How Online Retailers and Developers Removing Games and Store Access Negatively Affect Game Preservation

Previously, Nintendo closed eShop access for 3DS and Wii U, and said that August 2022 will discontinue prepaid card access; meanwhile, Ubisoft is shutting down access to several PC ports, which includes the loss of DLC. Missing parts of a game consequently affect its preservation, so let's talk about how that hurts them (and other titles).

How Online Retailers And Developers Removing Games And Store Access Negatively Affect Game Preservation

If you haven’t heard, Ubisoft is moving to close online access for fifteen of their older titles, and subsequently, remove the ability to access the games’ respective DLC. Some of these include various Assassin’s Creed titles on PC, which didn’t see the HD remasters that Xbox One and PlayStation 4 eventually got, essentially cutting those games’ preservation on PC off entirely.

Last week, Nintendo also reminded people that the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U eShops will cease functionality in March 2023 (though online play will still work for an undisclosed time), and consequently, any digital titles if not purchased beforehand. Even worse, if you don’t use prepaid wallet codes before August 2022, you won’t be able to use them on the 3DS or Wii U.

Both companies making moves like this shed a bit of a negative light on preserving games, so let’s discuss why this negatively affects said preservation.

Game Preservation

Far Cry 3 is among several Ubisoft titles to get their DLC removed very soon.

It Cuts Newer Players Out of Content

This point is a more personal one, but is still an important part of it; doing this can cut newer players out of older content. One such case is Destiny 2 and its Destiny Content Vault. When The Witch Queen launched in February of 2022, the game’s third expansion, Forsaken, was subsequently vaulted, completely removing players’ access to the expansion’s primary locale (The Tangled Shore) and almost all of its quests, even though the fact that The Dreaming City (another locale within Forsaken) and lots of mentions of Forsaken’s events remained in-game.

It isn’t the first time Bungie’s vaulted content, as they previously vaulted the base game’s campaign and the first two expansions, which were The Red War, Curse of Osiris, and Warmind, respectively. With those, they’re mentioned a bit less than Forsaken is, but it still is a bit counterproductive to delivering the full experience without seeking external sources (such as YouTube videos).

Bungie is no stranger to content removal in their games, such as the ongoing Destiny 2.

As for how this relates to Ubisoft, some of their titles that are on the online chopping block in September don’t have remasters on PC, meaning that they’ll be essentially the only versions of some Assassin’s Creed games (and Far Cry 3) that lack DLC.

Nintendo’s Place In This Game Preservation

As for why this connects to Nintendo, they name-dropped a specific title that will lose partial game content even earlier than the rest of the store, named Fire Emblem Fates. This game would be the second of four Fire Emblem titles on 3DS (the others being Awakening, Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, and Warriors, respectively), and would be the only one of these four to have three campaign paths. Nintendo also posted a Tweet relating to Fates‘ DLC disappearing earlier than everything else, which you can see below.

So, this is a confusing notice relating to the bigger picture. Essentially, you could buy either Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright or Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest as your base game, and pick up whichever of those two you did not buy, and the game’s third route, Revelation, as additional DLC. The preservation of the game can be completely screwed up thanks to the shop closure, and Fates’ primary buying gimmick (purchase one, and get the other two as DLC) will be hampered thanks to it leaving a month early.

Digital-Only Games Installed On Consoles May Drive Prices Up

Does anyone remember the P.T. demo from Konami that made the rounds in 2014? If not, the entire point behind bringing that up is that, after it was removed from the PlayStation Store in 2015, and subsequently made so that it couldn’t be re-downloaded, consoles with P.T. pre-installed could be found on eBay at marked-up prices, essentially gating the experience of that demo behind a PlayStation 4 that could very well be double the retail price.

game preservation

P.T. used to be a playable demo on PlayStation 4 before it was promptly removed in 2015 and could not be redownloaded anymore.

Konami making such a decision and not deciding to make it available for newer audiences is strange, but it also poses a question to Nintendo. That being, what happens to the digital-only games on 3DS and Wii U when the stores shut down next year? All of those games (and subsequently DLC) will become inaccessible unless you purchase them essentially right now or use a bank card to purchase before March 2023. Nintendo doing this can also influence 3DS owners to resell their consoles with games (or accounts) that have these games at high prices.

Additional Concerns for Game Preservation

Even though Nintendo and Ubisoft push through with their plans to remove these titles, this isn’t the first time Nintendo decided to negatively affect game preservation, unfortunately. The Wii Shop Channel (on the original Nintendo Wii) was promptly gutted in 2019, being placed in a similar state that the Wii U and 3DS are experiencing now, and even lost online functionality.

What makes this even scarier is that it’s only a matter of time before Nintendo decides to take a look at the Nintendo Switch and consider this as a valid option, though we shouldn’t have to worry about that until the far future from now. Hopefully, Ubisoft won’t completely cut off DLC from specific versions in the future, but ultimately, there aren’t any promises.

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