Thursday, March 15, 2007

Be Different

Kevin Cassidy of wrote an interesting editorial for Newsweek's P2P.

P2P, in case you're wondering, was created by N'Gai Croal and is described as "the forum for industry observers--journalists, bloggers, analysts, academics, politicians and even regular gamers--to speak their minds on topics of our choosing."

Here are a few excerpt from what Cassidy had to say:
Nintendo is doing what they said they would all along, getting the third party support that fans wanted. The only problem is that these same fans don't seem to want what third parties have to offer.

...from what I have seen, Wii owners are complaining about almost everything the Wii has heading its way.

...when it comes to third party games, Nintendo fans are almost impossible to please. They seem to want everything and nothing at the same time. They want massive third party support, but when they get it they turn their backs.

...Over the past several weeks we have seen a huge amount of external support for the Wii in all categories, and I can't think of one title in particular that fans are really excited about. Is this the product of a mentality that says games aren't fun unless they are violent? Or are Nintendo fans being too picky for their own good?

Cassidy believes, based on his observation of message boards, that people seem to want more "mature" titles.

Oh, good grief. I typed "tities" instead of titles at first. That's one letter from irony.

There are two questions here: one, is what Cassidy sees on message boards truly reflective of the hardcore Nintendo fan, and two, if it is, should Nintendo care?

I'll discuss both, but if you want to skip the detail, the answers are "I doubt it" and "no."

First things first. Is it really true that Nintendo loyalists want games with more mature content?
How can that possibly be true? How in the world did those people become Nintendo loyalists to start with? So they were willing to play games with plumbers and gorillas and magic mushrooms for twenty years, but now they're drawing the line?

That doesn't make any sense.

Seriously, what was the last "mature" game for a Nintendo console that was a huge commercial success? Resident Evil 4 in 2005, yes, but before then? Goldeneye? Hello, 1997! Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, which was a AAA title in 2002, had "disappointing" sales (I couldn't find an exact number, but that word was used over and over in every reference to unit sales I could find), and it was even published by Nintendo!

So there seem to be two possibilities: either Nintendo loyalists don't really want "mature" games, or if they do, their overall number is so small that they can't drive sales of a game.

Let's go on the other tack and assume what Cassidy believes is true, that hardcore Nintendo loyalists really do want more mature games. I'm not sure why, since it would seem that what they're arguing for is to replicate the experience offered by the other two consoles, but let's assume that really is what they want.

Dumb asses.

The worst mistake Nintendo could possibly make would be to focus on this group. They will still buy absolutely everything Nintendo makes (and don't seem to mind the family-friendly content when it comes from Nintendo) for the next fifty years. The only time Nintendo loses a hardcore "Nintendo guy" is when he dies.

This is going to be hard for Nintendo loyalists to swallow, but they're not going to be the core demographic for the Wii. Nintendo, in more closely aligning play with the Wii to how we play in general, has both exponentially increased and fundamentally changed their demographic.

It's not the Grand Theft Auto demographic, and it never will be. And more to point--it never was.

Third-party publishers will sell huge amounts of Wii games if those games are play. Wii Sports was play, and we all understood that, even if most reviewers didn't. What's happened so far, though, is that a bunch of games have been rushed to the Wii with shoddy graphics and lousy support for the controller. With few exceptions, they're not very good. Those games won't sell, nor should they.

What will kill this console is trying to be like the other two. Murder, death, kill has gotten very, very stale.

Well, unless it's with a rocket launcher. That never gets old.

If all developers want to do with the Wii controller is point guns, then so long and good riddance.

Fortunately, I don't think that's going to happen.

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