The Guns of Navarro

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Posted by Alex (2175 posts) -

Earlier this year, Nintendo decreed to the gaming world that this would be the Year of Luigi. As the perpetually put-upon and endlessly anxious brother of company mascot Mario, Luigi has always been the second-banana character of Nintendo's most recognizable universe. Where Mario dared to be brave--or, at least, lacked any discernible emotional response outside a kind of vacantly cheery determination--Luigi has primarily been portrayed as the scaredy-pants of the equation. He has always been beset by a mixture of fear and occasional disappointment at his own place in Mario's shadow, though still heroic enough to get his own princess girlfriend and occasionally save the day in his own occasional adventures.

I couldn't possibly be the only one weirded out by Nintendo's sudden resemblance to Luigi's more passive and tentative personality, could I?

Nintendo's announcement of the title really just had to do with a sudden preponderance of Luigi-related content on the schedule for the year, including a Luigi's Mansion sequel, a Mario & Luigi RPG sequel that takes place inside Luigi's mind, and the addition of Luigi DLC levels to New Super Mario Bros. U. It was a simple marketing gimmick, but in a weird way, it's become emblematic of the year Nintendo's having thus far. As the weeks of 2013 have rolled along, Nintendo has begun to resemble its timidly anxious secondary mascot, both in behavior and fortune. Where once it operated more like Mario--confident, and perhaps blithely oblivious to the threats around them--the company now seems more intensely aware of the danger it currently sits in, and deeply unsure of itself in the face of it.

Of course, I doubt I'm the first person to make this fairly obvious comparison. But it's something I've thought more and more about as the Wii U has continued down its troubled path. Since it launched in November, the system has regularly suffered from dismal sales, coming in the last few months well under the numbers of consoles that have already been out for years, including the Wii U's under-powered predecessor. In its financial statement made this past week, Nintendo noted that the Wii U had only sold 3.45 million units worldwide, which was well short of the 5 million it had targeted. Worse still, only approximately 400,000 units sold in the first quarter of this year.

There simply isn't a nice way to spin those numbers. They're dreadful, even removing them from the absurd comparison of the Wii's highly successful opening six months on store shelves. The Wii was its own strange beast, a console that became an instant fad, thanks in no small part to the immediately fresh appeal of the system's motion-controlled mechanics. I say this not to diminish that console, which had more than its share of terrifically fun games. But it would be dishonest to say that the quality of the Wii's games was what turned it into the industry-disrupting behemoth it became. In truth, Nintendo sold accessibility to an audience that otherwise wouldn't have even bothered with a video game console. It bridged a gap between a mainstream audience and the hardcore gaming segment. Those people didn't flock to the system because they were hot to play Super Mario Galaxy, or The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. They flocked to it because the novelty of Wii Sports and its ilk captured their attention, if only for a time.

The Wii U has not done this. In fact, it's barely managed to hold its own in a marketplace that seems, at best, indifferent to Nintendo's promise of a simultaneously family friendly and "core gamer" focused machine. Of course, part of that may be Nintendo's own fault. No shortage of people piped up when the Wii U was announced to note that the name seemed problematic, since it sounded like either just a new variation on the existing Wii, or like some kind of accessory for it. Those of us who live and breathe games obviously know that isn't the case, but the people who bought into the Wii purely on the merits of its status as a fad of the time either haven't gotten the message, or haven't been bothered to listen in the first place. Even Satoru Iwata has acknowledged the brand confusion issue, though he hasn't necessarily explained how Nintendo plans to combat it from here.

One way it won't be combating the issue is by holding a major E3 press conference this year. The console maker announced this past week that it would be foregoing its traditional Tuesday morning press conference in favor of more targeted events, which include more Nintendo Direct live streams between now and E3, a press-focused hands-on session the morning when the conference would have been held, and a retailer-focused event that would allow them to talk directly to their sales partners.

The pomp and circumstance of a big E3 conference may have been a worthwhile expense for Nintendo to excise, but only if it actually plans to use that money to market the hell out of its upcoming game lineup.

