closing? if so, how do you think it could have been handled differently?
Manfred Linzner, Shin’en: On the part of the game and the developers, I would like these shops to work forever. On Nintendo’s side, I understand that there may be reasons not to do so. Perhaps this is a chance for publishers like Super Rare Games, Limited Run Games, or Strictly Limited Games to make collections of these games available?
Jules Watsham, Atui: Due to the uniqueness and diversity of Nintendo’s hardware platforms, from the unique Nintendo 64 controller to the dual screens of the DS and 3DS, it will always be difficult to save the Nintendo experience for future enjoyment. I don’t know what the ideal solution is, but I feel it’s important to try and spread this experience. A lot of effort will fall into the hands of developers. We will continue to adapt our games to new platforms so that fans and new players can continue to enjoy them.
Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games: I’m not sure how this could have been handled differently, maybe it would be cool if Nintendo made the games available in some sort of emulated environment on the Switch. Games like X-Scape deserve to be played more often! Starship Defense is also a very small game with many characters and classes.
Martin Pichlmayr, Broken Rules: This is such an interesting problem. On the one hand, I personally am a supporter of the principle of “everything must pass”, which does not pay much attention to the loss of culture over time. Most media don’t age well anyway, and it’s best to forget about it. In addition, we continue to make new, often better things.
At the same time, it is so that we have developed a system (our particular interpretation of digital capitalism) for certain cultural values to have an expiration date. Given their reliance on specific hardware, games are more prone to this than any other media I can think of, with the possible exception of media art and online art. You can still read a 100-year-old book because it doesn’t require much-preserved infrastructure. Thus, we lose some types of culture, while others last much longer. I think architecture and rock paintings will win this race.
Ideally, I’d like to see a world where we can publish the source code of our games to the world, and preservation efforts make it easy to wrap them in emulators, load them onto carefully maintained museum copies of old hardware, and analyze them for later research. . Alas, we cannot do this because we are linking to various kinds of proprietary software.
Ideally, I’d like to see a world where we can publish the source code of our games to the world, and conservation efforts can be easily packaged into emulators.
Stuart Ryall, Mojo Bones: This is a really important discussion. The video game medium is relatively new compared to traditional art, writing, music, and films. We must also consider that our environment is technologically advanced, which makes conservation more of a challenge than other art forms, especially when the technology that drives it is advancing so rapidly. This topic also becomes much more important as we move towards games as a service. Real-time updates are great for keeping games fresh/engaging for players, but once they’re no longer cost-effective to launch or maintain (or a new iteration is released), the audience is always left behind.
Areas such as smartphones/tablets are also challenging as platform owners and manufacturers have the ability to render games/apps useless with every yearly hardware iteration and/or firmware update. At the very least, companies like Nintendo do a great job of providing hardware and software parity whenever new hardware comes out. This is great for developers and gamers alike, and at the very least helps ensure that digital software has an optimal “shelf life”.
Chris Chau, CIRCLE: I think it’s fair to let people download these games again if they want to replay them, sometimes old stuff can be a precious memory for someone.
For me, it reminds me to make a sequel to our 3DS games!
We’d like to thank everyone who participated in this feature by keeping developers and publishers informed about the upcoming store closures. Let us know what you think, as always, in the comments.