Nintendo is blowing it hard with the amiibo
Nintendo passed on Skylanders, then copied them.
Hey remember when amiibo were selling like hot cakes and everybody just had to have them? They still sell, and the lower supply releases still sell out, but the hype around them is wearing thin. Soon they'll tail off and this will be the second toys to life opportunity that Nintendo failed to properly take advantage of.
The problem is that most of the amiibo are useless outside of looking cool for collectors. The idea is that they'll be useful in their own games, and supported as nifty features in other games going forward. They're stuck between being damn near useless, or gating DLC behind a relatively expensive physical purchase that sells out due to manufactured shortages.
As it stands, there's a big disparity in amiibo usage. Why would anyone want a Little Mac amiibo besides the fact it's rare and he's cool? Little Mac only has a unique function in three games. Two of those, Yoshi's Woolly World and Super Mario Maker, uses are just as costumes, and the last function is being a cheap AI for a low tier Smash fighter.
The only reasonable way to fix this problem would be to make an amiibo-focused game, like Skylanders has done. Nintendo had no plans to do so, but hopefully that has changed since the days when they tried to pitch not having their own game as some sort of advantage. Cross-game usage is great as a bonus feature to give you an edge over the competition, but only if the primary function of your glorified PS1 memory card isn't complete garbage. At least they look cool though, right?
Okay, I think I've found catharsis in outlining why Nintendo sucks. I'd like to be more positive, which is why I'm working on an article focused on the great things Nintendo is doing to get back into fighting shape. Look forward to that..Until then, feel free to use the comments section below to add to the list or air your own grievances with the Big N.
Nintendo doesn't understand advertising's true power.
If any other company had been promoting this game it would have been huge
I've already covered why advertising is the number one thing Nintendo needs to learn from today's AAA market. Long story short: Western AAA developers admit they use advertising to brainwash the stupid masses into buying their games. Judging by the massive sales of mediocre AAA releases, like Watch Dogs, it's pretty damn effective.
Typically, Nintendo only gives big marketing pushes to their main franchises like Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, and Smash, while the others (including second party collaborations) are just along for the ride. How many commercials did you see for Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Yoshi's Woolly World, Bayonetta 2, or even Fatal Frame? Not enough. I saw more advertising for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 than I have seen for the combined ad campaigns for all of the Wii U's titles in the last two years.
Okay, that's not entirely true, it's slight hyperbole.
Only because Nintendo really put their back into pushing Splatoon. It was marvelous to see the company supporting an entirely new IP with effort on par to that of a new 3D Mario or a new Zelda release. It obviously paid off too, because now Splatoon has sold 4 million units on the gimpy Wii U, and is on pace to potentially outsell Mario Kart 8. If the Wii U had even half the sales of the Wii, Splatoon would most likely be the best selling shooter of all time.
Again, we see that Nintendo doesn't learn a damn thing: After Splatoon, advertising died for everything but Super Mario Maker. There was no significant push for Yoshi or Xenoblade, and they didn't even try for Fatal Frame, despite an envious position as the only major horror release in the Halloween window. Essentially, Nintendo is the least desirable publisher to work with when it comes to advertising, because there's a not-insignificant chance that the extent of their support for your game will be limited to an offhanded mention in a direct, divisive censorship, and an intentionally misspelled video title for your release trailer. (It's like the localization team loves bad internet humor more than doing their jobs.)
It still pains me that Nintendo pays people to say things like this. Nintendo is painfully out of touch with the gaming market, and reality in general, if they think open world RPGs are niche. They are literally the worst company in the gaming world when it comes to good, consistent product promotion.
Nintendo is behind the times.
Like Cranky, Nintendo's consoles and infrastructure are old, slow, and not very strong.
The Wii's success saved Nintendo's home consoles from their downward trend, each had sold less than the one before it, but it separated them from the rest of the pack. While Sony and Microsoft were locked in a struggle for supremacy, constantly upping their game, Nintendo was too busy making its victory lap to learn anything. Just look at everything that went wrong because of their self-isolation.
The Wii was a casual machine, and Nintendo was slow with digital adoption. The Wii owners couldn't download anything but Wii Ware and virtual console titles, and the Wii U came with a disgustingly paltry 8 gigs of storage space in its basic model. That can't even hold all the software updates and DLC for a sizable collection of physical releases. Nintendo has published a digital-only game that takes more space than that, making a large portion of their audience unable to purchase said game.
