Metroid 3: The hype is here (you’re just not a part of it anymore)

MetroidI seriously think that the video game media, as it exists today, needs to stop trying to predict what Nintendo’s going to do for a while. Instead, what they need to do is start taking some real notes, pay attention, and do some research. We’ll all be better off when that happens.

Until then, Nintendo seems content to basically not give a flying focker. And that seems to be working out just fine.

The flavor of the moment seems to be to criticize Nintendo for “not marketing” a “hardcore” title because they’re too busy trying to sell “casual games” to “casual gamers.” I used quotes because I don’t believe any of those claims or labels. First, hardcore is a marketing term invented by Sony and Microsoft and the sheepish media to describe an imaginary sect of gamers and appeal to their egos. I dabble in games, playing a hour or so every other day, but I also take time out of my work day to write about Nintendo for no money or compensation whatsoever. That’s pretty “hardcore,” no?

Second, casual games are in reality just “games.” Casual applies to the gamer, not the game itself. They’ll play anything so long as its fun. Again, marketing spin.

The calling out, in this case, happened over at IGN. Our good friend Matt Casamassina notes that Nintendo has yet to send him any review copies of the game, and thus far has neglected to promote Metroid Prime 3 to the “hardcore gamers.” Ergo, Nintendo doesn’t really care about “hardcore gamers” because they aren’t getting down on hand and knee to appease them with free swag and explosive marketing web sites that are EXTREME TO THE MAX (copyright Xbox 360).

How troubling this all is. But also how telling. It’s been almost one year since the Wii arrived and knocked down the barriers to video gaming, and yet columns like this persist. I’m positively baffled. Is the media genuinely still confused about what’s going on with Nintendo today, or are we seeing yet another example of a confused and scorned media lashing out with some reverse psychology — hoping Ninty will bite and throw them a bone?

I suppose the answer to that meandering question is, “it doesn’t really matter.” To date, after almost a year of “hmm, I don’t know, that doesn’t look like it appeals to the hardcore gamers,” talk, it would appear as though the media will continue to not get Nintendo, and Nintendo will continue to make millions in spite of that fact.

Simply look at today’s Wii Ware development. For the second time in one week, the blue light flickered to life on online enabled Wii’s across the world. Metroid Prime 3 content became available for streaming to your television. As much as IGN would like to think their Wednesday column chastising Nintendo for not being IGN-friendly enough was the catalyst for this Wii Ware development, they weren’t.

Instead of announcing a Wii Ware development via a press release to IGN or other media outlets, Nintendo cut out the middle man and decided to let the consumers figure things out for themselves. The Wii Ware Metroid demo was just that — a demo — but it was something tangible that users could download and look at on their own time and of their own accord. The Wii Ambassador parties proved there is power in letting users decide for themselves, and this Wii Ware demo will prove that there’s few things more powerful than your son or daughter going to school or the park Saturday morning to brag to friends about the cool new download his Wii just received.

Still doubt it? Let the media’s own words prove this point:

The point we’re making is that by no estimation is Corruption a throwaway sequel. Clearly, a lot of development time and resources have gone into the creation of this sequel, the third and final act in the Prime trilogy. But here we are, three weeks away, and we remain excited for the product practically in spite of Nintendo’s lackluster efforts.

“We remain excited for the product practically in spite of Nintendo’s lackluster efforts.” Really? Why do you think that is? Isn’t being excited about something you see as lackluster kind of a glaring contradiction? Could it be that Nintendo has already done all it really needed to do to promote this game?

At E3, they showed off the new controls and very un-GameCube graphics, and people bent over backward to laud the efforts. It was the most positive press Nintendo had probably seen since Wii Sports last November. But what was special about the E3 demo was not the control scheme (although that was damn important), it was that Nintendo SHOWED people something cool, as opposed to TELLING them what was cool. IGN and other seem to think that for a game to be successful, game companies need to shower the media with gifts and treasure so they can write their expert reviews and therefore the game will be successful. What they don’t seem to get is we’re kind of in a new era of media right now. People want to be told (or better yet, showed at a gaming-themed house party) about games by other like-minded people because that’s who they trust. The media has a role to play, sure, but it’s been downsized considerably in cases like these. Just look to the review scores for great Wii games. They’re all over the place. That reeks of disruption. The best reviews I’ve read of one of my current guilty pleasures, Excite Truck, probably came from Infendo readers and writers.

I don’t mean to pick on Matt C., but he wrote the column, so surely he expects a response such as this. In his column he asks, “where is the hype?” Um, Matty? Did you read David’s post about the month of Metroid? Pretty amazing that David, who has a full time job outside of Infendo, was able to put things together so well with so few resources at his disposal, don’t ya think? Actually, I think Infendo is really just that good these days ;-).

Anyway, the hype. I’d argue its here, and always has been — it’s just that the Matt C’s and their companies are no longer as in the loop as they once were in simpler, narrower, and more exclusive times. Downloadable content cuts out the middle man and lets gamers decide for themselves if they like a game without having to worry about whether or not they’re the right type of gamer. Sounds good to me.