Opinions on this have been as varied as they have been strong. Those of us in the older guard have seemingly focused on displeasure toward the move, with famous Videogamesman Adam Sessler getting up on his trademark soapbox to deride Nintendo for abandoning an important opportunity to make its voice heard amid the din of Microsoft and Sony trying to shout each other down with their respective console announcements. Game Informer's Mike Futter echoed those sentiments, noting that Nintendo's communication problems to the mainstream audience aren't likely to be solved by messaging through fan-focused events like Nintendo Direct.

Others, however, have taken Nintendo's bowing out as a sign of something more positive. E3 press conferences are obviously of no small expense, and with 2K Games opting out of even having a booth at all this year, it seems like austerity might be the order of the day at this year's show. More to the point, as this writer at Jump Kick Punch! explains, Nintendo can easily target the media it wants with the kind of focused event it's talking about. His example pertains to his own experiences working for Adult Swim, where instead of an expensive "upfront" (the TV industry term for a big, stupid event where all the fall's big shows are announced to sponsors), his team traveled from sponsor office to sponsor office, explaining the lineup in a personalized meeting. According to him, at least, it was a big time success.

As with all things, the true impact of Nintendo's decision is probably somewhere in the middle. The odds of Nintendo having an announcement that would make significant noise in the presence of the deafening echo chamber that is NEW CONSOLE YEAR E3 were probably slim to none. Nintendo has games to show, but they're the expected games, the franchises you already know, with maybe some strong third-party additions to go along with them--emphasis on maybe. Holding an expensive press conference, which often serves as little more than an excuse for the press to tear them to shreds via social media and the modern art form that is the animated gif, would probably have been futile. This way, the enthusiast press gets to play the games, Nintendo can still try to rope in the mainstream press for interviews and exclusives (provided they have any of note to offer), and the retailers will get their little show too.

At the same time, there's playing things smart, and there's conceding the conversation. While it might be reasonable for Nintendo to bow out of the press conference dog-and-pony show, it also is at least a tacit admission of defeat. Nintendo isn't saying this directly, but to not have a big press conference is to essentially say up front that nothing we're showing will sound more exciting than what Sony and Microsoft are showing. Nintendo may have awesome games to show, but they know they're showing them for a system that looks exceptionally weak right now in the face of its more immediately exciting competition.

It's not that Nintendo is devoid of any strength, of course. The 3DS is, at the very least, still rolling pretty strong sales wise, and there's a solid slate of games headed to the handheld throughout the rest of this year. But even with relatively strong sales, the 3DS is missing targeted projections. And while the Wii U could very easily turn things around with a strong lineup of games at this E3, it would still be suffering from a dearth of interesting games for the foreseeable future, as little of Nintendo's announced lineup appears prior to the fall, and I highly doubt much of anything the company announces before or at E3 will arrive prior to then either.

For my part, I'm sad about the lack of a Nintendo conference, about the sales of the Wii U, and just about Nintendo in general these days. Say what you will about the company's hubris at various stages of its existence, but Nintendo is the reason quite a lot of us are even playing video games. For whatever mistakes Nintendo has endured, for whatever ill-conceived moves it has made in the name of its own strange, sometimes misplaced sense of corporate pride, there has always been a hope--at least in myself, but I think in a lot of other people too--that Nintendo would some day just figure it all out. That maybe one day, they'd suddenly snap to attention, get their bearings, and start addressing the many facets of modern console gaming that it either seemed unwilling, or unable to adapt to previously.

Stronger games for the Wii U are ahead, but they won't be coming with any regularity until at least August, and by then, we'll be nearing the launches of the new console systems.

