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Objecting Nintendo, vol. 2

June 9, 2006
by

Let me expand on the first part a little bit.

When Nintendo talks of delivering games that suit casual gamers and games that cater to hardcore tastes, those hardcore gamers tend to be the more, um, receptive kind.

What i meant by this was, if you lean to the casually hardcore side of the fan spectrum, Nintendo doesn’t really care about you. They might put out some games that grab you once in a while, but when they say “core gamers”, they aren’t referencing you. They’re talking about the other guys- the ones who go apeshit for anything Zelda. The same guys who run (most) fansites and rule Nintendo’s message boards. Needless to say, they aren’t talking about you when they say “casual gamers”, either. Don’t expect too much.

About the fan subdivisions…

There are much more types of fans than these, for any console or company. It just so happens that the 3 i mentioned are the largest groups: the people who care a little, those who care moderately, and the ones who care too much. Blake commented:

Being a cult brand (which Nintendo obviously is like Apple, Harley, etc) has nothing to do with marketing. Nintendo is simply more cult than Sony, MS when it comes to gaming, hence there are outspoken, ilogical thinking fans, just like there are with Apple and Harley and the like.

That shouldn’t negate the good things that cult companies do, which does help them achieve cult status, but you have to take what they dish out with a some salt. These companies are smart, and they play up their cult status, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I AM a Nintendo enthusiast. That is, for me they’re a good fit for the games I like to play. Period.

Nintendo is cult in every sense of the word. Their fans are devout, eat up (almost all of) what they’re told, and march along. Apple has the same thing going, but that’s an overused comparison that i don’t want to perpetuate.

Their past successes, mistakes, and business decisions have given them cult status, but marketing and PR maintains the image. The way they’re marketing Wii shows that they want to deliberately stay cult: undercutting the other systems with seemingly oddball tactics; releasing an underpowered-by-comparison unit with newfangled controllers; talking up the simplicity of new games as a hearkening to the past; playing to the current trend of being retro; and calling it a “new generation” console rather than next gen. That’s all marketing, and it’s all bull to keep the super fans rabid.

The problem with being an enthusiast is you more often than not leave yourself vulnerable to a company willing to blindside you with their stratagems, even if you’re not “gung-ho Nintendo”. Also, if all you know is consoles, the scope is limited to who’s involved in that space, so being partial is dangerous. There’s not much choice, therefore ignorance flourishes. We should look beyond the visions of 3 companies to find something more than just plumbers and guns, and i don’t mean the mainstream PC scene. Nintendo’s a nice fit for me, too, but they’re way too far from perfect for me to invest so much into them.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. InvisibleMan permalink
    June 9, 2006 5:58 pm

    I would agree 90%, but let’s not lose sight of this basic fact: all game manufacturers are for-profit companies. Marketing strategies will be omnipresent in everything they release. To your point, over-enthusiastic fans seem to overlook this fact, and fool themselves in thinking that companies like Nintendo are looking after their gaming interests instead of the company’s interest.

    Having said that, I still root more for Nintendo than for MS or Sony, and I go as far as feeling a little anger for what Sony is doing to their fans. Why? Because MS and Sony are trying to use their current dominant position in the gaming market to push a products that don’t have to do with gaming. I don’t see Nintendo doing that. Corporate PR? Yes. Sly marketing? Of course! But at least they are still just selling games.

  2. InvisibleMan permalink
    June 9, 2006 6:02 pm

    Oh, yes: and I am getting a DS Lite on Monday! 😉

  3. Frisby permalink
    June 9, 2006 6:34 pm

    Iman hits all the points. I don’t even want to consider them in the same market.

  4. Rollin permalink
    June 11, 2006 5:26 pm

    I think Nintendo has become the cocky bastards they once were, but this time without the most marketshare and clout. They have a sorta negligent pompousness about them, and you can see it in some software.

    If you think about it, they’re as stubborn as Sony is, but differently. They’re saying “We’re giving you a system not nearly as tech-heavy as MS is, and making small-budget games, and this make-or-break control method, calling it by this unorthodox name, etc” and you kinda have to program your brain to accept it if you’re a fan. Same with Sony, cept they’re saying “you play with this rumble-less Dual Shock, this camera, these huge next-gen blu-ray games, this hard disk, this HDMI and ethernet, and our custom online, for this expensive price.” So when you stick to either one, you miss out, and with both, you have to accept the charges so to speak. There isn’t much true freedom. You’re gonna have to finagle Mario sooner or later if you have Wii, whether you want to or not.

