Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 2, 2017

Email: Switch – Back to the Future

Master Malstrom,

I think you are right. I think Nintendo is targeting the relapsed gamer. Now, after seeing the Nindies showcase, let’s review all the info so far:

-First, Nintendo gets our attention with the NES Classic and the “Now you’re playing with power!” Mario Bros, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, Ninja Gaiden, Double Dragon, Castlevania
-Next Switch is announced with cartridges.
-Switch is shown being played by “older” younger adults (instead of kids), people who have disposable income
-Next they announce Bomberman and a variant of Tetris
-At the Nindies showcase, they announce sequels to Blaster Master and Toe Jam & Earl
-A bunch of Nindies games are pixelated 2D style and/or spirtual successors to conventional gameplay. Stardew Valley, Shovel Knight, Wargroove, etc.

Nintendo is still bringing modern offerings to the table — Zelda with its Minecraft like play and Splatoon 2 with its e-sports momentum. And who knows, there may be a Wii Fit or Brain Age coming to get new audiences. But until then, beneath their modern 3D stuff lies a *strong* undercurrent of the 80’s and 90’s.

This isn’t nostalgia, this isn’t them slapping a raccoon tail on 3D Mario and calling it a day. They are actually giving us 80’s/90’s gameplay.

Nintendo may be coming back for us, Sean. You, the Glorious Reader, and anyone whose childhood was defined by Nintendo may finally have their time to shine again.

Also, they brought back the Red and White Nintendo logo!


Nintendo doesn’t reveal their strategy anymore since people like us will talk about it as we did during Generation 7.

Back during Generation 7, Nintendo saw the market in three types. There was the Core gamer (not hardcore, just the gamer who kept buying consoles). There was the Former Gamer (the ones who drifted away due to changes in gaming, e.g. games becoming too long or too complex). Then, there was the New Gamer (the ones who had never played games before).

Wii targeted all three groups. Who do you think the Virtual Console was for? It wasn’t for the New Gamer. It wasn’t for the Core Gamer. It was for the Former Gamer.

This is why Nintendo is still so surprised their NES Classic Mini is STILL sold out. They didn’t imagine the demand for playing 8-bit retro NES games (which is all it is, nothing more) was more massive than they imagined. They didn’t realize that younger gamers wanted a piece of that gaming goodness too (and who can blame them?).

The story of the NES Classic Mini’s success is telling us that what made games fun in 1986 still apply today. The story of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is that what made the original Zelda fun in 1986 applies in 2017.

I think it is beginning to dawn on Nintendo that their development genius got sidetracked by technology instead of the other way around. Breath of the Wild does not exist because of Wii U’s tech features or Switch’s tech features. Breath of the Wild exists because it is an exploration of what made original Zelda tick (at least, I hope so. We’ll know in the next couple of days).

Wii success didn’t translate long term because no one wants to make games for brand new gamers. But game makers DO want to make games for former gamers. Capcom doesn’t mind making another Street Fighter 2. Konami doesn’t mind making another Bomberman. And so on and so forth.

Nintendo needs to expand itself. Former gamers are the best way to do it. They are the most profit lucrative too as you can see from the ridiculously overpriced retro market.

There are more former Nintendo fans than current Nintendo fans.



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