In some ways, the Wii U almost looked like that moment. For all the morbid talk surrounding the console's sales, it's really kind of a neat piece of hardware, at least from the experiences I've had with it. When you consider what an insane stir the Wii caused with its relatively modest innovation, the Wii U is practically the reverse, a system full of buzzy terms like "second screen experiences," "social media hubs," and "HD visuals" all kind of thrown together into an anarchic technological slurry that, sadly, nobody seems all that interested in. Of course, that slurry is far from perfect, with no small number of technical shortcomings and awkward implementations of its various ideas. But even for its faults, there is a glimmer of something unfamiliarly hopeful in its awkward lurches toward a better understanding the modern gaming landscape. Or, as Ian Bogost put it in his staggeringly thought-out critique of the system for Gamasutra:

"It's almost impossible to understand the Wii U in the abstract, without playing it. And even then you won't be sure of it, because the Wii U isn't sure of itself, and that's its greatest virtue. In an age when showy CEOs shout hubristic, trite predictions about the inevitable future of games, The Wii U offers an understated bravado that's far more courageous. With it, Nintendo admits, "we don't know either." We don't know what video games are anymore, or what they will become. It's a huge risk, and it's probably the most daring move Nintendo has made in its 125-year history. Domestication through polite ferocity. Feral design."

It's more than just the Wii U that isn't sure of itself. Nintendo has never looked more vulnerable, more uncomfortable with its place in the scope of modern video games than it does now. Last year's press conference showed a parade of Nintendo executives who seemed, at best, to be putting a brave face on an unsure thing. In the year since then, the company's tone has appeared to retreat more and more to a place of depressed bewilderment as sales targets were continually missed. Through seemingly no intention of its own, Nintendo has managed to mirror the personality of the very character it has chosen to celebrate on this, one of its most challenging years.

While I love the character of Luigi to death, specifically because of his role as an underdog who often has to overcome his own abject fear to succeed, it's not a role Nintendo seems well suited to. Its many years of unfettered, sometimes unearned confidence, even in the face of sub par sales of other consoles like the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube, always lent the feeling that no matter what, there would be a Nintendo console somewhere in the marketplace. For the first time in a long while, that confidence seems genuinely shaken. Here's hoping Nintendo can push forward, and make good on that underdog storyline. Because if it doesn't, the Year of Luigi could be its last as a relevant name in video game hardware.

Staff
#1 Edited by Stugoo (9 posts) -

It's the year of Waluigi that I'm waiting for.

#2 Edited by LimpBishop (220 posts) -

Thanks - a good bit of Sunday reading!

#3 Edited by Shofixti (146 posts) -

I was born in the year of the Koopa myself.

#4 Posted by RudeCubes (139 posts) -

I think the Wii U could turn itself around once it gets games going.

#5 Edited by DaBuddaDa (290 posts) -

The Wii U just needs games for it. Lots and lots of games, of all types, for all audiences, with a constant release schedule.

#6 Posted by ReverendHunt (345 posts) -

I hope the Wii U can find a decent foothold. I have one and love the concept but there's nothing I'm super interested in playing on it. Even multiplatform games, which I normally get for the newest console I have, are either ones I've already got or are severely gimped.

#7 Edited by NTM (7381 posts) -

"Nintendo isn't saying this directly, but to not have a big press conference is to essentially say up front that nothing we're showing will sound more exciting than what Sony and Microsoft are showing. Nintendo may have awesome games to show, but they know they're showing them for a system that looks exceptionally weak right now in the face of its more immediately exciting competition."

Yep, my exact thoughts when I heard the news. About being kind of disappointed and sad about Nintendo, I agree.

#8 Posted by Benmo316 (475 posts) -

I wish, like stated above, that Nintendo would realize it's 2013. That they need to realize you can't rely on just your hardcore fans. Nintendo's games have sold very well in the past, but now with a new system, Wii U, that isn't in that many houses, you won't be seeing a Mario game selling 10+ million copies anytime soon. I hope, for Nintendo's sake, that we see marketing that is direct and simple enough for everyone to understand the product. I'm talking about games, because we all know Nintendo has no idea how to market the Wii U.

#9 Posted by KirkDouglas (91 posts) -

I work at an electronics store up here in Canada and I can attest to the confusion and subsequent indifference with respect to the Wii U.

Typical scenario:

Customer: "I'm looking for a new Wii, mine died and I have a lot of virtual console games I'd like to still play. Does the Wii Mini do that?"

Me: "No. It doesn't do anything involving playing online. You'd need a Wii U for that."

