Nintendo moving on from Game Boy Virtual Console releases on 3DS


3DS VC Officially confirmed dead (As if 16 months of no 3DS VC games in Japan that wasn't a promotion was any indication)

Why would they even do this? 3DS still has some shelf life to it. Then again, they haven't updated anything VC wise for the system in practically forever.

Thu Oct 08 15 09:02pm
(Updated 1 time)

It's long been rumored/hinted at that the 3DS Virtual Console has been constantly plagued with low sales, many of which most likely never offset the cost of releasing them.

You literally have to have your GBA/GBC and Game Gear games rerated in order to rerelease them on a system (all games released on video game systems must be rated by the rating board in the territory of release).

It can literally costs at minimum of $1,000 to have the game rated, if not more depending on the development budget to just to get rated by the ESRB for North America.
If you plan to release it Europe, you must go through PEGI for everyone but Germany and USK for Germany
This also costs thousands of Euros and UK pounds.

Don't forget CERO (Japan), OLFC (NZ), GSR (S. Korea),. ASB (Australia) and MDA (Singapore).
You have to pay a fee which is normally $1,000+ to get rated for release in each of these territories.

For a GB/GBC/GG games you are looking at a minimum of $10,000 just to get rated for release on eShop around the world.

You would literally need to sell 5,715 copies of said game globally to break even on paying for the ratings at $5 price.
you keep $3.5, Nintendo takes 30% of the price($1.5 is 30% of $5)

Add in the cost of development/porting, promotion/marketing, and reviews/media support.
You need to sell upwards of 30,000+ on most games.
If the developer actually puts in the time, then it is even more.

It's probably not worth it for most developers to bother with the 3DS VC, let alone the Wii U VCs.

Hell there was talks of 3rd parties being unhappy with the Wii's VC due to the low prices and mediocre sales.
So the Wii VC probably burned most 3rd parties.

Edit: http://www.polygon.com/2014/8/1/5959285/xbox-one-indie-game-cost
As much as I don't like using them, they do have a good article on how rating small games can be expensive.

There's other barriers (but I'm not sure I'm permitted to share them) but it's also relevant to note until very recently, you had to MAIL PEGI a physical copy of your game to get reviewed. I have many indie development friends with some pretty amazing stories.

While Nintendo handles the programming needed to get games working on VC, there's myriad reasons besides rating that may hold up or make a game unavailable. It's one of those things that I've been batting around doing a Tumblr post on.

I know there are more reasons, but paying the money to get rated is one of the big ones financial.

There is also licenses, publishers, corporate projections, corporate management, 3rd party relations, etc...
Also price, there were plenty of rumblings during the Wii's life about 3rd parties wanting to charge higher prices.
I mean look at Square charging huge prices for it's PS4 and Steam ports.
They are literally charging $20 for FFVII (PS1) on PS4.
This is the same price they charge for older games on Steam.

Nintendo also has limited man power to program and test all VC games.

There are loads of reasons, which combined make it expensive for 3rd party games to get VC releases

Those rumors are way off, the Wii's VC saw huge success, specially in Japan.
I can also confirm the last game we got on the JP 3DS VC, Pokemon TCG, made it into the top sellers of that month immediately.
There's no lack of demand for the VC on the 3DS, everyone in Japan is clamoring still for GBA support on it.
There are several possible reasons for Nintendo stopping 3DS VC support, like making it a drive to get a WiiU, but sales isn't one of them, specially not on the 3DS.

Nintendo has essentially exhausted it's first party catalog on the 3DS VC.
The remaining GB/GBC first party games are joint owned games (Like Pokemon), or licensed games

Sega has essentially exhausted it's first party Game Gear catalog on the 3DS VC.
The games not released by Sega are held up due to licenses.

Capcom and Natsume are the only real 3rd parties supporting the 3DS VC.
The other 3rd parties that still exist and own the rights to many GB/GBC/GG games don't want to bother with it (probably don't think there is profit in it).
The rest are out of business.

The regular 3DSs lack the horse power to brute force GBA and SNES code while running the OS and features.
This why the Ambassador games run in a modified version of DS mode (as pointed out on NeoGaf multiple times).
New 3DS is capable of running GBA and SNES games fully, but Nintendo isn't going to bother splitting the market when the NX OS and hardware will fully absorb the Wii U emulators.

Only Nintendo saw massive sales success with the Wii VC, while Capcom, Sega, Natsume and few others saw lesser success.

