Failures Of Nintendo

Part four of the four part series.

Nintendo is the king of nostalgia in the gaming industry, tapping into the love of millions of gamers the world over. They gave birth to gaming as a popular pastime and introduced us to the likes of Mario, Link, Samus Aran, and Star Fox. For this, they’ve earned the love and respect of the majority of the gaming community, which is well deserved.

Some of my best memories from gaming have been on Nintendo’s systems. Like playing Kickle CubicleSuper Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Metroid Prime, and even Wii Sports. Yes, even Wii Sports

What’s unfortunate is that even Nintendo isn’t immune to making immensely stupid decisions, and recently has shown that when they have a choice between trying to protect their assets and throwing their customers a bone, they’ll do whatever it takes to make sure their profit stream is safe.

Going After Those Dastardly Content Creators

Nintendo has been showing its true colors with the rise of YouTube and Twitch, cracking down hard on those that want to create video content. Creators wanting to show off Nintendo titles have had their revenue taken away, videos taken down, or even had their channels deleted.

I’m not saying that they’re the only offender, but as far as platform holders go, they take the cake. Where Sony and Microsoft normally just let gamers do what they want, for the most part, Nintendo routinely shuts down anyone that appears to be showing even the smallest amount of content.

Graciously, Nintendo reached out to content creators to give them a means to show off their gameplay. By registering in their Creators program and agreeing to forfeit a large share of any ad revenue generated, creators can stream and record games approved by Nintendo.

Want to make a video about a game that isn’t on the list? Too bad. Want to keep your channel ad-free? Sorry. Just want to make a video that has a tiny snippet of one of their games? Makes sure Nintendo gets their cut.

They may have the right to lock down their customer’s content and disallow anyone streaming or making videos without their express authorization, but there’s little reason to be so anti-consumer. There’s no evidence to prove that streaming and YouTube videos of gameplay affect a game’s sales negatively. If anything, it drums up interest in any game that’s being shown off.

Innovation, At Any Cost

When the Wii hit the market, it became a huge hit. Everyone seemed to have one hooked up to their living room TV, and the game of choice was Wii Sports (or Guitar Hero). Bowling or boxing with the Wii Remote was actually really fun, and it made for a wonderful party game. It’s just too bad that those motion controls didn’t translate so well to other games. Nintendo’s history of game consoles has included many different unique ideas, but often those ideas were marred by weak execution or poor follow-through.

Take the Wii U for example. The Wii U’s tablet style controller was actually pretty good; it was comfortable, light, and had a decent screen. Some games, like Zombi U, made good use of the tablet portion. The second screen served as the player’s inventory and scanner, and opened up the game to include some interesting mechanics.

But what did Nintendo do with it? They did things like trying to build Star Fox Zero around the use of the Wii U tablet controller, instead of just making a solid Star Fox game. Instead of bringing another Metroid title to a console, they made a crappy co-op shooter for the 3DS.

It’s almost as if they are trying to do something new, for the sake of doing something new. They seem to throw out the past to see what weird thing they can try next, without considering other more conventional options.

Steep Pricing

Everything Nintendo makes just seems to be expensive. If you want a Switch Pro controller, you’re going to set yourself back about $70. Buying an extra pair of Joy-Cons will cost you around $80. Switch games are also regularly priced at, or higher than, equivalents on other systems as well.

For a brand that’s big on local multiplayer, Nintendo seems to have one of the steepest pricing structures that I’ve seen on any console. Furthermore, there are so many different control schemes for their titles, that you might end up having to spend more than you intended, just to be able to play a game of theirs.

What if I bought a Nintendo Switch, and wanted to be able to play 4-player in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, I’d first need to figure out how I could actually do it, then buy the correct controllers. 4-player gaming locally can be carried out by connecting two pairs of Joy-Cons to the system, or by letting everyone use Pro controllers. So my options are limited to spending $80 for an extra set of Joy-Cons and forcing my friends to use the dinky controllers, or spending $70-$280 on Pro controllers.

