Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Nintendo Mirage

Nintendo has had a tumultuous, topsy-turvy year. The Wii U has been selling poorly behind weak game sales, on the other hand the 3DS and the original Wii are still selling very well. The 3DS even took the top spot in hardware sales for May in the US. Nintendo forsook E3 this year in a concentrated effort to reaffirm itself to fans and in many ways that may have been a smart move. Nintendo fans buy Nintendo consoles for Nintendo games; it has always been both a positive and a negative for Nintendo.

Nintendo recently went on record stating that its used game policy resides quite simply in ‘make better games’, they further went on to say that Nintendo console owners don’t sell their games because Nintendo games are of the highest quality. It’s a sort of anthem statement. The Wii and the Wii U were hit with many a shoddy port, not the least reason because unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo has no certification process, it has the only laissez-faire attitude on the console side of gaming. It is this dual attitude that makes what Nintendo does, so often frustrating.

The attitude of ‘make better games’ is one part frustration with other publishers, one well deserved and the other is the usual Nintendo arrogance, the same that led to the infamous statement that online gaming doesn’t matter. Nintendo fans buy the $300 Wii U to play Nintendo games, and with only a handful of releases a year its no wonder that they rarely sell these games back. There’d be no other way to justify the purchase of Nintendo consoles.

This isn’t to say that Nintendo should start putting out a new game for each franchise every year, but the argument should be made that if there isn’t a new release from at least one major franchise each year that Nintendo is doing it wrong. Nintendo makes the best first and second party titles out of all the Big Three, but their turnaround on major franchises is atrocious, at some point in time it stops being ‘when it’s ready’ and starts being poor management. Nintendo is still doing well, the last five or six years have been good, but things change, sometimes even quicker than we’d like. Nintendo needs to make better long-term planning now while they have the wiggle room to make riskier moves; now is not the time to be caught up in an illusion.

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