So as it turns out, Nintendo was unable to fellate all their attendees at this year’s E3, inspiring an uproar from the nerdosphere the likes of which has not been seen since Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. With the announcement of close to a dozen first-party titles, Nintendo delivered more first-party content than any of the Big Three, yet somehow the consensus opinion is disappointment mixed with a tinge of outrage.
Personally, I’ve been underwhelmed with the conference up to this point. There is hope within the field of VR, yet little has emerged from this field that seems as captivating of as an experience that the technology will eventually allow for. That being said, even though I believe that Nintendo has unfairly been scapegoated for the entirety of an underwhelming E3, their performance as a company—and their response to the immediate public outcry—was most definitely subpar.
Historically, Nintendo has proven themselves to be a very shrewd corporation, and they’ve made a name for themselves by marching to a different drum. In my opinion, they might be wise to keep churning ahead, business as usual. But if they would like to take the advice of an aspiring video game blogger, and lifelong fan, I have a few opinions on their next possible course of action.
1. Quit apologizing
“Thank you for watching. We take opinions of this year’s Digital Event seriously and will work to better meet your expectations.”
Satoru Iwata via Twitter, Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The sun hadn’t even begun to set before Nintendo, in an act of submission to their fanboy masters, released that statement following their E3 press conference. This is not the action of a confident organization with a strong vision for their future.
An apology of this sort makes Nintendo look like a company lost at sea, only staying afloat on the profits of past successes. The further they drift into the uncharted waters of the twenty-first century lacking a clear direction for their future, the more unsettling their future will be. All of that cash Nintendo stacked during the heydays of the Wii and the DS could disappear quite rapidly if they don’t firmly establish their corporate identity and continue to do what they do best, without apology.
2. Continue making games… of all types
The offering of games provided by the Big N at E3 are precisely what you’d expect from what they’ve been releasing for the past few decades. While we can debate that these titles might not be representative of their so called AAA offerings, these are the types of titles which Nintendo has a proven track record in both developing and providing financial results for their corporate shareholders.
For as long as Nintendo has produced consoles, the company has produced games that some may consider filler for a system, but many would also consider many of these titles to be timeless classics from past generations (Ice Hockey, anyone?). Mario Tennis Ultra Smash might just be another Mario Tennis game, but tennis games are fun, right? Since the days of Pong, tennis games have always been integral aspect to the console gaming experience.
Nintendo has consistently delivered when making games in this timeless genre, and now that they’ve made the jump to HD, they are taking this experience to the modern generation of gaming. The release of this game should be expected, and although it’s not as thrilling as say the announcement of the next AAA Zelda title, I for one could imagine this being a game that would go great with a few friends and some adult beverages.
Speaking of good friends and adult beverages, a common theme among this year’s offerings from Nintendo was their focus on another type of this sadly neglected type of game in this modern era: the good old multiplayer video game. Old school, split-screen, meatspace multiplayer gaming.
Shitty title aside, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is reminiscent of some of the great multiplayer shooters of yesteryear, reminding me of games such as Smash TV and—dare I say it—GoldenEye. A FPS only capable of being played man-to-man in dark basements all over the world, where one was forced to be so close to their competition that you could smell the aging residue of Cheeto dust emanating from their body odor. Of course, this method of gaming directly conflicts with the modern fanboy’s preferred lifestyle of gaming strictly within solitary confines, only to be interrupted by compulsory respites for masturbatory release.
Both MPFF and The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes look like multiplayer titles that would most definitely be best enjoyed with your buddies, directly within your vicinity, and I will definitely be anticipating their release. Neither title appears to rival their predecessors in terms of complexity and breadth of scope, but by no means will that prevent these titles from providing an amazingly fun gaming experience.
3. Continue taking risks with established IPs
There was a time not long ago when Nintendo presented one of their most beloved IPs in a refreshed art-style that was a little more childlike and—dare I say it—cartoonish in its presentation. At the time, this reveal almost sparked outright rebellion among the legion of Nintendo fans expecting something more mature and reflective of their aging sensibilities as gamers. Many of you know, or at least should know, the exact game that I’m referring to.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker went on to become one of the most revered installments within The Legend of Zelda franchise, and the art style that was initially cause for massive outcry and public backlash has become one of the more endearing aspects of the game, adding to the title’s sustained longevity.
