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Wii

Advice to PS3 Fans from a Nintendo Fanboy Part IV

by Carmine Red - December 31, 2008, 12:15 am PST
Total comments: 5

But first, an apology. This series of posts is titled "advice to PS3Fans From a Nintendo Fanboy," but it's sort of morphed into an "Advice to Sony" sort of thing. I'm still hoping it can be both, but when Nintendo fans argue it's about how Nintendo is performing and what Nintendo should be doing or, as is often the case, should not be doing. I'm assuming Sony fans argue about the same thing and are just as captivated by the the future of their console as Nintendo fans are of theirs.

Now, onto the comments that my last posting spawned! (Hey look! I even included one from myself, Kairon!) Take them for what they're worth: nuggets of fanboy wisdom!

That development work should have gone to making a PS2 emulator. Taking out the hardware to save money made perfect sense, but taking away the feature did not. It made the PS3 less valuable to buy more than it made it less costly to produce. Software emulation with upscaling is the answer. The upscaling even makes removing the hardware a selling point.-UltimatePartyBear

Animal Crossing on the GC didn't sell a ton, but that doesn't mean bad things. Same goes for Custom Robo, Eternal Darkness, and other titles from that era. As Nintendo gamers, we didn't discount those because they sold less on a third-place console than some games sold on the PS2. Neither should PS3 fans for their exclusives.-Kairon

I don't think ads really have that much impact. People were clamoring for Nintendo to change its advertising for the Gamecube a whole lot when it was failing around. They did several times and not much happened.

It's gonna be rough for them, because they are locked into this HD mindset by their fans who won't buy anything less. This'll probably lead to studio closings and "refinement" of genres (IE, not making any that don't sell.)-Dequello

There's more in the last talkback thread, including Nintendo fans arguing about... well, what Nintendo fans argue about.

Now, let's move on to a subject close and dear to the hearts of... well... whoever wants to win next generation hmm?

4. Reassess Your Opponents

Now, yes, this is all speculation and we all wish we had a crystal ball and no one saw the Wii coming. But that's the entire point! You'll never be able to see something coming, much less take advantage of market shifts, if you don't start analyzing your competition. It is said that Microsoft ran secret internal "war games" before the XBox 360 launched with Sony as their imaginary opponent. Sony and their fans should start considering the same thing... but with one crucial difference: unlike Microsoft, they should NOT count Nintendo out.

The Wii was a weapon directly aimed at slipping in under the defenses of Sony and MS. It didn't compete on the strongpoints of competitors directly, but sidestepped them. It's easy to see now that there are many gamers who wanted something beyond the more-and-more marginalized concept of what hardcore gaming is. The question now is, who will Nintendo not be serving next generation? Who will Microsoft ignore?

One thing that you'll hear from some people, and Nintendo themselves, is that they want to introduce all the new gamers to traditional games. If so, doesn't that give Sony a chance next generation to be the console they graduate to? To assume that the Wii2 has these consumers locked up for the next 10 years is sheer defeatism and smacks of Nintendo fanboy hubris. Who's to say these new gamers are brand conscious? Who's to say anyone is brand loyal after what happened this gen?

The PS4 could be a more serious, more sophisticated, but just as fun and not more expensive, console for the blue ocean crowd. But that doesn't mean Mii too. It means Mii more.

Yes, this includes offering things that will seem familiar to the customers they want to steal. A next-gen Wii Sports? Sure. But again, Sony needs to push it with their own style. Buzz and Singstar needs to come at launch or soon in the PS4's life, and maybe it's time for Lemmings to make a comeback. By then, blu-ray and digital video delivery will be more commonplace, so these wouldn't be as much of a burden as they are today.

Sony can also do a lot of things better than Nintendo. I wonder if Nintendo made a major misstep in making it difficult to allow Wii Music users to share their vids on youtube, or even with other users who don't play the game. That's basically what Spore did when their creature creator helped post vids to youtube. Sony could benefit from the same powerful effect of sharing, creativity, word of mouth, viral marketing, and all-around good feeling sharing videos of Singstar with everyone might engender. People want to be connected, and blue ocean gamers may even be more important than traditional gamers in this regard, or at least a new challenge. That's a point where Nintendo is weak right now, and is ripe for some action. Of course, Sony will have to compete here with MS.

