I’ve got no difficulties in admitting that I used to be a Nintendo fan. I liked their games and consoles and turned a blind eye to their worse decisions. At some point I began to wonder why Nintendo didn’t continue making as great products as they used to, but told myself that I had changed. The truth was that I still enjoyed the same old games they were producing, but the new ones just didn’t capture the same spirit. It was Nintendo that had made that change in themselves, and with these changes we’ve seen drop in quality and in their profits.
It all sort of came together as a whole this week, like seeing somebody into their soul and seeing how they really think.
With the DS and Wii Iwata told us that the only way for video games to survive as a business and as an industry is to expand the market, to include everyone in their user base. They succeeded in this, and Nintendo’s platforms flourished like during the NES days. Software and hardware sales were far higher than any of the competition. DS utterly devastated PSP. The Wii sold more than either of its competitors as one of Nintendo’s aim was to have a Wii in every household, at least in America. They pretty much succeeded.
The turning point in all this is hard to pinpoint. There’s two clear points to argue about; the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2 with its instructional disc, or the revelation and release of Wii Music.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 was marketed at the people who bought New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Nintendo clearly felt that Galaxy 2 was a superior product, but the consumers just needed to be taught how to play the game. That’s pandering, and an awful strategy. Everybody just laughed at this motion, and Galaxy 2 went to sell less and NSMB Wii. However, modern Nintendo always does whatever they want to, disregarding the customers. 2D Mario has always sold more than any 3D Mario. It’s what the consumers want, but that’s exactly what Miyamoto denies. He wants to do 3D Mario more than 2D Mario. Why? Because he wants and is allowed to whatever the wants to, and Wii Music is a prominent example of waste of resources.
Furthermore, Miyamoto has been pushing 3D Mario into 2D Mario with the 3DS to a large extent. Both Super Mario 3D Land and 3D World saw large amounts of 3D Mario elements pushed in while gaining long wanted properties, like the Tanooki Suit and multiple proper character that are not Toads, while the 2D Mario was essentially left into shadows and given very little attention, resources and effort. Latest 2D Mario games are like cheap flash games people do for practice. 2D Mario has always taken more effort to produce properly, but as mentioned, it also has produced more profits than 3D Mario. It would make more sense to give 2D Mario far more attention to maximise the potential profits, but that would mean Miyamoto would have to do something he doesn’t like and Nintendo can’t allow that.
It’s the exact same thing with Zelda. Aonuma doesn’t want to make an Action RPG, but a Puzzle Adventure games. It’s no wonder Zelda’s sales have dropped. Same thing with Metroid. Other M’s infamy is well known and everybody and their mothers knows what a Metroid game should be. Sakamoto clearly didn’t.
New Nintendo doesn’t just hate me, but it hates everybody. It’s common to see people blaming other mobile devices on the low sales of Nintendo products. Even Miyamoto does this in the Edge Magazine interview. It’s a common misconception. iPhone was released in 2007 and the whole pad boom began then, overlapping both DS and Wii. It didn’t impact the sales because the software was driving Nintendo’s profits just fine. The pad and mobile phone game market do no overlap with portable game console market. The only difference now is the quality of the products offered. It’s not the attitude of the customers of the expanded market they managed to create changed; the customer has always expected the service provider to entertain them. Nintendo was the one who changed from a healthy company to an incestuous self-back patters. The market pushed these games and consoles away because they ranged from mediocre to rubbish. This same market has no problems with games like Mario Kart, which saw high sales and for a while was a hardware seller as well.
But Miyamoto and Nintendo see their opinions worth more noting than what the market and numbers state.
That, of course, creates the question Who are the people Nintendo makes for? Sakurai has an excellent answer for this; the less vocal, not so visible group of players. Translation of that would say; our own imaginary customers. In the market there is two groups; the larger and the smaller. No matter how you hate the thought, the smaller group is the hardcore gamers, and out of these hardcores you have a smaller section of devoted Nintendo fans. This crowd is extremely loud and voices their opinion and the moment something goes online. They shout as strongly as possible in and out of the Internet. They are extremely passionate small group of users. The larger market, the ones Nintendo managed to expand to, remains largely silent and only voices their opinion on sales. With the Wii U and 3DS, Nintendo has lost most of its expanded market already because they began to cater hardcore group.
Aiming to sell only to a small, exclusive group of customers can be a valid strategy. This means that the products need to be more expensive in order to keep profits at a satisfactory level. Often these products are also have a high production value in every regard and come in limited numbers. This strategy often also sees support from products aimed at a larger market, but everything is of lower quality here. Nintendo’s strategy here is to just cater the one small customer group, the hardcore. This is not a sensible business decision as it’s not sustainable, especially in entertainment and video games. Nintendo’s aim to further diminish their market will equally diminish their profits, and seeing how mediocre products they’ve been cashing out toward the hardcore, like the few latest Zelda games and Other M, their products will see a drop in quality as well. Even more so, if Nintendo decides to cater just their core fans, it means they are able to do whatever they want. The small dedicated fanbase would probably buy anything and everything Nintendo puts out and defend it as the Second coming. I bet there’s Nintendo fans out there that defend even the Virtual Boy.
