Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 24, 2017

The Sakamoto Protection Racket

Reggie Fils-Aime speaks about Nintendo’s stance on AM2R. Let us hear what he has to say:

So, I think there needs to be clarity in what the line is, and, in our view, the line is when an initiative crosses from being an homage to something that is monetizing our IP. We allow homages to exist in a variety of different ways. And, for me personally, as a fan before I was an executive, I understand the attraction that you could have to our IP. But, when it transitions to something that… now, you’re trying to monetize, you’re trying to sell, you’re trying to profit off of, that is what broaches or breaks through that line for us, where we have to claim our IP protection.

Profit? AM2R was free. What is Fils-Aime talking about? Even the interviewer was aghast.

How are you talking about monetization here, because with AM2R, that was a game that anyone could download for free, and again I think, for fans, there was this notion of, “go talk to that person,” or “go talk to other fan creators” and see if there’s a way to not kill that project, to investigate the ideas that happening there that are exciting, who knows.

But again, to differentiate this, we have had conversations with entities that started as fans and became more of a business partner. Those conversations happen all the time, but again, when something transitions to a commercial product, and that’s what [AM2R] was—there wasn’t a charge, but it was now a commercial product.

There was no charge, but it was a ‘commercial product’. WTF?

The interviewer, again, is aghast, and follows up on it.

I guess I need… what’s the definition of “commercial product” for Nintendo?

Well, again, it’s all about… How do we protect our intellectual property? How do our creators, like Mr. Sakamoto, who created Metroid, and Nintendo control that intellectual property so that we can drive where it’s going, versus someone else driving where it’s going.

That’s where the line is very clear for us. And again, we could go on to YouTube and a variety of different places and see fans doing interesting things with our IP. But when it turns to driving the direction of the IP, or somehow monetizing or becoming a commercial project, that’s where for us, the line has been crossed.

If I was the interviewer, I would have responded: “Sakamoto had NOTHING TO DO with Metroid II!!!!” It is the equivalent of having Aonuma remaking the Legend of Zelda without Miyamoto. It is an insult.

Let me translate what Reggie is saying with a parable.

In 1991, Cafe Nintendo makes a chocolate chip cookie. People like this chocolate chip cookie.

Over the decades, Chef Sakamoto keeps putting out chocolate chip cookies with more salt. The sales for Sakamoto’s salty cookies go down. Cafe Nintendo does not respond to the market. Instead, Cafe Nintendo keeps trying to sell Sakamoto’s increasingly salty cookies.

An amateur cook puts out a chocolate chip cookie with more chocolate. Everyone celebrates! If only Cafe Nintendo would put out chocolate chip cookie with more chocolate or, at least, without the salt.

Cafe Nintendo’s response is to send thugs to the amateur chef, bust up his kitchen, beat his ass, and destroy any existence of the chocolate chip cookie with more chocolate.

Cookie eaters are stunned. Why did Cafe Nintendo do this? “We are protecting our IP.” (IP stands for Intellectual Property which applies equally across products including cookies.)

The truth of this situation is that AM2R is not the issue. The truth of the situation is that IP is also not the issue.

This is all about one thing: Sakamoto.

Stop talking about AM2R. Talk about Sakamoto. Nintendo is circling the wagons around Sakamoto.

Let me quote Reggie again:

How do our creators, like Mr. Sakamoto, who created Metroid, and Nintendo control that intellectual property so that we can drive where it’s going, versus someone else driving where it’s going.

The answer is THE MARKET DRIVES THE IP, NOT THE COMPANY.

Nintendo developers really do have their heads up their asses. The reason why no one is looking for Switch versions of Urban Champion or Wrecking Crew or Mach Rider or even Kid Icarus is because despite how much those IPs were ‘driven’, the market does not want them. People talk about Nintendo’s IPs without forgetting the corpses of failed IPs that Nintendo attempted. Remember Game Freak’s Drill Dozer?

Sakamoto, the pixel artist, did not invent Metroid. Metroid was Gunpei Yokoi’s baby. The people behind Metroid are either dead or retired. Sakamoto is the last one left who had any involvement with it.

Metroid Fusion, on the vast GBA installed base, is completely overshadowed and outsold by Metroid Prime, made by Texans in Austin on the teeny tiny installed base of the Gamecube. Retro’s direct sequels to Metroid Prime, though selling less, still sold over a million (i.e. more than Sakamoto Metroid Gymnastics).

Metroid Zero Mission, the second remake of the original Metroid (Super Metroid was the first), also didn’t perform.

Metroid Hunters came out and sold a million. Say what one wants about Hunters, the game added more to the Metroid franchise than anything Sakamoto did. The bounty hunters are far more interesting than ‘Adam’ or ‘Samus’s tortured past’.

Above: Added more to Metroid than Sakamoto ever did.

Then, of course, there was Metroid: Other M. It was funny to watch people be in such denial about HOW BAD the game was. “Team Ninja messed it up.” No one would blame Sakamoto, the person who WROTE, PRODUCED, and DIRECTED the game.

Above: Metroid: Other M still sucks years later.

With all of Sakamoto’s mistakes, you would think he’d be fired from Metroid franchise. But no. We have Metroid Returns (i.e. Sakamoto Returns) of a 3DS remake of Metroid 2.

Yet, AM2R has to be removed from the internet because Nintendo was scared.

Scared of what? Scared that an AMATEUR WORK can compete and outdo a ‘professional work’? Or is it more scared of how Sakamoto is perceived as being completely talent-less?

It raises the question: what does it take to get fired from being an IP director at Nintendo? Apparently making terrible games that sell bad and review bad is not enough. So what is it, Nintendo? How does one get fired at being IP director?

And why not give 2d Metroid to Retro? Retro can make 3d Metroid and can make 2d platformers. Clearly, Retro is qualified to make 2d Metroid. But Nintendo will never allow it because it would completely destroy Sakamoto who has nothing to list in his game accomplishments except for stuff like Tamagotchi Life and Warioware.

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