It was all good just a few gens ago…
Doesn’t flow off the tongue like Jay-Z Hard Knock Life Vol.2 song “A week ago” unlike the timeless Rap classic album Nintendo’s reputation amongst gamers has been a tumultuous one & hasn’t really been good to look back on. Though while the “gamers” have rallied against big N’s relevance in gaming today. Nintendo has continuously remained profitable and as a business that is the core thing for a company to remain successful. Gamers as fickle as we are as a whole are nothing to scoff at. The gaming community rallied around all that was Nintendo throughout the 3rd and 4th generation but, as the 5th generation reared its head. It seemed as if throughout all the years this company has gotten right they have lost what essentially made them great. Let me dust off the history books and take a peep into them to see what the catalysts was that landed them into this peculiar situation. Generation 5 when Nintendo 64 was released by the big N there was so much hype surrounding what could be. There was its new weird looking controller introducing analog control stick tech into console gaming along with 64 megabits of power. It seemed as if things were all good except for the fact Sega’s Saturn & newcomer Sony’s PlayStation was a CD based platform. That to me was Big N’s major 1st misstep because we all know Nintendo stayed with the old ways of console gaming mediums, Cartridges. I believe this is why Nintendo started to lose its grip on the gamers. Though, a long time ago for most of you modern gamers the gamers whom are in their late 20’s to mid-30’s should remember how the N64 was a wasteland of 3rd party titles rarely seeing jewels that were popping up on the competitions CD based platforms.
Though, the games that did show up by Nintendo’s efforts to collaborate with 3rd party developers & utilizing & acquiring new in house ones. They were able to remain profitable and provide us gamers with classic titles like Mario Kart 64, Star wars Rouge squadron, Mario 64 and let’s not forget the title that made the FPS genre popular on consoles James Bond’s Golden eye to name a few. Those weren’t enough to steamroll the legions of developers from leaving Nintendo home console behind. The flexibility of CD wasn’t the only reason they left Nintendo in the corner. It was their overall business practices that seemingly drove a lot of business away because of that but, it took the likes of the new challenger of the throne Sony’s PlayStation that gave them a place to call home. In return the Sony PlayStation won the 5th console generation. Along with that stole a good portion of the market share Nintendo had for years. During Gen 5 games like Banjo-Kazooie while fun and enjoyable could not bring in new adult gamers into the fold when there were mature titles being released with cinematic experiences unseen for the most part on the N64.
As Generation 5 came to a close and new gamers of a higher age bracket came into the market. Sony Playstation had experiences and cutting edge technologies that you couldn’t find in Nintendo’s home console. Though like a well primed company that it is Nintendo still remained profitable even after losing significant market share along with maintain some of the fiercest fans out there. Granted their profitability wasn’t all hinged on their home console efforts all the while Nintendo is an game company so, as they somewhat floundered their market share Nintendo has the portable gaming market in their pocket protector. Pulling in gangbusters of cashola into their bank accounts later to be infused with some of their future home consoles. Titles like some of their tried and true franchises and new IP’s like Pokémon flourished on this platform but, also new gadgetry and technologies sprung up throughout the Game Boy’s lifetime. Though the portable market is virtually owned by Nintendo for the most part the home console side of things is where Nintendo should start to tighten its grip. From here on out Big N had an uphill battle going into the 6th generation. Stay tuned for the second half of my vision in “Double-edged sword Part 2: Now you’re playing with power”
Don’t be so Mainstream
Nintendo has been a household name for almost thirty years now. It is one of the most powerful brands in the world according to Forbes. They are KNOWN as one of the most innovative companies to date. They have been responsible for some of the most well known characters that children and adults recognize globally. These are all the reasons why the industry looks to Nintendo to bring back those qualities.
Today however, we have too many re-makes and not enough new ideas coming from Nintendo. When Nintendo produces it’s often a Golden Egg, but they need far more than a few 3DS titles to stay competitive.
Nintendo held the torch when it came to ushering in the casual & young market of gamers. People who haven’t picked up a video game since the original Pac-Man were comfortable buying the Nintendo Wii. It was a child friendly system that called for active movement. Games like Ghost Squad and House of the Dead brought back those “Arcade” memories, and titles like “Just Dance” got everyone moving with ease. Millions of people were excited for video games once again. Now six years later the flame has died down. The Wii-U is out, it’s selling at a decent pace and it needs time to grow, but will it be enough to leave the footprint that the Nintendo Wii did? Will they be able to convince the casual market to choose them over PlayStation, Xbox and the ever consistently growing mobile industry?
Even as an Old School Gamer, you need new content
The success of the Wii was because of the casual market’s support and Nintendo has done a poor job marketing their latest system to that market. The Wii-U launch on a financial basis isn’t doing a bad job. However the hardcore audience, (the very audience they wanted to sell this console to) is disappointed and starved for the new and innovative content they are known for. Re-imagining games for nostalgic appeal is a great sell in today’s industry. Older players love the feeling of familiar levels re-visited, and the old mechanics help usher in some younger gamers.
No-one is more guilty of reanimating their best franchises like Nintendo, and that is not necessarily a bad thing; they do it very well and always seem to breathe new life into the classics, but where are the truly “New” concepts? Now the competition has changed, the reason people play has changed, when and where people play has changed. The mobile games industry takes more and more attention from the Nintendo DS. Although Nintendo doesn’t have to fear tablet and phone gaming….yet; they are in a position to dominate once again. Nintendo needs new games and gamers want a damn good reason to play them.
We have already heard the griping about the launch line-up for the Wii-U, and the lack of games available for the console right now. Even with ports of titles like Assassins Creed III and Batman Arkham City that play in a unique way, gamers don’t care; they want the “Nintendo Experience”. They have to make people understand why they need a Wii-U after they have burned out their Wii. Nintendo has to convince the gamers that after they have spent their money that this is where they should be spending their time. Nintendo needs to take the gloves off and show everyone why their software can last for decades. Nintendo needs to convince that casual crowd that they can still entertain and provide a safe haven for the younger gamers. This next year Nintendo has to prove why they belong in your life.
- This next generation, people will be asking themselves one thing: “What kind of experience can I get here and nowhere else”. Nintendo’s campaign should be focused on one phrase: “Only on Nintendo”