Nintendo: Devs concerned over used sales should make better games

Reggie Fils-Aime says consumers won't trade in great games, claims Nintendo has trade-in rate lower than much of the industry.

599 Comments

Developers concerned about the implications of used-game sales should make their games compelling enough so that consumers will not trade them in. That's according to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, who told Polygon that Nintendo embodies this strategy and has one of the lowest trade-in percentages in the business as a result.

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"We have been very clear. We understand that used games are a way for some consumers to monetize their games. They will buy a game, play it, bring it back to their retailer to get credit for their next purchase," Fils-Aime said. "Certainly, that impacts games that are annualized and candidly also impacts games that are maybe undifferentiated much more than [it] impacts Nintendo content. Why is that? Because the replayability of our content is super strong."

"The consumer wants to keep playing Mario Kart. The consumer wants to keep playing New Super Mario Bros. They want to keep playing Pikmin," he added. "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."

Nintendo is not the only major game maker to have such a philosophy on used games. Grand Theft Auto parent publisher Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick said last month that the company's stance is not to "whine" about missing out on revenue, but rather to focus on creating compelling experiences so gamers do not trade their titles in.

"Our view about used games has been, as opposed to whining or figuring out ways to punish the consumer for buying used games, we've figured out we better delight the consumer," Zelnick said at the time.

Used games have been a much-discussed industry topic with next-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony heading to market later this year.

The Xbox One supports used games as a platform, though decisions about allowing secondhand titles will be left up to publishers. Sony's PlayStation 4, on the other hand, will not feature any "gating restrictions" at all for software.

Similarly, Wii U owners can freely trade in titles without any restrictions.

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Avatar image for G4mBi7
G4mBi7

Reading this make me reflect on the past; I have all 3 current gen consoles and i NEVER once traded in a Nintendo game, I have sold off CoDs and other games but Mario Kart and Super Mario Bros still covet my shelf :D


Good guy Nintendo! :D +1

Avatar image for Snaptrap
Snaptrap

If I ever did buy a console it would be a Wii U. I already have a high end PC for anything that the PS4 or Xbone can offer.

Avatar image for mjswooosh
mjswooosh

I was already planning on buying a Wii U once they have a price-drop, but they may have just convinced me to buy one this holiday season as a 2nd system (2 PS4s pre-ordered) regardless.... Still, I think what Nintendo needs to do is drop the Wii U 32GB SKU to a sweet spot $249, drop the Wii U 8GB SKU to $199 (or eliminate it), and offer some Zelda/Mario bundles at $299 and they will rack up some sales this X-Mas. Rumor has it MS is going to have yield problems (their pre-order slots at Gamestop/Amazon are 1:3 vs. PS4), so Nintendo should be able to cash in on this if they are smart and recognize the Wii U needs to be at a lower price point.

Avatar image for sicpirate
sicpirate

I hope Reggie isn't delusional enough to believe that a Mario game is a better product than Last of Us or any Halo game because it's trade in rate is lower.

Avatar image for GladChimer
GladChimer

@sicpirate You seem to be delusional enough to believe you could objectively justify that a game like Last of Us is better than a game like Mario. Let me rock your world by telling you that me and a huge amount of other players would enjoy a light-hearted, fun game like Super Mario Galaxy over an intense, chilling and stressful experience like The Last of Us, while other players like you seem to despise games that are not getting you stressed and enjoy those that put them in tense situation.

What point are you trying to make?

Avatar image for mjswooosh
mjswooosh

@sicpirate Games like Last of Us and Halo are amazing, short-term single-player experiences and sometimes have lasting Multiplayer appeal. But, there can be no arguing that the flagship Nintendo games have much better long term replayability than just about anything on the MS/Sony consoles. There is a legitimate reason why Nintendo games are traded in FAR less than other console games, and it is because of this long term value that other consoles can't replicate.

Avatar image for Jurakk
Jurakk

@sicpirate
Mario Game = Basket Ball
Last of Us = Iphone

While an IPhone is undeniable a "better" product than a Basket Ball, if you are carefull enough, you can have fun with the ball forever. While every year you urge to sell your old iphone and buy a new one.