Customer: "Well why does the Wii Mini exist then? It seems pretty useless. I don't want to dish out for a new Wii U because it's overpriced"

Me: "I have no idea who the Wii Mini appeals to but I can tell you we aren't selling any either"

We have had Wii Mini's and Wii U's sitting on the shelf from Day 1 inventory. They haven't sent us any more. Checking inventory reveals we have two open box 'deluxe' Wii U's with open box tags dating some 60 days ago. Surely someone is buying them, but not here.

Conversely, the Xbox and PS3 are items we have trouble keeping in stock.

#10 Edited by JamesJeux007 (473 posts) -

Another fantastic article, Alex. That was a really great read.

You're pretty much spot on. Personally, even if I'm not a huge Nintendo fan, I always admired the confidence with which it operated. They never were the absolute best (at least not since the N64, and the Wii was more, like you said, a case of "right time, right place") but I always saw them as solid. Like they would ALWAYS be there because... it's Nintendo, damn it ! But now it seems like they can't catch up to the other consoles because things are evolving too quickly for them. Like an old man who doesn't understand how the internet works.

And it really bums me out.

#11 Posted by smcn (926 posts) -

Great read. I know it's said every time a new Nintendo console comes out, but I wouldn't be surprised if Wii U is the last one we ever see. The Wii was a marvelous fluke of timing when video games were gaining a foothold in the main stream, and just a year before the U.S. economy imploded. They're simply too slow -- or unwilling -- to adapt to changes in the industry, not like Sony is doing with the PS4 for example.

#12 Edited by shoddyrobot (79 posts) -

Looking back on it, why didn't they just wait another year when there could be plenty of games available to play? They could have also improved the tech slightly in that time. I still have a little nintendo fan in me waiting to be reborn, but I need to see games to buy a system!

#13 Edited by Rmack (1078 posts) -

#14 Edited by Chadster (326 posts) -

Bartleby the Scrivener? Anybody? Not a big Melville crowd here, huh?

It's not an easy read.

EDIT: Beaten!

#15 Posted by RenegadeSaint (1548 posts) -

I maintain that the Wii U will be Nintendo's last home console. And that makes me very sad.

#16 Posted by Phatmac (5726 posts) -

I think I could live with a handheld only Nintendo console. I've been loving my 3DS and my current favorite game of the year is fire emblem awakening.

#17 Posted by MosesWalker (57 posts) -

Another great article, Alex. It's perfect reading on this rainy Sunday.

#18 Edited by Seb (361 posts) -

At least the 3DS is great!

#19 Edited by pvj (3 posts) -

@smcn: and yet, while Sony has to sell it's HQs all over the world and hinges on it's film division to not go bankrupt, the old N is just building a new one.

While Nintendo has had weird years, they are doing infinitely better than Sony.

#20 Edited by Nivash (241 posts) -

I was afraid this would happen once I learned the specs, to be honest. The Wii U just doesn't manage to really appeal to anyone hardware wise. You know the saying "Jack of all trades, master of none"? Well, the Wii U just doesn't really manage to reach even the level of Jack - it's more "poor of all trades". Its performance trails the competition by almost a full generation, which puts off hardcore gamers. It loses out as a media console to the PS3 because it can't play BDs or even DVDs - as well as being more expensive. Online remains fairly archaic, as interesting as Nintendo's approach to content and tone is. It obviously can't replace the Wii with casuals because that niche is full for the time being. Controllers are more of a step forward with the pad than the leap the Wii tried with motion controls and suffers in comparison, and I question if they're worth the added cost to the unit from a market standpoint. And it most definitely isn't capable of becoming the "other console" you have for novelty and Nintendo games, like the Wii was, because of the fact that it isn't that novel and again because of its price tag.

There simply is no standard demographic in which the Wii U can win, disregarding Nintendo fans. They can't even depend on young children anymore because of the brand confusion with the Wii and the way iOS is gaining ground in the ages 2-5 section.

Really, the only thing the Wii has going for it is the minority of people who really like the pad over more standard controllers and the fact that they are still Nintendo. But the aren't even bringing the last fact to bear! Why they didn't see this coming and made sure that they had strong first party titles at launch, like a new AAA Zelda, Mario or even Metroid title, is beyond me. They really should have seen this coming.

