The Video Game History Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving various aspects of video game history, on Thursday accused Nintendo of “actively destructive” behavior in video game history and called the company improve access to its legacy library. The statement comes two days after the developer announced it would shut down the 3DS and Wii U digital stores in March 2023.
An analysis by VGC estimated that the impending store closures will force up to 1,000 digital-only titles to no longer be accessible through official means. Although the foundation sympathized with Nintendo’s business reasons for closing stores, it criticized the company for not providing a legal way to play these soon-to-be-lost games. “What we don’t understand is the path Nintendo expects its fans to play should they wish to play these games in the future,” the foundation wrote.
The nonprofit went on to say that Nintendo “actively funds lobbying” aimed at preventing legitimate institutions, such as libraries, from providing access to its older titles. “Prevent institutional work to preserve these titles in addition to [shutting down its digital shops] is actively destructive to video game history,” the foundation said. “We encourage […] nintendo at […] work with existing institutions to find a solution.
Following the announcement of store closures, Nintendo briefly touched on the topic of preservation in a now-deleted Q&A segment that firmly communicated that the company would not be offering classic content in any other way beyond NES, SNES and N64 libraries included in its Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions. Fans and industry professionals alike weren’t too happy with this answer, which likely prompted Nintendo to remove the segment from their Q&A altogether. However, Video Game History Foundation co-director Frank Cifaldi captured the controversial statement and shared it on Twitter for posterity.
Nintendo has a knack for not bringing many of its classic titles to modern systems. Because the price of legacy games and consoles have skyrocketed due to a cash-hungry resale market, playing a classic game like Super Smash Bros. original on a real Nintendo 64 can cost you several hundred dollars if you buy from a retailer; there is no official way to purchase legacy consoles or original copies of old Nintendo games.
Naturally, this high cost has driven many to use emulators to play Nintendo game ROMs. Although this method is free and much more accessible to a mass audience, it exists in a legal gray area and could be considered hacking. Because of this, Nintendo has a history of taking legal action against ROM hosting sites.
Conservatives have often expressed concern over Nintendo’s seemingly strong desire to suppress ROM hosting websites, while offering no official ways to play its games that would be lost over time if not for such Site (s.