Friday, February 07, 2014

Nintendo Is Not Out Yet

Erik Kain believes the industry will not survive if Nintendo fails. Or so he says in his recent Forbes article, calling out the gaming giant to get their act together or we'll all feel the downfall. Lower quality games will be produced. Less innovation will be introduced into the marketplace. In turn, less competition for the other consoles and games can lead to complacency and more repetitive titles.

Why are we concerned? Well Wii-U sales have been less then stellar. And with the Wii being phased out, Nintendo hasn't been having a great year. Well there is the new Pokemon X/Y game, and even with the save bug at release, it was patched and everyone was fine within 2 weeks. Otherwise, it was a year of another Mario game. another Zelda game, and not much else as everyone else started to foam at the mouth over what the PS4 and the XboxOne had to offer for next-gen gaming.

So why care about Nintendo? They cater to a group and do okay with it. Well with Nintendo, as Kain pointed out, it keeps the industry honest and tries to push them to do better. Before the Wii came along, motion gaming was an afterthought limited to the tilting and rumbling of controllers. Before the Nintendo 64 and SNES (Super Mario RPG), games were limited to 16 and 32 bits. The idea of a 3-dimensional looking character was unheard of. And the Nintendo, well it jumped started the gaming revolution all over again. With all of these changes, updates, and upgrades, Nintendo has been on the forefront of providing new concepts of game play to us. Some have been great, like the Wii, and some have been bad. Remember the Power Glove? That is an ancient relic by now, but garnered the same reception as the Wii-U. But at least Nintendo keeps trying and pushing the boundaries. Not everything that they make will turn out gold.

At the same time, you know when you buy a Nintendo brand, you're getting a quality product. What was the fail rate on the Nintendo Wii? A 2009 study showed it was under 3% of the millions of units sold, and at that time there were more Wii's in homes then PS3's and Xbox360's (sometimes combined in some countries). And with any systems that did fail, Nintendo was one of the few that would swiftly fix it, sometimes with a return of the console in the same week. You can't say that about Sony or Microsoft.

So even if you don't like the game, you can always count on that new Super Mario to be one of the buggiest-free games out there. Day one patches and DLC's are almost non-existent for a Nintendo game. And yes, that's a good thing. It means they test their product to within an inch of it's life before releasing it to the public. Unlike other games where you expecting patching as soon as you install to fix issues, you don't need to worry about it for a Nintendo game.

Right now the company is in one of it's downward phases. It happens. Look at the cycle when the GameCube came out, just as the PS1 was hitting it's high notes. Companies go through ebbs and flows, it's part of the cycle when it comes to a capitalist economy. Nintendo will shine again with their new products. There isn't a need for them to cave in and go to a mobile only system. Nintendo doesn't do mobile. Their company's structure (internally and for creative design) is not meant to support mobile phones. Let Nintendo do what they do best and they'll find a way to get out of their rut. Don't count them out yet. I mean, there are already a lot of rumors swirling about a new console from them. It's just a matter of time until they reclaim the top of the mountain.

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