Gaming companies have had to deal with the mother in law and father in law of hell for a while. Not literally of course but I’m referencing game journalism (mother in law) and retailers (father in law). They have made Nintendo sour. Nintendo is doing what a good son in law should by avoiding them at all costs. They are doing something other companies have been trying to do for decades—shed the bad in laws and run their own shop as they like.
Of course, Nintendo doesn’t run a social media mafia who can silence companies for being mean. Nor are they a company that would use racketeering and conspiracies to do so. In the last decade, Nintendo has decided that they don’t have to be cozy with game journalists anymore. Nintendo has realized that letting journalists dictate the dissemination of information relating to their new products is not longer effective.
One of their attempts should be familiar to Reaxxion readers. The service Nintendo Direct has eliminated the need to barter with game journalists and middle men who have disingenuous agendas. The simple rationale of focusing on your audience who pays money to play your games is smart. Why should any rational company pay people through ad space, supporting their agenda and giving away free swag to a bunch of middlemen? The consumers are the people you should please, not the guys who try to stand in between the game company and consumer, who go on social media Intifada’s when you don’t appease there views and who will ride any scandal of yours and lambast it on front of their page for hits, no matter how dubious and idiotic.
The mother in law is going to be easier to shed than the father in law. Game retailers until the 2010’s had the distribution chain unfettered. They could demand ridiculous options and companies would have to cower before them. Retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Gamestop controlled your fate as a game company. If your game got an AO (Adults Only) rating those stores wouldn’t carry the game, effectively destroying your chances of making the budget back. Nintendo isn’t infamous for making AO games but they knew that the middle men needed to be less prominent.
The costs of manufacturing a game with a case/manual and then shipping it has always been a major cost, and estimating how many copies would be needed in a store for non-blockbuster games was a science. If you over estimated the copies needed, retailers would be mad for having to use their precious space to hold copies of a game not selling. If you under estimated the amount of copies needed, you would have the same retailers calling you consistently about getting more copies. Nintendo’s new strategy is to focus on putting games on their virtual shop.
This strategy got notoriety with the November 2014 release of Super Smash Brothers Wii U for the Wii U. It’s rumored that Nintendo sent a tiny amount of the pre-orders to retailers, trying to cut them out. Articles have talked about gamers who haven’t pre-ordered, not being able to find the Gamecube Adaptor. I have heard through sources from my local Gamestop that Nintendo has been doing this for the past few years.
Of course, I am skeptical of a Gamestop’s employee trying to market pre-orders, since that’s one of their job metrics. Getting people to sign up for pre-orders, warranties and their special gamestop card, I confirmed it with a person on the internet who works at a Best Buy as well as a second source.
The fact that Nintendo is stiffing retailers isn’t surprising at all. Even their consoles like the Wii-U and the New 3ds have NFC chips in them. These chips are Near Field Communication chips used to transfer information from one chip to another. This could be seen by the amii-bo’s being sold but the other purpose is to introduce a new way to pay.
Apple Pay for the latest iPhones shows the future of the NFC model. You can take your iPhone to a store that supports Apple Pay like Whole Foods and pay by swiping your iPhone, negating the need for cash or credit cards for transactions. This method of payment is more popular in Asia then North America but things are changing.
Nintendo wants people to swipe their cards on the console itself. This takes care of the part where you have to push in all the digits in to the payment section. Nintendo gets to edge out the retailers by using their console as the full economy. I wouldn’t be surprised when the next generation of consoles get produced for Nintendo where you can just use your credit card on the Wii U/New 3ds to buy it from their store and get it shipped, closing out the retailer loop while dealing with the consumers directly.
Logically, there will always be a need for retailers and games journalism. Yet, Nintendo has shown them that their importance was highly inflated and unwarranted. It’s not just Nintendo who’s trying to cut out the middle men—Sony and Microsoft are trying as well. Nintendo has shown the world they aren’t beholden to a singular buisness model or dogmatic thinking. Sometimes, you have to make your own openings and not wait for the market.
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