However, there's another Nintendo initiative that Sony can co-op: Wii Speak. Now, I know that I pointed out the PlayStation Eye as something distracting Sony right now, but it could also be Sony's unique key to the future. No, I'm not talking about futuristic visual-recognition tech that would be pricey to create (though cool)... I'm talking about video chat. The Wii Speak connects living rooms in chatting. People, even my aunts, uncles, and grandparents, are starting to do more VOIP. Pack a next-gen PSEye with every PS4, add video to that chat, and you instantly have a new way for people to interact, and a proven technical application making its way beyond the niche and into the hands of mainstream consumers. We've got families playing games on the Wii now, wouldn't those families like to talk to and see each other from their living room couches on a PS4? *shrug* It's just an idea, but with the strong success that Nintendo's family-directed efforts have garnered them, I think it could prove interesting. Plus it saves on phone bills. Instant value proposition right there.

Obviously next-generation is when higher HDTV adoption rates make high-end graphic sensibilities a little more widespread. But along with Sony's unique and established blue ocean brands (Buzz!, Singstar, Lemmings), they also have the opportunity to turn everyone's favorite 42-inch $800-$2000 investment into something more than a blank screen when a movie isn't playing. Sony is already toying around with PS3 virtual interactive screensavers and "experiences." If these were packed into the PS4 (much like the Weather Channel, News Channel, Mii Channel, and Photo Channel are packed into the Wii) they could actually gain some traction. With an included PSEye set up much like a sensor bar, these HD living room art pieces could even be passively interactive, or even almost drop-in-drop-out play experiences for people involved.

The fact is that some of these PS4 type upscale drop-in play concepts are already visible, if only in the ads for Singstar and Lips.

Oh, and maybe Sony can follow Nintendo's lead on another thing. Nintendo released a Zelda game at the Wii's launch. Maybe Sony can release a Gran Turismo game on the PS4's.

Basically, Sony can co-opt several Nintendo concepts to show themselves as the next console for Wii players. They can add to that with things that Sony can do better: HD technology, online connectivity, video chat over the internet, their own already-successful casual games lineup, and even interactive display pieces. If Nintendo wants to keep their Wii gamers, they're gonna have to fight for them.

Microsoft is a tougher nut to crack. Maybe it's tougher because I'm a Nintendo fanboy and therefore know my company of choice more intimately than MS but I'll do my best.

One thing Sony might consider in challenging Microsoft is that Microsoft's XBox strategy has one major flaw that this generation has secretly exposed: many XBox360 games are ports. To the PS3, to the PC, it doesn't matter. Microsoft has a gameplay that isn't exactly designed to force exclusivity. MS' third-party game library strength is an illusion. If Sony can launch strong next generation, have hardware that's much more developer friendly and port friendly, and not let MS get an early lead, third party support between the two could prove more or less a wash. The XBox has its exclusive titles, yes, but Sony has an impressive stable of first, second, and even third party properties (which I talked about in an earlier post), more proven casual franchises, and chances to surprise the world and really distinguish themselves if the third-party and install base field is evened out next generation against MS.

Another thing that Sony can possibly pursue to fight MS is to seek out traditional MS adversaries and integrate with them. This doesn't mean Linux and Sun, this means Apple. In fact, Apple can also be seen as a competitor to Nintendo in the portable gaming space. But if they can hitch onto Apple's bandwagon, tout connectivity, compatibility, support and overall friendliness with Apple's consumer lifestyle devices (iPods, yes, maybe even iTunes?) they could benefit from the rising visibility and importance of Apple's products. In a way, this is what Microsoft has done by partnering with Netflix, but Sony can't afford to be outmaneuvered here.

Now, I'm sure that there are many more ideas out there. And I'm sure that my own suggestions will be either dismissed or lambasted by readers in the responses. But even so, this is a process, and it's an important one. Remember those war games that Microsoft ran against an imaginary Sony. They're going to run those again before the next generation. If Sony, and their fans, want to exist in 5 or 10 years, they need to be running imaginary war games as well.

