Maybe Nintendo’s Just Not Into You

At the ripe old age of three, my mom changed the way I spent my free time forever by giving me a Nintendo Entertainment System. After graduating to the SNES and Nintendo 64, the allure of Nintendo completely escaped me as the launch of the Gamecube began at a time when the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast were already in my home and the Xbox, and Master Chief, would soon be invading my living room. Maybe I had grown tired of the same characters being carted out each console cycle or perhaps I was just a traitor leaving for a newer, flashier product. Either way, I was done.

The Wii came along and, after more than a decade since my last home console purchase from the Big N, I bought the console that was small on horsepower but big on interactivity. That novelty soon wore off as it became more and more clear that Nintendo hadn’t missed me and didn’t want me back.

I cannot say the same for some of my gaming compatriots.

A large, vocal and rabid group of Nintendo fanboys has supported the company through thick and thin ever since they collected their first gold coin in Super Mario Bros. and shot their first duck in Duck Hunt. Through November 2006, these fanboys have had games targeted at them to hang their hats on and enjoy despite their slimming numbers and the Gamecube’s failure to gain traction with an audience outside the group.

For these fanboys, November 19, 2006 will be a date which will live in infamy.

The launch of the Wii signaled Nintendo’s admission that they had lost the battle for gaming supremacy with those who would identify themselves as gamers and their desire to conquer a new, larger group: everyone else. This desire would lead to Nintendo steering its focus away from the fanboys, although delivering core titles to them early on, to other groups such as the very young, very old and females.

Fanboys have staunchly defended the Wii. Whether they be run-of-the-mill fanboys on Internet message boards or those who would be counted as members of the gaming press, Nintendo fanboys have praised each and every core title from NIntendo for the Wii, granting them perfect scores, glowing reviews and passes on huge flaws and the fact that they all took steps backwards. They also managed to overlook first party titles not targeted at them such as Wii Fit, Wii Sports and Wii Play as afterthoughts. Those titles, and countless third party mini game collections, have been the titles that have made Nintendo the most money and have helped reach a larger audience then ever before, not Zelda, Metroid or even Mario.

Still, fanboys persisted. Claiming that E3 2008 would be the E3 in which Nintendo would deliver us a new crop of first party, core titles. This class was to be headed by the return of Kid Icarus. This drum was beat so loudly that it was hard to believe that core titles would not be at this year’s E3 press conference.

Then we all actually saw Nintendo’s E3 2008 press conference.

Animal Crossing and Wii Music were the big draws. Adults gyrating toward hip breakage and barely playing “music” were the sights and sounds we would be left with. All the while, Nintendo boasting about how they had reached so many more gamers and had expanded their market. In other words, Nintendo had moved on.

So, why can’t the Nintendo fanboys move on as easily as Nintedno has?

Nintendo has made a killing by getting Liv Tyler to play the DS and Matt Lauer to play Wii Fit. They have two grandmas and a Midwest housewife for every 30 year old former NES owner. Sure, they can tease about the teams behind Zelda and Mario working on new titles but Shigeru Miyamoto has recently brought us Nintendogs and Wii Fit. What’s to say that these teams are working on titles for fanboys? They could simply be creating the next big Nintendo casual game and peripheral.

Nintendo fanboys, please listen closely. They appreciated you for a long time but the greener pastures of mainstream acceptance and piles and piles of money have changed the Nintendo you know and love. You may just have to accept that maybe Nintendo’s just not that into you anymore.

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  • Steven Artlip

    as much as I would love to disagree, I can not.

  • Bethanie

    Unfortunately this is completely true. While Nintendo has yet to state it directly, the fanboys (and fangirls) have been left out in the cold. I'd love to disagree with your statement about Nintendo catering to "the very young, very old and females", but I have been watching the trend with increasing disgust. I am just waiting for them to accept it and reflect it in their commercials rather than these 20-somethings that we see in all of them having a great time doing pseudo-exercising.

  • cephiros

    Indeed, they might have not directly stated but their E3 keynote was pretty strong. I do not want to buy a Wii ever. Not even for Wii Fit like my girlfriend wants. I have DDR if I want to exercise with a video game.

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  • Superben

    I have no problem with the direction Nintendo is going, and I've owned every Nintendo console since my parents bought me a NES in 1986. I enjoy classic gaming (Virtual Console), core gaming (Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime, etc), and the so-called "causal" games such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit.

