By Jared Newman | Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm
Following the new, large-screen handheld’s launch last Sunday, GameSpot’s Tor Thorsen wondered whether Nintendo might have a way for DSi owners to upgrade without sacrificing the DSiWare game downloads they already bought. “No,” a Nintendo of America representative said, “the games and applications are specific to each system, not each user.”
That’d be like Apple saying you can’t take your apps with you when upgrading to the iPhone 3GS from an older model. Of course that’s not the case, because Apple ties its games and apps to the user, not the device. That means you can also take your apps to an iPod Touch or iPad. It’s a system that encourages brand loyalty and lots of purchases.
Microsoft and Sony handle game downloads in a similar fashion, linking purchases to Xbox Live and the Playstation Network, rather than a specific console. Though Microsoft hasn’t yet been tested with the kinds of incremental hardware upgrades Nintendo offers (it doesn’t sell a handheld gaming console, for that matter), PSP owners tell me you can tie games to several hardware devices. Between the DSi, the DSi XL and the upcoming 3DS, Nintendo will have released three handheld gaming devices in a two-year span. If Nintendo won’t let a user move downloaded content between devices, how can that person buy with confidence?
Nintendo’s system for digital distribution needs a major overhaul based on user accounts rather than hardware. Otherwise, the company is telling its best customers — the ones that upgrade hardware often — that downloadable games are a bad investment.