Debate Club: Companies Should Not Have To Price Their Games To Compete With Emulation

Recently, someone in an online video game community that I’m part of was complaing about the prices on Nintendo’s eShop, specifically the Game Boy Advance games, and remarked something to the effect of “Considering people can just play these games for free anyway, they should just be 99 cents each.” Well, technically, thieves can get anything for free, so we might as well just make everything 99 cents.

I have definitely always had mixed feelings about emulation. The only “excuse” that I ever actually sort of got on board with was that game companies no longer make a profit off of their old games anyway, so why does it matter whether or not you give Joe Ebay $5 for some old Mario game or just download it for free, since Nintendo isn’t going to see that money anyway. True enough, I suppose. I was always less judgmental towards the people who used that logic, as there always seemed to be this underlying feeling of “If we could buy them, and not have to pay inflated collectors prices, we would.”

Well, now you can. So you should. Yes, most of these companies have already “made their money” on a lot of these games, but it still does cost a little bit of money to emulate them and keep them on a server. Beyond that, I really don’t think it’s so absurd to ask for five or six dollars for an NES or Game Boy Advance game, playable on your Wii U or 3DS, for instance. Anybody who shops for retro games online – especially Nintendo games – knows that $5 is a steal for a classic video game, especially one that already plays flawlessly on your fancy HD TV. Because the option exists to just steal the game shouldn’t mean that any and all retro games should just be a buck each.

Ultimately, if you’d still rather just use emulators and ROMs to play old games than buy them, that’s your choice. Do what you gotta do. I just know that there are a lot of gamers out there who have a chance to prove that their “excuse” for emulating all these years was a noble one, and that they are going to happily switch to buying the games and supporting the companies for re-releasing the games…and they aren’t going to. And they wouldn’t do it even if the companies put the games out at 99 cents. People pirate indie bundles that let you name your own price…even as low as a damn penny. I guess what bothers me more than the actual emulating is the excuses people give for doing it. If there is a game that is legitimately and easily available, and for the cost of a fast food value meal, and you are still pirating it, your excuses – and your complaints – are meaningless. And companies may as well continue to charge a few bucks for their retro games since the people who were ever actually going to buy them in the first place still will, and the people who never truly planned on doing it weren’t going to anyway.