Welcome everyone to the latest Sanchez Soapbox. In this edition I want to cover Nintendo. Over the course of the past week I’ve seen a couple articles that leads me to really think about the company and the direction they’re heading. Recently, an interview with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fis-Aime’s had me wonder about Nintendo’s view of their audience.
One thing I have to call into question is whether Nintendo does know the “core” gaming audience. Coming off the heels of their Electronic Entertainment Expo Conference, Reggie Fis-Aime was interviewed by Kotaku. When asked about the negative responses from the gaming community over their conference, Mr. Fis-Aime responded:
One of the things that, on one hand, I love and, on the other hand, that troubles me tremendously about not only our fanbase but about the gaming community at large is that, whenever you share information, the perspective is, ‘Thank you, but I want more.’ ‘Thank you, but give me more.’ I mean, it is insatiable.
I don’t believe what led negative responses was an insatiable audience. I think they expected to see Nintendo present their brand new console differently, during their conference…The main one. Nintendo put on three conferences during E3 week, and not one of them mentioned a strong launch lineup, a launch price, or a launch day/window of time. Even the specs of the console are still unconfirmed.
This leads me to believe Nintendo doesn’t know the audience anymore. I feel they rely on the nostalgic factor of the core audience that grew up on Nintendo. This could explain why we don’t see original Nintendo characters anymore outside of the usual Mario, Zelda, Kirby, Donkey Kong, and Metroid franchises.
Another thing that leads me to believe Nintendo might be out of touch with the “core” gaming audience is what was said later in the interview. When asked about the presentations of games such as Wii Fit, Fis-Aime said:
I think people understood what we showed. It’s the question of, as a gamer, ‘Is this for me and something I can get excited about?’ And Wii Fit did not get that reaction. And yet 43-million copies around the world, it’s a phenomenon. And so I would argue that the gaming community actually is unable to differentiate between a phenomenon and something that is ‘ho-hum.'”
I have to call this into question also, not that 43 million copies sold isn’t a big deal, but because of the 43 million copies sold, how many of those people are watching Nintendo’s conference? I believe a vast majority of the audience has to be excited about the product in order to present it to the audience watching. In this case it sounds like Nintendo is hiding behind the statistics rather than feeling the audience.
Nintendo may have won the console wars, fiscally, but in top quality games do people think of the Wii? With a great start to the Wii, the last couple years console sales have been sliding. Nintendo went from revolutionary gaming console to party accessory over the course of this generation of consoles, and has started losing money.
Nintendo really needs a change in strategy in my opinion. The company really does need to start giving out more information about their products rather than keeping secrets close to the vest. An audience can be satisfied, Mr. Fis-Aime. Also, why save announcements a month after E3? A 3DS XL, and the announcement of the free online service would have been something to get the audience excited, at least for the Wii U.
Here’s a suggestion to Nintendo. Don’t try to have your cake and eat it too. You lost a lot of “core” audience members and the best way to get them back is to cater to them for this generation. The “casual” gamer is always going to be there with the Just Dance, Wii Fit, and Wii Sports titles. They’re great ways of showing off the tech, but where’s the great game that stands out as a “Game of the Year” contender?
Nintendo needs a change in pace. Trust the third party developers, or have some of your own people helping them out on how to use the new tech in the Wii U. After all, how many times can we keep saving the princess?