  • RWilson

    Unfortunately Paul, I had to read your unfounded post via an industry news page that a youngling copy/pasted onto the site. While you are free to post your opinion, you have as little right to tell gamers that their choice is wrong. As a game developer myself, I had to come by to ask you to stop this misinformed propaganda. It is views like yours that are tearing this industry apart at the core. The fact that you throw around the word "fanboy" so much means that you know the genre well, thus the saying, "Birds of a feather flock together". Is it not simple enough for you to enjoy the console you purchased and let other gamers' enjoy their preferred console? Do you receive money for every person who goes out to buy an XBox 360 or a Playstation 3? I'd highly doubt that either Microsoft or Sony are sharing any of their income with you. The reality of the situation as seen over the past 10+ years is that there are a lot of bitter Sony fans (or as you eloquently put it, fanboys) who enjoyed gloating about the success of the Playstation 2 that cannot claim the same for the Playstation 3. For some reason, the Wii is a great threat to this crowd, as they spend days on end blogging their unresearched, overstated opinions about it, much like your original posting. Sony will not magically go away just because the Wii has taken clear control of this generation of gaming, nor will Microsoft. You'll still get your next iteration of Metal Gear Solid and Grand Theft Auto. Yet, even those too will grow old for you, just like how Mario did. Once you enter the work force after college, you'll find yourself hard pressed to sit for more than 3 hours to play games – that, or you'll find yourself soon fired from your job for oversleeping after pulling an all-nighter of Call of Duty 5 online. What November 16th, 2006 actually ended up being was the cure for the industry's cancer. The trend of pumping up graphics and processing power was broken and changed into a new direction – motion controls that were simple to use, understand and were quite accurate. This opened up a new avenue for development, and also saved "indie" developers' from going the way of the dodo. With the push towards HD gaming and budgets for games pushing into the 20+ million mark, independent developers simply cannot compete in such a field, leaving only the few big names out there to make games. Yet, with the Wii, developers can still keep in the same range as their budgets from the last generation of development and bring something new to the table. I'm sure that you'll likely delete this posting as it pretty much invalidates your entire argument with little to no room for debate, like a child in a schoolyard who takes his bat and ball in a fit and storms off to his house. Yet, maybe you'll surprise me and actually give a developer the respect due and leave this response up for others to read, so they can understand the entire situation of the current generation of consoles better. Also, for the "core gamers" out there, remember that when the 1st part titles slow down for a console, the quality 3rd party titles shine through. This has been the case for 3+ generations of console gaming, and is a formula that has no intention of changing. Respectfully yours, Randy Wilson Team Lead Broken Attitude Studios

  • Joie

    I get his points and on many of them he is accurate if not "right". I do feel that Nintendo is really prioritizing the casual market over the core because it makes them the most money. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean things are bad for the core – by any stretch. we've all discussed the core titles that have already come out and Brawl/Kart are only a few MONTHS old. does Animal Crossing count? no. does Pikmin count? not to me…. but I still haven't even bought all the "core" titles I want to play… and I bet there will be NEW ones out by the time I get to them. and I'm not just talking first party. I love Tenchu games so much… I'm so friggin' psyched about Tenchu 4 (a Wii exclusive btw). and rumor has it 5 and 6 will be on the way after that. this article is written with the most pessimistic point of view possible. he cites incredible flaws in Nintendo's core titles… um, they all seemed like good games to me. where are the perfect games then? Sony and XBox? sorry, I played enough Halo in college and Metal Gear is great but I was never even motivated enough to buy MGS2 or 3… so i guess I don't need 4 (and btw, if you wanna talk about game errors, try explaining the plot of an MGS game to me sometime… good luck!!) so what else is going on to make those pastures any greener? war sims?!? does hardcore gaming have to mean shooting things? cuz that's all I see it defined as on other consoles…. I like Mario party. I hate shovelware…. so – that's who I am as a gamer. I hope it makes sense, and even though Nintendo did let me down this week … it seems like they accept me more than the author of this article would. my apologies… now please hurry back to your "Avatars" and your motion control prototypes.

  • StratK

    I feel like nintendo has screwed the core gamer over. I stood at the midnight launch. And what is my wii doing now? Nothing! I haven't bought a game since wii play came out! Right now, I am happy with microsoft.

