Speaking to Wired, Nintendo 3DS platform producer Hideki Konno talked about a feature called “Tag Mode.” Basically, it’ll allow two 3DS owners to wirelessly share game data from the handheld’s internal storage. So to swap profiles in Animal Crossing, for instance, users won’t need to keep the actual game cartridge handy.
Wired’s Chris Kohler said this sounds like a way to extend the life cycles of games, and Konno agreed, saying Tag Mode ” will bring consumers a sense of wanting to play a game again, after they get new data from games that they’d forgotten about.” To think of this in a business sense, gamers will be encouraged to hang onto the games they’ve played, on the chance that another 3DS owner will have something awesome to share.
That’s one less game for GameStop to sell at Nintendo’s expense. It’s a similar idea to downloadable content, with two differences: Tag Mode won’t require any development after a game’s release, and it probably won’t cost players anything extra.
There aren’t enough details on Tag Mode to know whether it’ll work, but I like the gesture in light of what other publishers are doing. In May, EA Sports announced that it will charge $10 extra for online play unless the game is purchased new. THQ followed with a similar policy, charging $5 for online play to second-hand owners of UFC Undisputed 2010.
Over time, I think we’ll see more publishers go this route, but I’d rather see them encourage customers to keep new games rather then discourage them from buying used ones. Tag Mode probably won’t distinguish between new and used games, but it could at least slow the cycle of trade-ins without punishing customers.