Everything old is new again
When Nintendo first announced the Wii, people were blown away to learn that it would offer a way to download and play classic games from decades gone by. The introduction of the Wii’s Virtual Console created a whole new market for Nintendo, allowing them to revisit legacy titles for a new lease on life.
Ever since the Wii, Nintendo has been offering their customers multiple ways to play classic games. The Virtual Console service continued for years, we got NES and Super Nintendo Classic hardware, and now on Switch, we have the Switch Online service. It’s clear this is a component is important to Nintendo, and as the years have rolled on, offering retro content like this has apparently become easier.
During an investor Q&A, Shigeru Miyamoto was asked about backwards compatibility on new hardware. While Miyamoto refrained from sharing specifics, he did comment on the initial struggles with offering classic games, and how that approach has gotten more manageable as years passed. You can see his full response below, as translated by Sephazon.
“In the past, we provided a service known as the ‘Virtual Console’ that allowed users to play older video games on new consoles with newer hardware,. As long as the hardware remained unchanged, those games could continue to be played.
However, the publishing rights to video games are complicated, and we have said that we would only add titles after securing the necessary rights.
Of course, video games developed for dedicated consoles were created in different development environments for each console. As a result, when the hardware changed, the development environment could not necessarily be reused, and so the video games that had been released on older consoles could not be played on newer consoles without additional modification.
Recently, however, the development environment has increasingly become more standardized, and we now have an environment that allows players to enjoy older video games on newer consoles more easily than ever before.”