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Monday, April 7, 2014

What Nintendo's eShop ESRB Lock-Out Policy Affects

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - To help keep up the pressure, I offer you investigative journalism.

One of the decent things KoopaTV is trying to accomplish is to force persuade Nintendo to make a change to the ESRB lockout of consumers who are under 17 from buying M-rated games. If the consumer has parental permission, they should be able to buy the game because purchases should ultimately be the parents' decision using the ESRB as a guideline. In other words, KoopaTV supports power to the parents. One of the effects the current policy has is lowering the amount of sales Capcom's Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies can achieve. However, one question that people have been wondering since KoopaTV rose the issue is "what other games are affected?"

To be clear, in retail stores, parents can buy their under-17 kids M-rated games. Parents can currently not do the same thing in the eShop. This makes eShop-exclusive M-rated titles at a competitive disadvantage that exists solely because of Nintendo's NNID system that forces you to submit your birth date. So here's the list I've compiled through the use of the ESRB's search system and the Nintendo eShop search system. If the eShop says "Nintendo 3DS Retail/Download", then it's available via retail and the forced eShop lock can obviously be bypassed that way. So it's only rated M and download-only.

  1. Secret Agent Files: Miami by Joindots GmbH
  2. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies by Capcom
  3. Undead Bowling by G-Style
  4. Mystery Murders: Jack the Ripper by Virtual Playground
That's it. The second one is obviously part of a franchise of games normally rated T, and the last one has another game in the series, Mystery Murders: The Sleeping Palace, that is rated E10+. Gamers that want to experience these franchises in whole that are under 17 cannot just bring their parents to the store and buy these games. They're disenfranchised.

KoopaTV's solution to the problem is to contact the developers of these games and urge them to lobby Nintendo to change their policy. We also want everyone to use Nintendo's contact forms.

So to make another list:
  1. Nintendo's contact
  2. Joindots contact (info@joindots.ge)
  3. Ask Capcom (I made a specific thread here)
  4. G-Style's contact (support@gstyle.co.jp)
  5. Virtual Playground's contact (info@virtual-playground.co.uk)
Now, to be completely realistic, it's better off to just pester Nintendo and Capcom about these things, although only Nintendo of those should be pestered on a consistent basis. The other companies clearly do not deal with Nintendo of America and probably don't matter to them. That doesn't mean no one should ever try!

Here's a sample e-mail you can send:

Dear [company] Representative,
I am contacting you out of concern that under Nintendo's current eShop system, gamers under 17 cannot purchase your download-only games, even with parental permission. The way the eShop is set up does not parallel the acquisition of physical 3DS cards where parents can purchase M-rated games for their children. A consumer can only input one birth date into their Nintendo 3DS when setting up their Nintendo Network ID (NNID), and if that date makes them below 17, they cannot go and change it. This effectively locks them out because the eShop does not let that consumer proceed with their purchase, thus losing a sale.
I ask that, on behalf of your existing and potential fans, you contact Nintendo of America and lobby them to change their eShop policy to level the playing field between digital download titles and those available through retail purchase.
Sincerely,
[your name]
Well? Sounds good to me. I'll be doing this, by the way. You should too, and encourage all your friends to do it as well. Especially if they're affected and even if they're not.

Oh, and here's what to do when contacting Nintendo. Go to their webform as provided above, select your country appropriately along with the e-mail address you want to be contacted by, then say your question is Transactions-related, your topic is Digital Downloads, and your system is Nintendo 3DS. 

Here's a sample e-mail that's a modified version of the one I sent in the previous article.

Dear Nintendo Customer Service Representative,

I write out of concern for those 17 or younger who cannot purchase M-rated games on the Nintendo eShop, even if they have parental permission. This is especially a problem for those select games, like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies, that are M-rated and digital download-only. Users enter in their birth date when creating their one-per-system NNID, and if that date is below 17, it cannot be changed and they are locked out by the eShop.

Consumers cannot buy these game even with parental permission or parents buying it for them, or even if the 3DS finds a new owner because there can only be NNID per system. So if more than one user shares a 3DS and one of those people is above 17 and the other below, the Mature gamer can't play M games if the NNID represents the younger user.

Please, change the design of the eShop to benefit not only your bottom line, but also the consumer. Many people are clamoring to play these M-rated digital download-only titles, but they are at a particular disadvantage because a parent can go to a store to buy an M-rated title for their kid if they wish, but since these titles are only digitally distributed, that can't occur.

Thank you,

[your name]
Together, we can make change. There's no reason for this policy to even exist, so it shouldn't be that hard to get fixed.


Ludwig isn't personally affected by the ESRB lockout, but he doesn't like all of the Miiverse posts from those who are. Follow him at NNID PrinceOfKoopas!


For an interview with Nintendo about this and how to bypass the ESRB lockout, click here!
Here is the more sustainable, and hopefully final way of how to bypass the lockout.

5 comments :

  1. I'll keep the list updated, because why not?

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Capcom Unity thread got locked because,

    "

    This isn't something that Capcom can weigh in on. It's ultimately between Nintendo and the ESRB.

    Games receive ratings for a reason and anyone under the age of 17 should not be playing Dual Destinies. Whether or not a parent feels a game is appropriate for their child is up to them and I wouldn't criticize a parent for allowing their child to play Dual Destinies if they feel their child was mature enough. The main issue is that it's difficult to verify whether or not consent is given, thus the "lockout."


    Losing a sale over this isn't the worst thing in the world. It would be a PR nightmare if a bunch of underaged kids got their hands on games they shouldn't be playing. We all know that they always find a way to get their hands on what they "can't" have, but not having something in place to try to prevent access to games that aren't age-apropriate makes Nintendo and potentially those publishing games on the eShop liable."

    I PMed the moderator by saying that

    "

    Well, the whole point of what I'm saying is that there already exist a robust set of parental consent features in the 3DS.


    It's not Capcom's responsibility or anything about how Nintendo operates their shopping platform, but I do think Capcom can help Nintendo be aware of what their policy does.
    " and linked to http://en-americas-support.nintendo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/257/p/430/c/184/session/L3RpbWUvMTM5NjkxMDM4Ni9zaWQvVmlFZEdkUmw%3D

    ReplyDelete
  3. Turns out joindots's e-mail isn't actually real. Or something.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Suprise! It's me! Erihya from Miiverse! I would like to say that this article was very well written as your lexicon is vast and you are to the point as well. It's a shame that you aren't on a website such as IGN because it really needs more writers like yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh! Hibiki! You disappeared for... um... a long time on Miiverse! I was concerned since I kept your post Yeah'd for the purpose of checking up on you.

      Thank you for your kind words, and be sure to check out the other parts of KoopaTV, both nefarious and amusing.

      Delete

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