Community Corner: Nintendo – State of the U-nion

Infendo

Welcome to Community Corner where someone from the Infendo Community has come to us with a guest article, if you would like to write a guest article for us, please email us at contact@infendo.com, The following was written by Jason Novak ( RisinDevil )

Why the Wii U’s problems are not due to the GamePad

So, let’s face it: the Wii U is struggling. It’s no real secret. Sales are sluggish, support is dropping, and the most recent Nintendo Direct gave the vague impression that there is at least another MINOR software drought on the horizon. But like I said, we already know all this, but what no one seems to realize is that it’s not the GamePad’s fault. So where does the blame lie? Well let’s take a look. (Author’s note: this is an opinion piece. There is no real need or desire to look up links or sales figures: those are all readily available elsewhere. )

 

Space matters

Wait, what? To truly appreciate this statement, you have to put it into context: this doesn’t apply to Nintendo’s handhelds. The N64 changed the gaming landscape forever by moving to analog controls with the controller, and including four ports four controllers really jumpstarted multiplayer gaming. The ONLY failure was the insistence to stick with expensive and proprietary cartridges that limited storage space. Heck, the onboard RAM could’ve been lived with if more data could’ve actually been put onto disks. Then, just when it seems like Nintendo learned the lesson, they release the Gamecube sporting MINI-DVDs, once again limiting storage capacity (compared to the competition). Then you move onto the Wii where Nintendo embraced standard DVDs (finally) only being beaten in disc storage by Sony. So what does Nintendo do? Include virtually no system memory (no storage space), HEAVILY limit digital title sizes (due to and another example of no storage) and enable ONLY SDHC card storage (no USB drives) with a later software update (STILL NO STORAGE). Now here we are with the Wii U offering to SKUs (similar to their competitors did LAST GENERATION), but BOTH options being unacceptably inadequate (but hey, at least we have external hard drives). Here we have two sets of sequential console generations establishing patterns that are not friendly for NEARLY EVERY OTHER developer in the industry.

 

Nintendo simply doesn’t understand the Western/US market

This began to be evident with the Gamecube. DVD players are becoming ubiquitous? Well, we don’t need to include standard DVD capability (remember, MINI-DVDs?) because everyone already has a player. Who cares that Americans like all-in-one devices. Time for the Wii to step up: standard size DVDs but still refuses to play DVD movies. Here’s another repeated mistake. The American trend is all about looks and graphics. The weaker system could’ve been forgiven if only it could push 720p, but no. American developers, for good or for ill, were embracing large games with large installations to squeeze out performance, but we can’t give them that either.  Most of these problems were repeated generation after generation, pushing Western developers who were making games that catered to their Western gamers further and further away. Heck, look at the design priority in the Wii U: small size/footprint, quite operation, and low power consumption. I’m glad Japanese consumers are more conscientious than American’s, but don’t be mad when it simply doesn’t resonate.

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The Wii U launched with a robust selection of games (sure, a healthy number of games were outdated ports) but the games WERE there, and the Wii U launch figures showed this. The Wii U moved units impressively, but dropped off as no new games showed up. Every time there is a major release there is a spike in sales. But now, there aren’t enough units in the wild to justify development costs, so no new (big) games are coming, so no one is seeing the benefit in purchasing a unit. It is a vicious cycle that only snowballs. (Amazingly, this is the only problem that, while difficult, can be entirely fixed by Nintendo.)

 

Options hurt NO ONE

See, here’s the thing. As a developer or a gamer, there is NO HARM WHATSOEVER in the GamePad existing. Don’t want to use it? Pretend its just a big controller. It’s almost criminal that Nintendo is the first company to make a game that simply turns off the GamePad screen since there is no use for it (DKC:TF, looking at you). It’s just a shame they are doing it so…poorly.

 

PEOPLE like the GamePad

Let’s end with a bang, with something that is very difficult to find information to either prove or rebut: PEOPLE LIKE the GamePad. Don’t believe me? How many returns or trade-ins have you seen? While I understand that experiences will vary. I haven’t seen any. Rewind seven years ago (right after Christmas 2006) and you couldn’t go to a retail store without seeing people lined up returning their PS3s for Wiis. This was with a system that had a nearly identical controller to its previous generation, was pretty much the best (and most affordable) BluRay player on the market, and was priced high enough that only truly dedicated enthusiasts ran out to purchase one. Yet still the lines for returns and trade-ins wore on to extended lengths. But maybe this is too broad. Maybe THOSE people were dissatisfied by multiple “features” and Wii U owner’s are just dissatisfied by the GamePad, so they aren’t returning it? Search most gaming sites, especially forums. ACTUAL owners all seem to love it. ACTUAL adopters all sing its praises: off-TV play is wildly convenient and useful; games that actually use the GamePad in unique ways are received with critical acclaim; games that simply move some features (map, HUD, etc) to the GamePad are still appreciated for this basic convenience. As a matter of fact, the ONLY detractors I’ve ever heard are people who have only “tried” one, or simply haven’t given it a chance based off the premise.

 

Yes, I’m a fan. I daresay I’m a fanboy. The Wii U is hurting, but if we don’t really understand why, or just try to find the easiest scapegoat, we will NEVER change the current situation.

 

VIVA LA GamePad!!

 

Many thanks to Jason Novak ( RisinDevil ) for the above article, if you would like to write a guest article for us, please email us at contact@infendo.com.

Lewis Pugh is a game developer at Leuvsion (www.leuvsion.com) for mobile platforms, born and bred on Nintendo gaming. Being a developer gives Lewis a unique perspective on Nintendo news, especially relating to the eShop and Nintendo Network. Today he plays Wii U and 3DS enjoying their distinctive gameplay offerings. Looking into what the future holds for Nintendo is always tricky, even with its established heritage, but that’s exactly what makes it so fun. NNID: Leuvsion