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Nintendo Needs to Change: Second Opinion

Nate, being the resident Nintendo fanboy, I am, of course, here to tell you that you're wrong. The main reason you're wrong is because you bring forth the same criticisms and arguments that people talk about all the time, yet Nintendo has not really changed. It's those very things that you complain about which allow them to be so successful and the most profitable gaming company around. For I don't know how many years know, Nintendo has been named the largest games publisher again and again. Nintendo may not be the hippest, most popular thing among the mainstream, but they're the company making the most profits. Most publishers only have one or two games that sell like Nintendo 1st and 2nd party games, and it's because Nintendo knows what they're doing, whether you like the way they do it or not. Again, look at what you're saying. It's the same thing people have complained about over and over, yet you guys fail to realize that Nintendo is in perfect working order. Their games are almost always critically acclaimed, they sell better than all other games in the week and month they are released, and it has been this way for a long time. As long as Nintendo is making the money this way, they're not going to listen to you because what they're doing works, but let's break it down anyways.

Nintendo does not need to change the way they've been marketing because they still sell millions of games. I could care less if my college classmates think Mario's geeky or if they would be too prideful to play a cel-shaded Zelda. Those games will sell millions and you know it. The sales of GameCubes have eclipsed those of the Xbox globally, and as I said before, Nintendo has been and will continue to sell millions of their games. Sure, Nintendo is not always perceived as the coolest thing, but they're in no need of customers either. They've got plenty.

I would puke if Nintendo went 3rd party, and I don't think they will in the foreseeable future. I think Nintendo likes having the control over the platform their games are on. Plus, I've always like the way Nintendo designs it's controllers. I'm glad my GameCube doesn't play DVDs. I'm glad it's small. I'm glad the discs are only 3 inches in diameter, and yes, I'm even glad it has a handle. Personally, I don't see why Nintendo would need to go 3rd party. They are not going bankrupt. They are not losing money. They are selling millions of machines and millions of games. They are nowhere near the position Sega was.

Now let's talk about the games, the "...games that nobody wants," as you said. It's too late to take that back now. Right now I'll just quietly wait and then come back at the end of this year and show you what you wrote while laughing at you. You'll see how many "nobodies" wanted those games. Since when is violence and graphic imagery more modern? If that's true then we've really got a problem. You're starting to sound like 70% of PS2 owners, who share the same thought, "Blood is cool." Maybe this is the difference right there. Saying something like, "I like how Nintendo is becoming more and more modern by slowly showing more and more violent and graphic games..." is putting more importance on the content rather than the context it's in. Nintendo has never had a shortage of violent games on their systems intentionally. Do I have to remind you that GoldenEye sparked the idea that FPS games could actually work on a console? I got into a similar discussion a while ago. I went and looked at the list of the first-generation N64 games. I was a little surprised to find out that hardly any of them could be called "kiddy." The main problem was that most of the games that weren't "kiddy" sucked, to be blunt. Only games like Mario and Banjo-Kazooie sold well, so 3rd parties stopped making "mature" games for the N64. The reason the "mature" games didn't sell well on the N64 is because most of them were just not any good. The 3rd parties created a catch-22 situation and Nintendo got pinned with the "kiddy" image a year or two after the N64 launched.

Anyways, the point I was trying to make in relevance to your statement, Nintendo is not just now allowing mature games on their console. It's only that popular, well-made games are being made and noticed for the GameCube. Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and other games just didn't grab enough people's attention. There were several other 'T' and 'M' rated games that were just of poor quality such as War Gods, Dark Rift, and plenty of others. This is why you may think Nintendo is just now getting some "mature" titles. It's because during the N64's life, there were not many that were worth noticing.