Avatar image for tim1935
tim1935

I love the title of this article! Awesome!

Avatar image for GTA-Like_Fan
GTA-Like_Fan

MS just want to apply 1984 bs on video gaming, I'm surprised they didnt called Sony and Nintendo "terrorists" for not inforcing it too.

Avatar image for WantYouBad
WantYouBad

Well, I still have all my Mario and Zelda games. I <3 Nintendo.

Avatar image for toyo75
toyo75

One you get to play a great game, you'll most likely not let go of it.

Even if you're not playing it anymore the nostalgia it gives you just by looking at the game's box art or DVD casing, or browsing the game's manual, is enough for you to hang on to it.

Avatar image for Monsta1217
Monsta1217

Already Pre-Ordered my PS4 & ordered my PC components can't wait to get my hands on a Wii U Reggie you made my day, tell this to Cliffy B

Avatar image for so_hai
so_hai

It takes the American Hollywood philosophy of deal-making to annualize games. If you were a developer, would you put all of your best ideas in a single game if you knew you had to immediately start on next year's release?

The Japanese approach is different it seems to me. We COULD be up to Pikmin 6 or 7, Metroid 8 or 9, Zelda DLCs etc etc., but they don't take that approach.

Avatar image for rocketsatdawn
rocketsatdawn

That's pretty true. I still own PS1 disks and some seriously ancient PC games. I just cannot part with then. I wont be selling twilight princess, Skyrim or Xcom: enemy unknown any time soon either. This blocking used games stuff is just complete bullshit. It's a lazy way of grabbing more money off consumers. If they don't want us to sell our games, they should make them good enough that we want to keep them and bring out worthwhile DLC that doesn't hasn't removed anything from the game but builds on something that is already an awesome experience.

Avatar image for TheProphecies05
TheProphecies05

I think we should let the whole "Nintendo" is for children thing die. Most older people I know were raised around Nintendo. They love it for nostalgia.. or whatever reason.. They are also PC gamers. Now.. most kids I know... look at the Wii U.. and all the past games and say "That #($* is stupid, lets play CoD". I promise you.. there are way more kids playing 1st person shooters than there are playing Nintendo games. By a landslide. Older gamers just like the idea of discovery, fun factor and repeatability. This current generation of new gamers are built around a "drone" method.. rinse.. repeat.. rinse repeat.. Thats why you see a lot of repetition in gaming these days. Older people move on in life while a percentage still play video games.. and that generation is dieing out. What is left is the Repetition Gamer.

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TheProphecies05

typo - Repeatability---) Re-playability

Avatar image for Vodoo
Vodoo

Mr. Fils-Aime is leaving out a lot of pertinent info, as usual.There's a few reasons why people don't trade Nintendo games in as much as Sony or Microsoft. Most of Nintendos' user base are children whose parents buy them their games. For parents, used games are good to buy, but would never take away their kids games to trade in. Secondly, Nintendo has the lowest game-attach rate of all 3 consoles. This again goes back to most of Nintendos users being children. They don't have the disposable income to buy their own games, instead having to rely on their parents.

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WantYouBad

@Vodoo I love Nintendo and am 23. I have a shyguy keychain on my car keys.

Avatar image for YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@Vodoo Dude, what? Kids are MOST likely to trade their games in, because they get less money toward new games.

Avatar image for RoachRush
RoachRush

@Vodoo You've got to be kidding. I'm 27 and have traded in my fair share of PS3 and 360 games, but I will flip off anyone that comes near my copy of Twilight Princess. Yes, I STILL play it, because it's THAT good.

Avatar image for GSJones1994
GSJones1994

@Vodoo Most of Nintendo's users are not children. Where are you getting this from? I think most of Microsoft's users are children, since they are too busy playing Call of Duty on Xbox Live.

Avatar image for J_Dangerously
J_Dangerously

@Vodoo Very presumptuous. I have friends and family in their 30's who grew up with Nintendo, and still buy the hardware just for all the classic Nintendo IPs. Zelda in particular resonates across multiple generations in my family.

