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Playing with Power: Harnessing the Nintendo Community

by Jon Lindemann - July 17, 2011, 3:09 pm EDT
Total comments: 72

Jon gives us five ways that Nintendo can improve its online relationship with its fans.

Regardless of the North American fate of Xenoblade, Pandora's Tower, and The Last Story, the furor surrounding Operation Rainfall has exposed what is perhaps Nintendo's greatest weakness: its lack of meaningful online interaction and communication with its consumers.  In this era of social media, viral videos, and up-to-the-minute news, Nintendo's approach to its web presence is conservative to say the least.  Here's what I feel the company must change in order to make their fans feel closer to their favorite game company.

Launch a company blog with an honest-to-goodness Community Manager. However you feel about Microsoft and Sony, you can't say that they're out of touch with their audience.  Microsoft's Major Nelson (Larry Hyrb) is well-known around the web, and his blog has become a high-profile source for Xbox 360 news.  Sony's PlayStation blog takes more of a content-by-committee approach, but it still features daily news updates by various folks up and down the company food chain. These blogs provide a valued sounding board for fans, while also giving moderators the opportunity to wade into the frightening waters of user comments if they so desire.

Nintendo has neither a company blog nor a Community Manager of any sort; the closest thing they have to behind-the-scenes commentary is their Iwata Asks website, which features developer interviews with company president Satoru Iwata. These interviews provide great information to readers, but in the end they represent a highly-controlled one-way exchange of information with about as much personality as a dictionary.  They're also incredibly long, verbose, intimidating walls of text that most readers would rather have summarized for them on other websites. Nintendo is a dynamic company doing noteworthy things that people want to hear about, and having a public face – or at least a blog written in a casual, conversational tone – would help greatly. Fans prefer to get their news from real people, as opposed to a heavily-sanitized PR machine.

Put some effort into Twitter. Love it or hate it, Twitter has become a major communication tool. Sony has a Twitter feed featuring the witty observations and boasting of fictional company executive Kevin Butler, as well as PlayStation feeds for their North American, European, and Netherlands branches. Major Nelson has a personal feed that discusses more than just games, and Microsoft has an Xbox feed as well as feeds for technical support and community development.

Unfortunately, Nintendo of America's official feed is about as dry as it comes (and it's doubtful that their Japanese feed is any better). I was excited to start following it when it first appeared, but I dropped it a few days later after realizing that it was nothing more than marketing fluff, hokey user polls, and press release-style news stories. Of course, its overall effectiveness is hampered by the lack of an official blog for it to link to, since most fans use Twitter to keep up with news posts on their favorite corporate sites. Blogs and Twitter work hand-in-hand very nicely, and this marketing dovetail is a huge miss on Nintendo's part.

Streamline and improve their Facebook pages. Facebook is hands-down the de facto social media platform on the planet, with some 750 million users. Sony's PlayStation page has over 16 million likes, while Microsoft's Xbox page has over 10 million. They both prominently feature company news and videos, online store marketing, as well as user posts and conversations. They're slick, polished one-stop Facebook shops for PlayStation and Xbox fans.

Nintendo's Facebook presence is considerably more scattered. There is an official Nintendo page, but since it was created relatively recently (which is strange in itself), it only has 254,000 likes. Their Wii page has less than 2 million likes, and the official Mario page has 3 million; there's also a slew of other franchise pages. All of this shows that Nintendo has a lot of franchises, but really, why fracture your Facebook audience in this manner? What's worse is that searching on "Nintendo" doesn't even take users to their main page like it does for "PlayStation" or "Xbox"; instead, they're taken to Nintendo's Facebook Places check-in entry.  Hopefully the creation of a main Nintendo page is a foreshadowing of a streamlining process that's already underway. Unfortunately, Nintendo's pages tend to have content that's just as anemic as their Twitter feeds, so more dynamic content would be helpful as well.

Bring back the official Nintendo forums. Nintendo's official NSider forums were closed "indefinitely" on September 17, 2007, with fans being told the move was part of a website overhaul to support Wii and Nintendo DS. Nintendo of Europe's forums also turned off the lights the following week. That "indefinitely" soon became "permanently", as the message currently displayed at the old Nintendo forum website confirmed a little over a year later.  The Nintendo Tech Support forums are all that remain.

