[Author's Note: Before I start, let me just say one thing. I am probably going to say things about Nintendo you disagree with, and you're probably going to have a different opinion than I will. That's okay! I'd also like to point out that I really do love Nintendo as a company, and I'm still going to be a hardcore Nintendo fan. That being said, it's important to not become so biased that you can't recognize when the company makes a mistake, and I think they've made a huge mistake.]
The gist of it
Nintendo’s VGX announcement has made me pretty cranky. If you haven’t heard, Cranky Kong was speculated as a playable character for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze a few weeks before the show, but last Saturday it was officially confirmed by Nintendo to an audience of thousands. I have to admit, I agree with Francis in the article I posted yesterday. This was not a good thing to announce at VGX.
Let me start by addressing the main argument I hear against my viewpoint. “The show sucked anyway!” or “Nintendo didn’t want to announce Zelda because it’s too good for VGX!”. I will wholeheartedly agree–the show was awful–and I was barely able to watch the entire bit with Nintendo. The hosts were boring and uninteresting and the whole thing was unprofessional. But I’m not here to criticize VGX. I’m here to criticize Nintendo.
Even though the show may have been awful, that is no excuse to pass up on the opportunity to reach such a huge audience. Especially one mostly made up of the kind of gamer you are sorely disappointing: the “hardcore” crowd. The ones who think that in order to be considered good, a game must be photo-realistic and have as much gore as possible. The ones who drool over scantily clad idols and are all too ready to shriek obscenities over a microphone. These people think Nintendo is a “kiddy” company, with silly games that are just remade every year. This was Nintendo’s big chance to show them that “Hey, we have a family friendly image, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some mature gaming on our console”.
They could have shown Bayonetta 2 which is exclusive to the Wii U and filled with seductive references, demon slaying, and amazing graphics. The reaction would’ve gone from “VGX sucked!” to “VGX was awful, but did you see that awesome Bayonetta trailer?!” Spike is a huge TV channel–but for some idiotic reason–they didn’t air this event on that channel. If they advertised it, they would probably be looking at an audience of about a hundred thousand and because of the publicity of such a huge event on a major network, that audience would probably grow even more. Nintendo will probably never garner that big an audience with a Nintendo Direct, which is why they should have used this opportunity with Spike to show the world something that needs to be known about Nintendo: they are for everyone. But the image that they showed at the VGX is one that simply reinstates the views of the Spike demographic: Nintendo makes cartoony, rehashed games. You and I probably know that’s false, but Nintendo needs to show the rest of the world that it’s false as well.
We know Nintendo loves their franchises–and they should–because they all contain terrific games. Their problem comes from them not properly understanding the Western market. People online have been screaming for a Metroid and Zelda ever since the Wii U was announced. We know there’s a Zelda in progress, but we have no word on Metroid. That’s it. Remember everybody’s reaction to finding out Retro Studios wasn’t working on Metroid? Nintendo is a smart company and they’ve been doing gaming longer than any other company. Why can’t they understand that people are looking for something to play along with Mario and Donkey Kong?
Almost everyone will agree that Mario and Donkey Kong are fun games, but not everyone will buy a console just for Nintendo platformers. I know what you’re probably going to say: “Well what about Pikmin?” “What about Nintendo Land?”. Yes, those games are terrific–and I love them–but hear me out. Nintendo needs to recreate its image. Their console is coming off as the underpowered choice that always plays it safe and relies on gimmicks. Anyone who is a Nintendo fan knows there is more to the Wii U than just a gimmick, but to anyone who hasn’t owned a Nintendo console since the Nintendo 64, Nintendo probably looks pretty silly.
So what’s my point? What am I trying to get at? I want Nintendomination again. I want the Wii U’s sales to soar. I want to see people trading secrets about the newest Zelda, or blasting each other online in Metroid. I want Miiverse to replace Facebook! (Well, you get my point…) I want third parties to start developing for Nintendo more than the others, and I want people to finally see Wii U and its successors as the gamer’s consoles, as opposed to the kiddy consoles.
How can all this happen? Only if Nintendo lets it. They need to start taking advantage of the opportunities they are given. They have access to Spike’s audience, they need to show something big and flashy. They have a Nintendo Direct, they can announce a new character. They have access to advertising on Nickelodeon, they can promote family features. Nintendo needs to start doing the right advertising in the right places, and I think once that’s done, they’ll finally start to see the return of their glory days.