Value and worth

After years of clamoring, demands, pleas, and general collective covetousness, Nintendo finally released EarthBound on the Wii U Virtual Console today. For the first time in more than 15 years, we actually have the opportunity to buy one of the most beloved cult favorite role-playing games ever.


Curiously, this made many people very angry.

Specifically, a remarkable number of people were angry that Nintendo priced the game at $9.99 instead of, say, 99 cents. My initial response was just to shrug and say, well, that’s the Internet, but for whatever reason a number of people came to me to report Nintendo’s grievous offense. I really don’t know why, or what reaction they expected. I don’t believe I’ve ever presented myself as one to get involved in consumer advocacy or grassroots campaigns, and I deliberately go out of my way not to review games in terms of their pricing. Did they expect me to take up my pitchfork and go storm Nintendo’s castle gates? To shake my fist at the tyranny of their cruel pricing? I really don’t know.

Frankly, the growing mindset that games are intrinsically worthless infuriates me. It’s so counter-productive. People refuse to pay money for games, then turn around and lament long and loud about how no one makes the games they want to play anymore. There’s a reason for this, and if you are one of those people, the reason you don’t get the games you love anymore is that you expect the games you want to play to sport a fire-sale price. Thus the people who make those games don’t earn any money from them. “Well,” they decide, based on their sagging bottom line, “no one wants these games, so they’re bad business. Better give up and just chase Call of Duty or churn out more vile free-to-play iOS games that nag players to spend money every few minutes.”

Now, EarthBound is 18 years old, and it’s a digital release on Wii U that costs very little distribute. To which I say: So? As I mentioned before, age does not make a game valueless. Certainly EarthBound isn’t without value, given how loudly people have been begging for it all these years. I bought the game for $150 a while ago and sold it a few years later for $220 when times were tough, and the price on eBay has only gone up since then. I’m freaking ecstatic that I can own it again for only $10; honestly, I expected Nintendo to charge $20.

See, our market is based on a principle called “capitalism.” The most basic tenet of capitalism is that a commodity is worth what people will pay for it. Nintendo apparently determined that people are willing to pay $10 for EarthBound. Clearly not everyone is willing to pay that much for the game, hence the upset queries and message board posts; but it would seem that whoever counts the beans over there decided that they wouldn’t sell 10 times as many copies of the game at 99 cents as at $9.99, so it was better business for them to sell it at the higher price. Makes sense to me.

Would I have preferred it to have been priced for less? Sure, I’m always happy to get a better price on things. Do I resent the price point they settled on? Not really. It certainly beats shelling out the current market price for the cartridge. I’m not beholden to physical objects, but just because I can’t hold a product in my hands doesn’t mean it’s worth nothing. I am not a wealthy man by any means, and I have a limited gaming budget, but I am always happy to pay a fair price for a download of a classic game provided it’s presented well. Nintendo’s Virtual Console services have their problems, but they universally offer a better and more faithful gaming experience than a simple emulator and ROM. To me, that’s worth paying a bit.

But hey, different strokes for different folks. I don’t spend a lot on games these days — just the ones I know I’ll have time for, which isn’t that many — but I realize others don’t have even that much of a budget. This is why I never review games based on price: Money is not an absolute. Sixty bucks for a single person who pulls down $80K a year means a lot less than it does to someone who has a family of four and struggles to earn half that. After some of the tough times I’ve been through over the past five years, I’m sympathetic to the latter viewpoint, believe me.

But I also recognize the business reality of games… and that one of the reasons we didn’t get EarthBound‘s sequel is because hardly anyone bought the game the first time around. I don’t have a lot to spend on games, but what I do have I devote to the games I want to thrive. And if something costs more than I can stomach to pay, I wait until the price comes down. I’m happy to pay $10 for EarthBound, because it’s a long-awaited classic and there’s no other legitimate way to acquire it for even close to such a modest sum. $10 seems totally fair to me. If you don’t agree, that’s fine — wait buy it when it hits a price you find more manageable. Nintendo offers eShop sales and Club Nintendo bonuses regularly enough that you’ll be able to get the game for less eventually. Or just don’t buy it at all. The world will go on turning if you don’t play EarthBound.