We’re seeing Nintendo’s disregard of their products even in Sakurai and Smash Bros for -console-. Sakurai has progressively put more characters from the games he has worked on for the sake of having them. Kirby is understandable and so is Pit. Then suddenly, we get King DeDeDeDe, Palutena and, for no good reason, Dark Pit. King DeDeDe is another understandable character, but Palutena and Dark Pit are slot wasters. There are more female Nintendo characters that would fit better in Palutena’s place, to promote another games series altogether too. I hope the leaks are incorrect and Dark Pit is merely just a colour change and nothing more. Sakurai pushes characters he regards as his own onwards, just as Nintendo pushes games that the expanded market doesn’t purchase. Fire Emblem, as much as fans tote the series as great, has never seen great sales in the West. It is inherently Japanese game for Japanese people to play, just like the Super Robot Wars series. Yet Nintendo pushes no less than four Fire Emblem characters to SSB for -console-. It’s surprising that Wii Fit Trainer got in, but I doubt it’s because of high software sales and more because of the infamy of Wii Fit with the hardcore crowd.
Sakurai calls other customers more interesting than others. What the hell does it matter if other customers are more interesting than others? Either group of people bring in money, and essentially are the ones funding his pay. Games won’t fade away if you don’t listen to a small group of people, it’s the complete opposite. By concentrating on a small group of people, like the hardcore crowd they’re now concentrating on, game will get monotonous, very similar and worsen in quality. There’s very little challenge in trying to make something that will appease small amount of people, but there’s incredibly challenge in producing something that will be a hit with everybody. And Nintendo has a history of doing the latter over and over during the NES era.
Then we have to talk about New Nintendo 3DS. I’m not sure if I should type it as *new*to emulate the logo. This, by all means, is further pushing the existing 3DS userbase away from the company alongside the expanded market. This is just a big middle finger from Nintendo. I almost typed CAPCOM there, I’m so used to using that sentence with them. The New 3DS, the N3DS, or as I call it; Stupid Flanders, is a dumbfounding product.
Stupid Flanders is like the DSi, but worse. At least with the DSi, the games that supported it had no troubles running on the base DS models. While it’s typical for Nintendo to renew their handheld console design in its lifetime, never before we have seen this many; the 3DS has four different models now; the 3DS, 3DSXL, 2DS, Flanders and Flanders XL. The GameBoy had four iterations as well, if we count Colour, and that was during the span of nine years. The 3Ds has been out for three years, and now they’re making the decision to push a new hardware out that singles out previous version owners with their exclusive games. However, I honestly wish that the amount of exclusives will be small and consist only of home console ports.
The question is whether or not Stupid Flanders is worth buying? Sure, it has double the shoulder buttons and that C-Button, but those are worth crap if there’s no software behind it. It always depends on the software whether or not a console is worth purchase. Xenoblade Chronicles being announced for the Flanders is both dumbfounding and understandable. It’s stupid because it’s coming for Wii U and has been one of its hype driving forces among the hardcore, but bringing it on the Flanders seems would increase its sales. Stupid Flanders will most likely increase overall 3DS software sales as well, as they’re grown stagnant everywhere.
The stronger CPU means nothing if the developers are not up to the task. Even Nintendo’s own staff couldn’t port their own NES games properly into 3D. I’m still wondering what kind of black magic SEGA’s M2 section is using in order to make perfection 3DS ports of SEGA classics with the best possible 3D effects. Nintendo has been pushing GameCube games on the Wii U despite them never selling well on the original platform and the lousy success if Pikmin 3. I can see Stupid Flanders getting better CPU to accommodate GameCube ports of sorts. Even the included C-Button supports this.
And who the hell is heading the name department at Nintendo? NEW Nintendo 3DS? Super Smash Brother FOR WII U / 3DS? Both of these are horrible names, just like the Wii U. But why should we care? Nintendo clearly doesn’t.
Why can’t Nintendo stop for moment and see what the market at large is wanting? Why do they keep pushing their own wants and desires over the customers? There’s only one real answer, and it is that they are selfish and in love with themselves. We’ve been seeing the slow death of Nintendo the Servant, and slow creation of Nintendo the Selfish Artist. Is this what the death of Hiroshi Yamauchi leaves? It seems like it. The sad thing is that Stupid Flanders will most likely sell decently, especially in Japan and among the hardcore Nintendo fans, but it won’t raise the quality of the products. Nintendo just isn’t in this business to make money anymore, but to make whatever they want to have fun with at the customers’ and profits’ expense.