Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 17, 2017

Email: The alternate reality of Gaming Message Forums

There was a Reddit AMA with Koizumi earlier today (but with the way Reddit works, high-profile AMAs are just choreographed marketing stunts…whatever), and one comment stuck with me. Someone asked what the biggest challenge in developing Mario Odyssey was, and Koizumi responded that it was the decision to return to “sandbox Mario”, because it’s been so long since 64/Sunshine and they weren’t sure if people would accept that kind of game again. Someone responded with (paraphrased), “but Mario 64 is the best Mario game ever. How could there be any doubt that people would like a sandbox Mario today?”

It’s comments like these that make me really worry about how seriously Nintendo takes fan feedback. Mario 64 was not universally adored when it came out. Yes, it was well-crafted, broke new ground, and is a solid game in its own right, but a lot of people felt that it wasn’t really a Mario game at all (which is correct, or at least it was before Nintendo decided to keep changing what a Mario game is), and it certainly wasn’t the flawless mega-hit that Internet dwellers make it out to be today. So when Nintendo gets feedback from people who think some of their more divisive games were perfect and fantastic (Wind Waker, Yoshi’s Island, Mario 64 and now even Sunshine!), it’s hard not to worry that Nintendo will think that as well–especially since those are the games Nintendo loves so much and wants to push on everyone to no end.

So as much as I hate to admit it, you’re probably right that we’re about to enter another cycle of “arrogant Nintendo” soon. Let’s just be thankful that the Switch doesn’t have a real competitor yet so 3rd parties will probably be around to soften the blow.

 

What’s funny about the game industry is that they had a positive macro-economic trend throughout the 80s and 90s and early 2000s. Japan has not been as fortunate. Nintendo designed the DS and Wii to create new gamers in order to counter bad macro-economic trends in Japan. This is why the DS and Wii did so well in America because America was doing well in its macro-economics… until around 2008. 2008 is also when the Wii and other systems began to fall. It is like walking against a river’s current. It is harder to sell. When Nintendo would make a mediocre game (which I believe is most of Nintendo’s output, not terrible but not that great), the macro-economics would push the game sales. I prefer cold markets (i.e. Generation 1-3) or new growth (Generation 7) since the games tend to be ‘better made’ to go against the current of disinterest.

I believe the macro-economic trend, at least in America, is returning to positive. This will create a positive boost for all consoles including Switch.

This means Nintendo will not be punished by the market for making a mediocre game. The mediocre game will sell “well” (like Mario 64) and Nintendo will think the market now loves it and will only make that type of game.

Nintendo’s E3 showing was boring to me because all the games shown, including ones like Metroid Prime 4, are very formulaic. I want more Breath of the Wild, more shattering the formula. One of the reasons why the NES era was so magical was because there was no established formula. We went from games that didn’t scroll, to games that scrolled one way, to games that scrolled all over. We went from games with black backgrounds to the blue sky of Super Mario Brothers.

I don’t pay close attention to Sony and Microsoft, but what they show is sooo boring. I’ve always thought what they had to show was boring. Maybe people are getting bored with the AAA game model. We will see.

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