And they'll need a little something more, of course, than simply an excellent console. They'll need some surprises too... that's what I need to think about for my next post: how the best place to be for a comeback is where Sony is right now.

Talkback

KDR_11kDecember 31, 2008

One problem with attacking Nintendo is that you must be highly flexible because staying the course (as you suggested in an earlier column) will not work. The other is that Nintendo is of course looking for ways to destroy its lead to preemt them. E3 2008 was Nintendo preempting any attempt to take away their control advantage and focussing heavily on their new market in order to defend it against any attacks the other two may have planned. Neither of the two made more than a halfhearted attempt though so Nintendo's posturing seemed silly and everyone looked at the old market instead which Nintendo didn't aim much for at that E3. Malstrom said it's too late now for either of the two to counter the Wii, no idea if that's true but it does seem way too late to do a 180° turn on the system's image to appeal to the vast masses Nintendo is taking, never mind that such a change requires significant amounts of software and hardware adjustments which are really not very feasible for Sony now.

The "graduating to our console" bullshit is something MS already tried. Did DS owners graduate to the PSP? No, the DS took off and covered so much of the gaming spectrum that there was no point where you "graduated", everything you wanted was on the system you own already. Sure, Nintendo isn't automatically going to keep the lead but they aren't going to sit back and watch the competition take it either. They're the most flexible company out of the three, to pull of something like Nintendo'as market expansion Sony would need someone to develop the matching games, not exactly their strength. Sony's strength is hardware but if they focus on games like Singstar who's going to notice all the high tech gadgets when people are really just singing into a microphone with some icon displays on the TV? Singstar, Lemmings and Buzz aren't more than a token offering to the "casual" gamer, as long as the system is designed around graphics power and disc formats it just adds unnecessary expenses. Even worse, Sony's "casual" games seem to completely throw the main controller out in favour of one-off gimmick controllers. Wii games always use the main controller (the Wiimote) even when the game has a special shell for it or even a special device (like Wii Fit, the Wiimote still sees a lot of use in many Wii Fit exercises). Sony's casual games are in spite of their controller, Nintendo's are an extension of their controller. How is a player going to grow familiar with a controller he doesn't use for the games he plays?

For an always-on art gadget you definitely need a low power consumption, you can't have a 200W console running all the time for something as secondary as a screensaver.

Really, focussing on their strengths is what got Sony into this mess. Nintendo subverted these strengths, effectively turning them into dragstones that keep the PS3 from being able to reach Nintendo's market.

As for integrating Apple, what are Apple's strengths? Digital distribution, trendy hardware casing and user interfaces? Looks to me like Nintendo got there first except without sharing their profits with anyone.

War games won't help you if you don't understand the rules of what you're simulating. The Wii went against the regular rules, the simulations of the analysts and probably the competition simply failed on it because their basic premise was wrong.

RABicleDecember 31, 2008

Didn't you see my crystal ball?

2009
January

Israel get away with human rights violations.

Feburary
Perth Big Day Out goes ahead.

March
Morgan Tsangeri killed in 'accident'.

April
Israel formally annex Gaza Strip and West Bank

May
Amy Whinehouse dies.

June
Steve Jobs steps down from Apple, tech stocks buckle.
Microsoft announce quarterly loss due to Xbox and Windows 7 dev costs, NASDAQ disintegrates.

July
China and India's economy stagnate, world cries in horror.
Stock markets plunge

August
World economy collapses

September
Fremantle win AFL premiership

October
Sony go into receivership.
Nintendo capitalise and snap up Singstar, totally entrapping casual audience.

Microsoft buy rights to Gran Turismo. Repackage Forza 3 as Gran Turismo 5, Gran Turismo fans don't notice and praise the leap forward in the franchise.

November
Israel occupy Beirut and Damascus.

December
Christmas is cancelled by the Pope.

Avoid the political and religious stuff, please.  That's a quick route to thread lockage.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJanuary 07, 2009

RABicle killed the thread. Whether its epic win or epic fail that's up to you...

KDR_11kJanuary 07, 2009

gg
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