Popular online distributors of the extremely popular R4 flashcard just faced damages from Nintendo today. The damages are almost $945,000 and will be paid to 49 Japanese gaming companies such as titans Capcom, Konami, and Square Enix.
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Flashcarts allow for the playing of games illegally by downloading emulators and ROMs. This lawsuit marks a significant victory against game pirating from the Japanese side of things. Last year, the Japanese government actually banned R4 flashcarts which are targeted toward the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS. The easy of hacking when it came to the Nintendo DS as well as the ease at which the anti-piracy in games were beaten resulted in damages to sales.
While it’s a good move to take out piracy, it could also prompt Nintendo to release more of their back catalog from the DS and Gameboy Advance digitally. The fact is that while flashcarts do harm sales as people don’t have to purchase the game once they have it and are unlikely to do so, these devices do allow for a variety of titles in one place as opposed to hauling around a bunch of game cartridges or buying a previous generation device to play titles.
It’s an inconvenience for business, but a convenience for players. Many do want to play older games and they’d rather not have to buy a Gameboy or Gameboy Advance to do so nor would they want to walk around with a pouch of games. Let’s face it, digital is a convenience even though physical games are great for those of us that are collectors. The space saved and the freedom of just selecting a game from the UI gets endless thumbs up. While the Wii, DSi, Wii U, and 3DS all embraced digital distribution, there’s a tremendous catalog of GBA, Nintendo, GameCube, N64, Gameboy, and SNES titles that should be digital if they truly want to kill flashcarts. Not just select titles. Put all of them up, price them accordingly, and people will buy the titles.
That’s another thing, pricing. No price will be acceptable for everyone. Some will say “That’s a decent price”, “That price is bogus”, or “That price is a really good one for this game,” Gaming is a ridiculously expensive hobby. Titles cost quite a bit, as do consoles, peripherals cost more, subscriptions, DLC, and so on when you add it all up. In the case of handhelds, the prices of things happen to be more manageable. It’s not a drastic difference, but the difference is there. Despite that people will go the frugal route with getting games if the avenue is there and it means paying the price of one game to get hundreds.
The pricing element is an element that can’t be as easily remedied, but the element of convenience and access to a greater library of titles can. At any rate, Nintendo has stated that it will continue to combat piracy both in Japan and abroad.