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I Want to Take You Seriously Nintendo

"So even though we won't change the fact that our focus is on video games, I felt the need to take that occasion to state that Nintendo is a company that can do whatever it wants." - Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo.

Statements like this is why I can't take you seriously any more Nintendo. Yes you can be a company that makes whatever but what people WANT you to be is a video game company. I don't know what else you think it is you should be doing now but whatever it is... stop trying to do that and focus on being the best video game company you can be. Get your head on straight because this just sounds like the setup for your next big hardware "innovation" that nobody cares about.

Nintendo has been many things as a company over the last hundred years... but today they are known as a video game company and that is what people who buy their products want them to be. Gamers aren't looking for a fitness solution or a robot vacuum cleaner. Leave that to other companies who are focused on that and will do it better. Nintendo needs to worry itself with understanding its audience and appropriately tooling itself to meet that groups wants and expectations. It’s because Nintendo seems to have lost that connection to their core audience that their sales of the Wii U have been so terrible. They seem to have an excellent understanding of the handheld market but in consoles after the SNES they seem to just blindly flail around from one iteration to the next with no clear idea of how they should be focusing their efforts.

The Wii was a major push on a specific direction but they still couldn't push things past the initial gimmick of the hardware. The numbers for the Wii blew up with non-traditional gamers so the focus shifted in that direction, which was a mistake because that ultra-casual market is never a good long term support group for a product.

A few simple things could fix their troubles if they're going to stay in the console market:

1) Pick a target market and stick with it. No more "We're the everybody system." They'll sell a lot more games if they set themselves a core market and design their system and games with them in mind.

2) Take existing franchises in some truly NEW directions (and I don't mean Mario Party, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, Mario Kart, etc.). How's about throwing Mario and the gang some curve balls. New mechanics never hurt but Mario and company today are still running thru the same basic hoops and story they were back in the 80s. In a lot of ways it feels like these series stopped growing with the SNES era. Their franchises are too hung up on the same tropes to the point that they are cliche because of themselves. How is it that Zelda and Peach are still getting captured after all these years? Why does Link still have no voice? Why does Samus always lose all her armor upgrades 10 minutes into the first mission? For every Super Mario Galaxy (which was still the same old save the princess story) we get 3-4 Super Mario Wii, Super Mario Wii U, New Super Mario Bros, New Super Mario Bros 2 type games that are just the same things again and again. Time to really break those molds Nintendo. Gamers hate CoD for doing iteration to death so you don't deserve a free pass either.

3) Develop some new first party IPs. Mario is the flagship. Nintendo fans love Zelda. But it’s also time for some fresh infusions into the Nintendo lineup.

4) Stop trying to keep a death grip on the licensing with the system and actually develop some solid 3rd party relationships. Nintendo has the 1st party titles, no doubt but console exclusives alone cannot support a system well, especially when they have long delays between releases and if the title under-performs to gamers expectations like a lot of their recent releases that have been considered simply mediocre.

5) Market appropriately. Hire an outside firm if you have to but get some people that understand how and where to market your products to your audience. Doing primarily online presentations to people who already bought your system will not encourage new sales.

6) Actually listen to consumer feedback. Don't sacrifice vision or creative license but criticism should be heard and evaluated for merit.

7) Either truly compete in the console market or be your own niche but stop trying to do both.

8) Innovate the business but that doesn’t have to mean trying to reinvent the console wheel with every new generation. Stop building systems that are gimmicks first and game experiences second. It sets the path for all future development for your console. Every game will either be built around a forced mechanic or have to try and find ways to avoid it, which makes the controller setup either less than ideal or seem like a lot of wasted potential. Build a solid experience and work gimmicks into in a way that doesn’t make them feel like annoying gimmicks. They should be an additive experience.

That’s just my two cents after owning every Nintendo console up thru the Wii. I just feel like as a gamer they need a clear direction and a tighter focus. Trying to be all things to all people is not a solid business model. I want to see Nintendo succeed. I want to have a reason to buy their consoles again. I want to be able to take them seriously again.

I Agree With Miyamoto, Sort Of

Saw this article today: http://www.gamespot.com/e3/miyamoto-says-publishers-should-see-game-ownership-like-a-toy-company-6410237/ about Miyamoto's thoughts on publishers and how they see ownership of games. I agree that publishers need to think of games as something other than just a licensing agreement. That change in attitude would earn them a lot more good will from gamers for sure.

