It's clear what Microsoft thinks of game ownership -- the Xbox One's policies don't communicate much of a belief in it. Sony scored a lot of points on Monday, but to be fair, it was a defence of the status quo. Where does Nintendo come down on the subject?
Shigeru Miyamoto, the creative face of the company, considers video game ownership to be akin to toy ownership, roughly speaking. To him, that means "as a consumer, you want to be able to keep those things for a long time and have those things from your youth that you can go back to and experience again," he told Eurogamer.
Miyamoto drew the metaphor from the idea that Nintendo is "almost like a toy company where we're making these things for people to play with." But it's a very useful counterpoint to those who think a game licence versus a game ownership is no big deal -- those who think no one will care about the games they bought today when the servers are turned off in 10 years. (As Halo 2 itself showed, people do care.)
If you imagine games as toys -- or, hell, comic books, or DVDs of classic movies -- then, hell yes it matters, and not because they're collectibles. The interactive experiences these things offer are still there, still may be enjoyed, whether or not they're outdated. Even if they are, your memories may make playing them a richer experience.
That said, Nintendo could take an additional step toward this toy-ownership ideal. As it stands, you may transfer digital content you own from machine to machine only. If your Wii U or 3DS is lost, stolen or fried, there's no way to pull down what you purchased from the cloud -- as you can, incidentally, with an Xbox Live or PlayStation Network account. Nintendo's been forgiving in very extreme cases, but it would be nice to see them finally take that step.