But man, don’t ever buy into the mindset that games aren’t worth anything. Unless you actually secretly hate them and want the medium to be terrible, in which case… well, keep on keepin’ on.

49 thoughts on “Value and worth

  1. Thank you!

    A podcast I recently was listening to devolved into people bickering over whether or not SMTIV was worth $50. They ignored the actual gameplay and talked only about the price. Meanwhile, they are willing to drop $60 on a CoD game.

    I get the money proposition, I do. I make very little money as is in my current job, and that means I am very careful about what I do/do not buy… but, if a game is worth it to me, I’ll buy it. Not every game everytime, but the ones that jump out at me.

    It wasn’t that long ago that I remember walking into a Blockbuster down the street from my college dorm and seeing used Gamecube and PS2 games for $20 and thinking, “hmm… ok”. If (almost) any used game hit $9.99 it was an instabuy. And now people are complaining that a game some people consider one of the greats costs in 2013 what I paid in 2004 for the GCN port of Star Wars: Bounty Hunter…

    Sigh… :: steps off soapbox ::

    • I’m a little irritated by how they’re basically forcing the deluxe edition on us. Now, you might say that all that junk is free, and that the game would cost $50 anyway (I think Resident Evil was also $50?), but that sets a bad precedent. One of the good things about game pricing is that the industry has fairly regular pricing schemes, and if pubs start charging more because they feel their own game is that much more premium (or rather, because they can get away with it), then you see the market like Japan, where game prices vary wildly, and niche games (i.e. otaku demographics) can cost as much as $90.

      I’ll buy the game, sure, and I know it will be worth it. Yes, this is how capitalism works, but when the industry sets a fairly standard price ($40) for a game, then it really stands out when a publisher deems their game somehow more valuable than others. Frankly, it’s pretty arrogant.

      And if we are paying for that bonus content – then I would have much preferred separate SKUs. That’s precisely the kind of junk I hate cluttering my space, and it will most likely be trashed as soon as I get it. (I’d go digital if it was anyone but Nintendo.)

      As for Earthbound, I don’t see what the fuss is. SNES games are normally priced at $7.99, no? I guess RPGs are considered to be roughly 25% more valuable than other games, seeing as that’s pretty common. I imagine most people who want to play this game have already done so – either through expensive hard copies or straight up emulation.

      • Bigger games (RPGs) take up bigger carts, which cost more money.

        And digital versions can’t cost less because then retailers get pissed off they’re being undercut by the first party store.

        It has nothing to do with arrogance about how much their games are worth.

      • Yep. I believe SMT IV is the biggest 3DS cart to date, even larger than Monster Hunter III (which is a goddanged console game). The mandatory “deluxe package” is basically just a way to soften the blow for early adopters that the cart had to be more expensive than average.

      • In this case, you’re probably right, regarding the bigger cart. But it just brings to mind the “Square Enix tax” that they impose even on their older games. Just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

        And digital versions can and do cost less. Recently I saw the digital version of Vita’s Muramasa for $36 – or 10% less than the retail. That seems pretty reasonable to me. Of course, when the retail version drops to $25, the digital copy will still be the same price… that’s one of the problems I have with the digital marketplace – it rarely reflects the actual marketplace simply because it doesn’t have to.

        I can’t complain too much about SMTIV. I’m excited to play it, sure, and I’d gladly pay $50 for it – but I just don’t have the time right now, and I’ve finally learned the power of restraining myself from adding even more to my backlog. My new rule: I don’t buy a game unless I have time to play it. So by the time I do get around to buying it, it will probably be cheaper anyhow…

        Still, like I said, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I have no problem with a flexible pricing scheme, as long as it goes both ways – that is, if we’re going to see more premium games (because of development/production costs), then we need to see more budget-priced games.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. The only pricing I get upset with is when digital copies of new releases cost more than the retail game. I’m not sure if that happens in the US, but here in Australia it happens fairly frequently — Fire Emblem cost an extra $5, for example.

