Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Iwata should look around a little.

With Nintendo's president biting back at Apple for all their oversaturation "tactics", it's more than a bit funny that they should tout the fact that they have more software on their console as a positive thing. Quality over quantity, the oblivious president parrots to an audience surely scratching their heads in confusion. He implies the innovations in social gaming are going to kill the industry if we aren't careful. He says Apple is mostly to blame with their implementation of the app store encouraging "garage" developers to produce cheaper content, and mobile games are dragging the quality bar down even further by lacking the value and personal satisfaction that a $40 game carries with its purchase.

You know. Like Nintendo's $40 games.

This sounds less like a concerned parent of the industry and more like the lamentations of one unable to keep up with it's baby's development.

The Wii may have more software from its competitors, but how much of that is quality Software? Anyone even keeping up with the industry a little, or even owning a Wii knows that the system has become a dumping ground for shovelware and garbage titles, and outside of some select third party offerings and Nintendo's own First Party lineup, there isn't anything on the console worth picking up. Is that really a better alternative?

So they're effectively the App store, just in a physical form. Just ask their "Seal of Quality", which went from being the beacon of light that saved the industry in the 80's to having it's meaning removed entirely. Hardly coincidence.

The seal speaks louder than words.

It's interesting seeing Nintendo react to competition for once, but this is just childish. While they were able to sit and casually laugh at Sony's bid for power over content in the portable gaming space, Apple's iOS and social platforms like Facebook are starting to cut into the big N's market share in a huge way. With cellphones getting more advanced by the day and digital distribution not having the same costly hangups as retail (including piracy), they are going to have to work harder than they ever have to maintain their position as number one.

Perhaps, moving forward, Nintendo should focus on avenues of profit that will benefit them, and make them seem less like a pigheaded company who's been profiting off the misinformed indifference of the casual consumer. If cellphones and mobile gaming platforms are making your premium priced offerings seem overpriced and stale, the solution is to make better games, and a consistent string of quality across titles. Not try and insist that such games shouldn't exist.

Even though I have no doubt that the 3DS will be successful, its version of Super Street Fighter 4 costs more than even its console incarnation at $39.99, boasting little over the original incarnation. Aside from that game which is admittedly well done, it's sharing the shelf with half-baked ports of Rayman, Madden, Pilotwings, Asphalt, and a who-asked-for-this new version of Nintendogs, all for $39.99 as well.

This is going to be a bit of an uphill battle for them, especially with so many options for the consumer as far as platform is concerned. While ports like this are fine in the beginning, I hope that they're ready to outdo their competitors in terms of content, or they're just going to end up with another Wii situation, where lazy developers will turn out gimmicky piece of software after software, charging the same high prices that will drive their audience into the arms of their competitors. It's easy to purchase the racing game Asphalt on an iPhone for $3, and lament the loss if it's terrible. It's a much bigger pill to swallow when the game is $40.

Hell, I bought the (234237th) port or Rayman 2 on my phone for $1 over a year ago. There's no way I'm buying it for the 3DS. 3D butterflies aren't worth that much, I'm sorry.

Like it or not, this is the exact kind of social gaming and open environment Nintendo helped initiate, culminating the minute they decided to involve the world by making their console's name a euphemism for it. So now we're playing Farmville, Angry Birds, and portable versions of games like Dead Space that are of such a quality that they could've existed on a DS or PSP for large sum. Instead, they're available for six dollars, confortably in a climate that allows them to be so.

No point in trying to turn back now.

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