#21 Edited by joshthebear (2700 posts) -

Nintendo really seems like it has no idea of what to do with the Wii U. From the naming, to the massive day one system update, and now the lack of an e3 press conference.

#22 Edited by Wraxend (564 posts) -

Nice read. It's ironic as yesterday I was in HMV looking at some games and I over heard someone say to his friend "whats a WiiU?" Didn't bother to listen to the reply but it just shows what state Nintendo is in with the general public.

#23 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5515 posts) -

Another great article Alex.

I'm fine with no conference. I think it's best Nintendo leaves Microsoft and Sony to battle it out this E3. Honestly, it'd be a shame for them to be a third fiddle to the carnivorous fight at this years conference. Nintendo doesn't have to be cutting edge to impress. Let's not forget they've been out of that loop for the past 7 or 8 years with the Wii. Nintendo always gives me a warm feeling of familiarity. I always know what to expect. Some might say that's bad and they might be right, but when they finally give their fans what they want it's usually worth it. When all's said and done, it would probably be easier for everyone involved if Nintendo got out of the console business and just made software. I doubt that'll happen anytime soon though.

#24 Posted by probablytuna (3665 posts) -

Hang in there Nintendo.

#25 Posted by Sunjammer (915 posts) -

The only reason I don't own a Wii U yet is that beyond Zombi U there are "no" games for it. I think Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101 are the games that will fix this for me personally, though the Wind Waker remake is triggering some weirdly intense draw as well..

Either way, there is nothing about the system itself that pushes me away. It simply needs the content.

#26 Posted by stalefishies (332 posts) -

I think the people saying the Wii's success is almost down to coincidence more than anything are selling Nintendo seriously short; are you really going to chalk the success down to just 'it came out at the right time' and nothing else? Wii Sports is genius in it's design; to play Tennis, you don't need to know anything other than how to play actual tennis. To play Bowling, the only step up you need from real bowling is pressing the B button. The barrier between people who don't play games and the games isn't the games themselves; it's the interface; people who've never touched an analogue stick in their life don't find it intuitive, and there are a lot of buttons on those damn controllers. Not having the muscle memory of using a controller adds a whole other step in between wanting to do something in a game; you always see people looking down at their controllers because, unless you're accustomed to using a controller, it's weird to press buttons. But you don't need to look at your hands when you swing a tennis racquet or throw a bowling ball; those motions are intuitive. Yes, the Wii came out at the right time, but it's just not fair to say it was coincidence.

Though, the problem is of course that the Wii U controller forgoes all of this brilliance for more buttons. I guess they were trying to bridge the interface gap with the touch screen since people know how to use their smartphones, but they just don't have a game that shares this. Nintendoland is the closest thing, and now you have all these game-specific rules to learn; you can't just say 'it's exactly like tennis grandma, swing the remote like it's a racquet!' It's a whole extra barrier to entry.

In any case, I would guess Nintendo's strategy would be to go hard for the holidays and have a console which is able to undercut the Durango and PS4. Plus, they'll hopefully have somewhat more of a robust game library than the usual vaguely-novel-but-ehhh launch window lineup.

#27 Posted by EnduranceFun (1114 posts) -

@stugoo said:

It's the year of Waluigi that I'm waiting for.

I second that.

#28 Edited by peritus (1013 posts) -

Great article that sums up my fears. I really hope Nintendo will find a way to survive and do well. They don't have to "win the console war" but i want them to be around for my Animal Crossing's and my Zelda's and Mario's. ( And Luigi's! ) But hey, maybe they will go the SEGA route and we will see a Mario game on a sony platform in the future.

#29 Edited by TadThuggish (907 posts) -

I remember all the mourning that occurred when Sega pulled out of the hardware business, and a lot of the outpouring of love was based on the innovative Dreamcast and the great games that had been made for years up to that point, even when CEOs were making wrong decisions. Sega had experienced hubris, but it was on the executive level. It didn't feel like the entire company.

If Nintendo were to pull out of the hardware business tomorrow, I don't think we'd see the same amount of mourning, despite how influential the company has been. I think a lot of people would just sigh and say, "Way to go, idiots."