Another thing that people always complain about is Nintendo's secretiveness over their games and the constant delays. What people must realize is that these two things only bother video game geeks like us who visit websites everyday to find out whatever they can. In reality, it is our own fault that the delays and the secretiveness aggravate us and the fact that people complain about it so much is a testament to how popular Nintendo games are among enthusiasts. If they weren't popular, would you care? I don't see the delays and secretiveness as a fault. If it were a fault, it would be harming Nintendo, but it's not. Once the game is released, everyone buys it and praises it and makes Nintendo rich. Because Nintendo games are so popular among gamers, journalist always ask Nintendo about possible release dates and such, and they are forced to give a release date before they are really sure of it. The game may be a barely started. Can you blame Nintendo for delaying it past a date that was given a long time ago? Then people say, "If they can't give a good release date, then they shouldn't give one at all," but then that's when people complain about Nintendo being secretive. First of all, Nintendo gives it's developers the time they need to get the game done, and in the end, it benefits us. When games are made on a schedule, there will always be more glitches, and not as many of things that the developer wanted to do will be done. Secondly, fans complain about delays and secretiveness only because they care so much about Nintendo games. They're big franchises, of course they get that kind of attention. People want screens and release dates and storylines a year before the game's done. Can you blame Nintendo for trying to conserve a bit? They may have to change things. Look at it this way, did you care about what Extreme-G 3 looked like a year before it came out? Did you want Acclaim to give you a release date? No, and you know why? It wouldn't be fair to ask Acclaim to give you a release date and game info before the game is near completion. Likewise, it's not fair to be angry with Nintendo if they don't want to reveal too much about what they are trying to do before it is even near ready. Besides, in a business sense, it serves no purpose to release info too early. Aspects of the game might change and that just may disappoint people. Anyways, I'd like to go back to my main point which is that for all of the secretiveness and all of the delays, when the game arrives, it usually gets lots of praise, and sells very well. So whether or not you like or understand the way Nintendo releases info about and markets its games, it's working, and it's working well for them. Lastly, I'd like to point out that only geeks like us complain about the delays because we are the only ones who follow up on video games everyday. Most people who buy games won't know about a game a year before it comes out and it just doesn't matter to them. It doesn't matter to Nintendo either, because you're still going to buy Zelda and Mario even if it has been delayed a few times.

You claim that no software developer is as secretive as Nintendo, but what software developer is constantly hounded by questions about games that are nowhere near completion? What software developer is constantly copied? What software seller sells the most games? The answer to all three is Nintendo. They've got good reason to be secretive, and actually, they're not being secretive. They're doing what most publishers do. When the game is near complete, when it is almost the release date, then they start talking to the Press, then they start advertising and releasing screenshots. Just because Nintendo won't answer a question when video game geeks (who may or may not be journalists) try to ask them about the next Zelda or when Perfect Dark 0 is coming out does not make them secretive. If you call that secretive, then all publishers are too secretive. It's just that nobody has franchises like Nintendo, and no one constantly asks about them like people constantly ask Nintendo.

Online gaming- now that's the hot issue, isn't it? Tell me this are you going to pay for online gaming? Really? Who is? Every time someone talks about online gaming, I always ask them if they're willing to pay a monthly fee for it, and most of them say, "No." It seems like it's popular to talk about online gaming, but no one wants to pay for it. I actually think Microsoft is offering a really nice deal. $50 for a year of unlimited online gaming is just a little over $4 a month. Now I think that that is an acceptable price. Few people are willing to pay $10 or $20 a month to play games online. The problem is, is that I think it will cost Microsoft more than $50 a year to allow one person to play online with unlimited access. Our cable company charges us $40 a month, and they just give us web access and email. They don't have to maintain game servers. That's another thing. 56k gaming is not even worth it in most cases. So how many people out there have a broadband connection or are willing to get one? "...they will generously profit from online games." Really, how? I think that just like with the Xbox console itself, Microsoft will be losing money with their online service in order to gain users and cement themselves into the industry so that they will be well-positioned for the next generation. As it stands, I don't think the fee that most people are willing to pay will actually cover the cost for a publisher to maintain game servers, and I think that if they charged a fee that allowed them to profit from it, then not enough people would sign up at that price.

