First off, if you don’t know what Playstation Plus (or Xbox Live Gold) are they are basically reward programs which you pay for a subscription and get discounts on games/DLC, early access and free games. At first this may look good and bad. Sony obviously needs to make money off it so wouldn’t all the games be cheap shovelware? Generally they are older games or indie titles which is great for helping you get games you may have wanted but never got around to buying or waited for a price drop. The question showing that is worth it for both sides has been proven, but should Nintendo add a similar system to Wii U and 3DS?
First I think I’ll look at the positives.
It does sell games and I’m living proof of that. I bought Saints Row IV because I played The Third through Plus. When I got Saints Row The Third all the devs costs had already been remade so it cost nothing for them to put it on Plus and when I bought Saints Row IV, it wasn’t launch date, but I’d assume they weren’t all remade. Another is it can give some Indie Devs exposure. Sure $10 doesn’t seem like very much for often times very well made games, but unless you already know the devs or you constantly browse Indie sections of stores/websites quite a few of the non bigger team’s games go unnoticed or don’t get as much attention as they deserve. If you have a game by an Indie dev promoted next to Uncharted 3 and Borderlands 2 or with a fairly big discount (such as Steam sales) people would tend to be willing to check it out would they not? Especially if Sony appears to be personally recommending it. Once they find they enjoy they game they may look up sequels or other games by said company. It’s not guaranteed but it can help.
Now onto negatives.
Once the service becomes popular like Playstation Plus you start getting “I’ll wait for it to hit Plus”. I’ve seen that for Puppeteer and Tearaway recently (both I’d say are definitely worth purchasing). Nintendo really doesn’t need worse sales due to everyone waiting on all their games for them to become free. I’m guessing TW101, WWHD, Lego City and Pikmin 3 would have all sold even worse if people knew they had the chance of getting them free unless Nintendo gave some super discounts like “If you’re a member get TW101 for $30 launch week” Which there is a reason it isn’t selling for $30 and it certainly isn’t they think sales will pick up if they keep it there. That is a major negative that I think turns Nintendo away. They don’t have a “Naughty Dog” or “Sucker Punch” having people buying just for them (as much as people want Retro to be Nintendo’s Naughty Dog I doubt you can find anyone who is buying a Wii U strictly for DKC:TF where as I can name a few people who bought a PS4 before Uncharted 4 was announced just for ND’s future title). Sure they had Mario 3D World but that’s the only Wii U game I don’t think would have hurt. I named 4 that would have. On 3DS however Pokemon, Zelda and Animal Crossing probably would have still done fine with maybe Luigi’s Mansion and NSMB2 suffering (not sure about Fire Emblem, I think with word of mouth it would have picked up after a while.
So there you have it. Personally I don’t think Nintendo should go down this route, unless they don’t put games less than 2 or 3 years old up and make that extremely obvious which now stricts the worth while games the service could have, I can’t see it being profitable in the long run. Maybe if they put retail Wii games up like Metroid Prime Trilogy or Xenoblade that are obscenely expensive but I doubt that will ever happen due to the lack of anything newer than SNES and GBC being on either Virtual Console.