I agree with the notion that games should be something that gamers want to go back and experience again over time. I also think that Nintendo has had a difficult time with this idea post SNES. With Nintendo the problem is that post SNES era they've done very little to step away from their comfort zone most of the time with first party titles. You get some occasional stand outs on consoles after that: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and others that tried to really do something different but they're still mired in the same old basic formula and rehash the same IPs over and over. Technologically Nintendo has changed but the games still lean too hard on retreading the same ground. Mario is saving Peach from Bowser yet again, Link is still saving Zelda and the tri-force, Samus still loses all her abilities in the first 15 minutes. And when they do try new things they often turn out to be superficial or mechanics that fundementally alter a series in ways that are more frustrating than fun.

For example: Do we really need another Mario Kart? Yes plenty of people will buy it but is it really different from the previous Mario Kart? The previous 7 Mario Karts? Cosmetically sure. A few new mechanics of course. But its still very much the same basic game as the original. Theres not really an evolution if you say Mario has a raccoon tail now so he can fly but the end result is still "Our princess is in another castle." You did some tweaks to the formula, added some often fun new mechanical differences but didn't fundamentally change anything. There is no real growth happening.

Where's the game where Mario gets captured and you have to play as Peach to rescue him? Or how about no one gets captured and we do something different for a change? Nintendo needs to turn things on their head now and again. Mix it up. Retain the focus of what made these IPs so liked to begin with and ultimately make them fun but don't just keep churning out the same old song and dance with a new coat of paint.

With no change fanboys will keep eating it up of course because they're fanboys. 8 year olds will eat it up because they're kids and they weren't around when the original Super Mario Bros. came out. But what about those of us that have been consumers of their products since before they even made consoles? We know these stories. We know these characters. We've seen what they can do from the time that Mario's girlfriend was named Pauline. Porting old games to the new systems or slapping an HD polish on SNES style games and bringing them to the Wii U and 3DS will work for nostalgia for a while for some but its not going to really do anything new or exciting for your company. There's not really any other incentive for old school gamers to pick these up.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 2. Yeah looks pretty much like more of the same game that I played back in the day on my SNES. Fine for a little nostalgia without a complete retread but what's stopping me from just pulling out my SNES and playing the original? Nothing. So why wouldn't I just do that instead if I want to play A Link to the Past again? I'd save myself $40 and get more or less the same experience.

I like to reference this fan made video A Fistful of Rupees http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UunpCv7kKHw&list=PL9AB56A1E36D227C8 often when discussing this topic because it shows how you can take the same properties, retain the ideas that keep them recognizable and familiar, but honestly do something different with the idea. Why does Nintendo never seem to be creative in this way any more? They've certainly got talented people on staff, lots of them. But even 30 years into some of these IPs they're still holding on to that same core story and mechanics.

Maybe a little of what made Square Enix Final Fantasy franchise so great needs to find its way into Nintendo's development philosophy. You take the parts that makes the series great and recognizable and fun but you don't just keep making the same game over and over. Now again I'll note that occasionally Nintendo will surprise me here and pull this off with a Super Mario Galaxy (even though it still really only changed the mechanics) or something similar but for the most part post SNES era they seem a little stagnant on the new ideas front outside of fitting their games to their newer console tech.

I don't think I'm asking too much of Nintendo to want them to broaden their wheel house a bit. I want to care about them again as a company. I want to see them do something new and exciting that gets gamers old and new amped for their product. I want to have their console be more than a Netflix viewer. I want to see them design a console that focuses on playing games rather than designing games around their latest gimmick. They really need to make those first party titles not just well made and polished but also something that can recapture our excitement for the long haul so 20 years from now we want to play them again.

What Nintendo Needs to Understand

Okay here's my two cents about the Wii U and Nintendo as a company in general. The main thing for Nintendo that will matter in the coming months is sustained sales momentum. If they can't ramp up interest from consumers and begin moving units at retail they will find themselves in the same situation they did with the 3DS before the price drop. The projection of negativity being displayed by journalists (aside from being deliberately sensational to grab attention) is also a show of lack of faith that this will occur. I share this view as well since the lightning in a bottle that was trapped by Nintendo with the Wii just isn't there with this system.

It's partly due to a bad economy and the rest is the fault of Nintendo for poor product differentiation, marketing, and a general lack of understanding of what their target audience wants to see from them. Nintendo suffers from its own success. They fail to learn the lessons of what they continue to do wrong in a business sense because their revenue tends to be steady due to name recognition and past product success. For instance making the standard $300 Wii U. Nobody wants the thing because it has a small HDD and doesn't come with a game. And yet the shelves are flooded with them.

