Nintendo are thieving, lying bastards

Which is why they’ll never get another penny of my money. There is no greedier games company in existence, perhaps no more nakedly greedy corporation on Earth.

The other day I finally lost patience waiting for Namco to release an update to iPhone Ms Pac-Man (which hasn’t worked since OS 3.1) or answer any support queries about it, and emailed Apple. Widely regarded as an extremely grasping company themselves, Apple nonetheless replied within 24 hours refunding the purchase price of the game in full, which is customer relations at what ought to be the elementary bare minimum.

(Actually it’s a little better than minimum – the game doesn’t get remotely deleted in the event of a refund and is still on my iPod, so if Namco ever do bother their backsides to make it work again, I effectively get a freebie in compensation for all of the considerable inconvenience that I went to in trying to get it to run – repeatedly deleting and reinstalling, rebooting, even doing a complete six-hour system restore.)

Nintendo take a rather different approach.

Nintendo are thieving, lying bastards

Way back in 2008, I bought Space Invaders Get Even from the Wii Shop. Being a big Space Invaders fan I even bought it on the day of release, for about £5. It’s a decent enough game, if a little vague, but the biggest problem is that the base purchase gets you only a tiny fraction of the content. Like Lumines Live on XBLA or Pac-Man Championship Edition on iPod (which offers less than 25% of the full game for the initial purchase price), you’re in effect being sold a paid-for demo version, which runs out of game after around 15 minutes of play. It’s the equivalent value-wise of a full-price £50 boxed game lasting two and a half hours.

Still, it didn’t seem so bad. On looking at the ingame purchase screen, I noticed that the add-on packs were all priced at 0 Wii Points, which I figured was either a day-one special offer or that the complete game perhaps exceeded a size limit (like when XBLA games had to be under 50MB) and this was the only way for the whole thing to be delivered.

So I clicked on the first downloadable episode and nothing happened.  Or rather, what happened was that it seemed to download instantly, but not appear in the actual game. The other episodes were the same, so I came back a couple of hours later and tried again. Everything was still listed at 0 points, and this time the first episode downloaded fine. The only problem was, as soon as it finished, all the prices on the download screen changed to 500 points, and I noticed my account was light by the same amount.

There was no mistake. The episode had absolutely definitely been listed at 0 points, yet I’d been charged 500 points for downloading it, without any kind of “The price of this item has changed” warning. So I sent off a polite email to Nintendo, helpfully noting the time the incident had occurred. A week later I received a reply.

“Dear Customer, thank you for your email.

All pay and play content is priced quite clearly at the time of purchase.  I have also checked our servers and there have been no errors or updates to this, so im afraid a refund will not be available.  Sorry for any inconvience.

Kind regards,

Nintendo Service Centre”

Mm, nice typing skillz. But in other words, “Dear Customer, you’re lying. We’ve got your money now, so fuck off.” I sent a reply straight away, still very politely, pointing out that they were mistaken. A further thirteen days later, I got another email back.

“Dear Customer, thank you for your email.

We have confirmed with Nintendo Europe that there has never been any alterations to the pricing of any pay and play content since its addition to the service.

Please note that even before you download the game the page on the shop channel clearly states that “Wii points are required to access some of the additional content or services associated with this game”

Kind regards,

Nintendo Service Centre”

In other words, “Dear Customer, We really mean it. We’ve got the money, you’re a liar, you’re probably also a lazy retard who can’t read, and we absolutely don’t want to hear any more about it. Now *fuck off*.”

With no evidence to contravene their bare-faced lying, there wasn’t much point pursuing the matter further. I did send another short mail, refuting their untrue claims again, but this time there was no reply. I simply vowed that that was the last penny Nintendo would ever get from me, which I’d wager would be a lot of people’s response.

It seems an awfully short-sighted attitude to customer relations – Nintendo’s cut from SIGE can’t have been more than a couple of quid, for which pitiful sum they were prepared to forego all further income from me for the rest of time (and there are at least a dozen WiiWare games I’d very probably have bought by now otherwise).

But hey, it’s not like I’m going to run out of videogames to play any time soon, and missing out on a bunch of wildly-overpriced emulated NES versions of ancient coin-ops wasn’t much of a sacrifice, so have it your way, Nintendo.

I still had some leftover Wii Points sitting in my account from the ones I’d bought to get SIGE, but I didn’t much fancy anything that was on offer, so they sat unused until this week, when I noticed that Frogger Returns had come out on WiiWare. I have a soft spot for Frogger, and this looked like a proper updated Frogger game, rather than any of the weird puzzley spinoff directions the franchise had gone in under the direction of Atari and Hasbro in the 90s, so I decided I might as well use up my remaining points on it – if only for the novelty value of switching the Wii on for the first time in about a year.