  • Steven Artlip

    unfortunately Randy I was that "youngling" that copied and pasted paul's article ( correct?). Anyways I've been an extremely active person in the gaming community for several years (I also run this site) and I fully agree with Paul's article. This year, just like last year, at E3 right after Nintendo's keynote was over, my phone and email was lit up by so many of my buddies and community that are huge Nintendo fanboy's saying that this was the last straw for them. All the people that I grew up with that were gamers and those I know in the community have grown tiresome of what Nintendo's plan is. Nintendo doesn't seem to care for their old target market, we are no longer important to them. They can make more money buy lowering the price of their console, dumbing down the guts of it and by getting soccer moms and grandparents to pick it up. I also don't believe that the xbox 360 and ps3 are killing off idie developers, in fact at E3 I thought it was the opposite, I couldn't believe some of the high quality psn/xbla games I was seeing. I'll take the psn/xbla video game library over the entire wii library any day. Yes I'll miss out on the mario's and … wait what else is there?? (sorry, that was a joke). But seriously, the psn/xbla does offer so much more content and more of a mix of fresh idea's and remixes that it will never get old on me unlike gimmick controls. Sorry if my comments seem a little neg towards the Wii but I'm one of the thousands that bought one on day one and it just sits around collecting dust because I only turn it one around once a month (I do have a nice collection of Wii games though, they just don't interest me and I'm not really a hardcore gamer, I would actually call myself a casual game based of the types of games I prefer).

  • X3R09

    Sadly to say Paul, I have to agree with Randy. We all may not be pleased with the direction of Nintendo, but what they are doing is opening up different avenues in gaming. We all want "bigger and better," but maybe "the same with motion control" is what the industry needs. I love my Wii. It's innovative and different. When I'm tired of the same old hack-n-slash, or shoot-em up games, I can always go to the Wii and get physically active with the games instead of getting fat playing the PS3 or 360. Let's face it, we all get tired of the 360 or PS3 after awhile.

  • Randy Wilson

    Steven, no offense to your site, but I'd not classify as as an industry site. It is more designed for gamers than industry insiders. Of course, ign, gamespot are also gamer sites too, not industry sites. I'd rather not post the link, as I'd fear that we'd get all the "leet gamers" coming by and turning intelligent conversations into "OMG! FAIL!" and the like. As for your "buddies and community", I refer things of the such as the "black joke acceptance" retort. "Its ok, I have black friends!" deal. For what I know, the people you speak of can be a bunch of D&D players that work in Blockbuster and live at home with their parents. Not exactly people that do much to enhance or alter the industry. So, let's dismiss the "black joke acceptance" line of yours. Unfortunately, that brings us to the end of our conversation, because you used the term "gimmick". Next time, you'll make better decisions in your replies if you want to discuss things on a professional level. Enjoy your games and remember, if you have nothing good to say, simply say nothing. As a moderator/admin of a gaming community site, this is the key to have your site taken seriously in the industry.

  • Missile Command Kid

    "Respectfully yours"? When one bandies about comments like "unfounded propaganda", implies that a poster isn't an adult (not out of college), and goes so far as to expect the poster to act "like a child in a schoolyard who takes his bat and ball and storms off to his house", I'm not sure you get to use cute little phrases like "Respectfully yours." Now that I've got that out of my system, let me state up front that my only two consoles are a Wii and a GBA, with a DS on the way this month. (In order to stave off any insults on your part, I suppose I'll also mention that I'm a high school English teacher with three children.) You make grandoise claims about Wii developers able to make games for the same amount of money as they have in the past, yet what do we have to show for it? Another Mario Kart? Another Smash Bros game? The only innovation in this generation of gaming comes from casual titles like Wii Sports and Wii Fit. There are relatively few games that cater to core gamers (yes, even teachers like me who do have 1-2 hours a night to play video games) coming from Nintendo. I'm sorry, but from where I'm sitting, this article is dead on: casual gamers is where the money is, and that's where Nintendo is going, leaving third parties to produce wonderful games like No More Heroes or Zack & Wiki for gamers who are looking for a challenge. E3 this year reflected this, with Animal Crossing, of all games, being billed as a game that appeals to core gamers. Regardless of what games will start to come out once the Wii starts to get long in the tooth, the article is pointing out that, at this point, Nintendo's not doing much to satisfy core Wii gamers. I completely agree, which is why I'm picking up a DS for games like The World Ends With You and Shiren the Wanderer. One last thing: I'm curious, Randy, about what Broken Attitude Studios is doing with the Wii and its innovative control system. What can we expect from your company on the Wii this year?

