Wii Does Not Owe U

It is not a secret that Nintendo Wii U is not doing well. Wii ignited the gaming market but its successor took a U-turn on its fortune. There were a lot of schools offering their expertise on why Wii U is doing poorly. Nintendo could no longer hide it in its earning reports. Third parties dropping support because their games are not selling. It is a huge press machine nobody can hide from. And as usual people predicted the end of days for Nintendo and urged them to follow Sega’s footsteps as a publisher only.

Wii U

However when I attended the Oz Comic Con this year I suddenly understood that Nintendo doesn’t really care a bit what the press and the so called industry expert were talking about. They are just interested in making fun games that they enjoyed making and gamers enjoyed playing. Nintendo does not care about the narrow views of what the gaming industry is. For them games exist for fun if it is not fun they are not doing it.

At the Oz Comic Con Nintendo occupied a central exhibition location. You get to play some of the latest offerings. But the attention was on the big screen. Nintendo understands well the importance of word of mouth. They did it with Wii and they did it with 3DS. As such there were live face off competitions for two major games – Mario Kart 8 on Wii U and Super Smash Bros on Wii U. I was not surprised with the enthusiastic response from the crowd. With Mario Kart 8 every time a match was finished people were already fighting for the driving seats for the next race. When the host asked the crowd to choose a track everyone knows the track names. This is how popular Mario Kart 8 is. After all it topped Wii U sales across the charts when it was released earlier this year.

Mario Kart 8

However it was when the crowd saw Super Smash Bros on Wii U showed up on the screen that the whole arena was ignited. Crowd size tripled and everyone wanted to try it. People were shouting out what characters and arena they wanted to see. Whenever there was sudden death match the crowd roared in thunder and cheered on for the participants. The final winner received big applauds and the hands were in the air again. At one point the crowd was so excited that the organiser had to come and ask Nintendo to tone it down.

Observing this made me really understand why Nintendo is still in the game. To be fair they have their own shares of mistakes but then this experience really helped me understanding Nintendo does know what gaming is about. They are about fun and rightfully if they want games to be fun they need to build games around their own technology. One cannot survive without the other. Nintendo of course is about business, but does it care if third parties don’t port their franchises on to their consoles? I doubt it. This is particularly true when third parties did treat Wii U as a secondary platform and released Wii U versions of those games a few months after they launched them on other consoles. Seriously if they are not serious about the Wii U business would Nintendo care about their businesses? Just observing the excitement created by Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros live and the long lines for Hyrule Warriors you know Nintendo knows what good games are about. Of course people might think it would be good to have big franchises on the console but Wii survived and topped the last generation without it. Why would it care about this now?

Also from my observation that day I started to understand that Nintendo, like Apple was about the ecosystem. While it opens up to third parties, it is what self-sustainability that keeps the company going. When we look at it, Nintendo had offered a lot of ecosystem based decisions in the past – the backward compatibility between Wii U and Wii accessories; the backward compatibility between Wii and GameCube accessories and games; the GameBoy player on GameCube; the GameBoy Advance and SP connectivity with GameCube; and the latest GameCube controller compatibility with Wii U. Nintendo seems to know how to capitalise on their most welcoming hardware and accessories and make them popular again by reinventing their use or re-deploying them. This is what gaming with Nintendo is about – the fun factor of the games that knit tightly with is own ecosystem. Many times had Nintendo spoken out that to make sure they have the required quality for their games they need to build their own systems because then they don’t need to compromise ideas on other people’s hardware.

Nintendo Consoles

Surely people were criticising Nintendo on regurgitating their franchises but looking at the current industry, was it a fair comment? Ubisoft has the Assassin Creed games coming out every year; EA has annual iteration of their sports games on top of other franchises like Battlefield, Dragon Age and Mass Effect; Activision is all about Call of Duty and movie tie ins; Rockstar is all about Grand Theft Auto; Sony had Naughty Dogs and Media Molecule churning out Uncharted and Little Big Planet again and again. So simply criticising Nintendo for repeating old franchise isn’t a bit hypocritical when they actually reinvented gaming genre with Eternal Darkness, Animal Crossing, Wii Fit, Nintnendogs, Brain Training, Pikmin; introduced new major IPs such as the Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, Pandora’s Tower and assisted to re-popularise older franchises such as the Resident Evil Remake and Resident Evil 4? From the hardware perspective it was on the Nintendo consoles that a number of game changing hardware and accessories were popularised – handheld connectivity (between handhelds and between home consoles); motion control: touch control and the analogue stick. Without Nintendo would these things still happen? Maybe but I am sure the landscape will be different. And I do not know whether there would be as many different angles to look at gaming as we do have nowadays.

The so called hard core gamers and big publishers may criticise Nintendo as much as they want to but at the end of the day many publishes and developers came and went and Nintendo is still around. Certainly Nintendo has a lot of work in their hands but I am certain pleasing the unpleasable crowd is the last thing on their agenda.

Despite my own criticism of Nintendo I still believe there are a lot of gaming innovations brewing in the Mario factory. Just remember virtual reality and biometric gaming were also first attempted by Nintendo despite they were way ahead of the time. In case we have conveniently forgotten about that. So when people are criticising Nintendo not giving them what they want, the fact is Nintendo had given a lot in the past few decades and definitely I do think Wii owes U nothing.

About the Author

Level up freak. Level 99 is a norm not a goal. Love my JRPGs and RPGs in general. Also love my platformers and puzzle games. Was addicted to Zoo Keeper, Magnetica, Animal Crossing, Disgaea DS, Dragon Quest IX and White Knight Chronicles. Prefer to spend my time away from gaming as an actor although do have a full time job that keeps my mortgage going. But generally love anything creative. And if anyone tells you gaming is a waste of time, tell them you have great eye, hand and brain coordinations that they will never have!