Vintage game downloads will only work for Nintendo

Microsoft may be planning on offering Xbox game downloads for the Xbox 360. And while some are heralding this move as a smart one, Don Reisinger thinks it's a mistake.

Xbox
Do you really want to download these games? CNET Networks

If you've been following the world of video games, you've probably come across an interesting piece from Team Xbox that claims a new update to the Xbox 360 will allow us to download old Xbox games.

And while I think this is a smart move on Microsoft's part -- everyone seems to want to play old games -- I just can't see how it would benefit the company that much.

According to reports, the first wave of available games will include Halo, Fable, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge and Burnout 3. Interestingly enough, these games were also some of the more popular titles released for Microsoft's former console, which leads me to believe Microsoft is looking to turn this into a PR victory after the first month of downloads. After all, would anyone really download Kabuki Warriors for just one more thrill?

Regardless, Microsoft may be showing its hand too early. Simply put, I just don't think anyone wants to download games that were released five years ago and hold little value. More than anything, I think people want to download games that came out a decade ago to go back to the good ol' days and finally come to the realization that some of the best games ever released really did come out then.

Let's play a game. If I said you could only download Super Mario Bros or Halo, which would you choose? What about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past or Fable? Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas or Contra?

At face value, I'm sure some of you may choose the newer games. But before you decide to plunk down some gamer points on newer titles, consider this: all of those games can be played on the Xbox 360 today if you have the disc. Even better, you can probably find them quite easy on eBay or even in your local game shop. Can the same be said for the older titles?

Regardless of where your loyalties lie, those classic titles cannot be played on any game console currently being sold. Worse, you may be able to find them on eBay, but what would you play them on if your older console is damaged or lost?

Now, I commend Microsoft for getting into the game download business. Not only was it a smart move, but it makes some business sense. Further, I think it may actually perform relatively well in the beginning. But in the end, I simply can't see this doing well over the long-term.

Nintendo has been quite successful in its offering of old video games because those old games offer something no other company can provide -- nostalgia.

Even if you didn't like Super Mario Bros., there's no debating the fact that even to this day, people believe it's one of the greatest games ever made. And when given the chance to download that game on the Wii for a nominal price, they jumped at it. In essence, Nintendo was able to breathe life into games that many of us believed we could never play again without pulling the old console out of the attic.

Video game downloads work because people see an old game they formerly enjoyed and say, "wow, I'd love to play this again!" And while some may feel this way about Microsoft's downloads, most will probably look at the price tag and say, "well, if I wanted to play this again, I could run over to my game cabinet, pick out the disc and throw it into the system. Why pay even more for this game?"

Do you see what I'm getting at here? Video game downloads rely on time. Nintendo is successful because its offerings are old -- Microsoft's are not.

Give it about five years and come back to this, Microsoft. Trust me, it'll work then..

 

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