    Funny thing is, Nintendo could’ve charged $50 for it and the download numbers wouldn’t be all that different, because honestly, who owns a Wii U that isn’t a Nintendo enthusiast? Obviously I prefer the price to be as low as possible, but the idea that all old games should cost below X amount is absurd.

    • Huh, that is kind of dumb. I get why digital versions have to cost the same as retail (retailers get pissed when they’re being undercut), but charging more for a digital release makes no sense.

      • I think it’s because some of the bigger electronics stores can afford to sell games below their RRP because of their buying power, often undercutting the dedicated game stores (who attempt to get around it by price-matching, but only when you can prove it’s cheaper elsewhere). I guess Nintendo don’t want to piss off the likes of EB Games, just because JB Hi Fi are selling it cheaper.

  3. I wasn’t aware that this was a thing people were upset about until I read your post, and while I don’t want to belittle the importance of money and pricing, being upset by a $9.99 price tag seems like a completely insane position to take. I don’t have a WiiU, but most SNES VC titles on the Wii were $8, and since the Earthbound re-release has support for viewing the digitized Player’s Guide on the gamepad, the pricing seems right in line with what Nintendo’s been charging for years now.

    Also, as much as I disagree with a lot of Nintendo’s business decisions, their VC prices have always struck me as a good thing. The glut of cheap (often crappy) phone and tablet games has given (some) people the idea that any game that isn’t a full-on retail release for consoles ought to be $1. While older games and re-releases clearly shouldn’t be the same price as a brand new product, the idea that old games ought to be practically free has the negative effect of devaluing games as a cheap, disposable commodity. Nintendo has every reason to push back against that trend, and yet they’re not charging an arm and a leg for their product either, unlike say Square-Enix, whose mobile releases are so far from the average pricing models as to seem out-of-touch with reality itself.

    This is not say to those upset by Earthbound’s price, “hey, be glad they’re not charging more,” because that’s always a bad argument. Rather, they ought to be glad that Nintendo is willing to stand up and say, “hey, our games (and by extension, games as a medium) have value and are worth paying more than a dollar or two for”.

  4. If you were one of those guys who complained about Earthbound not being in Nintendo’s eShop for the last five years, you’re damned right you better not complain about the price. Ten dollars is slightly upscale for a Virtual Console title, but it’s lower than what Microsoft charges for many of its Xbox Live Arcade games, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the physical cartridge.

    A more legitimate beef is that the game is only available for the Wii U, as opposed to the more popular Wii or 3DS. I’m not sure if the 3DS has the spec to properly handle Super NES games, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if someone has already hacked a Virtual Console channel to run Earthbound on the Wii. Even if that hasn’t happened, there’s got to be a homebrew Super NES emulator for the system that can handle it.

    • Which is exactly why Nintendo no longer bothers with Wii VC. That service has expired, and piracy hastened its demise.

      • Which strikes me as a pretty unfortunate way of looking at the world.

        I’d have been happy to pay $10 for Earthbound on the Wii. I’m not going to pay $10 for it on the Wii U, because I do not own a Wii U.

        I’m disappointed that Nintendo isn’t releasing “new” games on Wii VC; obviously Nintendo doesn’t see that as worth the cost, and that’s a shame.

        But I’d say it’s a sign that the Wii as a platform has been abandoned more than an issue of piracy. Among other things, pirating VC games looks to be a pretty big hassle. (Whereas just playing them on a PC has been pretty trivially simple for about 15 years now.)

        I’ve modded my Wii to run games off a hard drive — not for piracy but because my optical drive stopped working and my attempts to fix it failed. It was a hassle but I admit that getting it to work was rewarding and gave me a sense of accomplishment. (I AM disappointed that I haven’t been able to get it to play GameCube games — but if push comes to shove, I’ve still got my GameCube in a closet around here somewhere.) From everything I’ve read, it’s a bigger hassle to get VC games to work — though, yes, trivial to set up third-party emulators.