#30 Edited by Levio (1784 posts) -

@alex Nintendo may end up in a much better position to launch a 4K capable console than Sony or MS. The WU will be a year older than the PS4 and Xbox and will have cost much less than the other consoles, and the WU gamepad will almost certainly be usable with the next Nintendo console, so upgrading from the WU to a Nintendo 4K system will be much more palatable than replacing a PS4 or Xbox in a few years.

#31 Edited by nick_verissimo (1385 posts) -

It's impossible to think positively of the Wii U until there are games out there to play for it. I'd love to have an excuse to pick one up, but the longer we wait the less affinity I'll have for the idea to own one. There isn't a lot of lustre for the console for me and until they get over this assumption that they can effectively put out the same games generation after generation and assume we'll come for it is foolish. I want Nintendo to succeed, I think we all do, but I just can't justify that purchase for a while.

#32 Edited by AV_Gamer (616 posts) -

Nintendo Wii U buyers will be in denial, because they don't want to admit the mistake they've made, but Nintendo have drawn water from the well one too many times. Instead of spending the money to keep up with the demands of the next generation consoles, Nintendo always took the easy way out by releasing consoles a generation behind and banking to get by off their exclusives. They first did it with the Nintendo 64. Though whole graphically superior, they rejected the CD-Rom technology which was clearly the future, and many of their games suffered because of it. They then did it with the Wii--which was a upgraded Gamecude with a costume controller--and now they're doing it again with the Wii U. Trying to make current-gen console gaming trendy again. Well, this time people are hep to the gimmick and it's not working. And even if it did work, the console was clearly badly built--with its long load times, bad frame rate in current-gen games, and confusing console security features.

Many people claim this console might be the end of Nintendo in the console making market, like the Saturn was for Sega. The way things are looking now, it might be true.

#33 Edited by AngriGhandi (779 posts) -

The Wii U is a weird, misguided attempt to try and sell to the hardcore with a casual pitch, and to try to sell to the casual with a hardcore pitch.

The hardcore aren't buying it because they know enough to know it's not real next-gen; and the casual aren't buying it because they don't know enough to know it isn't just a Wii.

How do you fix that? Either with hardcore games so good that the "gen" doesn't matter, or with a casual marketing push so savvy that the Wii similarities can be overcome.

If they can't do either, then it fails. I hope it doesn't!

#34 Posted by Quarters (1706 posts) -

The Wii U was just released too late. I realize this is pretty much impossible, but if it had come out alongside PS3/360, it would've had a shot. However, now it's coming out, almost immediately outdated. It was an extremely poor strategy, and the biggest issue is that it's a hole that they will probably not be able to dig out of, given their general disposition throughout the years. They're willing to do gimmicks, but they aren't willing to genuinely listen to the modern marketplace, as well as to the pleas of those that aren't diehard Nintendo fans.

#35 Edited by Nightriff (5085 posts) -

Well stated Alex.

Here's to Luigi, hopefully all the bum news won't be blamed on him

#36 Posted by Eribuster (491 posts) -

Great read.

Bringing up the DS, Wii, and 3DS would be false as the first year of the Wii U will be Nintendo's most vulnerable system yet. Will the fourth time be the one that hits? It's hard to say because the performance of a video game console is measured in years, not months. Out of all the video game companies I can think of, Nintendo is the one that I think has the best shot at turning a dire scenario around. It will be an exciting (an anxious) time to watch if they can dodge a fourth bullet.

When all's said and done, it would probably be easier for everyone involved if Nintendo got out of the console business and just made software. I doubt that'll happen anytime soon though.

Easier for who? The third party publishers and developers that have complained on competing with Nintendo games on Nintendo systems who will now be competing with Nintendo games on every system? Us, the video gaming audience, who (might) have enjoyed Nintendo games that could afford to be delayed as Nintendo was supported by software and hardware profits that might now see Nintendo games being more frequently rushed to release to meet quarterly earnings goals?