They went with the idea that people would go for cheaper over value but the price difference isn't significant enough to warrant the average consumer losing the benefits offered with the $350 model. If the sales show to be lackluster in the coming months then shareholders are unlikely to remain happy for long and will force the company to take action, much the same as they did with the 3DS. The lifespan of their product is too short to have a sustained lull in sales figures and their window of profitability shrinks as time passes, especially with the expected launch of their competitors new consoles within the next 12 months.

I don't hate or love Nintendo. I just see them repeating the same mistakes as a company and never learning how to maximize their profits by avoiding a lot of obvious hurdles. It's the sign of a company that has never really known true failure. Now the economy has suffered globally for a sustained period and its starting to affect things for them. They need to stop trying to float their product on name recognition and shore up the holes in their business model. You can take risks as a company but you should do it in as logical a manner as possible. And to start they need to understand their consumers.

Showing Gamer Swagger

When I want to show off that I'm a gamer I want to wear something that doesn't just scream out the title for all to see. I want you to have to work for it. I only want those who know what it means to actually get it. If my shirt says N7 you know I'm into Mass Effect. As opposed to wearing a shirt that just says Mass Effect. Not that non-gamers are going to really care either waybut I think it creates a greater connection amongst us in the gamer community to have that kind of recognition.

Gamers Are Like Whiny Little Babies Sometimes

Ranging from doggedly defending something for no rational reason beyond "I like it" to resorting to name calling and extreme fanboyism, gamers just really need to get a grip sometimes. Realise that not everyone enjoys the same things, that not everyone has the same opinion. Understand that just because you like something doesn't mean that it is a good product or that others agree with you.Most importantly don't take it upon yourself to tear others down for their choices in entertainment.

Facts are facts, they can't be disputed just because you don't like it. Opinions are opinions and should not be stated as facts. Resulting to "Yo mama" insults doesn't help your position when trying to backup an opinion. You want to impress me with your opinion then bring reasoned argument based on facts and experience and we can have a nice discussion. Agreeing to disagree also helps. Again not everyone likes the same things and that is okay.

When you doggedly defend something that the factshave established is not true then that makes you seem either uneducated, ill informed, or just plain stupid if you persist when presented with the truth. If there is an element of opinion involved then some leeway can be given for personal preference but don't try and use your like for something as evidence that it is something that it isn't. Subjectivity is relative. One man's game of the year is another man's avoid at all cost. Try tostay informed and look to things outside your usual realm of interest to stay in the know if you really want to participate in learned discussion.

Just remember that we're all gamers and that makes us a family of a kind, albeit a disfunctional one. The kind of family with the weird uncle and the cousin who can't seem to stay out of prison. Just like family reunions or holidays, try and remain civil and decent to one another.Be safe in the knowledge that you don't communicate on a regular basis unless you actually want to.

If Only More Games Were Like Mass Effect

As the gaming industrymoves ahead we can expect to see a lot of changes in the near future. Developers are waging war on pirating and the used game market. Full scale digital distribution is becoming more of a reality. So how are developers working to convince gamers that paying the price for their game is worthwhile?

If only more games were like the Mass Effect series. It provides a long, player driven experience that feels both rewarding and fulfilling. It is one of the games you can sit down and play and the thought will actually cross your mind: "I've gotten my money's worth out of this game." It's the kind of game that you will play until you beat it, then put it away in a draw to come back to another day rather than take it to trade.

If game developers really want to knock out pirating and the second hand market and get people to openly invest in their games then they need to provide the kind of experience that makes gamers want to purchase their product, that makes gamers want to keep their product, and that makes gamers want to encourage their friends to pick up a copy.

And just as an aside, I also think demoing goes a long way toward convincing people to buy, especially those on the fence. The rental industry is kind of on the decline and a system that either provides demos or full access for a limited time would really help to convince gamers to make a purchase.

I Think I'm Sold


Now this is how you convince people to buy games. The moment they revealed that the severed head is actually used in combat I was sold on this game. I've been on the fence for a while thinking it would just be a vapid Japanese cheerleader/zombie fetish fantasy game but this made me think there's more to this game. I may not pick it up at full price but I'll definitely be looking to get this game at some point.

When Developer's Spit in Your Face

"The dream would be that the millions of Call of Duty fans that are enjoying these fast-paced online games are attracted to this Resident Evil." ~ Dave Turner, Capcom UK's head of marketing.

All I can say is what a horrible thing to say Capcom. Way to tell loyalfans of your series that your next installment is going to ignore all that made your games loved in lieu of pandering to an audience that doesn't care about that pesky survival horror genre. This pretty much tells you everything you need to know about what to expect from Resident Evil 6. You want that formula that you've known from the original game and subsequent releseases over a decade? Well forget it. We're turning our backs on you in hopes of wooing a bigger audience. Thanks a lot for your business.