Not to mention the eShop is the worst of all the current generation digital distribution platforms. It's usually slower and the layout requires users to scroll through and load new pages while browsing a single category. Games, accounts, and consoles are also tied together in a clumsy mess, requiring customers to jump through hoops in order to move their games if they get a new system. It's a pain in the ass.
Online gaming itself is another area Nintendo has completely failed at, save for a handful of games. Playing Wii games online was horrible, the Wii U doesn't come with a built in Ethernet port, and even when Nintendo does have good online they don't offer industry standards like basic voice chat, a decent friends list, and in game notifications, among other things,
Take a moment and think about that voice chat thing too. Nintendo built a fucking microphone into the Wii U's game pad, and then used it to move platforms in Mario games by blowing into it. What the actual fuck were they thinking making this bulky ass controller with tons of bells and whistles, if they were just going to turn around and say they didn't want to include voice or video chat in their games?
Stupid hardware decisions are a driving force behind Nintendo's current state of failure too. One would think Nintendo had learned their lesson about working with third parties to make sure game development on their hardware was easy and they could rely on third party support. I mean Sony usurped them and now holds the crown as king of console gaming because Nintendo was a giant knob end to third parties and the PlayStation was so easy to develop for, but Nintendo didn't learn a damn thing: They stuck with cartridges and got burned. Two decades later and we're talking about Nintendo getting burned again because they clung to PowerPC while the rest of the world moved to x86.
After alienating the larger developers once more, Nintendo started reaching out to indie devs. It's been a nice exchange and things like Shovel Knight, Runbow, and the SteamWorld games have done wonderful on Nintendo platforms. It makes you wonder, how long until Nintendo throws indie devs under the bus in order to court “real developers” again? It's like Nintendo is the real life equivalent of Sterling Archer when he found out he had cancer. Just replace cancer with Wii U, which admittedly isn't very hard when talking sales.
Nintendo has done a decent job of carrying the dead weight Wii U, and I fully believe that they're the only console maker capable of supporting a console with virtually no third party assistance, but they're showing a lot of their weaknesses in this struggle. Nintendo is just now learning how to do HD development. They're only a generation late to that party, and the industry standard has already moved beyond the lackluster standards they've been struggling with.
Be it online, HD development, hardware, or simple developer relationships, Nintendo's roughly a decade behind the rest of the industry. However, all of those sins could be forgiven if they weren't lacking in the absolute most important area for a video game's success….
Nintendo clings too hard to their family image.
Standard swimsuits are too racy for American teens.
Nintendo has a reputation that's as wholesome as orange juice, Wheaties, and mom's apple pie. Unfortunately, the vast majority of gamers seem to prefer blood, gore, and wanton violence. Nintendo is obsessed with clinging to an image that is no longer as important as it once was. Hell, Disney now owns a ton of mature content thanks to their purchase of Marvel. Just make a new brand, call it Nintendo Black or some other terrible name, and use it to publish the M-Rated stuff.
The result of this desire to maintain a squeaky clean image in America is an absurd level of censorship, even over the most trivial things, and a reluctance to show support for M-Rated content. Nintendo isn't as bad about forcing third parties to adhere to their family friendly standards these days, but that's only because Sony crushed them in humiliating fashion during the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 eras.
It hasn't stopped Nintendo from shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to censoring their own games though. Remember when they censored Tharja's swimsuit for no good reason? The change ended up making it look as if some pervert was peeping on a naked woman through a curtained window. Maybe they should have just left the swimsuit uncensored, because it's a swimsuit at a beach themed piece of DLC.
Not only is their censorship laughably bad, but it seems to be entirely at odds with targeted age demographics and shows how fucked up their priorities really are: Nintendo published an M-Rated game about finding a missing gravure idol in a suicide forest filled with ghosts that met horribly graphic ends. At one point a teenage girl unwillingly slashes her own throat with a blade (NSFW), but Nintendo was on the ball: They sprang into action and saved us adults from being exposed to…the swimsuits.
Not that they saved very many though, because nobody knew about Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water since Nintendo did their best to bury it. Who would want to properly ship and advertise an M-Rated horror title released in the Halloween window? That's just a fool's game. After all, M-Rated games don't sell…on Nintendo consoles.
