Some early numbers are coming in from Japan and Europe. Splatoon is doing fairly well for a Wii U game. I don’t think there is any market expansion going on, nor will there be in the coming months (hardware sales would increase if there was), but it’s safe to say it will chart in the coming NPD reports. Here’s what I think is going on.
I think Nintendo has for years underestimated the importance of straightforward action games. As someone who went from the Nintendo 64 era directly into the GameCube era, I can tell that the loss of shooters like Goldeneye/Perfect Dark really sucked. With the GameCube, it was like everything got neutered. Zelda got neutered. Mario got neutered. Nintendo no longer had a developer under them producing FPS titles who understood the western market. It was like the focus changed to puzzle-style gameplay (hello Wind Waker) and quirky crap like Pikmin.
Nintendo will probably misread Splatoon’s performance to think it’s all about their creativity again and their cartoonish/Japanese characters. But I think people just want to fill the action-game void that Nintendo hasn’t been filling (Rare used to perform that job).
Nintendo should have hired more western developers much earlier to create action games like Retro Studios with Metroid.
Also, making this game GamePad-only is probably hurting its performance. I don’t know how kids can use that giant controller.
That is because the N64 and Gamecube sold best in the Americas because it had FPS type games. If you were on the Board of Directors of Nintendo, you would suddenly become Japanese and then you would say, “Golly. It is catering to those FPS and American type games that is doing us in. Let us focus on our Japanese awesome-ness.” Worse, the DS and Wii success really goes to your head. Then comes 3DS and Wii U. “Oh golly, it is selling worse than the Gamecube. We can’t blame this on NOA anymore. Damn. Iwata is in charge of NOA now isn’t he? Damn, damn.”
FPS games on consoles are huge, there is no denying that. Call of Duty numbers cannot be denied. What also needs to be realized is that big ass adventure games like Skyrim and Witcher 3 cannot be denied. It feels like Nintendo is half a decade late realizing that that was what Zelda used to be. Zelda used to be the Big Ass Adventure Game people would buy to tide them over for months in between purchases. Zelda used to do the job of Skyrim or even Grand Theft Auto. Today, Zelda does the job of Lolo. Lolo is not a bad game, but during the NES days young people did not buy Lolo and stick with it. The game just got annoying.