    You can’t really say that it’s not all about the games for MS, since they don’t force you to buy the HD-DVD add-on or Vista. In fact they’re more hardcore than Nintendo is.

    Morale of the story is that sticking to one company in the console arena, no matter which, is a dumb thing to do. You become a robot. And falling for mantras is just as bad. Even if you listen to all 3 objectively, there’s more out there than just them, and you’d benefit from exploring that.

  5. Frisby permalink
    June 11, 2006 6:13 pm

    Well spoken Rollin. The main problem is people are taking sides like its some war. We all get pissed about things on “our” sides, be it a name or a price tag. It’s one big cluster fuck either way. Personally I would go with 360 and Wii. You get more than you would with just PS3, or any one by them selves. I think getting an Xbox opened my blinded eyes.

    I hold Nintendo and its franchises close to my heart even if they are flawed, but I wont put blinders up and ignore the fact that other systems have solid games as well.

    Also, I don’t think Nintendo is as cocky as they are confident which can be misinterpreted. They found their new niche and are going to push it to the limit.


    Charlie Frisby

  6. Rollin permalink
    June 12, 2006 3:11 am

    I believe they’re cocky. Scratch that: i think they’re getting cocky. Nobody who releases a game like NSMB- advertising it as Mario’s great return- isn’t cocky. The game’s a straight up and down cash-in and they pandered to the retro Mario lovers– plain and simple. That takes balls, right there.

    Following that, the way they talk up their DS sales, Touch Generations success, and Wii direction is all ballyhooing to feed the “We’re holier than Sony/MS” image. They’re smug is what they are.

  7. InvisibleMan permalink
    June 12, 2006 5:23 pm

    But there is a way out: Look into independent game developers…

    Have any of you heard of jay is games (http://jayisgames.com/index.xml)? His site is dedicated to independent video games developers, and most of the games he promotes there are free! Some of them are quite famous, and they are getting better and better every day.

    Another route to take is, of course, be a game developer yourselves… Learn C++ or at least Macromedia Flash Scripting.

    I’m not that passionate about the console wars myself: my current favorite is Nintendo because of originality, but I’m not married to a private company. I currently hate Sony because to me they are the most cocky of all companies right now, “bundling” their gaming console with their proprietary DVD hardware, and making the fans pay for it. That, together with their surreptitious DRM system they introduced to their CDs assures me that they think they take their marketshare for granted.

  8. Rollin permalink
    June 14, 2006 11:24 am

    That’s what i meant by looking beyond consoles and PC. More and more i’m losing interest in this dumb console war and looking towards the independant scene. I know very little about it, but it has to be better than this.

    Also, i do plan on dabbling (if it falls flat) or splashing (if it pans out) in development. A while back, me and Dave (Folax) were talking about getting a team together to make a simple DS game of the Touch Generations variety. It mighta been jokingly said, but there was some sincerity in that. I’ve been planning to try game development for a while, after my career’s at a steady enough point to attempt it. Great, now i sound like a net geek. Well, i’m not saying i’ma make Zelda, i’m just saying i’ll look into trying to make something in the future.

    Actually, i was almost part of a dev studio once, but that story i’ll save for another time.

  9. InvisibleMan permalink
    June 14, 2006 11:34 am

    I haven’t been on the game development scene, but I do web programming.

    If you are new to programming, I would suggest to look into Macromedia Flash, to develop privately, or into the online game Second Life, if you want an already-made community to try out your games.

  10. Frisby permalink
    June 14, 2006 4:15 pm

    I have done level design and 3d as well as 2d animations. In fact I do 2d video animation for a living now along with filming and editing.

  11. Rollin permalink
    June 14, 2006 5:25 pm

    I’m not a programmer. My interest lies in the writing and music departments. A producer role is what i ultimately want for a “this is my game” type of situation. That way i can guide everything along the way i want and input in every area.

    Frisby, we might have to make a GBA game, you and I.

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