I’m going digital, completely digital… with Wii U

That title just made me have a Digimon flashback… I mean, yes, It hasn’t been talked about all that much by people, but it’s one of the things Nintendo is pushing with their new system. Wii U games will be available for download from their eShop and there are already reports of quite the selection of launch titles already up.

After mulling it over, I have decided that I would like to try to challenge myself with this new system and will be doing my very best to buy all of my Wii U games from the eShop and store them on a USB HDD rather than buying the physical media. That said, I know that this is going to be an uphill battle for me, there are so many things that make this a BAD idea…

Digital distribution is the future of everything, or so a lot of people have been saying… and in some cases that’s true, in other cases the future is now. You only need to look at the PC gaming market to see it happening, however the same can’t really be said for consoles.

Both Microsoft and Sony have been offering full downloadable versions of a selection of their games for quite a while now, and aside from a couple of exceptions, I’ve mostly stayed away from the whole idea of downloading a game for the 360 and PS3. I’m not really an advocate of digital distribution on consoles and so I’ve stayed away from it as much as I could aside from the obvious exceptions such as the games you can only get by download on the three consoles of this generation.

With all that said, I’ve decided to take a chance with Wii U… which is a huge gamble, I know… though the gamble I’m making is more than just the fact that this is Nintendo we’re talking about and it’s their first REAL effort with online gaming. There are a lot of other things about this challenge that are against me and they all have to do with economics and the general suckiness of Australian Internet compared to other parts of the world.

Nintendo has made it very clear that we can use any sized USB HDD with the Wii U, which is a nice plus, but there are quite a lot of hurdles to get over before I can have the game on my USB HDD ready to play on my Wii U.

The price: Traditionally, the cost of digital download games for consoles is always equal to the recommended retail price of the same game sold on store shelves. So no matter what, I’ll end up paying full price on games I buy from the eShop. However, there has been rumours circulating that Nintendo has allowed publishers to have some measure of control over their releases on the eShop, so maybe we’ll see some discount deals or some such… maybe, though I doubt it.

The payment: Okay, so I’ve decided to pay for this game, but how am I going to pay for it? The answer to this question is almost always by credit card… and that’s something I don’t have. I’ve always used alternate methods of payment when buying things online and I don’t ever plan to get a credit card… ever. Maybe a debit credit card some time in the future, but those have fees attached which I don’t want to get into right now. The point being is that I don’t see this as being flexible or easy.

The servers: After I’ve decided I want to buy a game from the eShop and have managed to pay for it, the next hurdle are the servers where I download the game from. Wii U has recently launched in the US and we’re already getting some pretty big horror stories from people about extremely slow download speeds from the launch day firmware update and game patches. I’m from Australia, so I expect things to be worse down here… because they always are. Or maybe they’ll be better because this is a country with a very low population compared to the US, who knows…

The security: Once I’ve downloaded the game and have it stored on my USB HDD, the final thing that comes to mind is… just how safe is it having my games stored like this? I mean, if a fire burned down my house everything would be a loss either way, but say my Wii U gets busted somehow, are the games that I bought associated with my Nintendo Network ID or are they associated with my specific Wii U console? I ask this because Nintendo has made it a point to point out that a game you download from the eShop is available to all accounts on that system regardless. The thought also comes to mind that all that needs to happen is my USB HDD has to get fried and I’ll have to spend a billion years re-downloading all those games again… I certainly feel a lot safer with all of my games individually packaged on a media rack even if they take up more space.

There are some other concerns but these are the big ones for me. I wonder how far I really can take this challenge… the USB HDD I have available at the moment is a 500GB Seagate which will be able to hold, on average if we assume every game will be about 15GB each, around 33 games. To give a comparison, right now I have 56 Wii games… yes, I’m not making that up, I actually have that many Wii games despite the view that Wii has no games worth buying.

Wii U launches on November 30 down here… let’s see how it goes.

  • Jeff Moeller

    I might be with you, but I’m undecided. In the past I’ve said I’m all for going digital, but there’s just something about owning the physical product, especially when thinking about having these games for future console generations. Having a collection isn’t the same when you can’t stack them up on a shelf. That said, I’ve been nearly all digital on PC for quite a while, so I’m not sure why I’m more hesitant with consoles.