It’s just… Expensive…

I’m one that likes options, and the sheer volume of controller options on the Switch makes the prospect of being prepared for local multiplayer quite daunting. Where I can have all the controllers I need for a PC, PS4, or Xbox One for about $180, I’d have to spend $360 on controllers alone on the Switch (4 Pros and an extra pair of Joy-Cons).

That’s not even getting into the subject of Nintendo’s games, which hold their value better than most commodities.

And apparently they think 1-2 Switch is worth $50.

Availability

The topic of Nintendo’s availability issues is the deadest horse in the history of dead horses, so I’m not going to continue for long. However, for whatever reason, Nintendo consistently ignores any criticisms regarding product availability.

Still, knowing full well that people want access to all Amiibos, Nintendo discontinues them and refuses to manufacture enough to meet demand. The Nintendo Switch and Wii were both hard to come by, long after their respective launches (the Switch is still hard to find in some places). The GameCube controllers and adapters for the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros were exceedingly difficult to find, despite Nintendo knowing the favorable reception their product received.

Why Nintendo continuously underproduces their products, and consistently fails to meet consumer demand, is beyond me.

The Amiibo situation itself raises new concerns considering that Nintendo wants to lock certain content behind the paywall of the figurines themselves, creating some weird version of DLC where customers are cut off from buying them due to inconsistent manufacturing practices.

Seriously, Nintendo. You could make a Poop Link Amiibo and every fan would buy it… Do you seriously think you wouldn’t sell every Wolf Link Amiibo?

Just Generally Baffling Sometimes

Nintendo is far from the perfect bastion of gaming that their often assumed to be. They appear to view their customers with contempt. Seemingly refusing to allow people to buy the products they’re selling, viewing their creative fans as thieves, ignoring loved franchises and driving other ones into the ground with stupendously bad spinoff games (looking at you Metroid Prime: Federation Force), or just making some really strange decisions with their company.

I swear, half of the news I’ve seen with Nintendo is genuinely good, while the other half leaves me with my face buried deep into my palm. It’s almost as if they don’t care if they do well or not, and people seem enamored with them as long as they keep churning out Legend of Zelda or Mario Bros. titles.

Did I miss anything about Nintendo? What other hilariously bad missteps have they made? Let’s hear it in the comments!

You can find the other pieces here:


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22 thoughts on “Failures Of Nintendo

  1. The NES Mini issues was very weird. In the end Nintendo shifted over a million but then abruptly stopped production – all I ever saw in the press were stories about its lack of availability. It’s possible it was worried about the announced NES options on the Switch, but heck – it was an easy win for them, but it turned into a bit of a mess.

    Still, I managed to pick one up and it’s awesome. Just a shame many others won’t get to experience it. What worries me is Nintendo might do the same with the SNES Mini (which surely has to be a thing). Man – I want that thing bad, like.

    Like

  2. whistles and swings arms innocently I was just on the Nintendo Critique Train, but I agree. They’ve made a lot of interesting choices, and not all of them have seemed consumer-friendly. There was a lively discussion over on my site regarding shortages, but regardless of the reason, I think if they were just a little more transparent about things, it would go a long way in the PR department. And I understand that new tech is expensive to produce, and I understand that when paying for a product you’re also paying for all the failed attempts that came before it, but I can’t understand why the prices don’t ever go down. Surely by now the Wii U has paid for itself?

    Also, the video thing just bothers me. People will not, for the most part, forgo playing a game they want to play because it’s available to watch on YouTube.

    But I agree with you, and I’ve said this elsewhere, they really can do whatever they want because consumers will still throw their money at them. Yay nostalgia?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The WiiU probably hasn’t paid for itself between R&D and then game development and marketing on top of that. It’s most likely a big reason that the Switch is getting these DX ports as the Switch is on track to outsell the WiiU in 12-18 months on the market. But I do agree that transparency would go a long, long way for them on the PR side.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are 100% right that as long as Nintendo keeps making Mario and Zelda people will look past their failings. Continuously making good games goes a long way. Still they perplex me a lot. Valid reasons or not, the NES Classic and now Switch shortages are infuriating. I’m all for being conservative in their projections but when you have the data that supports a positive change you should move towards that.