One 15-minute firmware upgrade later (natch), and after a swift hunt for some batteries to replace the now-long-dead ones in the Wiimote, I logged in and found that I didn’t have enough points for Frogger Returns. However, I remembered that I had over 1800 Nintendo Stars in my Club Nintendo account, and trading those in would bring me to comfortably over 500 points. Or at least, it would have done if Nintendo hadn’t stolen those as well.

Mystified to find only 300 stars left in my account, I searched through all my unread Club Nintendo emails (because who wants to wade through a weekly load of shitty adverts and exhortations to buy the latest Mario wallpaper for a fiver?) and eventually found one all the way back from June 2008 warning that Stars expire after 24 months. (There’d been no “Your stars are about to expire” alert or anything, obviously.) In other words, Nintendo had to all intents and purposes just stolen about another fiver from me, taking the effective cost of my half-hour of Space Invaders Get Even up to around 15 quid.

In two years of membership, this was the only warning about star expiration there had ever been. (And in June 2008, there really wasn’t anything to spend them on.) But for no reason other than that it enables them to screw a few more measly pennies out of unsuspecting consumers, Nintendo were – and still are – quietly just helping themselves to what amounts to cash out of their customers’ pockets. The thieving bastards.

So here’s WoSblog’s advice. Check the expiration date on your Stars. Also, check the tiny small print to make sure any Wii points in your account aren’t going to go the same way someday. But most of all, don’t give any of your money to Nintendo, viewers!

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10 Responses to “Nintendo are thieving, lying bastards”

  1. I was disgusted at the lack of content SPIG, which I did really like the paid demo for.

    When I first saw that there was a “shop”, I assumed it was a case of “earn in game currency to unlock more levels”, not “enter credit card details”.

  2. Craig Grannell Says:

    I’m glad you rejudged Apple. Its App Store policy is pretty good regarding refunds and, in my opinion, goes beyond a good chunk of the competition. Not everyone would refund an old game by a third party after an OS update. (Imagine trying to get money out of GAME if Generic PC Bollocks IV stopped working after a Windows upgrade.)

    As for Nintendo: oh dear.

  3. Apple’s customer services are tremendous in general; they replaced the charger for my Macbook when the cable melted at the PSU end, despite it being 18 months out of warranty and them being perfectly within their rights to say “Well, you’ve had it for nearly three years, you’ve probably done it a lot of damage, sixty quid please.”

    Not only that, but it was on my doorstep 48 hours after the initial phone call.

  4. jennytablina Says:

    While the Space Invaders thing is bad, I feel some background should be given on the whole stars thing

    Basically way back prior to the Wii’s release in 2006 Nintendo decided it was time to change their site and the way the Nintendo Club worked. So in changing that they gave people 6 months warning via email and the site. Part of the change was a time limit on the stars and they made that quite clear on the site at the time

    That said cant talk much for the club seeing as I ordered one thing off the stars catalogue and it never arrived. The stars are good for Nintendo points at least

  5. I seem to remember the terms and conditions saying that they could expire stars after 12 months from the beginning, but didn’t start doing so until after the Wii came out. Still makes it a bit of a dick move when some of the more expensive items will take a long time to save up for anyway.

    I have pretty much gave up on the starts though. I managed to get a copy of Donkey Konga + Drums back in the Gamecube years, and some Nintendo Points more recently.

  6. Klatrymadon Says:

    I lost 9000 last year. Nine bastard thousand. That’s about 3 years’ worth of regular brand-new game purchasing, and could have netted me a GBA SP if the good offers didn’t sell out within three seconds of being made.

  7. Erk. That’s, what, getting on for 25 quid’s worth of Wii points? I hope you’ve learned your lesson about buying Nintendo games…

  8. Bleedin eck, that really is shocking behaviour by Nintendo. Has made me think twice about buying Wii Sports Resort.

    Impressed with Apple refunding you for the non-working app though.

  9. My assumption would be that some kind of network issue is the cause for 0 points to be displayed.  Given Nintendo's lack of experience in the area, perhaps it's some kind of fault of logic in how pricing is displayed with a default value of 0, and that some networking related issue at their end, or with your own networj connection caused that default value to be displayed.
    If that was the case, and they were aware and admitted as much when there is no attention paid to this, it would be damaging for them potentially.  Open to possible scams.
    That's what I'd suspect it is.  It'd be jolly odd of you to complain so loudly if  you had just downloaded and hated what you paid for, if you had seen that it was 500 points and not 0.  Which I'd rather assume you are capable of doing.

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