With E3 right around the corner, Nintendo fans are growing restless as to what the future holds for their beloved company and its systems. We’ve seen little change since my first Nerdophiles article written back in March, other than a steady growth in frustration from both producers and consumers. I figured it was high time to address some problems that have been brewing in the world of Nintendo, and to shed some light on the truth of the matter and what future the company faces.
Third Party Contentions
Despite the fact that almost all of the Wii U’s few games are published by third parties, there has been no lack of hate flooding in from the realm outside the red and white. Last week, EA Senior Software Engineer and Architect Bob Summerwill tweeted a series of scathing remarks toward Nintendo’s new system, including things such as, “The Wii U is crap,” and “Nintendo are still operating like it’s 1990.” Needless to say, these tweets were quickly deleted, but soon afterward, EA spokesman Jeff Brown confirmed suspicions that EA currently has zero games in development for Wii U. This comes as quite a blow to Nintendo, as EA claimed to be one of Nintendo’s strongest partners pre-launch, and also publishes cash cows like FIFA and Madden NFL. It’s not that EA doesn’t have some major issues of its own, but that’s a different story.
However, following this week’s thorny Xbox One announcement, EA backtracked its employee’s claim and said that they may in fact be making Wii U games after all. Smooth.
The System Itself
Do EA’s comments have substance, or are they just runoff from less than ideal sales on EA’s part? Is the Wii U really as bad as Summerwill says? In my experience, not at all. When the Wii was announced it was also criticized as being gimmicky, with its awkward remote controller and sensor bar, but it went on to be the leading system of the generation. The Wii U has expanded on this in an attempt to draw the hardcore gamers back to Nintendo like Pikmin to Captain Olimar, but the reception has been lukewarm at best. The system has the potential for integrative online features and DLC, but as of now the online store remains lacking. But the system has shown improvement, and hey, that’s what updates (albeit not hour-long ones) are for, right? As has been the case with systems since the introduction of internet connectivity, what you purchase is not the final product, and downloadable updates make worlds of difference. But as the Wii U is a gaming console, games take precedence–everything else is secondary and supplementary. Is it just me, or has the video game market as a whole kind of lost sight of this?
Of course the Wii U doesn’t have the processing power of the other G4 consoles, but Nintendo systems have never been known for their specs. Though it’s not like Wii U graphics are exactly a joke; they’re easily on par with the PS3. The Wii was not a particularly powerful system, but it had advantages over the PS3 and Xbox 360 that drew in sales. Sure, a large portion of those sales were derived from the untapped market of casual gamers, but you can’t deny that Twilight Princess being a launch title helped (and those were Gamecube graphics!). Call me old fashioned, but since when do people care more about being able to count the individual hairs on a character’s head than playing through a title with great gameplay and a captivating storyline? These are the kinds of games Nintendo is known for, but problem is, they aren’t being produced.
It’s All About the Games
I can’t stand when companies like EA jump in and call a system “crap” by judging the hardware. If a system does poorly, at least in my experience, it’s largely due to its game offerings. Looking back, Nintendo’s shift toward third party publishers for Wii U launch titles was a bad idea. Okay, a really bad idea–or at least one that was poorly executed. Nintendo needs to realize that its edge lies in original titles, and while bringing in third party games is nice sometimes (Assassin’s Creed plays just as well on Wii U as on Xbox 360), releasing copycat games that already exist on systems that hold significant portions of the market is not in any sense a good strategy.
Where are Super Smash Bros. and Legend of Zelda? What about a Mario adventure game, or Metroid? When you say you’re going to cater more to hardcore gamers, believe it or not, you have to actually make games for this to happen. And for god’s sake Nintendo, just because fans want original titles does not mean they want ports of old games. Nintendo titles (and in fact games in general) are severely lacking, and as a result my Wii U continues to collect dust.
But all hope is not lost. E3 is next month, and when taking into consideration the currently puzzled Microsoft fans, if Nintendo pulls all the stops, it has the chance to redeem itself. Is BigN going to go under, Sega style? Chances are, no. After all, Sega didn’t have a successful handheld system or the fan base that Nintendo has built over the decades. But until Nintendo has the upper hand in graphics and processing capability, it needs to stick with what it does best. Sure, the entire company basically rests on the genius of Shigeru Miyamoto, but is that really so bad when we get games like Mario and Zelda?
The Wii U is a quality system with potential, and software developers shouldn’t give up on it so easily. Games are truly the key here, and at least for the foreseeable future, it will be classic Nintendo titles that keep the system afloat. One can only hope that, in time, developers will see the potential of the Wii U as they did its successful predecessor, and that the system will finally get the attention it deserves.