There are no guarantees with Nintendo becoming a software-only company as are there no guarantees with Nintendo as it is now. As far as Nintendo is concerned, there is far more to be gained by making hardware and software in profits, control of the experience, and other things. Nintendo is still in the position to be a hardware and software company. They have US$14.48 billion in total assets, most of it liquid - many a Nintendo fan has vented frustration as to why that money isn't being used to make an avalanche of games. As long as they have the money, I would prefer Nintendo to be producing their own systems and games.

#37 Posted by rcath (369 posts) -

Bartelby the Scrivener.

#38 Posted by Dalai (7030 posts) -

I don't seem as worried about Nintendo as most cynics here, but even a big Nintendo fan like myself sees that the Wii U is having its share of troubles. And it's not so much the console itself, it's really the lack of games. It always comes down to games.

I'm think this scare can be healthy for Nintendo and make them work harder on their next console years from now or maybe revive the Wii U with the big titles we expect from them.

#39 Edited by EnduranceFun (1114 posts) -

The Gamecube at least sold at a profit for its entire lifetime. It wasn't a generation winner, but Nintendo really shouldn't have tried to have that mindset anyway. If they'd have just focused on their hardcore fanbase or went all out for casuals, they may have been better stead, but they put the cart before the horse when they rushed out the Wii U to market.

#40 Posted by prestonhedges (1965 posts) -

I don't remember these kinds of constant "LOL THEY CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHT" articles when the PS3 was floundering. Or the XBox.

#41 Edited by weegieanawrench (1939 posts) -

Great write up, Alex. I really enjoy reading these articles.

I too think it was a poor choice to release the Wii U so close the launch of the new consoles. They would probably have been fine continuing to support the Wii. I'm also hopeful that Nintendo deciding not to have a conference means more of a focus on really pushing the games coming out this fall. And maybe, just maybe, they have a bunch of third party stuff that get the mainstream audience hungry for a Wii U.

How about a new Metroid game? Or a console Pokemon? People would go nuts for that.

#42 Edited by bananaz (256 posts) -

In my retail job, people are genuinely unsure whether the Wii U is a separate console or just a controller for the Wii. People think it's just a controller. Why wouldn't they? That's how it looks to the general public. That is a big problem.

As for not having a conference, they're doing the right thing. Yes, they're giving up a chance to say something on the big stage, but if they've got nothing, it's a waste of money and will just backfire. People have been ragging on Nintendo E3 conferences for years now. Why bother if they're just going to be ridiculed for being underwhelming?

#43 Posted by masterpaperlink (1843 posts) -

Regardless of how crap i thought the wii was/ wii u is, i still feel that Nintendo is the only one with a sense of direction, they are truly unique and because of this, more valuable (to the industry and its development) than any other single hardware manufacturer.

#44 Edited by Darji (5294 posts) -

I don't remember these kinds of constant "LOL THEY CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHT" articles when the PS3 was floundering. Or the XBox.

The PS3 was a future proof console the Wii U is not. Also the even the PS3 sold more in the first 5 month than the Wii U did in America and Europe. Another point is that software sales of the Wii U are abysmal. This never happened with the PS3 or the 360

And lastly do not forget the worst 3rd party support since the virtua Boy.

#45 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5515 posts) -

Great read.

Bringing up the DS, Wii, and 3DS would be false as the first year of the Wii U will be Nintendo's most vulnerable system yet. Will the fourth time be the one that hits? It's hard to say because the performance of a video game console is measured in years, not months. Out of all the video game companies I can think of, Nintendo is the one that I think has the best shot at turning a dire scenario around. It will be an exciting (an anxious) time to watch if they can dodge a fourth bullet.

@themanwithnoplan said:

When all's said and done, it would probably be easier for everyone involved if Nintendo got out of the console business and just made software. I doubt that'll happen anytime soon though.

Easier for who? The third party publishers and developers that have complained on competing with Nintendo games on Nintendo systems who will now be competing with Nintendo games on every system? Us, the video gaming audience, who (might) have enjoyed Nintendo games that could afford to be delayed as Nintendo was supported by software and hardware profits that might now see Nintendo games being more frequently rushed to release to meet quarterly earnings goals?

