Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 25, 2009

Email: About the Disruption Test and User Generated Content

Hi Malstrom:

First: I had some problems with my original domain, so, I change it from imaginefanzone.org to imaginefanzone.net, which means now the url for the disruption test is: http://www.brokenbutterfly.imaginefanzone.net/disruption_test/ (just change the .org to .net).

Second: Don’t you believe you are a bit late with your analysis about Nintendo and the User Generated Content Stuff? Because, all your recent posts about it make sense if were read it like, half year ago? Now Nintendo looks like they are trying to “patch” the ship; They are kicking all the new games out to infinity, they highlight games which use recicled stuff (Galaxy 2), hire third parties, and delaying already released in japan user generated content software in america (which explain why Girls Mode and WarioWare

I have no idea (Probably no one has) if Nintendo knows all theirs mistakes (Like the Virtual Console for the DSi), but they  look like they notice the Anti-Content problem. They are already trying to fix the Dork Age of the WiiWii Music to today) but software can’t be fixed inmediatly. Probably next year we will know if Nintendo really get it. But now, it look like.

(By the way: The Iwata Asks about Flipnote Studio probably was done before the release of Animal Crossing Wii, because the Flipnote Studio was a launch app for the DSi in Japan. In fact, I think the quotes of Iwata praising user generated content are from last year, while in the last meeting he admited Wii Music was a mistake. I think they notice the problem just after the launch of Animal Crossing Wii. The Dunnaway quote from the E3 Conference about the Professional Content is just more proof. But you are a smart guy, you probably already know all this, is just… based in your posts, doesn’t look like :P).

I like the term of ‘Dark Age’ for the Wii. Mind if I steal that?

I am so behind on my ‘analysis’? Let’s examine this.

Who was going on, endlessly, prior to E3 2009, and generally since the Wii came out, that Nintendo needs to put out a new 2d Mario? And that customers did not see “Mario” games so much as they saw 3d Mario as one series and 2d Mario as another series? When NMSB Wii was announced, one person emailed to say, “Well, Malstrom, you finally got what you wanted! You’ve been going on and on about a 2d Mario on the Wii and now you’ve got it.” Haha. Also, right after E3 2009 I said that it would be remembered most for 2d Mario returning to consoles. It will not be remembered for Sony and Microsoft’s motion controllers. Microsoft clearly spent tons of money to market Natal. But since there were no games shown, just technology prototypes, these presentations have evaporated from the mind. While NSMB Wii was met with a cold greeting on the Internet, it has been gradually warming up. It is becoming clear to many now that NSMB Wii could really do something stupendous in the sales department. I’m not saying NSMB Wii will be a ‘hallelujah’ game and make Wii rise to heaven. But out of all the games Nintendo is releasing this year, it is poised to be a rocket. The game should not be underestimated.


Yay! 2d Mario!

Geoff Keighley wrote, after E3 2009, that he was surprised of how many user-generated content games Nintendo showed and was even more surprised that it wasn’t noticed this direction Nintendo was taking.

MOST OVERSHADOWED GAMES: Nintendo is getting into user-created content in a big way. Both Minis March Again: Mario vs. Donkey Kong and Warioware: DIY encourage user creativity, but the message seemed to be lost during the briefing.

The message was clearly heard by those paying attention. Everyone else was reacting to the ‘casual games’ and to the evil ‘vitality sensor’.

I could tell Nintendo was going that direction as soon as I played Wii Music. Like that old lady in the Burger King commercial asking where’s the beef, I was asking, “Where’s the content!?” It wasn’t too longer after that or in the beginning of 2009 that I began making posts against User-Generated Content and how Nintendo was going in a wrong direction.


“Where’s the Content? I don’t see any content in there… Where’s the content!?”

You cannot say that Nintendo was turning away from their user generated content direction in the end of 2008. Listen to Iwata in early 2009:


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First of all, the reason why we feel the potential of the User Generate Content (UGC) through the Internet is because the fun that is generated by UGC can be appreciated by a higher percentage of our consumers as a fresh experience.

In the dawn of video game history, consumers used to react positively to the ideas that game creators incorporated into the software, but they gradually got accustomed to the existing surprises. Then, an increasing number of people started to come to expect the surprises in the software and it became increasingly difficult to offer them fresh surprises. What’s worse, once they experienced almost all the game elements, they felt that there was nothing more for them to experience. Once they see the game creators’ ideas, they give up playing with the video games or sell the hardware to the second-hand shop.

We hope that the consumers don’t reach a point where they would feel that they’ve experienced all that is there to enjoy. We would like our consumers to enjoy a software as long as possible. If one game can be played for a long time, it means that the consumers have a high level of satisfaction. More importantly, if one product can continuously provide consumers with fresh surprises, it can lay out a good foundation for our next steps.

