Why not a Virtual Console subscription service?

Regarding a recent post we made about Wii Virtual Console demos, Joystiq reader Jesse Morrison makes a great suggestion: why not offer a retro subscription service, a la GameTap?

The benefits. Nintendo would not have to worry about demos and, if they want to, still charge for original titles. By charging a monthly or annual fee and allow gamers to play as many titles as they want. They could even make a hierarchy of service plans where you can pay more if you would like to have many titles cached on your Wii at a time. Nintendo arguably has more potential than GameTap via its extensive back library and console integration, and since GameTap has managed to stay afloat, the business model has potential for profit.

Ownership.
One mental stigma associated with subscription services is the feeling of ownership. As it stands with the current plan, however, we don't have full ownership. Each game is tied to the console itself, which limits you from
  • Bringing your games over to a friend's house
  • Retaining your game purchases in the event your Wii breaks
  • Transferring the titles over to the next generation Nintendo console
With a subscription service, you will only be penalized for the extra months you purchased, assuming the implemented system is still tied to the console.

Logistical issues. If Nintendo is worried about paying the IP owners of each title, how about set up a system based on the amount of downloads each title receives, as a percentage of the income earned from the subscription? Also, for those who have already purchased VC titles, why not offer them a discount or rebate via equivalent months of subscription? This, obviously, is where our proposal gets a little muddy.

Non-competition. By merit of console-specific Friend Codes, Nintendo has positioned itself not to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors -- namely Microsoft's Xbox Live. So why appear as an inferior version when Nintendo can provide a new way of handling online console services that can be touted as innovative (in the realm of consoles)?

Why it will never work. By selling games a la carte, the big N is likely poised to make more money by charging a good price for individual games of Console's Past. But how will long-term customer satisfaction fare if more than a few downloads turn out to be nowhere near as fun as one expects or remembers?

We are but simple-minded blogging folk making suggestions for the sake of opening discussion on the matter, so please critique and discuss away.

[Thanks for the idea, Jesse!]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.