    I just bought a Switch yesterday after searching for one for two months, but then I had to drive to three different stores to get peripherals. And they cost half as much as the system so that my family can play games together. It’s crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some solid analysis & interesting points.

    On our recent trip home we went up in the attic
    & found our N64 & 3 controllers, so it was time
    to get retro! We finally hooked it up yesterday
    & after a 15 year siesta, the system works great.
    Even the worn control sticks are very responsive
    & on Ebay the classic games sell for under $20.

    So for us, we will be postponing our Switch upgrade
    & digging in form some good pre-2000 gaming fun.
    If a new Animal Crossing (cough cough) would have
    launched with the Switch, we would not have hesitated
    to drop the dough, but as of now we can be patient.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Nintendo, while I do acknlowledge their odd decisions they make most of the time, in the end the churn out some top quality games that makes me forgive their antics. Around when the Switch came out, I had myself convinced I didn’t want one and I was mad that Nintendo didn’t make any effort to help me play my Wii U library past that console. But then Breath of the Wild came out, amazed everyone and myself, and now I want a Switch more than ever. It’s a weird back and forth relationship I have with Nintendo. I do acknowledge all the points you brought up.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You make some great points here. I always think of modern Nintendo as the luxury football (soccer) player…do nothing for 89 mins, then beat 3 defenders and score from 40 yards. As you said, Nintendo can look irrelevant and out of touch for a long time then…boom! Breath of the Wild! Boom! Mario Odyssey!

    As long as Nintendo treat their big name IP’s well, they’ll survive. Look at the buzz over Metroid Prime 4…if they can pull out beloved franchises like that, then the hardcore fans will always support them.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nintendo’s business practices make no damn sense, yet they continue to succeed. I love how you describe the availability issue. Perfect. I think THAT’S one of the reasons they continue to succeed. When you see a Switch or Wii in the wild, you’ll sell your first born to buy it. There’s also the nostalgia factor with Nintendo. We still see it through the rose tinted lenses of youth even though they seem to have utter contempt for us.

    The content thing irritates me. It reminds me of Disney or Squeenix when it comes to AMVs (if you don’t catch them before SE catches wind and gets them taken down you’re just SOL). I don’t know if they realize it, but Let’s Plays are often huge and free advertisements for them. Actually…the LPer is paying them to play it. Chances are many of the watchers will like the game and purchase it to play themselves. And if they don’t, they probably wouldn’t have any way. I can’t claim to have any business acumen, and of course this is just my personal experience, but I’d hypothesize a study would find similar results.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I had no idea they cracked down on those people TRYING TO SHOW NINTENDO GAMES. Honestly, that is how some people get into the games and decide if they want to spend the money or not! For real. That is… do they not see how well that actually works out PS and xBox? Anyway….

    You are on point about a lot of what you said. Especially controllers. But I am also one of those that just… I tend to not be disappointed in them and get excited about whatever they do for the most part. And the fact that there is going to be Pokemon stuff coming out – Hallelujah!

    But part of the reason I do that is exactly what you said – it’s a throwback to what got me into gaming in the first place. When I don’t care about the latest graphics, the newest ideas, or even just something DIFFERENT, I go back to my safe little Nintendo games. It has exactly what I need to take a break and bring back the fun that I sometimes lack on other consoles. Seems odd, but true.

    I will always be a sucker for anything Zelda related merchandise wise as well… or throw me a Mario plushie. Eh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nintendo definitely has the benefit of being the old friend of gamers in the industry. It’s the friend that’s always been there, through thick and thin. He might’ve pissed you off a couple times, and made some dumb decisions, but overall? You can’t help but make friends again in the end.

      Unlike that deadbeat, Sega. That guy just dropped off the face of the Earth and only shows up to borrow money from you sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

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