The war for used video game sales has been cool over the last few years since PlayStation 4 and Xbox One embraced unobstructed access to disc-based games. But in an attempt Thursday to control the reputation of Nintendo products sold on Amazon, the debate may resurface.
Today, Amazon made a great announcement to its family of third-party product sellers: effective immediately, these sellers cannot have a longer Nintendo Products list for sale without explicit approval.
The announcement does not explain whether Nintendo, Amazon or both companies are responsible for the change. And it does not include a list of affected products or Amazon standard identifiers (ASINs).
Users in the Third Party Sellers Forum site indicated a common characteristic among the articles concerned: the product manufacturer was referred to as "Nintendo". This affects everything from modern gaming and Switch consoles to paper and hardware cartridges that haven't been printed, but also leaves Nintendo's third-party console game makers (i.e. Capcom, Ubisoft).
The Amazon Distributor Notice states:
As part of our ongoing effort to provide the best possible customer experience, we apply Nintendo product approval requirements … Effective by 2019-10-31, you will need approval to list the products concerned, If you do not get approval to sell these products before 2019-10-31, your listings for these products will be removed.
The notice sent to sellers is dated October 31, which means that the notice period for some distributors has apparently begun, according to their complaints in an Amazon forum. At press time, the implementation of the new rules seems to be scattered, with some sellers complaining about ASINs already being downloaded (after delivering affected stocks of different generations of Nintendo consoles to warehouses, no less), while others say their inventory remains unchanged.
Thursday's notice instructed sellers to seek "approval" for the products concerned before they could be listed as "used" or "collectible". Meanwhile, some sellers say they are able to list the products concerned in a "new" state (which is sometimes impossible or unlikely, in the name of classic and retro Nintendo products).
This follows Amazon's efforts to squeeze other categories of "used" sales products. This includes DVD and Apple products, which now require similar approval processes to move forward. Users of the thread used in the Nintendo forum
In an email interview with Ars Technica, Kelsey Lewin, co-owner of the used Pink Gorilla Games video game chain, agreed with everyone. The online retailer has shut down a very high bootleg percentage, "Levin writes." I experimented when Gamestop started selling Game Game Advance games again [online]. I ordered 25 copies of Pokemon Sapphire and Ruby and received 12 bootleg. " .)
However, this does not necessarily explain Amazon's decision to cover anything under the "Nintendo-made" sun. This solution seems to suggest that either Nintendo or Amazon would rather limit all used sales of Nintendo products than build a more focused list of proven software and products. In addition, Amazon has not yet developed a similar rule for everything made by Microsoft or Sony console manufacturers – perhaps in part because these companies have wider product catalogs than Nintendo. (Levin claims that Sony's PlayStation division would be a great target for such a restriction on Amazon, since "the market for Bootleg PS3 controllers is huge.")
Neither Nintendo nor Amazon immediately answered Ars Technica's questions about which company was responsible for the policy change.