Nintendo's suggestion at the time was to "invite [their] fans to build on the spirit of that community by starting their own Nintendo discussion sites". By effectively offloading community-building to their fans, Nintendo splintered their online fanbase and made goodwill-generating events like Camp Hyrule a thing of the past. The importance of these events cannot be understated; several NWR staffers met each other during Camp Hyrule, and every year Nintendo fans looked forward to getting together to celebrate their love of the brand (even if it was only online). In retrospect, the closing of the official Nintendo forums marked the beginning of Nintendo's curious shift away from community cultivation, to its current policy of keepings its fans at arm's length and mostly in the dark.

Be honest with your fans and share news with them, even if it's bad. These days, fans like to be kept up-to-date on what a company is doing and why they're doing it. Nintendo's policy of providing fans with news on a seemingly need-to-know basis causes them to come across as unconcerned and out of touch with their player base. They have always been secretive, and in the fast-moving video game industry that's perfectly understandable (especially with the press, which has often been hostile to Nintendo and its sometimes contrarian business strategies). However, video game fans are an especially enthusiastic and passionate bunch, and sometimes packaging bad news with an explanation can save a company from an internet backlash thanks to rampant speculation.

A perfect example of this approach is Capcom's handling of its decision not to localize Japanese title Ace Attorney Investigations 2. When Capcom fans complained on the company's forums, Senior Vice-President Christian Svensson personally responded in a language that every gamer can understand: sales numbers. When a forum user suggested that Investigations 2 would sell more than Okamiden, he frankly stated:

The costs of localization are higher than the forecasted return. And no, it wouldn't sell more than Okamiden (which has already sold more than the first Investigations).

As far as the internet was concerned, that was that. Nobody could argue with Capcom's logic in this case, and while there has certainly been some grumbling, there was no letter-writing campaign, no Operation Anything, and really no hard feelings. Capcom let their fans know exactly where they stood on the matter and the logic behind their decision, their fans agreed to disagree, and everybody moved on. Nintendo could stand to learn from Capcom's handling of a potentially prickly situation.

There's no reason why Nintendo can't harness the power of its online community for its own good, while also offering its supporters a sense of inclusion in what they do. Few brands are fortunate enough to have such a passionate, knowledgeable, and long-lived fanbase that literally spans generations. However, in order to make this happen they must expend more effort on their social media than they have in many years, and must infuse their web presence with a personality that is sorely lacking. They must attack on all fronts, hitting their web-savvy fanbase where they live – on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and forums – and offer a reasonable measure of transparency across the board.

Ultimately, Nintendo must reach out. The game industry currently exists in North America mostly thanks to their efforts, and along the way they've made many fans because of it.  But the most effective methods of interacting with these fans have changed, and Nintendo must change along with them. A renewed dedication to a hands-on approach is the best way to ensure that the storm clouds of Operation Rainfall are nothing more than distant thunder for Nintendo fans everywhere.

Talkback

CericJuly 17, 2011

Amen, Brother Lindy!

NinSageJuly 17, 2011

#6. Figure out how to make online "fans" discuss things they like, not just the things they hate.