        I DID put a Virtual Boy emulator on there so I could play some Wario Land, the only good Virtual Boy game. And I WILL say that it’s the first Virtual Boy emulator I’ve ever used on any system that actually worked.

        Guess I’m rambling and not particularly making any kind of point. I’d pay $10 for Earthbound if it were available for that price on a thing that I owned. I understand some people don’t like that price point; I’m hoping Nintendo made the right call and will turn enough of a profit from it that it encourages them to release more beloved-but-obscure games. And maybe I’ll eventually buy systems that will play them. Though I’ve still got plenty of games on last-gen Nintendo systems that I haven’t gotten around to finishing, so I’m not in any hurry, either. (Just got through another JRPG that Nintendo only released in America after begging and pleading from a vocal contingent of enthusiasts — The Last Story. And yeah, I bought it, new and at full price, even if the version I was actually playing was from a torrent and running off a hard drive.)

  5. I don’t even mind that it’s priced $2 more. If I had a Wii U, I would buy Earthbound in a heartbeat. Yeah, if I had a Wii U…Sometimes, I wish Nintendo was as open to cross compatibility releases as Sony is. =(

    Still, it’s not like it’s the first Virtual Console game Nintendo’s charged a premium for. Import titles on Wii Virtual Console regularly went for a buck or two more, and the GBC Zeldas cost a buck more than most 3DS VC releases.

    Given the game’s rarity and popularity on the aftermarket, and how people wouldn’t shut up about it, I don’t blame Nintendo for wanting people to put their money where their mouth is. $10 is more than $8, but it’s still way more reasonable than the few hundred dollars a physical cart sells for these days.

    I say just be happy a fully legal and optimal way to play the game without paying out the ass for it exists at all. =/

  6. I don’t have much to add to this, mainly because I agree with every point you made, but I just have an amusing anecdote about the price of Earthbound:

    I bought a brand-new-in-the-giant-box copy of Earthbound for $20.00. It was the summer of 1997, when Playstation was about to enter into its prime, and everyone was impatiently waiting for Final Fantasy VII. The Best Buy in my small Wisconsin town had a rapidly-shrinking section for SNES, Genesis, Gameboy and Virtual Boy games that was mostly just filled with licensed crap and sports titles- the usual treatment for consoles that had been put out to pasture. Amongst that depressing graveyard were four copies of Earthbound that stood out in their oversized boxes. I had rented Earthbound a few years before and enjoyed it enough to want to play it again, so I scraped together enough cash to buy a copy. I remember having to bum a dollar off of my brother to cover sales tax.

    Flash forward to the summer of ’98. The Playstation and N64 were in full swing. The SNES/Genesis/GB/VB section of our Best Buy was gone, save for one exception: there were still three copies of Earthbound sitting on a bottom shelf in a corner, selling for $4.99. One friend of mine was slightly interested and on the fence about buying, and it took me saying, “C’mon, dude. It’s five dollars!” to convince him to take the plunge. On the drive back, our other friends made fun of us for liking such a “little kiddy game.” Remember, this was during both gaming and our awkward adolescence, where anything that didn’t feature over the top violence and gore or a scantly-clad female protagonist/love interest was immediately cast-away as childish and beneath our newly-refined and mature tastes.

    What’s even funnier was those “refined tastes” made both my friend and I blind to the charms of Earthbound. I remember thinking it was a perfectly serviceable RPG, but aside from the novelty of a somewhat modern-day setting, I didn’t think very much of it. I bought it to have something to keep me occupied until FFVII. My friend was just low on cash and couldn’t afford anything for PSX, so Earthbound was his door prize. I remember him even saying that he wasn’t too impressed with it, and would have been annoyed if he spent $20.00 on it like I did. It wasn’t until my third playthrough in the summer of 2006 that I realized how great of a game it is, rivaling only Chrono Trigger and FFIII as the SNES’s top RPG in my mind.

    For these reasons, I’ve always thought Earthbound’s astronomical second-hand price is hilarious. I have no idea what happened to the Best Buy’s other two copies, either.