The same thing is happened with the 3DS VC and to some extent with Wii U VC.
Nintendo is quickly running out of NES and SNES first party games on the Wii U VC too (the games they can't release are tied up in licenses or use the SFX chip).
This is why they switched gears to N64, GBA, and DS games.
Nintendo by the end of 2016, most likely will have exhausted first party N64 and GBA games they outright own (if they keep the current release pace going).

The majority of 3rd party games released on NES to GCN were made by companies including:

*Hudson - closed on March 1st 2012, fully absorbed into Konami Digital Entertainment (they own all of hudson's catalog)
*Acclaim - went bankrupt in 2004, numerous companies bought their catalog of games
*THQ - went bankrupt in 2013, numerous companies divided up the catalog of games
*Midway - went bankrupt, was bought almost entirely buy WB in 2009 (WB has no interest rereleasing the back catalog)
*Paradigm - Bankrupt 2008
*Crave - Bankrupt 2012
*Atari Games - Bankrupt 2003
*Interplay - essentially dead with 10 employees as of now
*Eurocom-bankrupt December 2012, games owned by numerous licenses holders
*Chunsoft - Bankrupt April 2012
*Factor 5 as whole went under in 2011 for good.
*LucasArts - killed when Disney acquired all of George Lucas companies (except for special effects studio) in 2012
*Imagineer (ported lots of Maxis software to consoles) - now focuses mainly on smartphones in Japan
*Avalanche - Bought by Disney in 2005 has pretty much halted development since then.
*Traveler Tales - bought by WB in 2007
*Eidos - acquired by Square-Enix in 2009
*Maxis - bankrupt in 1996, acquired by EA to avoid liquidation in 1997, dissolved by EA this year.
*Bandai -merged with Namco in September 2005

The other developers have been acquired by EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Square-Enix, Capcom, Bandai-Namco (the "big 6"), Microsoft and Sony.

Literally there is ~12 major 3rd parties left who produce 95%+ of the non indie 3rd party releases now.
They also own or co-own most of the 3rd party catalogs of prior generations (much of which is tied up in licensing issues).
They are the reasons why most older games never see a release on PSN, XBL, VCs, or Steam.

For all systems to date:

PS4: no PS1, PS2 or PS3 titles for purchase yet. FFVII will the first PS1 title available by year's end for a $15.99 price (I was wrong it's not $20 but close).

PS3/Vita: PSN for NA only has 212 PS1 games for purchase out of the 7,918 released on PS1 total (used PSN filters to get total PS1 games available in NA for purchase today)
That is literally 2.6% of the total PS1 library is available for purchase as of posting to PS3 owners in NA

PS2 games available for purchase via PSN in NA is: 102 out of ~3,800 titles released on PS2 proper.
That is ~2.7% of the total PS2 library.

PS Vita: 628 PSP games are available to Vita owner in NA via PSN.
There is over 1,000+ PSP games total, leaving with ~60% or less on PSN NA currently for Vita owners.

Wii's VC---NA
NES: ~94 (two have been delisted) out of ~713 total for NA... 13.1% of the total NA NES library is on the Wii VC (nearly of Nintendo's U.S. first party releases are on it)

SNES: ~74 out of ~783 total for NA... 9.4% of total NA SNES library is available on the Wii VC (Nearly all of Nintendo's first party releases in NA are on it)

N64: 21 games are available in NA out of 388 total for NA... That is 5.4% of the total library (Nearly all of Nintendo's first party releases in NA are on it). Half of the releases are from 3rd parties who have since gone bankrupt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Virtual_Console_games_for_Wii_(North_America)

Wii U VC has ~195 total in NA! the majority is Nintendo's own software.
NES: Nintendo's NA releases are ~45%, followed by Capcom who makes up ~30%, followed by the rest.
Capcom + Nintendo = ~75% of all the NES games on Wii U.

SNES: Nintendo (nearly all of their NA releases are on it) and Capcom are about equal in the amount of titles released on Wii U.
Capcom + Nintendo = ~60%+ of all SNES releases on Wii U.

N64 are all Nintendo owned games currently

GBA: Nintendo makes up ~55% of the total number of games released, followed by Capcom, followed by the rest of the 3rd parties

DS currently all Nintendo games in NA

As for these systems not on the Wii U VC:

Turbo Graphic and TG-16/CD are now owned by Konami (due to Hudson)
Sega isn't really in the market of supporting console releases anymore after their last major restructuring not too long ago, hence the lack of Sega systems.
SNK is bleeding money and downsizing, hence the lack of NeoGeo support
MSX that is up to Microsoft and ASCII

As for 3DS VC---NA
GB: 49 games, the majority are Nintendo's (it's all their releases in NA, though they were forced to remove Tetris due to licenses). 49 out of total of ~1047 GB games = ~4.7% of the total library released on GB.