  • Steven Artlip

    well I figured out the site, my mistake. I just assumed it was N4G because that was the site I posted this on, too bad it N4g is just a "gamer site", especially because I feel those types (n4g, ign, destructoid, ect) gaming sites are the lifeblood of the community. I would have liked to discuss this with you some more but you seemed to just write off my previous comments, but its alright, I won't take it personal. Anyways you have a great day and if I were you I might not want to talk down every site or editor because you don't think that they are on the same level as yourself, it looks a little bad to be honest. In fact I would suggest maybe showing a little more respect then what you have shown today.

  • Thomas B

    Sorry, author of this blog. You are flat out wrong. 1: Overusing the term "Fanboys" to describe nintendo fans is ludicrous. 2: E3 isn't a gaming event. It is a press event. E3 of the past is gone, thus there is no grounds for comparasion for E3 this year and E3 in the past. This of course means that what Nintendo did on this years E3 doesn't say shit about what their gaming targets actually are. 3: Nintendo cares about the core gamer. They have done for several decades, and there is NO reason to stop no. Nintendo, though, can only do so much, and since they are one of the very few companies that can make "casual" games witouth messing it up big time, they need to put out such titles on the market, so that there is at least some quality out there. This is to keep in line with their new policy, and drains some resources that would normally be spent on the "core" games. If 3rd parties didn't suck major balls in making casual titles, Nintendo wouldn't be so buisy making them. And also since the Wii is starting to get some solid suppourt for the Wii from a few 3rd party developers, they can sacrifice some of their effort to concentrate on the more casual side. Jesus, so many people act like 2 year olds who only was allowed to have one lollypop a day, crying for a new one, not realizing that it will ruin your teeth. So let me make it clear, get the fuck over E3 2008 from Nintendos side. It wasn't for the gamer, it was for the press. The gamers will get their chunck at other events.

  • hamm3rofgod

    Hey Randy, I really hate commenting on my own posts but I guess it's necessary. While you're certainly entitled to your opinion, I cannot believe that, unless you some how suckle at the tit of the new Nintendo, you believe that Nintendo has grown up along with the same fans that, like myself, owned the system when we were younger. Instead of growing up with the audience, they grew more and more out of touch, as was seen with diminishing sales with the N64 and Gamecube, and simply hit the restart button in the hopes of saving their company. They hit the much needed homerun but not with the same gamers as before but with a new mainstream audience. Nintendo now has almost unprecedented power in a space with multiple, prominent consoles and that power comes from housewives, the elderly, the very young and others who would not identify themselves as gamers. They have now decided to keep that momentum going. I certainly cannot, from a business point of view, blame them but they are not, in any way, serving the fans that stuck by them during some pretty lean times in the late 90s and early 00s. They have left them behind and I believe it's time that the nostalgia driven defense of Nintendo stop and gamers and the enthusiast press alike be more realistic and honest when dealing with Nintendo. Also, of course this is my opinion and I assume that not everyone would agree.

  • Randy Wilson

    I'm a little confused at your initial rant, as why a college student wouldn't be considered an adult, as 18 is the technical age of adulthood, which for the most part are college freshmen. I share your pain as an educator, as I once was in an earlier stage of my life. That said, if you know much of the polite scathing of the forefathers of the US, sharp words were oft mixed with kind formalities. I'm not quite sure why people feel the need to tell me the devices/consoles they own, as I could equally accept a point of view from a person who has owned nothing beyond a Sega Master system. Yet, I digress. You bring a classic argument to the table, about sequels to games (as you said – yet what do we have to show for it? Another Mario Kart? Another Smash Bros game?) Sure, but on the same note , aren't all developers guilty of this? Another Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto, etc. The key difference is that while a game from last generation may have cost $10 million to develop, on the HD consoles, they now cost $20 million+. On the Wii, the price has stayed in the same ballpark area. So, what would have happened if the Wii wasn't as it is, is that the industry would have been funneled down to maybe a dozen or less developers, something along the lines of Konami, Sega, Capcom, EA, Activision, Ubisoft, maybe a few more. It takes a lot of work and raw genius to create new IP. So, where you argue against the Wii with new iterations of old IP, the unit saved the indie developers, allowing new studios to come and develop something new. The main issue is that the gamers, or better yet, "core gamers" fail to understand that since the revisions were made to E3, the event is no longer about them. E3 is a mere shell of what it once was, not the big show it used to be. This was reflected especially this year with the departure from the event of big names like id (Doom, Quake series) Within the industry, E3 is losing significance. So, while the "core gamers" feel like they were given the shaft from Nintendo, it was more of Nintendo giving E3 the shaft, snubbing them from any major press. Of course, the "digital press" got their story anyhow, because Nintendo DIDN'T show anything overly significant (though WiiMotion Plus looks invaluable) On that topic, Broken Attitude Studios is a PC developer, not a Wii developer at this time. Once beta test for our current title is under way, we will look into the possibility of bringing the game to all 3 consoles' digital distribution networks.