  7. I mentioned it a few times, but I actually forgot $10 WASN’T the normal price for SNES games when I saw the price for Earthbound. Though I definitely would’ve balked at $20, but I never really expected Nintendo to pull that one unless they were physically re-releasing it ala Super Mario All-Stars, especially after actually giving the game for 30 yen in Japan.

    … Anyways, yeah, in the end it’s a business and if charging a little more is what makes releasing or re-releasing a product worthwhile to them then I’m fine with it when it’s something I want enough and it’s not an unreasonable hike. Definitely case by case and depending on how much I want a game or at least if it really does seem absurd ($15 for Raystorm XBLA, seriously?) but I hate to see how often a platform or means of distribution means they simply can’t go over a certain price, ever. Even if it’s a massive game, has a higher budget than most, or just has that little demand that each copy needs to go for more. In this case the age seems to be the bigger problem, but now that I think about it I do wonder how these people think about, say, blu-rays of Citizen Kane or Lawrence of Arabia going for about the same (or more!) than newer movies.

  8. Your reminder of the fact that we live in world dominated by capitalism (which unfortunately is historically linked, but not to be confused with democracy btw), made me very sad.
    However, if money were the only way to measure something of real value to me (like trying to make the world a better, more beautiful place), then Earthbound should cost a million times more than all Call of Duties, Grand Theft Autos and Resident Evils in the world combined!

  9. This is just a thought, but maybe they are testing the EarthBound/Mother brand. If it sells despite a price “hike” then perhaps they would be more inclined to bring more of the series abroad.

    Just a thought. Also, whether it was intended or not, it gets people talking about the game. Any press is good press.

  10. Thanks for writing this, I know I was one of the people asking about this, not because the price bothered me (I plunked down my SMT+FE $30 credit on this), but I just wanted to know if I was crazy because I don’t think everything should be free or super cheap. Thanks for letting me know I’m not a lone.

    Now did you ever get around to writing that piece you said you would after I asked what would Zelda look like if it used Mega Man boss progression mechanics?

  11. My mother-in-law has a theory about the Internet. There used to be one or two crazy conspiracy theorists people in every town. Then the Internet came, and the crazies were able to start talking to each other. As they drew in more people, their collective voice grew louder. And that is how we got 9/11 deniers.

    I’m not saying that people complaining about $2 extra for Earthbound are crazy, but I feel like the actual number of people who are bothered by this is minuscule. The mouthpiece that the Internet gives them multiplies their argument to be louder than it actually is.

  12. “Specifically, a remarkable number of people were angry that Nintendo priced the game at $9.99 instead of, say, 99 cents.”

    You are missing the point there. The discussion isn’t about people wanting the game for as cheap as possible, the reason many people are annoyed is because Nintendo is breaking its own rules. Nintendo, after all, are the ones who introduced a layered pricing structure based on generation to begin with. According to that, SNES games are supposed to be 8$ while N64 games are sold for 10$ and so on. The only exceptions have been import games for which Nintendo always charged a premium on top.

    And, now, Nintendo is changing its rules to charge N64 price for an SNES game. Why? Because they know that the passionate fans of Earthbound will pay it. Sure, that’s capitalism, but it’s also far from customer friendly behavior. They are showing the “we know that you want it” middle finger instead and that’s quite frankly pissing me off a little.

    I’m far from angry and I’m going to buy it regardless, but I still think it’s an annoying move.

    Of course, there’s also the discussion that Nintendo’s VC service is too expensive to begin with compared to similar services of the competition, but that’s another topic unrelated to Earthbound’s release. I’m going to say, though, that the VC’s service is a little bare bones for the premium Nintendo charges, especially considering the absolute lack of a connected VC between console and handheld. Why is it that I can buy, say, Grandia on PSN and play it on PS3, PSP and PS Vita for the same price Nintendo charges for an NES game that I can only play on either Wii U or 3DS, but not on both? Nintendo is charging a premium, but at the same their service is in many ways inferior to the competition. That is definitely a valid concern and reducing it to a “99 cent iOS” straw man is completely ignoring and in a way even ridiculing the issue.