GBC: 27 games in NA (more than Japan and all of Nintendo's NA releases from GBC). That is 27 out of ~470 games released for the original GBC. This means ~5.7% of the total GBC library is available on the VC in NA.

Game Gear: 16 games were released in the West, which are all of Sega's original Western releases.
This is out of 363 games of the total Game Gear's library. This is literally 4.4% of the Game Gear's library on the Western VC. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Console#Nintendo_3DS

I do remember talking to others on a different site backing during the height of the Wii about 3rd parties being horribly unhappy that Nintendo wouldn't let them charge higher prices for their games. I also talked with other who heard that many 3rd parties were unhappy with Nintendo taking the lion share of the VC sales on Wii too (especially in NA and EU).

Between 3rd party bankruptcy and consolidation over the past 10 years, plus many if not the majority of 3rd party games being held back due to licensing issue are the main reasons why the majority of retro titles will never see a rerelease.

"The regular 3DSs lack the horse power to brute force GBA and SNES code while running the OS and features."

I'm not exactly sure I'd say that... for example, Bandai/Namco's J League Retsuden, a game which predates the New3DS, emulates at least two Super Famicom games (one of the Dragonball Z games, and one of the Go Go Ackman games, both of which whose titles I don't exactly remember off the top of my head)

Granted, I haven't played it and seen how it runs, but as a 3DS title, it should - in theory - have no problems coexisting with the OS to some extent.

I thought Avalanche is one of the teams that works on Disney Infinity.

They are, though the number of games put out under Disney since 2005 is much less than what they did as an independent company.

Disney Interactive Studios is the main driving force behind Disney's game development.

Just wanted to compliment you on the thoroughness of this point and add in a little commentary regarding companies merge or get bought out, as this affects numerous of our older titles. For example, some of our VC HM titles are developed by Victor Interactive, some were developed by Marvelous, and even though Marvelous absorbed Victor many years ago, it's possible these titles may require different handling.

We also used to partner regularly with Taito -- now a part of Square Enix. They have their own policies for VC releases. It's one of the reasons we were super excited to be able to release Bust-A-Move 4 on PSN (not a Nintendo title, I realize). And that's just talking about stuff we published. It can get even more complex when we discuss games we co-developed with, say, Neverland (we miss them T~T)

People tend to forget on how much consolidation and bankruptcies have occurred in over the past decade in terms of gaming studios.
They also forget how this affects licenses regarding games.

Lastly people also don't realize how small the market is for older titles compared for new releases and remakes.

Thanks for this post, very informative and lot of research. More people should read this than the ones that will actually do.

Great work.

Thu Oct 08 15 07:40pm
(Updated 1 time)

Didn't they say this about SNES on the Wii U Virtual Console?
We still get SNES games. Though it is looking as if Nintendo has a short attention span when it comes to this stuff lately. I would have liked a bigger selection of Game Gear titles on 3DS Virtual Console.

Yeah Im not sure what Natsume's SNES comment meant since its still pretty consistent on Wii U in all regions. I don't think the same thing is going to happen here since the 3DS VC has been dormant for a long time everywhere. Did all other 3rd parties lose interest in making their GB games available? Sega seemed to have stopped caring about putting Game Gear games on there and nobody else is bothering to make their NES games work on 3DS anymore either. Even Turbografx had an extremely short run on 3DS in Japan. I feel like theres got to be a bigger reason for this full stop to everything VC on 3DS, but I dunno.

I'm pretty happy with it as far as Nintendo's library goes at least. Outside of games that used a special type of cartridge, I can only think of about 2 or 3 games that they missed.

Thu Oct 08 15 08:42pm
(Updated 2 times)

It was mostly in reference to newer SNES VC games that weren't on the Wii VC, as they had just finished moving their Wii VC catalog to the Wii U VC. Since they made that comment about the SNES VC no new SNES VC games from anybody have been released except for Pac-Man 2 (Which is a trash game honestly). On 3DS VC there have been no new VC games of any kind in ages and in Japan it's even worse.