  • Randy Wilson

    Hey Paul, It depends on how and what you're comparing. Nintendo of the SNES days was a corporate deviant that pretty much held developers by the throat like an underworld god. With Sony pulling the developers away in the Nintendo 64 days, Nintendo did start losing steam. Now the company is a lot more open to 3rd party development, along with many freedoms that once were not granted. Of course, this HAD to be done in order to save face (and the company). So, lets take some points of comparison on some of their franchises. Zelda – technically a GC port with some tweaks and polish, but it was released at console launch – first time ever for the series. Zelda:TP has often been compared to the true sequel to Ocarina of Time, (which has been acclaimed to be THE best game of the Zelda series). So, the Wii has that. Then Metroid Prime 3, which is a successor in line to the Metroid Prime games. Then Super Mario Galaxy, which the media have proclaimed is the best game in the series following the one on the Nintendo 64. Also Super Smash Brother Brawl, which has done well in of itself, the next title in line following the GameCube version. Do you see where I'm going with this? The main IP of Nintendo has been released for the "core" gamers, they took care of it first. If I recall, Ocarina of Time took over a year into the Nintendo 64's life cycle before it was released. There's only a few IPs from Nintendo left to be made for the Wii before going through a second round. On the same example of the Zelda IP, the last system that saw 2 Zelda games was the NES. Now gamers feel owed a 2nd Zelda for the Wii, which they might just get. The only real flaw I find in your retort is the demographic you've chosen, as studies have shown that while the DS is being owned more and more by adult women, the Wii is still dominantly owned by the professional adult male (25-35). This "elderly and small children" talk is just blind forum talk that's been recycled well past its usage. It's pretty much the rehashed argument of last gen of "LOL! The Gamecube is kiddie!" Unfortunately, no one is buying that argument anymore, and we just roll our eyes when we hear it now.

  • beans

    I don't have anything to say about your stance, but I felt the need to mention that the NES was not the last system to see 2 Zelda games. N64 had Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, and GameCube had Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.

  • Randy Wilson

    I stand corrected, I forgot about Majora's Mask, and Twilight Princess for the GameCube was so far at the end of the console's life cycle, I see how I could have missed that.

  • CDog

    Companies reinvent themselves all the time. IBM still makes mainframes but if that's all they did they would have died a long time ago. I'm sure lots of old hardcore Harley Davidson riders fume when they seen doctors and lawyers ride into Sturgis but Harley had to change to stay alive. Square Enix is offering Final Fantasy on the 360 to expand its audience. Nintendo is doing what any good company does and that's provide value for its customers *and* its stockholders.

  • Richard Webster

    Hey Paul, As a Nintendo fan, and gamer, since the original NES, I have to agree with you. Since I've grown up, weened on my games, my original love of hardcore titles like Super Mario Bros, Zelda, and Chrono Trigger, have grown up with me, in the form of newer hardcore games such as Oblivion, Call of Duty, Halo, and Fable. But I to have had the feeling Nintendo made the decision not to grow up with me. Yes they have Mario Galaxy, but I've played enough Mario games to know the franchise is going a bit stale, and isn't as fresh as it was. Yes we had Twilight Princess, but that was a gamecube game, not a Wii title. What you have said may be construde as Xbox fanboyism, when in fact, it's just realism. Nintendo now follows the mainstream gamer, not to bring in more people playing games, but because the money is there to be made, and we see it every month with the NPD numbers. It's a shame, because Nintendo was my first love.

  • krotox

    Randy…thank you you win the internet

  • Mr. Y

    It's just video games, it's not the end of the world.

  • Leathersoup

    There you have it. Nintendo was using you to get to your MOM!!!!!!

  • mik

    Unless first-person shooters are the primary staple of your gaming appetite, there are plenty of good games for core gamers and casuals on the Wii. You should give Blast Works, Boom Blox, or Zack and Wiki a chance, for starters. Personally, I'd rather have three discrete platforms than have every console be essentially the same as the others. I like the fact that I have a distinctly different experience when I boot up the Wii as I do from the 360–ditto the PS3. That's not to say I think YOU should love the Wii–everyone should play what they like. But I also don't think core gamers are somehow fooling themselves by enjoying what the Wii has to offer.