Actually, it's not that M-Rated games don't sell on Nintendo's consoles, it's that Nintendo doesn't do enough to sell M-Rated games. We'll come back to this.
Nintendo is a brand I love. I've pretty much made a job out of being the Nintendo guy anywhere I write. As a developer of games, Nintendo does virtually no wrong in my eyes, and they've won my personal GOTY for several years running. Still, their practices in everything outside of game development have been nothing but sadness and anger inducing stupidity.
I'll cover the good that Nintendo has been doing lately in my next article, because you should always get the bad out of the way first to make the good look better. With that said, lets look at what Nintendo has been doing wrong.
Localized dialogue: Where everything's made up and the script doesn't matter.
I know full well this is going to hit a nerve with some, and invite others to pile on, but I want you to keep something in mind: Just because shitty human beings that engage in harassment happen to align with those that are right about something, doesn't mean we should cling to what's wrong out of spite. If you cling so hard to your “side” that you can't acknowledge that someone you don't agree with is making solid points, by using facts, then you are a shitty person too.
I fell in love with the Nintendo Treehouse when I was watching them play games at E3 2014. They're funny, entertaining, and a pleasure to listen to and watch. Their coverage of games at the Treehouse Live event is the highlight of E3 and my summer.
I didn't mind their little funnies and memes slipped into Tri Force Heroes. I thought it was an overblown mess. Harmless doge memes for a throwaway character in a (functionally) multiplayer only Zelda game is nothing to get your jimmies rustled over.
That changed when they made significant, unnecessary changes to Fire Embem Fates, seemingly just because they could. I'm not talking about Soleil, the petting minigame. or anything related to relationships that could be deemed questionable, I'm talking about changes like Effie and “Arthur” underwent. These changes and my feelings on them have been covered previously, so I don't want to go in depth here. Let's just say that many feel the decisions made by the Treehouse are moronic at best, and character ruining at worst.
Here's the thing that gets me: They're coming off the backlash from their localization of Tri Force Heroes, a game with a story nobody cares about. Yet somehow they thought it would be wise to double down with this stupid bullshit on a major main-line release of another long running franchise. Fire Emblem has a history of great stories and a fairly serious tone overall, especially Fire Emblem Fates, which focuses on betrayal, assassination, murder, and war.
It's true that Fire Emblem has always had a bit of humor spread throughout each game to lighten the mood, but given the climate after the backlash of a previous localization, the Treehouse gang should have been wary of the same dumb ideas on a more serious high profile endeavor. They were not, and to me, and many other apparently, that is stupidity on an unforgivable level.
Speaking of stupidity brings me to the whole situation surrounding Nich Maragos. I don't know the guy, but personally he seems alright as a human being, even if I don't agree with him on certain things. That hasn't stopped people on the internet from digging up his past and posting it everywhere in an attempt to fuck up his career.
Maragos has said some pretty stupid shit, like asking other localization teams not to pick up Senran Kagura in a very public manner. I guess he doesn't think people who enjoy fan service deserve the right to have their preferred past times, truly a noble idea when it's in favor of the “in vogue” crowd. I guess there's only #roomforeveryone(thatweagreewith). However, I'm willing to let stupid shit said in the past slide, because no one saw the gaming world turning into a shit slinging mess at the time these comments were made.
I am willing to bust this stranger's balls on one matter though: Nich Maragos donated money to a friend that would go on to give his latest project, Fire Emblem Fates, a positive review. He even proclaimed that said friend's review is the only one that matters. It's great that he's happy that his friend enjoyed the game, but there was no disclosure of their relationship or donations.
That seems like small potatoes to a normal person, but if I were to do the same thing at this or any of the smaller websites I've written for, somebody would have canned my ass. If Nich Maragos or Aevee Bee were in a “real” industry, this would have been a scandal. Instead, a group of blind social justice warriors will defend them out of spite for those that bring this up.
Side choosing in the gaming community has reached a ridiculous level, and the Treehouse appears to have taken a side as well. That's a shame, because now no matter how legitimate, earnest, or well thought out it is, criticism leveled at their work will be buried beneath layers of petty bickering and deflection. Someone's always going to throw out buzzwords like petting, gay conversion, or #GamerGate and #torrentialdownpour, then ignore the claims from those not on their side.
This is an unhealthy state of affairs for any organization, but that's doubly so for a company in the position Nintendo is currently in.