I think I answered you on another site, but for anyone else who requires clarification:

We never said more wasn't coming, period. We said they had moved on to other systems and weren't taking more from us. I assumed there was more they were working on and there was. I'd imagine if the cut off for GBA games hasn't happened it will very soon -- and no, that doesn't mean they'll never ever release a GBA game again, since we have 4 more coming ourselves Smile

I'm not sure why news sites automatically mean "there's never any more coming ever again, please proceed to panic" but I guess that makes a better headline? ;)

We also clarified here: https://twitter.com/Natsume_Inc/status/652266014944702464
"We can only comment on our own games. We have no further GB/C, NES, or SNES coming."

Sometimes I think Natsume makes stuff up on twitter just to get their fans to shut up. :/

This will be irrelevant in a year when we're all looking forward to the release of the NX which will (hopefully) have VC games from all the Nintendo systems, and hopefully others. It would be especially nice if all the Wii U and 3DS VC purchases carries over.

Meh, every single variation of the Virtual Console over the years has been subpar at best. I don't expect things to ever improve.

This is a shame if true. There are many games that I was hoping would be ported over, but I can understand how expensive it can be. I really don't understand why games have to be rated again. It sounds like such a scam.

Fri Oct 09 15 03:29am
(Updated 1 time)

All games released on a gaming system must be rated in order to be released.
It's long standing policy in NA to prevent U.S. and Canadian regulation.

EU countries mandate all games to be released on gaming hardware to be rated by PEGI and USK for Germans.
The other countries also have mandatory ratings for releases and rereleases on new systems.

Like i said in my big long post above, many if not the majority of 3rd party games released prior to last gen are essentially lost in licensing hell for many reasons, barring them from ever seeing the light of day again (many if not most have numerous licenses per game).
It was made worse by massive consolidation of 3rd parties last gen.

Even games running on the SFX chip are also held back due to licensing issues.

Don't worry Google Play Store, iOS App Store, Mac App store are exempt from the rating systems due to them being non gaming hardware and services.

But why must a game receive an additional rating for a re-release? I don't understand that. It's the same game!

A game must be rated for the platform it is releasing on.
It's the rules in NA and the law everywhere else.

It doesn't matter that it's the same game that was released earlier on a different platform, it must be rated to be released on a new platform.

If you take an Xbox One game and then decided to release it 6 months later on PS4 without any new content, you are still required to have it rated for PS4 before releasing on PS4.

Thus you have paid to have the game rated twice.

You can avoid this buy releasing the game as a multiplatform title and have it rated once for all platforms.

Well, I think that law makes no sense whatsoever and is the main reason we have gotten more ports on the Virtual Console.

You know what might revitalize VC downloads? Putting Pokemon Red Version and Pokemon Blue Version on the Virtual Console. Seriously. Do it.

Game Freak and TPCi are against it essentially blocking the releases.
They'd rather focus on new products and remakes than compromise an old title.

Though to be fair, I doubt they'd sell outside of the diehard nostalgic fans as everyone else probably has a few ROMs installed on their computers and/or Android phones.

You'd be surprised about how little the general populace cares about buying older titles, when they can easily pirate them.

There would be no way for people to trade and battle with a Virtual Console port, which is a core part of the game.

I'm certain the Virtual Console could be altered to add local connectivity between games.

That would require completely re-programming the game. Nintendo rather focus resources on NX.

...nine days later... ;)

Honestly, I didn't think Nintendo would do it. I'm happy they did though. Considering how they've handled the Virtual Console this gen, I assumed they were just gonna focus on NX from now on.

I'm just surprised it took so long. It's just a shame they didn't do this when Twitch Plays Pokemon was at its height. It would've sold gangbusters.

So basically, it's just a huge mess. I just want to keep my titles moving forward the same way that Steam allows, or perhaps these titles will eventually revert into public domain.

I support legal emulation, but they are making it difficult to go through the proper channels to play classic games.

I hate to break to you, Steam is fraught with issues too.
Publishers and developers don't have support newer OSs and hardware through Steam (many games aren't usable with new PCs).
Publishers and developers also have the power to remove their games of Steam as well (which many have done).

Many people over the last few years have lost a nice amount of money as many games were rendered unsupported on new hardware and OSs. There is also an angry amount of Steam users, who saw there purchases removed from their libraries as those developers and publishers removed the games from Steam.
Valve normally refuses to give refunds.

Mobile OSs are also plagued with many apps/games not being supported by the developer after release on all the major mobile OSs.

At least Apple normally gives refunds, the rest don't,

The music and video services are plagued with this too, at least Apple gives refunds here too (if you request it).

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