Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 4, 2014

Email: On Sales and Quality

Master Malstrom,

I have to agree with what you say about sales and quality. I think people are maybe being put off by the word “quality”, after all the latest best-selling Call of Duty isn’t going to stand the test of time and be looked back on fondly. Probably wont get touched after a year.

Maybe what you’re looking at is demand. Demand is a good thing: making games that people want, what can be more important? And that’s where it’s difficult to move out of the message forum bubble and remember that you are not all people. For example, “everyone”‘s waiting for a Star Fox game by Platinum to save the Wii U. I’d buy one for that in a heartbeat! But would the sales be good? Well, I suppose if people were starving for Star Fox we’d see unusually good sales in something like SF64 3D. I bought a 3DS specifically for that game, but I have to be realistic: it didn’t even pull Fire Emblem numbers, let alone console-selling numbers. And how about those Sin & Punishment sales? So one must concede that Star Fox doesn’t even have the vaguest hope of doing anything special for the Wii U. (Platinum games have a good track record of doing nothing special either, but they are undeniably of extremely high quality. That’s why I say “demand” is the word we want.)

But the consolation is that sales are not our responsibility as consumers. I will keep asking for a new Star Fox because I want one. I don’t have any shareholders to please nor is Iwata a personal friend who’s well-being I must look out for, so that’s as far as my decision process has to go. So I say, keep asking for and buying the games you want. Just stop trying to make it about something more than you. (I suppose we could apply that a little more broadly to other people and groups saying how games “should be”, but that’s another email.)

Malstrom, the reason I read your blog is because you don’t live in your own little world. I disagree with what you say probably more than half the time, but even then I can at least respect that you base your information off the real world and not just a projection of what you personally feel. Keep it up.

I think people are put of by nearly anything that doesn’t fit into their worldview. Even if I started saying the word ‘demand’ instead of ‘quality’, they would still be upset. “There is no demand for more Star Fox.” “WTF!? Who the F do you think YOU are? There is TONS of demand? Did you not see the Internet Petition? Or the monster threads at the nearest Gaming Message Forum?”

The Big Picture is that the way to make money is to please people. You either must make something people need or that people want. Nintendo is not doing well because the Wii U is not pleasing to people. People don’t want to buy it. With an entrepreneur, the question to ask is not ‘how to make money’ but ‘how to please people’.

Nintendo must please people in order to make money. The reason why they aren’t making money is because they aren’t pleasing people. I think the hardcore gamers are upset because I don’t qualify them as ‘people’. “I’m a person! I want more F-Zero GX! I want more Starfox!” People (the market) didn’t want the last two games so why should Nintendo make more? Nintendo should make games that please people. Unfortunately, our hardcore gamers don’t really exist in the broad universe of general society. They’ve conjured up their own little societies in various gaming forums. The reason why these gaming forums exist in the first place is because the hardcore gamers cannot have these discussions outside the Internet on a regular basis. You didn’t need to join a gaming message forum to talk about how much fun Wii Sports was.

There are games I like that I know won’t sell. I love hybrid games such as Star Control 2, Blaster Master, and Guardian Legend. But there isn’t much demand for those games. (And if they were made, they would be low quality products because they wouldn’t be bringing in the cashflow.)

What I loved about the Wii’s mission was to integrate gamers and general society. Gaming used to be isolated because of accessibility issues. Not many people understood how to operate DOS to play the cool games there. They did understand the arcade games and the Atari 2600 and NES. Ever since then, gaming keeps retreating into some nerd pocket universe despite gaming’s prior barriers being broken (e.g. controls are much more simplified). There is no reason why we can’t have mainstream gaming except the game makers don’t want to make those games. They want to make their ‘nerd pocket universe’ games.

Was gaming diminished by Pac-Man (designed to sell to girls?). Or Donkey Kong? Or Super Mario Brothers? What about Pokemon and Tetris? The hatred (still to this day) to games like Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and NSMB still baffle me. We’re in a situation where GAMERS are HATING on GAMES. It is because they aren’t gamers first. They ‘hardcore’ first. They place their ‘identity’ above that of gaming. I think hardcore gamers are the problem with gaming and should all be pushed out into the sea.


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