Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 23, 2011

Email: “Why does nobody say this is lame?”

It has to be multiple factors.  Perhaps the biggest one is something you’ve already mentioned.  The fact that others are made to take the fall for the failure of Miyamoto & Company, has got to be the biggest one.  The sales people get replaced and so perhaps there isn’t anybody there in authority with actual longevity and seniority to do pattern recognition and say “Hey, we see a pattern emerge with your games, and it’s that when you get to make the games you enjoy, nobody buys, and when you make the games you hate, people buy them up and even to the point that our hardware sells out.”

Another problem is probably given the state of the economy people are afraid to ask questions for fear of being sacked.  People want to play it safe or maybe are upset but feel they can’t ruffle any feathers in order to remain employed, perhaps.  And of course as you said maybe everyone has drunk the “creativity” Kool-Aid at Nintendo, and I’m not sure how people get hired out at NoA, but perhaps everyone out there has as well.  Or maybe in the case of Reggie he might lack the proper gaming context that you possess (he understands the business and disruption, but perhaps doesn’t understand the actual substance of what gaming really is).
Of course another thing to consider is that Nintendo has never been in the financial dire straits that it is in today.  Even when the N64 and GC flubbed, the economy and the fact they weren’t selling their hardware at a loss allowed them to get by without feeling much if any pain.  They weren’t doing great, but they weren’t hurting, either.  It’s as you said before, Nintendo has never had to deal with a stagnant/declining economy in the US and abroad.  I’d imagine everyone at Nintendo is flabbergasted right now.  The 3DS was supposed to be the Second Coming, not causing them to take their first annual loss in over three decades.  And given what we know of the alleged (but likely) complications they have been having with the Wii U, I think people may be starting to question things for the first time out there more openly.  I mean, they have to be, otherwise we’d not have gotten those leaks from Europe about the 3DS redesign and the other info we got.  People don’t leak info unless it’s corporate sabotage or genuine distress about the motivations and actions of the business they work at.  There are most certainly people in some part of Nintendo that are becoming dissatisfied with how things are going right now.  Perhaps the hardware engineers are upset that Miyamoto had such a direct hand in the 3DS without ceding to the rules that a handheld has to operate by.  We saw what happened to Gunpei Yokoi when the Virtual Boy failed, and if he in fact thought that the system had been rushed out too soon, then he was made a scapegoat when he perhaps should not have been (especially with everything else he had done for the company at that point) so that might definitely be ruffling some feathers with the hardware developers.
I think what is really going to break the camel’s back is when the Wii U comes out and bombs.  Everything has been blamed at this point, even the market.  The only thing left that hasn’t been blamed is the people who have been calling the shots.  When the Wii U performs as bad or worse than the 3DS does and loses the company even more money, I think that’s when the gavel is going to come down and are going to get sorted out.  I can already tell you that Skyward Sword isn’t being well received, even among the diehard fans of Modern Zelda.  I talked with someone who managed to get the game a few days early and already traded it in, much to my shock.  The person liked Wind Waker but hated this, saying he needed to play the older games to wash the palette of playing a 7 hour long tutorial.  That is what he said.  He said that the game felt like an un-ending tutorial the entire time he played it, and apparently the game has an equivalent of Navi in it, only dialed up to 11.
It’s safe to say SS is going to be about on the average or worse (I’m betting worse) for Modern Zelda.  How many years did it take to make?  And to sell probably less than 5 million copies?  Yeah, I think heads are finally gonna start rolling out there pretty soon, especially given the rumors that Iwata is on the ejection seat.__________________
Emphasis is the emailer’s.

I suspect the ‘Iwata on the ejection seat’ might refer more to the fact he allowed the 3DS to go into mass production without a second slider than anything else. That is an extremely expensive mistake. If it weren’t for the prior DS and Wii success, Iwata wouldn’t be there today.

I think the ‘Game Industry’ has had it fat and easy because of two main reasons. 1) Constantly prosperous Western economies. 2) Spending ability of gamers greatly increased as child gamers of the 80s and 90s grew up to become adults.

Both 1 and 2 no longer are growing. The only true way to grow is by fighting ‘disinterest’.

This is what I do not understand. Nintendo already demonstrated they understand this with their declaring war against ‘disinterest’ (which created the DS and Wii success stories). Notice how now there is no more talk about ‘disinterest’. They only talk about disinterest is the disinterest of the developers. The disinterest of Aonuma in Classic Zelda. The disinterest of Miyamoto in 2d Mario. The disinterest of Sakamoto in Metroid gameplay.

I believe what happened is that the N64 and Gamecube were largely the child of the ‘creative side’ at Nintendo (as well as some bad ‘red ocean’ strategy). The creative side wanted to make yet another Gamecube and ‘have proper marketing’ (as Miyamoto would say because only bad marketing causes his games to fail. To Miyamoto, the Virtual Boy would be a success if it had ‘proper marketing’).

The business side stepped in and overruled the ‘creative side’. The strategy and direction of Nintendo radically changed with the Seventh Generation. ‘Disinterest’ because the focal point and not ramming 3d down people’s throats. The DS and Wii became success stories. Because of this success, the business side was satisfied and allowed the creative side to drive the next system.

And what do we get? More 3d. More Gamecube-esque design. In the Creative Side’s viewpoint, such as Miyamoto’s, the difference between the Wii and Gamecube was only a matter of marketing and accessibility. With the current marketing of Nintendo unable to really turn 3DS into a phenomenon, the issue isn’t the marketing. The issue is becoming more and more about the Creative Side of Nintendo. We got a hint of this when Miyamoto begging people to buy Mario 3d Land in the Iwata Asks so the creative side wouldn’t have to do things they didn’t want to do.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what Nintendo does from here on out. With the macro-environment changing, they literally cannot afford to keep making only 3d Mario and 3d orientated systems. Some businesses (like newspapers) decided to ignore the macro-environment changes and just plow on arrogantly ahead… to their eventual demise. Will Nintendo do this? Or will they adopt the DS/Wii direction again? I suspect Nintendo knew there would be a decline with the 3DS and Wii U (note that the titles of the consoles fits Miyamoto’s belief that the ‘marketing’ was wrong for the Gamecube). They were hoping the decline would be ‘small’ where they could readjust things and hopefully get their 3d output systems selling (and make the games they want to make). But the decline is too steep and had to be surprising.

You know what I think is really animating Nintendo? I think they already have the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and even Twelfth generation consoles already planned out.

“No way!” says the reader.

We do have proof about the Ninth Generation console. Iwata has already said that the Ninth Generation Nintendo home console will use 3d output like the 3DS. What that implies is that the ‘independent screen’ on the controller with the Wii U is a foothold for it to become a ‘3d output’ screen. It is too expensive now to do all that. But in seven year, it may not be expensive.

Nintendo plays with “technology” all the time. The problem is that the costs have not come down enough to mass market this “technology”. Notice how with Iwata Asks interviews, they always say how now the technology has come down where they can make this. This means they have been playing with it and toying with it for a LONG time outside the public’s eye.

I’m convinced Nintendo believes the destiny of their consoles is to go 3d output. If the market disagrees with them, then the market is wrong and must be made to understand the value. Therefore, according to Miyamoto, the problem is always the marketing.


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