Games Radar has a feature today on Nintendo’s seven deadly sins (or mistakes). It’s almost as hot as Blake’s new Infendo header. Almost.
The feature is a nostalgic walk through of the absolute worst of Nintendo’s storied history. The Virtual Boy; strong arming third parties to the point that the U.S. government had to get involved; all but a handful of games on the Nintendo 64; and the now infamous backstabbing that Nintendo did to Sony over a “new” technology called CD-ROMs. You know the result of that video game history debacle: the PlayStation. “Nintendo effectively created its own worst enemy,” says Games Radar features writer Brett Elston. And he’s right. Mostly.
All those things I mentioned above, they all happened and they’re an embarrassment. Especially for a Japanese company. There’s no honor in slapping a company across the face the day after you sign a huge console deal with them. Even if it was Sony (I kid Phil Harrison, honestly). Absolute power corrupts absolutely and Nintendo was a poster child for that cliche.
But placing the Wii as #7 in this list is just a foolish way to garner page views.
Can the same magic that made the DS an international phenomenon happen with a console? Nintendo’s betting on it. Betting it all, really. Because what do you do next? Five years from now, when the PS4 and NextBox show up, they’re going to jump in hardware power again. And then Nintendo’s left with a machine that looks two generations old instead of one. The motion controls, now considered somewhere in between “the best damn thing that’s ever happened in the world” to “gimmicky stupid childish nonsense,” will be super played out and exploited. Unless there’s some other gameplay innovation on the horizon, Wii could be viewed as a fad, susceptible to the same fickle emotions that killed snap bracelets, pet rocks and Sega. And if Nintendo bites the bullet and gives the machine a visual kick in the pants, well there goes its whole mantra that graphics don’t matter. There’s just enough steam with this idea to last one generation, and none after that. Today, the Wii is insanely popular with almost every audience. But if this wave of good vibes ever ends, Nintendo’s gonna be stranded.
So true! And “if” this atmosphere thing covering our planet ever ends, we all gonna die.
It’s a good thing we established this is a Games Radar column, because a lot of what I’m seeing here is baseless hyperbole and opinion based on assumption. A PS4? Says who? A visual kick in the pants would be hypocritical if it was for a completely new system four years down the line? How so? Last I checked, every Nintendo system was different from the last, and no one cried foul on that. And if the Wii really takes off, and I mean like the DS has, then who’s to say Microsoft makes an even more powerful system next time around? Why would they or Sony waste their money when the Wii/DS model was so wildly successful?
What this column is, really, is another example of someone or some company that has no clue how to respond to Nintendo’s new chosen path. Even if PS4 hits store shelves in five years, do you really think Nintendo cares? Do you think its customers — and I’m talking the people having a blast right now with dated technology — will care? I’m going to throw Brett Elston a bone on this one, and assume (*gasp!*) that this colum was written before Blake’s Ubisoft/EA post yesterday. You know, the one where EA said it missed out on millions of dollars because it was too slow to act on Wii development? The one where Ubisoft made an additional $405 million because of the Wii? The quality of some of these games be damned for now, because money talks, and developers are shifting resources to confirm that.
Even the six other mistakes listed in the article are just a history lesson of how the gaming industry WAS, not how it is GOING TO BE if Nintendo’s strategy with the Wii takes hold in a year or two. The Virtual Boy? CD-ROMs? Hiroshi Yamauchi? Are you kidding me? These are the skeletons in Nintendo’s closet, to be sure, but if you as a gaming journalist cannot see that the past 2-3 years have been a major restructuring and about face at Nintendo you need to start looking for work. Like with Sony’s PlayStation marketing department.
In many ways, the Wii launch has been MORE successful than the DS, and some people are STILL calling it a gimmick. For someone who wrote a fairly detailed history lesson on Nintendo’s foibles and repeating its mistakes, Mr. Elston himself seems incapable of reviewing just the past two years. Unfortunately for columnists like this, they’re wrong, and like EA, they’re going to lose unless they start thinking differently. I think some turtleneck wearing guy named Steve told me that once. I wonder what happened to him.
[Inspired by roo_303]