    • Nintendo didn’t break its own rules. It’s increasingly moved to a flexible pricing system over the past few years, and in fact I would hope they adopt a structure like that full-on sooner rather than later. But there have been pricing exceptions almost from the start. Anyone who thinks EarthBound is breaking some hard, fast law hasn’t been paying attention.

      • Yup. The other significant factor is that you can go onto Amazon Japan right now and easily buy a used copy of the Super Famicom Mother 2 for about $8, compared to $160 for a used copy of Earthbound on US Amazon. The Mother 1 + 2 collection for GBA is also readily available, although somewhat more rare at $50ish. Despite the relatively steep price for the GBA collection, it’s still 1/3 of the price of Earthbound for a portable version of the game. The mere existence of the collection, which was quite cheap at the time of its release, means that demand is just nowhere near as high. Japanese speaking fans of Mother 2 have had ample opportunities to affordably buy the game, so there’s just no comparing the availability of the title between the two regions, making complaints about the disparity in price misguided.

      • But Nintendo isn’t competing with cartridge prices, that’s not the reality of the situation. People who think that Earthbound or VC games in general are so expensive that they aren’t going to buy them won’t buy the cartridges as an alternative means to get the game. Instead, they will take the easier route and download a ROM to play it on an emulator.

        Nintendo is positioning the Virtual Console as a service for a selected few Nintendo and retro fans and … that’s it. More casual people might buy Mario World or Link to the Past because of nostalgia and will afterwards stop looking at it. That’s not a desirable situation to be in. Nintendo is acting similar to music companies in the 00’s: They are ignoring that for a majority of people there’s a more convenient method to get the company’s product just around the corner. They simply refuse to compete with pirates and live in their own bubble instead. Which is okay for Nintendo, in contrast to music companies of that time they aren’t actually losing money when sales are lost to pirates, since there’s only a minuscule development budget involved with VC releases. However, I disagree with the notion that pirates pirate because they don’t want to pay anything and will never be paying customers. iTunes, Steam, to a lesser degree even Netflix or Spotify have proven that it’s possible to win pirates back — if you offer them a service that is both convenient and offer additional value over piracy. Nintendo could make more money with the VC, if they managed the service better.

        But what is the additional value the VC is offering over just downloading a game from the net? Perfect emulation? Most people won’t even notice the difference. Additional features? Until recently Nintendo’s emulators didn’t even have basic features like save states. A complete library? Nintendo’s library is more limited than any ROM site on the net. Anything else besides knowing that you are doing “the right thing”? I can’t think of anything right now.

        And this is why I find this situation to be so annoying. Nintendo’s Virtual Console is quite expensive. You can’t deny that — if you look at the retro libraries of PSN, Steam, gog or the appstore you’ll see that Nintendo’s prices are on the higher side of things. But despite charging a premium, Nintendo’s not offering premium features. The VC could be a lot more appealing if handheld and console shared the same ecosystem, if Nintendo offered a cloud save solution that let’s you continue your game from either the Wii U or the 3DS, etc. Features that a simple emulator from the net can’t offer. But they aren’t doing it. Instead they are even raising the prices further when they release a game fans long since longed for. Because, hey, there’s no other way to get the game, right?

        Except there is.

        And, no, I’m not saying Nintendo should sell their VC games for a buck or anything silly like that and I’m not advocating piracy either. However, I do think it’s frustrating that Nintendo ignores the competition, the expectations of today’s consumer and just continues living in their own world.

        But then again, Nintendo wouldn’t be Nintendo if they cared for what the competition is doing.

      • Just because everyone else is racing to the bottom doesn’t mean everyone is obligated to join the race. I have a lot of issues with Nintendo, but their refusal to devalue content in order to sell out faster than everyone else is not one of them.

      • There’s nothing wrong with charging more for your games than the competition if you offer a better service. But Nintendo’s not doing that. To the contrary, the cheaper competition offers more additional value than Nintendo’s more expensive releases. I’m not seeing how that is acceptable and I think it’s absolutely justified to criticize Nintendo on that.