When we thought about the many possibilities of games in this way, we started to think beyond the configuration where game creators develop all the experiences. This was supposed to be the appeal of network gaming. However, before UGC surfaced, network gaming had usually meant that a number of people were gathered in one place in order to compete with each other. With competitive games while some people become very excited, we saw that the platform became too intense for novice players to join as they felt the widening gap in the skill levels between an experienced and a new player.
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Iwata was a huge believer in User Generated Content back earlier in 2009. They didn’t start changing their direction until very, very recently.

You won’t believe how much flack I got from many readers when I began to write against user generated content. Here I was criticizing Nintendo, something that I really hadn’t done before. Everyone would tell me how User Generated Content was a great idea, was awesome on PC gaming, and should be done. Either due to some sixth sense or writing experience, I knew that gaming was in the content business, not unlike books or movies. The customer buys games based on the content. If customers did not do this, poorly made license games wouldn’t sell.

Contrary to everywhere else, it is common to say the decline of newspapers is because of the “Internet”. But I know, as well as from hearing those successful in such media, that the problem really is the content. Dissatisfied readers look for an alternative, any alternative, and that is why they went to the Internet. The decline of newspapers really began in 1988 prior to the Internet being used by everyone.

User-Generated Content means tons of unprofessional game content. This does not ensure a good consumer experience provided even if User Generated Content was massively successful. After all, there has never been a successful user-generated content game ever made except for, perhaps, the very first Pinball Construction Set (all the sequels bombed).


The dream of User-Generated Content is likely due to replicating the Internet phenomenon. But as the saying goes: “If millions of monkeys were locked in a room full of typewriters, they would eventually write out the works of Shakespeare.” The Internet has proved this saying to be untrue.

User Generated Content appears in PC games often when there is no professional alternative. Freespace 2 mods are popular only because there has been no space sim fighter game released since Freespace 2. RTS mods are popular only until the next new RTS game comes out. Then the user generated content is abandoned as everyone jumps onto the next ‘real’ game.


Freespace 2’s user generated content is being made only because there has not been a space sim game like this made since Freespace 2 came out. Fans of the genre have nowhere else to turn.

As you said, Cammie, at E3 2009, made references to ‘professional’ content versus ‘user generated content’. I also made this distinction between ‘professional content’ and the ‘amateur’ content that user generated content creates in posts prior to E3 2009. So watching E3 2009 was a surreal experience to me. Reggie then says that they read all the blogs. And I get an email from Nintendo. So it is clear they are aware of this website for better or worse.

The reason why I have been talking so much about user generated content is, aside that Nintendo went that direction, many other game companies are going that direction such as Sony. It is definately an important subject to talk about.

Another reason why I’m talking about user generated content is because no one else appears to be seeing that Nintendo had changed its strategy to user-generated content. All around, there is a chorus that “the drop of Wii sales is due to Nintendo’s imploding ‘casual’ direction”. I would point the drop of Wii sales, in part, in this shift of strategy to user generated content. No one is buying a Wii to play Wii Music.

I believe the huge wave of Wii sales was bought, aside from what Wii Fit and Wii Sports can do, was on the potential of future games. When the Wii came out, everyone was imagining light saber games or FPS games with the new controls. The biggest complaint is that the Wii’s potential is not being realized.

When Nintendo went on their User Generated Content route, the passionate Wii customer just died. The potential that many customers bought the Wii for was to see these new controls and features of the Wii used in new game content. By giving up emphasis on the content, the passion for the system just evaporated (as well as the sales). Imagine Zelda with user generated content. Gamers everywhere would cry.

Since third parties seem unwilling to make any games with substantial content for the Wii, that burden is falling on Nintendo. Nintendo is going to have a rockier time with the Wii than with the DS.

Keep in mind that I’m not against ‘editors’. Lode Runner, Excite Bike, and Wrecking Crew had ‘editors’. But they had professional content first and foremost. Most people who played the games didn’t even deal with the editor. So even with games that have editors, you need an emphasis on content so the player can have a great customer experience. If they want more, then they can make or play other people’s user generated content. With PC gaming, the game is bought for the professional content and then a community extends the life of the game (until the next new game comes out).

So no, I don’t think I am ‘behind’ in my analysis at all! I think I’m far ahead since everyone else still hasn’t associated the current drop in momentum to the Wii to Nintendo’s change in direction to user generated content.

Nintendo seems to realize it and is quickly shifting away from it. 2009 seems to be a year of ‘safe’ products for them as they figure out what to do next. Sequels are an ‘easy’ way. We’ll have to see which way Nintendo goes next.

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