While Metroid Prime: Federation Force is not the game that the series’ most vocal fans currently express a desire for, I could see this type of game becoming very successful for Nintendo as well as becoming a fan favorite. This title, along with the recently released Splatoon, highlight Nintendo taking steps back into the highly lucrative shooter genre.
It would be hard to imagine Nintendo developing any IP that would really establish a foothold for the company in the highly-competitive hardcore online FPS genre, but Nintendo could easily bring this genre into the realm of the casual gamer that they so loves catering to. The revamped art style and presentation of MP:FF could really lend itself toward bringing this genre of gaming to the masses, and how massive a success would that be for Nintendo? What gaming company wouldn’t want to be able to capture any piece of a hypothetical less testosterone driven online shooter market?
Personally, I would love an even more Nintendofied arena shooter, and it would not be all that shocking if the recent actions of Nintendo were indicative of future endeavors in this genre.
4. An interconnected ecosystem is no longer optional
Speaking of taking risks with IPs, Nintendo is practically giving the keys to the kingdom away with the release of Super Mario Maker. With this game, Nintendo is practically providing a lifetime supply of 2D Mario platforming for any owner of a Wii U console. Personally, I believe this title is going to be huge for Nintendo, and it might even have a chance at saving the Wii U. The possibilities are literally endless for a game of this nature, and I’m dismayed at how little hype this game is receiving.
That being said, this title is missing key functionality, and that functionality is 3DS connectivity. Would it be asking too much for a complimentary title to be released alongside the Wii U software that allowed for all of these levels that are going to be created on the 3DS? Sure, I can imagine level creation on the 3DS maybe being an arduous task for the processing power of the aging handheld, as well as being logistically hampered by the smaller screens of a portable system, but that doesn’t mean the levels couldn’t be played via the 3DS. Seeing as 2D Mario is often best enjoyed on the go, it would seem only natural that someone at Nintendo would have thought about developing 3DS compatibility with this groundbreaking title.
Nintendo has recently taken some steps in to making their universe more interconnected and bringing their experience up to par in comparison to their competition, but there was definitely regression in this facet for Nintendo at E3 in 2015. Going forward, the division of handheld and console gaming must be conquered for Nintendo to provide an experience that the modern gamer is quickly growing accustomed to.
5. Keep doing your own thing
Now, make what you will of the puppet show put on by the big three personalities of Nintendo—Shigeru Miyamoto, Satoru Iwata, and Reggie Fils-Aime—but let us not forget that it was a lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek attempt to promote a video game geared towards children. It’s Star Fox, what do people really expect? It is and always has been a hybrid shooter with a cast of quirky anthropomorphized characters. Star Fox has never really been my thing as a series, but I would never dismiss the game, as I do recognize that it has a loyal fan base. That being said, it’s not the most hardcore of series, and Nintendo was promoting it as such.
With all of the pageantry and adulation that has come to be associated with these coveted press release/product announcements, as well as with the cults of personality that come to surround the few successful individuals tasked with this duty for corporations, I for one appreciate Nintendo’s more casual approach in which they never take themselves too seriously in this regard. These types of press conferences can be absolutely cringeworthy at times, especially so for Japanese companies, whose traditional business practices and broken English don’t always mesh well with the demands that these press releases require.
Nintendo’s approach to public relations has been fairly spectacular of late. This possibly was one of the greatest contributors towards the backlash received from their presentation at this year’s E3. Nintendo had previously been setting the precedent for successful product releases/cult gatherings, so they were overdue for a letdown.
With Nintendo being a company that receives such a great deal of adoration from their loyal followers, more often than not, their fanbase places unrealistic expectations upon the company. In this world of multinational corporate conglomerates that dominate the majority of industries across the globe, Nintendo is a relatively small fish in a big pond. They’re only capable of so much as a company at one time, and their fans have an incredibly difficult time coming to grips with this reality.
The failure of Nintendo at E3 was not a result of the games or the products being offered, it was a direct result of Nintendo being able to meet the impossible demands of their fanbase. That being said, all businesses must continually evolve, and Nintendo has many questions that it must answer to ensure their continued presence as a titan within the gaming industry.