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Topics: Obamacare

Demand for online games gives Nintendo the Obamacare disease

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Obamacare,Ashe Schow,Healthcare.gov,Health Care Exchanges

Children around the world woke up Christmas morning to open their presents, with millions receiving video games and video game systems as gifts. Sadly, for those who received Nintendo games and systems, they'll be forced to endure wait times for online purchases akin to what their parents went through with healthcare.gov.

I learned the problem firsthand on Thursday, when I tried to purchase a game for my Nintendo 3DS XL (which was totally something cool like Legend of Zelda, and not at all girlie like Harvest Moon). The game I wanted wasn’t at any of the nearby GameStops, so I decided I would purchase and download it from Nintendo’s eShop service on my device.

Looking back, it would have taken much less time to drive miles out of my way to find the game than to wait for the eShop to let me through. But I was determined (and too lazy to leave my house).

Gaming blogs had warned of the problem even before Christmas, but I didn’t think it could be that bad. Boy, was I wrong. Error message after error message thwarted my game-buying experience, and every time I thought I made progress, another error message would appear and require me to restart my system.

My experience went like this (starting at about 10:30 a.m.):

Error x10.

Welcome to the eShop! Please answer these questions (crash).

Error x5.

Welcome to the eShop! Please answer these questions (crash).

Error x5.

Welcome to the eShop! Please answer these questions (crash).

Error x5.

Break to write an article about fracking.

Error x8.

Break for lunch.

Error x3.

Finally, I made it to the actual shop and searched for the game I wanted. Success! It’s there, now to purchase.

Error, and I was back to the beginning.

Error x3.

Back into the shop, found the game, tried to purchase.

Error x4.

Back into the shop, found the game, tried to purchase.

Error x3.

Back into the shop, found the game, tried to purchase.

Error x4.

Break to write an article about Edward Snowden.

Back in to the shop, found the game, tried to purchase.

Error x4.

Break to write an article about Pajama Boy.

Finally something different: a request for billing information because I had no money in my Nintendo account.

Another seven error messages.

At least I only had to put in the billing information once. The eShop said I had the necessary funds in my account.

After about three more hours of error messages and requesting to purchase the game (and one failed download attempt), I finally had the game. Seven hours later.

Nintendo acknowledged the issue via a tweet, writing “Hi, everyone. We're aware that some of you are encountering issues with eShop and creating NNIDs. Our team is working hard to resolve them…” and following up with “…And we are truly sorry for any inconvenience. Please follow us for more updates. Thank you for your patience!”

But as of this writing, the eShop is still experiencing problems.

Nintendo wasn't alone in online store problems, however. Sony's Playstation experienced connectivity issues on Christmas Eve, tweeting, “We're aware some users are having issues connecting to the PSN. We are investigating.” But the problem has since been resolved.

Microsoft’s Xbox is also up and running. Valve Corporation’s popular Steam store (which allows users to purchase games for multiple platforms) was down on Christmas Day, but is now available.

But Nintendo is still experiencing problems due to “greater than anticipated” traffic. Sound familiar?

The younger audience Nintendo attracts now knows what it felt like to try and purchase health insurance through healthcare.gov. Although I was eventually able to break through the system after seven hours, some people still can't get through to healthcare.gov.

And at least my waiting was purely voluntary — I wasn’t in danger of financial penalty if I failed to purchase that game. And Nintendo gamers aren’t just in America, so even older players had to experience the agony of crashes like those required to purchase health insurance in the U.S. had to endure.

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