Now I am not against online gaming. It's fun, and it even allows new types of games that aren't really possible without online gaming. However, I just don't think it will be profitable right now. It seems that Sony and Microsoft are only jumping into it in order to outdo the competition. Consoles aren't ready to go online. Nintendo has decided that they don't want to go online unless it makes business sense. I think that should be respected. Microsoft is going online to make the Xbox look like it offers more, not because they'll be making money. Microsoft is doing everything it can so that when it releases it's next console, the public will be ready and willing. Nintendo doesn't have that motive. They've been playing the game for years, and they have their place.

I often hear people complain about Nintendo's sequels. "Mario this and that, Zelda, Zelda, Zelda, that's all they do!" However, when I ask them to point out games that are true rehashes, they find it hard to think of games other than Pok�mon. You brought up a couple good examples: Wave Race, and Mario Kart. However, I believe Nintendo balances things by giving gamers the sequels that we want and the new things that we need. I also point out that most Nintendo sequels are not rehashes. Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japan, not the US version) is a basically a rehash. It is the same game with new levels and a poison mushroom. However, each of the following Mario games have had new, different elements that change and/or evolve the gameplay. I don't think your Major's Mask/Ocarina of Time comparison was valid because the gameplay of Majora's Mask had a very different structure with the cycle of the 3 days. Expecting Mario Sunshine to be what Mario 64 was to the series, or to gaming in general is unfair. People that have imported the game have said that Mario Sunshine is indeed a true sequel to Mario 64. It evolves upon the ideas and gameplay. They have also said that the water pack is not just a gimmick and that it really does add new elements to the gameplay. You cannot make judgments on Mario or Metroid without having played them. I think other companies are much more guilty of rehashing games than Nintendo is. Of course their Pok�mon series is like one big rehash, and there have been some other games as well, but I'd say that a large majority of Nintendo games each have something unique about them, and they are not just the same old ideas with new graphics.

Nintendo's hardware days are not numbered. "...they should save their money now and leave the hardware business." What money? Oh you mean the $6 billion dollars they have in the bank? I think that's plenty. Nintendo is not in the situation Sega was in. Sega was losing money. Both the Saturn and Dreamcast were commercial flops, even though they both had some great games. Nintendo however is doing just fine. While it seems like the PlayStation giant will never be stopped, Nintendo has maintained neck-and-neck sales with the Xbox in the US. Elsewhere in the world it has crushed it. Actually the Xbox crushed itself under its own weight. Nintendo's strength has always been its exclusive games. It's the reason the N64 was very profitable even though it was not the most popular. In fact there was a survey conducted before and after the Xbox price in Europe. Most people didn't want an Xbox, and they were asked why. They said that there didn't seem like much of a reason to own one if they already had a PS2 and if a PS3 is coming out later. After the price drop, those that said they didn't want an Xbox said that the price drop only confirmed to them that it wasn't really worth having. However, the GameCube sold well in Europe and Japan specifically because of what the Xbox or PS2 can never give you: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, and more. More importantly, those games are made by the top developers in the world and they are given the time they need to complete and perfect the games as much as they can. "Imagine playing Mario on PlayStation 2 or Xbox." Isn't that disgusting? In the end, your complaints about Nintendo are very old. People have said the same exact things before in the belief that Nintendo is going down, that the things you are complaining about are harming their business. Well you couldn't be more wrong. People have made the same arguments against Nintendo's practices before, but they have yet to be proven. Nintendo has been more profitable than ever, and they've been able to do unprecedented things. They had the money to launch to consoles in one year. They had the money to manufacture them in sufficient numbers. They had the popularity to sell them. They stole show at E3 2001 and 2002 in most people's opinion. Mario, Metroid, and Zelda games are all being released within a year. People are excited about this stuff. People are buying GameCubes. They're buying Game Boys. They're buying Nintendo games. No other company can sell home consoles like Sony, but no other company can sell games like Nintendo. Other publishers dream of having game sales like Nintendo. They usually have one or two hit franchises that sell like a Nintendo game does, yet almost every 1st and 2nd party Nintendo game blows the current competition away when its released. You don't think that millions of people want Metroid, Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, and the others? Then I don't know where you're coming from, but Nintendo is making more money than it has ever been, and it looks like it's only going to get better.

By Andrew Thivyanathan - 09/27/02

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Nintendo Needs to Change