        A “race to the bottom” this is not. Retro games are hardly being thrown away at devaluing prices on PSN or GOG, so I don’t see how that argument holds any merit.

  13. I found the $2 price hike rather curious, myself, but considering I just paid a ton more for the original at Christmas…

    I guess I’m not bothered by the increase so much as not knowing why. Given that Japan just got it for 30 cents, though, I guess I can see why people might be upset that they’re actually selling it for more than SNES games usually go for, instead of at par with the norm.

  14. I’m annoyed by the premium pricing (mostly because I’ve still got the physical game), but it didn’t stop me from going home and downloading it first thing. I became less annoyed when I saw they scanned the player’s guide and made it available for free too.

    • So, you care enough to pay top dollar for the physical game, but you don’t understand the “premium” pricing? If you went out of your way to purchase the game on cartridge, you clearly think the game is pretty darn good — dare I say, a premium experience! Why shouldn’t Nintendo charge a premium price for a premium game?

      I can see somebody who’s never played the game raising an eyebrow at the extra cost, but somebody who’s already bought it on cartridge? That makes no sense at all. How do you even reason through and get to that point without hitting the obvious “wait, I already bought this thing on cartridge, what in the hell am I doing complaining about 2 dollars?” wall?

  15. The $10 price doesn’t bother me. They charged $10 for KOTOR on the iPad and people were up in arms as well.

    I just wish that I had a Wii U so that I could support this. I’d love to see this be a big enough success so that Nintendo would release Mother 3 to the US.

  16. Wait, WiiU Virtual Console releases don’t cost $10?

    Also, I wish this was on the Wii Virtual Shop or, even better, the 3DS Virtual Shop (where I have $30 randomly sitting around thanks to buying RPGs) so I could actually support it. I don’t want to live in a world where Earthbound sells 500 copies for the WiiU Virtual Shop and Nintendo declares it dead when the problem is that nobody sane or not a gameswriter owns a WiiU.

    • I do own a Wii U and I have been tested as perfectly sane. I get it you’re worried that the under performance of the system will be associated with the software. I wouldn’t bet that any future plans around this are going to be based solely on this release.

      On the Wii U side I must be the only guy who enjoys his. I use off TV a lot so cross platform releases like Injustice get bought for Wii U before other platforms. So for me my sanity comes from the fact that I count games like Batman and Splinter Cell in the upcoming release slate and it looks pretty good to me. If you’re not that into the off TV feature I guess that would make me seem pretty unstable. I hope the Wii U finds its audience because it has been so damn good to me and maybe Earthbound will find a place within that audience. If not I would expect they would try a few other things to gauge interest before abandoning the series.

  17. I was going to renew my butthurt about it being on WiiU instead of 3DS, until I looked at my backlog/upcoming games.

    Yah. I think I can wait until I get a WiiU for this.

  18. This is a thoughtful, balanced response to those who want all games to be 99 cents or able to be played for free through emulators. I think this “everything should be free” mindset has infected wide swaths of our culture, not just in the area of video games or entertainment. Gamers need to realize that you can’t have it all and that gaming, at its base, is a hobby that provides a means of relaxation while you work toward greater ends in your life. Even if you had the money to buy it all, you would not have the time to play or experience it all. If you try, you are probably wasting your life and need to talk to someone about how you can contribute to society in a meaningful way and still enjoy your hobby.

  19. If the 3DS is any indication, variable price points are going to be the MO going forward. I imagine one reason why Earthbound is the only domestic SNES game that isn’t $8 is because it’s the first game on Wii U VC that isn’t also available on Wii VC for the same price (I think?).

  20. I think Earthbound is a top-shelf game.

    It’s silly for people to throw a fit about not being able to pay drek prices for a shot of the good stuff.

  21. Honestly, if anything, Nintendo could have charged more. I mean, as you point out, look at the price for the game after market. There is _clearly_ more demand for the game than most other Virtual Console releases, and we’re probably very lucky they didn’t decide to charge $20 or more.

