Digital game lending, should Nintendo consider such an idea?

Before digital game purchases were a thing, people could only acquire them in physical form.

I remember my school friends wanting to borrow games that I had, and in exchange I would borrow games from them that I’ve never played before. It was a win-win situation because it allowed us to play games that we’ve never had a chance to try. If the game was really fun, I’d ask my parents to purchase it for my birthday etc.

This was also the case with game rental stores, as I’d rent a game for a day or 2 and it if was really good, I’d ask my parents to buy it. With Nintendo games being in cartridge form, you didn’t have to worry about anything going wrong with the borrowed physical media unless you smashed it with a hammer etc.

Things are different now with digital game purchases since they are tied to your online profile. There’s no way to allow friends or family to borrow any of your games unless you purchased a retail copy. The only option, apart from them buying their own copy (new/used) or borrowing a physical copy, is to come down and try the game on your system.

Many people live on a budget and can’t afford to buy all the games they’d like to play, which is why game rentals / borrowing was such a great thing (unless the focus of the game was playing online, like PSO). Being able to help a friend or family member out by letting them play through a game they might not normally be able to was rewarding.

I was thinking, what if Nintendo were to implement some kind of game borrowing system. All your NNID’s are in their system anyway, along with the digital purchases you have made. You could be assigned a borrowing limit of 3 games. This means you can lend out up to 3 games and borrow up to 3 games from different people. There’d be a secondary limit allowing only 1 borrow / lend per set of NNIDs.

The borrowing period could range from a 1 day minimum to a 14 day maximum. The person lending out the game would pick the duration. What would happen is that the lender’s system would be flagged as having that game lent out and that game would become disabled from launching during this period. The lending process could be initiated from the Nintendo eShop, in the user’s Account area.

The person borrowing the game would then have the set duration to play the game. The user could choose to return the game early if they wanted and have the system delete or disable the game on their console at that time. The benefit of disabling the game would be incase the person ended up purchasing their own copy. The borrowed (disabled) copy would be unlocked and no longer disabled. If the game gets re-borrowed, then the system is updated to allow access to that game for the new duration period.

To avoid people changing their system clocks to extend the borrow duration, the system would call home to verify the remaining duration. If the console was offline, you would be allowed 3 launches. On the 4th launch, the system would disable launching the game until it can verify how much time is left for the borrow duration. I’m sure there would be a few kinks to work out, but this seems like a plausible idea.

What is your take on the idea of digital game lending / borrowing? If you could give a friend the opportunity to experience a great game they normally wouldn’t be able to, would you?

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