Wednesday, February 3, 2016

2016 Make It Or Break It For Nintendo? Part 1: Trouble

Hey what's going on guys! Thanks for stopping by. Sorry for not posting anything yesterday; I was tied up with other things. Today we'll be discussing Nintendo's place in the console market. This will be a 2 to 3 part op-ed. I hope you enjoy!

Oh what terribly sad days we are living in. The ancestral sage of modern gaming is in a pretty tight spot, and 2016 may be the year they thrive or die. For many years, gamers have been speculating on the demise of the old guard. The questions now: Is Nintendo going to make a come back, and are they working on a console exit strategy as I write this?

I personally believed 12 to 13 years ago that Nintendo had one last console in it, before they went the way of Sega, and began producing only games. I was wrong in that assumption... Wildly wrong, but that's because I couldn't perceive the impact of the Wii's shtick; cheap family friendly "fun". I Couldn't have seen how the Wii's motion controls and low purchase price gimmick could have moved the volume that it did. I had no idea back in 2003 and 2004 that the DS platform would have taken off like it did. Both kept a significant flow of capital rolling into Nintendo's coffers, but it may have also set them up for a terrible fall.

It may seem as a bit of a stretch to argue that Nintendo is in dire straights, and this year will prove a lot. I am in no way saying that they'll stop making the DS platform... Why would they? It is obviously a cash cow for them, selling over 5.88 million 3DSes in the last 3 months of last year. These posts will specifically address the things that have brought Nintendo to this point, and what they may do or maybe doing, to move forward.

Big Trouble In Kyoto:
In it's lifetime, Nintendo has gained a reputation for themselves in the industry, for being difficult to work with. Especially, in regards to game development. From the control they exercise over developers to poorly documented devkits. Which has pushed devs away from them into the arms of Microsoft and Sony.

And in recent years, Nintendo's choices to use older chip sets in their consoles has alienated hardcore games and third party developers. Gamers are moving away due to a lack of graphics, and the inability of Nintendo to land quality titles outside of Nintendo family of developers. All the while third party devs are staying away, due to the time and cost of porting their games and apps to the older architecture. Thus become cost prohibitive for 3rd parties to do so as, Nintendo's console user base is shrinking and resources could be better directed at supporting their core user base.

You'd think that this would leave Nintendo, to lean back on small hobbyists for third party support... Well they've done the opposite. In an interview with Gamasutra (here) in 2011; Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime stated,

"I would separate out the true independent developer vs. the hobbyist. We are absolutely reaching out to the independent developer. Where we've drawn the line is we are not looking to do business today with the garage developer. In our view, that’s not a business we want to pursue."

Well if not hobbyists devs, then who?... Internet "let's players"? That's a gigantic NOPE! As it turns out that developing for Nintendo is actually easier, than giving them free publicity on the Internet. Nintendo has been waging an incessant campaign against people sharing video of any of their games on the internet. Known for their serial DMCA'ing of YouTube channels, Nintendo has effectively cut themselves off from their audience. With all of the hype and bullshit out there, it's hard to trust publishers enough to buy their games without seeing gameplay. In fact may publishers, including EA give Beta and early access to many popular YouTubers, because they realize the value in free publicity.

Nintendo has continued to tow these ideological lines even through the the shortish disappointing life of WiiU. From a gamer standpoint this has lead Nintendo into a state of entropy. Where they are increasingly desperate, and grasping at air. As if the WiiU was going to continue the gravy train that was the Wii.

I don't believe that this is due to Nintendo's Executives being incompetent or even arrogant. It seems to me that maybe they can't see the forest for all of the trees. Nintendo has always been so cautious in protecting their brand, and I believe they've now done more harm. At this point, you'd think that reality would have slapped Nintendo in face hard.

Is there hope for Nintendo? Maybe... What you think? Make sure to comment on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or in the comment section below. Part 2 has been released and can be found here. Don't forget to like and share. Thanks again for stopping by. As always, I'll see you later.

-Chali Baicunn