Playing with cardboard

There are times when a company shows how out of touch they are with their global audience. It is understandable, keeping in touch what world-wide audience is like or wants can be a difficult task, but knowing some of the basics should be doable for every corporation working outside their own borders. Nintendo’s recent Investor Q&A summary shows that while they may be seen a worldwide brand, their concern is still in Japan first and foremost, just like with every other Japanese company.

There is a quote in this Q&A that really shows this;

I’m sure we surprised everyone with the use of cardboard, but it is not so far-fetched if you consider how familiar the material is at least to Japanese people who from a young age use it for play and as a material for creating things such as fancy crafts.
This is not something specific only to Japanese. Crafting your own toy out of anything is part of children’s play culture. What that crafted toy is made of and what it is depends on the culture. My parents played with conifer cone animals, as I did and as I have seen numerous other children do. Cardboard is just another material to be used in these plays, making good material for a knight armour, sword and shield. Saying that cardboard is important at least to Japanese people is extremely self-masturbatory and tells how global view is being ignored. Well, that comes with the name of the product too. Labo is short for laboratory, which in English would be Lab. Because how Japanese works, lab becomes labo, ラボ.
The tone underneath this really puts only one side of the global market on a high pedestal, business as usual. It’s no wonder why certain titles fail in the West, when even a simple thing like this is being ignored. The only people Nintendo can blame on their lack of success in European markets over the years is themselves, as clearly they’ve not gotten over how they simply can’t manage the markets properly. America’s a different deal, of course, with their solid footholding. Europe’s like a black hole to them, and they still can’t get over how NES didn’t succeed here, and it was Donkey Kong Country that finally made SNES a household name.
Miyamoto’s assurance that Labo is a product that seems like very Nintendo rings another bell. Nintendo, above all other game companies, especially form the Big Three console manufacturers, is all about toys and children. Nintendo may want to steer away from this image with the constant support of Bayonetta, but when you have your Walt Disney of the company telling investors that their company wants to make cardbaoard toys and hires people who want to make cardboard toys, something’s extremely off.
Nintendo Labo has its potential and we all get it. It’s like with LEGO, where it supposedly should encourage kids to try building stuff and see how things work mechanically. What makes the world tick, if you will. They get to build it and see its function first hand, all the while enjoying the game these crafts were made to function through.
However, Nintendo’s history of success has not been in toys or crafts items, love hotels or vacuums. Nintendo’s history has been success of games, from hanafuda cards to video games. With Nintendo Labo, the game part comes second to the toy. While trying something new is always a positive, putting this sort of emphasize on it as one of your main things probably will bite you back. Virtual Reality didn’t catch on like wild-fire, as it was expected to (as it is always expected to, mind you) and Nintendo Labo is just Nintendo’s version of VR. It’s all about how people interact with their games and through what means, not about games themselves. New Form of Play, as the slogan puts it, matters jack shit if the game played isn’t any good on itself.

Maybe this is just one of those 3D things Nintendo always goes on about.

On a more positive side, a PDF released around the same time properly presented Nintendo’s plans to continue the Nintendo Classic Editions. Which actually throws a monkey wrench to Miyamoto’s point in the Q&A about Switch going to have a longer life span. With these Classic editions, Nintendo has effectively extended both NES and SNES’ lifespan, the same way they did with Virtual Console. These consoles selling out and being put back into manufacturing puts an emphasize how stupid limited console cycle really is. A console has as long cycle as the parent company wants it to, whereas consumers really just want t good games. Fanboys of course disagree about on what platform, but that’s another topic. The main dish of this meal is how prowess and hardware barely matters when the games are just that damn good. The selection on these Classics editions of course could use some revamping, though I’ll grant this to Nintendo; they make one helluva first entry to video gaming.

Nintendo’s classics don’t sell because they’re some sort of revered holy objects, though to some that may be a reason. They sell because the consumers have a certain want these classic titles fulfill and what modern Nintendo does not have and have not beaten. In Nintendo’s Earning Releases, specifically their Supplementary Information about Earning Releases, you can see a trend appearing when you backwards; 2D Mario titles in the Million-Seller list. New Super Mario Bros. 2 was released in 2012 and it’s still making on the list and keeps appearing there since 2012, with New Super Mario Bros. still appearing there as well.

The New SMB line of games are not (or should I put that were not?) high-budget titles. They were games made on the cheap, and they sold like gold in most cases. If Nintendo would put the same level of care and intention on titles like New SMB games that they put on Super Mario Odyssey, they probably would see even further increase in sales. New SMB line was a nice throwback, but 2D Mario never got the glorious return it and the consumers have been demanding and wanting. Instead, it gets wah wah music with cheap 3D and we get cardboard.

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