  22. I want to take these critics by the hand, step into a time portal with them, and let them watch me buy Final Fantasy III/VI for $99.99.

    • I never even _had_ the money to drop that much on SNES games, so I used to just look at the games in stores and yearn for them. Thankfully, the pawn shop in town ended up netting me some excellent stuff, including a boxed copy of Chrono Trigger. Being in a college town has its advantage, I suppose.

      • Yeah, I lived in a far smaller town, and for years Chrono Trigger was the game with amazing box art (that every issue of Nintendo Power I saw at my friend’s house was raving about, though I had no idea what RPGs were) that was never available to play because it was rented out -every- time I went to our local video store. As a result, I ended up playing FF7 a year or two before I explored Chrono Trigger thanks to the then-new magic of emulation. I don’t advocate piracy, but when there’s a scarcity of the resource that drives the price of the physical copies up to $200 or $250, giving someone money to legally own a product becomes difficult for a teen with little income. It’s the one thing I think Nintendo -does- need to change about their VC policies: more releases so that paying for a game is an option. If I could’ve given someone say the $30 I eventually spent on both the Chronicles and DS versions of that game, it really would’ve been better for everyone. (Though the less said about the Chronicles versions of CT and FF4 the better, I was glad to own them and then went right back to playing emulated versions).

  23. Am I the only one who thinks the strat guide inclusion is worth $2? Because that seems like the blatantly logical explanation for the price hike yet everyone keeps asking “WHAT JUSTIFIES THIS!??!?!?!”

    • I think you are correct. I remember reading that guide, and much like NP’s other guides at the time, it was quite good.

  24. Nintendo has treated Mother fans very badly, which is well documented. Maybe they hate the vocal minority or something, I never could figure it out. Regardless, it’s an embarrassment that when the glorified ROM dump FINALLY gets released, it’s arbitrarily priced higher than games of equal stature.

    You HAVE to understand this. I don’t care if the game is worth $100, you in no way should be ecstatic to be gouged by Nintendo.

    • I don’t agree, friend. Nintendo doesn’t -owe- Mother fans anything. I’d argue that releasing the game in and of itself is their sole obligation to good capitalism (allowing interested parties to actually purchase the product legally gives them money and helps stem piracy). Given that previous VC SNES releases were around $8, you’re essentially griping over $2 for a game that -does- have added functionality via the strategy guide inclusion, something I’ve never seen with a VC release before. That’s a genuinely nice feature that hopefully will allow newcomers (who’ve either heard how great the game is from vocal Mother fans, or are curious because of the Mother elements in the Smash games) to complete the game without serious hassle. Assuming that Nintendo is doing this simply to gauge or mistreat the Mother fans is to view this release through a pretty biased lens. If anything, I think Nintendo’s always been pretty evenhanded with Mother fans, being upfront about NoA’s lack of interest in pushing out the series here and not getting in the way of translation efforts for the games that were never released here.

    • You can’t say you’re being “gouged” when Nintendo is charging a 20th of what the current going price of the game was. That’s not what the word means. If you think being charged 10 dollars for something that was going for 200 dollars last week is being gouged, you’re in for a rude awakening out in the real grown up world my friend.

  25. Ah, the entitled Internet Gaming Echo Chamber. They say they want Nintendo to release their older games for smartphones, then turn around and ask why anyone would be stupid enough to pay for them when their smartphone can use emulators. They want Triple-A games with cutting-edge graphics but refuse to pay for them until they’re $5 during a Steam sale. They hate free-to-play games but will not play any games at all unless they can do so for free.

  26. Would following the Steam model be a ‘race to the bottom’? Because I don’t think I ever pirated a PC game after Steam made it easy to actually get the authors (or their current patent holders) some quick and easy money for the things.

    Selling Mother for $9.99 to Virtual Console players is silly. Remaking/Remastering it for the 3DS and selling it for 30$ would likely get ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE WHO PIRATED IT IN THE PAST a reason to spend money.

Comments are closed.