Nintendo: Who are you?
Some people I know might call me a fanboy for Nintendo, and they are quite probably right. I always try to look at products that aren’t Nintendo’s in an unbiased way, but for some reason I can’t seem to look at Nintendo products without my rose-tinted glasses on.
At the moment, I am loving the popularity and success Nintendo is having with its products – the Wii is a great thing, and the amount of fun I’ve had on my DS the past three years has earned it the status of being my favourite console. Seriously – the games that have come out on it that I love are all the best they could be. I also love the new image that Nintendo are trying to present themselves as, not only with the glossy finish of the consoles and their interfaces, but company wide image such as the website re-design and even the huge press events like the Wii Fit launch – everyone was wearing white trousers, shoes, jackets and hats. It’s impressive to see how a company can make such a successful comeback (remember the SNES days? they were happy days!) however, all that white can make one feel a little sick.
I’m starting to think now though, that they’ve become too big too fast, and have no control over what they might want the company to be, and where they intend on taking it. Is there going to be a shift from gaming to the Wii and DS being yet another platform to release content on? With a very few tiny exceptions, (such as Mario Galaxy, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption) where are the good AAA title games? On consoles gone by you used to have third party games that were just as golden as the games made by the makers of the console – GoldenEye, Banjo Kazooie, or Eternal Darkness even. But now there is so much poor third party software (nicknamed by the industry as shovelware) it even drowns out the decent first party software. The DS is a supreme example of this theory. Take a recently promoted title: Cooking Guide: Can’t Decide What To Eat on the Touch Generations – whatever happened to following a recipe? How are they making money from this – or rather, who is buying this kind of product? A Wii game that was advertised on the GAME website: PDC World Championship Darts 2008. Darts. Darts? £30 for a virtual dart board? I have a cheaper solution – a quick search of ebay gives you many results, including actual real life dart boards for £1. A POUND! WHY WOULD YOU PAY £30 FOR A SIMULATION OF SOMETHING YOU COULD ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY DO FOR A FRACTION OF THE PRICE?! I also have an even cheaper solution – go to a pub with a dartboard! Play the game with real people! What could be better?
And of course we couldn’t forget the multitude of horse “games” out there. The phrase “game” is use very loosely here. I am seriously wondering when we’ll see some form of Microsoft Office 2008 package DS Edition, I really do. In fact, the DS would be an awesome PDA. Except it has memory issues. Which is why it’s a console and not a PDA. So they should stop making applications for the DS.
Nintendo used to have good customer service as far as I remember. Always used to treat their customers as they would expect, you know, getting the best for their money. A newsletter that I received this morning from them said that all of the stars that I have been collecting for all these years will now start to expire if I haven’t used them. (Stars are given away with many games for Nintendo systems – usually 250 stars per game which you could register on the Nintendo web site). The star catalogue was always pretty poor – nothing but wallpapers and ringtones, so I never spent any of them – until they announced that you could trade your stars for Wii Points to use on the Virtual Console if you had enough of them. And here comes the bit that pisses me off the most – they’re always sold out of Wii Points cards. It’s been about a month of trying to “buy” some and every time I can never get any of them. So you know what’s going to happen. All of those stars I’ve saved up are going to expire, and I won’t get anything back from Nintendo for being a loyal customer. There is no monetary value in the stars or the points – as we have seen Nintendo are making a stupid profit from the Virtual Console sales (here is not really conclusive evidence, but for any people living in the UK, they know what I mean – remember their [the industry] pricing strategy for Rock Band?).
I am now wondering how to round off my thoughts. Well, Nintendo are a great company in my eyes, and even though they are rolling in it now, and are back to their peak; and even that the above games aren’t really anything to do with them – they’re all third party – surely, for the sake of keeping their image how they want it, shouldn’t they filter/censor some of the crap that manages to float through?
Nintendo have done well to bring in a new audience to gaming, and in having created a casual gaming market, they’ve made bringing the new audience into the world of gaming a very easy process – I know people who passionately hate computer games, but have picked up a Wiimote and started playing a game. They’ve also made the process of learning how to interact with the software even easier by introducing the Wiimote and it’s motion sensitivity. But in doing all this, partly as a fanboy, I believe that Nintendo are ignoring the very people that have supported them through harder times, and aren’t delivering the products that this fan base deserves.
Have they lost grip of the behemoth they’ve created? I feel like I don’t know them any more. Come on Nintendo, don’t lose it now!