I just bought a physical copy of Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Why? because I want to be able to play it in 4-5 years when Nintendo inevitably retires the Nintendo Switch online store.
But why would Nintendo shut down their digital shop? Doesn’t this mean everyone who bought digital copies won’t be able to re-download their games? Yeah! it does! but check out what Nintendo did to their 3DS & WiiU store this March, or what they did to their Wii store back in January of 2019.
From a business perspective I could see why they can’t host their digital library forever. Managing all the infrastructure, support, and person-power to keep these things up and running is no small feat; It doesn’t make sense to burn money on these services forever if they aren’t making money.But at least send out an email and be like “hey, you can download a copy of that game you bought here along with your save data!” but nope. nothing. Thanks for your money, bye!
Not just Nintendo
It’s not just Nintendo. I’ve also noticed a bunch of movies, TV shows, games, and other digital “things” just sort of evaporating into thin air. A lot of these shows and movies were never even distributed outside of streaming platforms. What happens to all those Netflix Original shows that get taken down? Are they just gone forever? really?
It makes me pretty sad thinking about all the good art that’s going to be lost to data rot and poor preservation over the next x years because of all this.
My solution for now
Over the last few years I’ve been doing a few of the following to try and avoid this:
- Buying physical copies of my favourite games, movies, and tv shows.
- Backing up game save data, game images, movies, and tv shows.
The gaping hole in this strategy is for games, movies, and tv shows that can’t be downloaded and don’t have physicals. The only option for backup and preservation in those cases is piracy which is absolutely ridiculous, and not something I would recommend.
Buy physical copies of your favourite digital media, take care of them, back them up, and preserve them because their creators sure aren’t!