Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 1, 2014

Email: One thing that worries me about Iwata’s investor briefing

Hello Master Malstrom,

Let’s rewind the tape of Iwata’s presentation shall we?
For example, until now it has been taken for granted that software is offered to users at the same price regardless of how many titles they purchase in a year, be it one, five or even ten titles. Based on our account system, if we can offer flexible price points to consumers who meet certain conditions, we can create a situation where these consumers can enjoy our software at cheaper price points when they purchase more. -Iwata
 
It’s an interesting idea to be sure. I quite like to idea that if it is known I love RPG’s, that other RPG’s will be pointed out to me and at a cheaper price. However, in your post “The Actual Reason Nintendo will never go Third Party.” you made a fine, fine point be adressing The Big Picture problem facing all of the videogames: The declining value of video games.
There are numerous examples of this going on as I see them: the many, many Free-To-Play titles being published on the iDevices signalling that developers cannot create value on them, Sony giving away its own titles for FREE on PlaystationPlus and of course Steam with all of its fire sales.
Personally, I don’t mind paying a premium price for a piece of entertainment. Mainly because the price I pay reflects the time I wish to devote to it. If the game does not provide me with sufficiënt entertainment for its price, then I consider it a bad game. I’ve had this with many games on the HD twins last generation and it really soured me on gaming. The Wii and DS (and even the 3DS for me) gave me plenty of great games for a great price. To me, to hold on to the value of games is to simply keep making great games and to keep them at a price that signifies their value.
Reading Iwata’s comments however, it seems to me as if he’s saying that when if I’m a regular customer of RPG’s then I’ll have access to games at a much greater discount than, say, 20% of the price. How exactly would Nintendo be fighting the cheapening of value for Video Games with that?
In my own experience, you can have too expensivea price, but you can also have too cheap. The big problem with Free-To-Play titles, for instance, isn’t that they attract crappy customers. It is that they only attract users rather then customers. 

In all my years of gaming, the times when I perceived games to have high value was (coincidence or not) when there was a relationship between the consumers and the developers, or market to the company. Nintendo Power served as that relationship in the NES and SNES eras. With PC gaming, I remember Richard Garriot posting on Usenet concerning Ultima 6 and interacting with fans. Ultima 5’s ending screen asks you to literally mail Richard Garriot on your ‘accomplishment’ of finishing the game. And we actually did that. Epic used to have a relationship with its market when they made games like Unreal Tournament. Blizzard is an interesting case as they heavily focused on their relationships with gamers. I was able to test the 1.2 Warcraft 2 patch with Blizzard developers over Kali. Chris Roberts’ Star Citizen is doing so well in funding in large part because of the relationship he is establishing between he and gamers.

I remember it was about the time when Starcraft came out that corporate walls began to be erected splitting gamers from game developers. The term ‘game developer’ is foreign to me. The developer was just a ‘gamer’ like us. He might be called the ‘designer’ or such but there was nothing to think there was any difference between he and your gamer on the street (except he didn’t just play games, he made them). One thing that is refreshing about indie gaming is the return of these relationships. An indie game company doesn’t seem like a faceless corporation.

Relationships between company and gamers are also something that Sony and Microsoft cannot copy due to the nature of their companies.

While Nintendo may see the ‘relationships’ as ways to manipulate the consumer and gather market data, I see it as inevitably breaking down the walls between Nintendo developers and the gamers. We need Nintendo developers to think more like the rest of gamers instead of being isolated in their towers. By ‘connections’, I do not mean reading hardcore gaming message forums. I think listening to the hardcore gamer is why the 3DS and Wii U have had so much trouble. When Nintendo was banking on 3d Mario to sell the Wii U to nine million units, they were really banking on the hardcore gamers to come. It is curious to note that Nintendo was nonchalant during the early stagnation of the Wii U. Could it be due to the lack of hardcore games at that time? Did they think bringing out 3d Mario and re-releasing Wind Waker would bring the hardcore gamers? Apparently, they did!

The account system is what I am most excited for. We still need to hear more details. I don’t think Nintendo offering a sale to those who buy many Nintendo games is going to destroy the value of the games. Was the value of Dragon Quest destroyed when Nintendo gave the game away for free when you subscribed to Nintendo Power?

Did the console bundle destroy the value of Super Mario Brothers? Did getting Super Mario All-Stars in the mail for free ruin the value of that game?

Games of today aren’t equal to the games of the past. Dragon Warrior didn’t get destroyed in value for being given away for free because it was a good game.

And to my haters, one of the main reasons why I look fondly back at the 8-bit generation was because of the relationship Nintendo made with gamers. Everything in the above photo was given to you just for subscribing to Nintendo Power.


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