Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 25, 2013

Does Nintendo recognize the Blue Ocean before them?

Nintendo has to be carefully watching the reactions to the Xbone’s ‘incredible new consumer policies’. Back after the Wii launched, Reggie Fils-Aime did let loose a comment about removing used games. There was backlash. Apparently Nintendo making billions wasn’t enough, it had to make gazillions. Iwata had to make public statements that Nintendo believed the best way to make sure used games don’t exist is to make quality games that people don’t want to turn in to the store.

Many reasons are said to be due to Wii’s success. One reason which no one wants to consider is that people, including gamers like myself who were out of ‘circulation’ for generations, flocked to the Wii because they saw the system as an attack on the Game Industry. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were not cheap and kept trying to do non-game things like be a digital Napoleon and try to plant their flag in the living room by taking over the TV. The Wii-mote was like a giant middle finger to the Game Industry. The Wii was doing everything the opposite the way the Game Industry wanted to go.

Nintendo is the most interesting of console companies because they possess the power to destroy the Game Industry. And by destroy, I mean the power to change directions. Microsoft and Sony do not because they are leveraged by the Third Party Cabal. They do whatever EA and Activision tell them to do. They can’t survive without them. Nintendo can.

I’ve found it incredulous that Nintendo has tried to get the Game Industry’s participation with the 3DS and Wii U. They were dragged kicking and screaming to support the Wii and that was only when the Wii was sold out for several years in the United States. The only way they would have supported the Wii U is if it moved as many numbers as the Wii did (which was zero chance in this economy). The Game Industry dropped support of the Wii U. Iwata is to have said, “I will make them regret that decision.” I like hearing some fire come out of Iwata.

My point is with Nintendo, why do you guys even bother? The Game Industry wants you out of business. Why bend over backwards for these guys? Why not, instead, make an anti-Game Industry console. Make a game console that goes a different way than the Game Industry. The Wii was that console. The Wii U is Nintendo going the way of Xbox 360 and PS3 with a hardware doodad included (Gamepad).

With Microsoft going Xbone and Sony likely to do the same policies with PS4, there is a huge Blue Ocean in front of Nintendo. I fear Nintendo will follow the Xbone’s path because ‘if others are buying a game console that removes all consumer control, then we can sell one too!’ Such a path would have Nintendo be a minority console as when gamers are not given an alternative to the Game Industry’s path, they default to the one the Game Industry likes the best.

There is another path. Nintendo could make the next console give MORE control to consumers. Give us an account system. Let us carry our digital games to the next console. Give us more control over the OS and how we use the console’s online. Put out alternatives to the ‘blockbuster model’ such as that upcoming Luigi game (I know it was DLC) for $30. Not every game has to have a $100 million budget. And not every game has to be $60.

What will Nintendo do? I fear they will go the Xbone route and be a niche console because then they would always get to make the games they want. If they go the mass market phenomenon route, they would have to make games they don’t really want to make.

Never forget that the 1983 Video Game Crash was caused by Third Party companies. The console companies lost control and third parties stuffed their crappy games (they really were crappy) into the retailers.

Also, never forget that the NES was constantly hated by third parties because Nintendo imposed controls (obviously due to the prior crash). Third parties couldn’t ignore the massive NES market so they made games for it. However, as soon as there was a competitor (Sega), they jumped over as fast as possible. But Sega placed controls just like Nintendo did frustrating third parties further. In order for third parties to dominate, they needed a console company that had a weak first party. They found it with Sony and, later, with Microsoft.

How much of the Xbone is of Microsoft’s choosing? I see a puppet whose strings are held by third party game companies. The Xbone is designed for their desires, not the gamers. It only took thirty years, but 2013 may be the next 1983. And like 1983 where the full effect wasn’t felt until 1985, it may take years to see the full effects of the anti-console that Microsoft is launching.

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