Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Editorial – Nintendo’s Biggest Problem: Us

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iwata

Normally I wouldn’t be speaking to the modern gaming scene, but the overall backlash toward Nintendo is that they are failing with the Wii U and they need to fix it now.  The first statement is unarguably true, and despite the second statement being more of an opinion, it’s one that Nintendo also shares.  From the outset of the Wii U’s supposed and later confirmed failure, my peers on the Internet and beyond that at larger video game media venues have taken it upon themselves to suggest what Nintendo should do to fix this problem (just look at this simple search).  Needless to say the vocal minority in message boards have also role-played as CEO and declared their plans on how to “fix” Nintendo with suggestions that vary from practical to downright stupid.  This illustrates one of the largest problems in gaming today: the public.

wii_u_salesI’m not sure quite when the Facebook generation took over, but ever since social media has boomed it has been handled in a very irresponsible way.  At first people were just plain rude due to anonymity, however now we see people who blatantly admit to their real names and even in public have brought out this behavior.  Internet rudeness has become commonplace.  With it so has any sort of credibility for sources of accurate information and inevitably the whole world thinking they are important.  Well Nintendo doesn’t need your help and wouldn’t do well to follow it.

yamauchi-san_postI wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t get all historical on you readers.  Nintendo was founded as a simple hanafuda card company in the late 1800s, progressed into various markets like instant ramen and even love hotels before the Hiroshi Yamauchi eventually entered into the video game market.  Even Nintendo’s first console was released in the dark times after the video game crash and there have been countless times in history where the decisions of Nintendo have been called into question just before massive success occurs (this was covered in my Hiroshi Yamauchi podcast if you’re interested).  Logic dictates that for a company that has existed more than a century and currently has a war chest of billions of yen that perhaps the average gamer that has only lived about 20-40 years and has no experience actually making games or running a company may be ill-equipped to be giving advice.  Still, Nintendo didn’t build that war chest to hemorrhage it and investors will not stand for much more failure without drastic change, but the most popular suggestions suck.   Even I, the low retro games blogger can shred through some that seem ideal at first and pathetic when examined:

  • Nintendo should move to mobile gaming: This is a popular one.  Oh sure, if Nintendo brought Mario to your iPhone or Android you would most certainly buy it, right?  A suggestion popular among people who refuse to purchase the comparatively low priced 3DS/2DS consoles seem to be the last person I expect to buy these products.  Furthermore the mobile gaming space is the most risky, pathetic, and flooded world of gaming in existence.  Almost no one hails it as a proper business strategy and everything I’ve ever read suggests that the only successful game is a price-gouging or bad game (Game Industry covered the mobile gaming space here).  For a company that has the portable gaming market down to a science, I don’t think Nintendo gains a thing with mobile gaming.  Companion apps, on the other hand, may not be much but at least peers EA, Ubisoft, and several others are trying it with varied success and little to no financial risk.

next_gen

  • Nintendo should drop out of console gaming and go pure software on that front:  Did you learn nothing from Sega?  Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that Sega made the wrong choice, but that company was in a completely different place.  What I mean is that for decades we sat and pondered what Mario would look like on a Sega platform and Sonic on a Nintendo one.  When it finally happened on the GameCube, few cared.  Sonic set no records, even for established solid titles like Sonic Adventure.  I think the concept of Mario being on the PS4 or Xbox One are more tempting than the reality of Mario on those consoles.  Furthermore, if you’re not going to spend $250 to get Mario on Wii U, why in the world should Nintendo shell out licensing fees and give up its biggest money-making franchises to come out on a $500 console?  Not to mention the struggles they’ve had developing on their own hardware, what do you think the dev time will be on another company’s hardware?
  • Drop the price of the Wii U:  I keep hearing this argument from gamers time and time again, “if they would just drop the price I would buy it.”  Bull.  Wii U was $350 and now it’s $300 with one of three included game options and you still didn’t buy it.  Meanwhile PS4 and Xbox One are at a staggering $400 and $500 price tag respectively, have even less games than the struggling Wii U, and are moving millions of units a month.  Many like to say it’s the promised potential, but as any Nintendo enthusiast will point out, many of the your_choicemost anticipated games on those consoles (like Black Flag and even Call of Duty, which even I in an earlier draft of this article didn’t think was on the console) are on or planned for the Wii U.  This still doesn’t speak to the obvious lack of Battlefield, I know, but it’s not exactly like there’s zero potential.  Even more, you lack faith that Nintendo has some heavy hitters coming?  Well if so, moving development to PS4/XBO/PC like suggested in the last point will not help that.  Wii U goes any lower it will be seen as not only an inferior struggling console, but a cheap alternative to a “real” gaming platform.  Oh and before you suggest dropping the tablet for a drop, it will reduce the cost, tops, $25 and I still go back and say gamers are happily shelling out $100 more for the Kinect in the Xbox One, another peripheral no one asked for (meanwhile you can’t find Playstation cameras on store shelves for some odd reason).
  • hardcoreNintendo needs to release more “classic” and “hardcore” games: NES Remix can only truly be appreciated by those that grew up with these games in my eyes, and even if you don’t agree with me there’s no doubt this is a hardcore gamer-centric title.  Bayonetta 2 is solely for the hardcore, it will not perform well.  The same can be said for Wonderful 101Zombii U, and even if you didn’t bite at them, the myriad of 3rd party titles that premiered on the console and died a miserable sales-free death.  Nintendo listened and you spit in its face, gamers, just like you did EA a few years back that caused them to do the horrid practices they now do to survive.  Nintendo is even in danger of releasing its strongest franchises too often and you all have the balls to ask them to bring something new?  New IP are known to be high risk and rarely succeed in the first iteration.

Nintendo has a long hard road ahead of it, but one I feel confident they can work themselves out of.  The current plan of branching out to other areas of non-gaming culture and branching out the business means that Nintendo may not have to care as much how well (or poor) its games perform.  But for Christ’s sake stop making suggestions, they all suck.  I’m humble enough to realize that I haven’t seen any good suggestions and I don’t personally know the answer.  Oh and you Wii U hardcore fanboys: take it easy, you’re having fun with your console and that’s what matters.

Written by Fred Rojas

February 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Posted in Blog

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One Response

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  1. I really enjoyed this article, it made me feel different about the whole WiiU situation. I totally agree that social media seems to be having quite the impact on the game industry which is a shame really as a lot of complaints on the internet are really not thought through well. I for one will make very quick and silly statements about the industry even about the WiiU I was in the camp that felt if you reduce the cost I will buy it after reading this it makes more sense for the WiiU not to give up. I commented on another site that if the WiiU does fail I see this being like the Dreamcast and people will probably miss it when its gone. I do intend to actually buy the WiiU and I think this article has probably just about tipped me over the edge. To Amazon UK I go. Great work Fred

    The Jamster (@jamalais)

    February 12, 2014 at 3:06 pm


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