Avatar image for ziqi92
ziqi92

@Vodoo How in the world are most of Nintendo's user base kids? I don't know about you, but a lot of us that did grow up with Nintendo still play their games to this day. Furthermore, simply because Nintendo targets the younger demographic doesn't mean the user base IS that demographic. Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many annoying 12-year olds on XBL.

By all means, prove me wrong by citing your sources.

Avatar image for gamer6130
gamer6130

and that's why i respect Nintendo that does make sense , and i have to admit their games are compelling, i mean seriuosly i cant get enough of this monster hunter on the 3ds great game. most developers should focus on replayability the point is so we keep playing their games.

Avatar image for burgo81
burgo81

when you tweek the numbers of course you get that conclusion, but nintendo have fewer game sales, and people who have xbox and ps games trade in old games to purchase new games it is as simple as that. also fanboys hold onto mario kart, smash bros and super mario bros because that is there favorite games over every generation of nintendo consoles

Avatar image for Mugzippit
Mugzippit

@burgo81 Nintendo has fewer game sales then who?

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Vodoo

@Mugzippit @burgo81 Both Microsoft & Sony. Nintendo has the lowest game-attach rate of the 3.

Avatar image for GSJones1994
GSJones1994

@Vodoo Another case of a Sony fanboy spewing lies around just to try and get a point across.

Avatar image for Mugzippit
Mugzippit

@Vodoo @Mugzippit @burgo81 Nintendo's 7th gen as of March 2013 (Wii and DS, not 3DS) has over 1.8 billion games sold, that's nearly 3 times the PS3's 595 million games sold (although that figure was given from Sony in March 2012 so it's a year out of date). I can't find any reliable xbox 360 sales figures but there were articles about how the PS3 overtook the 360 recently so I'd place it somewhere below the PS3 sales figures.

Avatar image for r1g0
r1g0

@GSJones1994 @Vodoo @Mugzippit @burgo81 Mario Kart for wii has more than 33 millions sells and the entire god of war franchise (God of War, God of War II, Betrayal, chains of olympus, God of war III, Ghost of sparta, Ascension, including the collections) have less than 22 millions... so Nintendo sells a lot.

Avatar image for GSJones1994
GSJones1994

@Vodoo @Mugzippit @burgo81 You have NO DATA to back up your claims. Where is your data?

Avatar image for ziqi92
ziqi92

@Vodoo @Mugzippit @burgo81 Sorry, but how does Nintendo have the least game sales of the big 3? Are you telling me that Pokemon, Mario, and Zelda, and Smash Bros. don't sell several millions of copies for every release? If you combine all third-party sales, I can see that...

Avatar image for CraigNinten
CraigNinten

Games with most replayability: Super smash bros, mario karts, GTA series and competitive multiplayer titles like battlefield series, racing games and FIFA series.

Games with lesser replayability: Games focus on cinematic cutscene like Unch***ed series, God of *** series, most story centred JRPG, puzzle titles.

Avatar image for bumblebug
bumblebug

Such a simple point and so true. I never trade in or sell my really good games.

Avatar image for macca366
macca366

Got to respect that, brings a smile to my face.

Loved hearing the Insomniac guy in the Killzone stage demo talk about it too, something like "I think when a gamer buys their disc they can do whatever they want with it", totally unconcerned about used games.

Its so nice and fresh to hear, I'm so used to hearing companies pushing online passes, DRM, DLC to nickel and dime people... Its nice to hear people not thinking oppressively and anti-consumer

Avatar image for Bahamagamer
Bahamagamer

I think it's more that many Nintendo first party games can be replayed without getting too boring. Mario akrt, Mario Party, Super Smash Brothers. These are games you can play for years without really getting bored.

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Psycho_Hands

Reggie, can you tell this to Cliff B so he can stfu.

Avatar image for MagneticFusion
MagneticFusion

I'm getting a PS4, but you're a badass, Reggie. I hope the Wii-U picks up for you guys... :)

LOL