There are no guarantees with Nintendo becoming a software-only company as are there no guarantees with Nintendo as it is now. As far as Nintendo is concerned, there is far more to be gained by making hardware and software in profits, control of the experience, and other things. Nintendo is still in the position to be a hardware and software company. They have US$14.48 billion in total assets, most of it liquid - many a Nintendo fan has vented frustration as to why that money isn't being used to make an avalanche of games. As long as they have the money, I would prefer Nintendo to be producing their own systems and games.

You make a fair point. I don't doubt that Nintendo has reason to still make hardware. I'm thinking somewhat selfishly. It would easier for me as a consumer to not have to buy a 300$ system to just play a dozen first party games over it's life cycle. Instead I could play the Nintendo games I love on a single console, but that's just going down the fabled one console future. If making hardware allows Nintendo the money and time to make their games in a controlled positive way, that's fine.

More than often, patience is a key trait for fans of Nintendo. It takes them time to craft their games and sometimes peoples patience wears thin. When your system's only saving grace is the first party software and said software takes time to come out, you're only left with a dusty piece of hardware in the meantime. While I see why Nintendo benefits from it's continued hardware production, you can also see why it doesn't benefit us as well as developers who have a hard time porting their games. The hardcore fans can look past nitpicks like these, but the broader audience is far more critical. We can make exceptions, but they just ignore it and move on.

#46 Edited by Nardak (495 posts) -

I dont really agree with this statement:

"It's almost impossible to understand the Wii U in the abstract, without playing it. And even then you won't be sure of it, because the Wii U isn't sure of itself, and that's its greatest virtue. In an age when showy CEOs shout hubristic, trite predictions about the inevitable future of games, The Wii U offers an understated bravado that's far more courageous. With it, Nintendo admits, "we don't know either." We don't know what video games are anymore, or what they will become. It's a huge risk, and it's probably the most daring move Nintendo has made in its 125-year history. Domestication through polite ferocity. Feral design."

Nintendo wasnt taking a risk with the system. Nintendo was riding on the success of the wii for so long that it forgot that all good things come to an end eventually. At some point Nintendo woke up to realize that they have to put out a new gaming system.

Unfortunately they put out a system that cant really compete with the next generation consoles. Also as with the original wii it relies on a kinda gimmicky control pad.

That control pad while cool looking is also probably a nightmare when it comes to converting games from other gaming consoles since it probably requires a pretty extensive remapping of controls.

#47 Edited by Hailinel (24825 posts) -

It doesn't surprise me that the old guard critics would deride the move to not hold a press conference, but people like Adam "Look at me! I used to be on TV" Sessler aren't the sort that I take seriously. People like Sessler feed off of media attention, so of course they hate that sort of attention won't be available from Nintendo this year.

Online
#48 Edited by Boom_goes_the_dynamite (721 posts) -

I don't understand the mindset that only doing the Nintendo Direct stuff is comparable to the E3 conference. Some people say these are the same demographics, not so much. I mean I like Nintendo, but am not going to go out of my way to watch their videos, sorry. E3 is an event its on the TV, and even though we all like to think everyone gets their entertainment from the internet these days, that is usually only for specific things. Whereas being on TV someone flipping through channels looking for something good to watch can see the circus that is the conferences. Flipping through the internet is not the same as TV you won't suddenly find yourself watching Nintendo Direct, unless you intended to is my thought. Very few casual video gamers will check out Nintendo Direct or even know about it.

So I understand the more personal approach, I like it, but I don't think now is the time for it. Nintendo needs to get those casual fans they lost back, and I don't think these Direct videos will cut it. Now I hope I'm wrong, but I'm worried for Nintendo.

#49 Posted by Cold_Wolven (2220 posts) -

This is kind of scary right now as I really don't know what Nintendo can do to stay relevant in today's market. History tells what happens when Nintendo try to compete on a technical level and the most they can ever sell is around the 30 million mark.

Michael Pachter is right when he said Nintendo are two years too late, with hardly any strong first and third party games right now for the system why did Nintendo even bother launching this system earlier than their competitor's new systems when they're not even ready right now.

#50 Posted by Arrested_Developer (719 posts) -

@shofixti said:

I was born in the year of the Koopa myself.

Oh my gosh me too!! Twinsies!!!!

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