#7. Figure out how to make non-Nintendo-centric media comfortable complimenting Nintendo.  "Game X is good ... for a Wii game" does not count.

~~~

Sorry this post is rushed... I'll put more thought in to the discussion later.... if there is one.

MorariJuly 17, 2011

Nintendo doesn't need a Twitter nor a Facebook presence. They have the money to run a real website. Social networks are for people too stupid to set up basic blogs.

BboyJuly 18, 2011

Well said again Lindy, I wish Nintendo would take these articles of yours to heart.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorJuly 18, 2011

What Nintendo needs for their online presence is a centric blog (headed up by the "community manager") that uses Twiitter and Facebook to pretty much link back to the main blog.  They could revitalize the forums as part of the blog, if they wanted, but I don't see those as important.  Honestly, I HATED the NSider forums.  Worse than GameFAQs.

leahsdadJuly 18, 2011

Quote:

Social networks are for people too stupid to set up basic blogs.

That gives me an idea.  How awesome if Miyamoto had a blog or even a twitter feed that was updated regularly and at least somewhat uncensored?  Not in Nintendo best interests, maybe, but still....I'd read it everyday, especially if it went something like this:

If Miyamoto tweeted....

"Met with Zelda team today.  Upended tea table.  Made someone cry.  LOL."

"Organized CD collection today.  Been cleaning alot lately.  If this was a game.."

"Mario 3DS done.  Don't like color of hat.  Time to upend tea table!"

Quote from: leahsdad

Quote:

Social networks are for people too stupid to set up basic blogs.

That gives me an idea.  How awesome if Miyamoto had a blog or even a twitter feed that was updated regularly and at least somewhat uncensored?  Not in Nintendo best interests, maybe, but still....I'd read it everyday, especially if it went something like this:

If Miyamoto tweeted....

"Met with Zelda team today.  Upended tea table.  Made someone cry.  LOL."

"Organized CD collection today.  Been cleaning alot lately.  If this was a game.."

"Mario 3DS done.  Don't like color of hat.  Time to upend tea table!"

I can't decide whether it would be awesome or terrible to be the guy who had to translate Miyamoto's tweets into English.

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)July 18, 2011

All sensible ideas, all unlikely to happen. The fact that stuff like Iwata Asks even exists and the fact that Nintendo even has PR people updating Twitter and Facebook pages probably makes them think they're already doing their job on the social networking angle. They obviously aren't, of course, but you'd need a lot of people to tell them that before they change their tactics.

The unfortunate thing about Iwata Asks is that supposedly, press access to Nintendo developers has decreased since the genesis of that website as they believe it serves the same role. Not good, because while these interviews can give nice insights, the questions are too soft. There's no prospect of interviewer flair, little chance for daring questions that catch the interviewee off guard and make them stop & think.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorJuly 18, 2011

Quote from: leahsdad

Quote:

Social networks are for people too stupid to set up basic blogs.

That gives me an idea.  How awesome if Miyamoto had a blog or even a twitter feed that was updated regularly and at least somewhat uncensored?  Not in Nintendo best interests, maybe, but still....I'd read it everyday, especially if it went something like this:

If Miyamoto tweeted....

"Met with Zelda team today.  Upended tea table.  Made someone cry.  LOL."

"Organized CD collection today.  Been cleaning alot lately.  If this was a game.."

"Mario 3DS done.  Don't like color of hat.  Time to upend tea table!"

Might I suggest you make a fake @Miyamoto account?  I've really enjoyed following @KazHiraiSCE, even more so during the entire "Sony doesn't care about internet security" mess (One of my favorite tweets was something along the line of "Hey, another idea we stole from Nintendo - a barely functioning online structure").  A fake Miyamoto account in this fashion could be fun.

broodwarsJuly 18, 2011

Those are all great suggestions, Lindy.  Unfortunately, Nintendo will probably not take any of these to heart until we're so far in the future that those suggestions are considered antiquated.  The way Nintendo has conducted themselves this generation, I think the company Execs just get off on keeping everyone in the dark until it benefits them most to descend from On High to release the occasional carefully-crafted drip of information out to the masses.  Radio Free Nintendo addressed this in a recent show with how the internal Iwata Asks press releases "interviews" have pretty much replaced typical press access to Nintendo spokespeople.

Nintendo won't radically change how they interact with the press and the public until there's a major economic imperative in play.  And the way that Nintendo has been making money, they really have no reason to do that, as much as we would all appreciate it.

UrkelJuly 18, 2011

Quote:

Launch a company blog with an honest-to-goodness Community Manager


ahahahaha no

Quote:

Put some effort into Twitter


who cares

Quote:

Streamline and improve their Facebook pages


who cares

Quote:

Bring back the official Nintendo forums


AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Quote:

Be honest with your fans and share news with them, even if it's bad

Quote:

Nintendo could stand to learn from Capcom's handling of a potentially prickly situation.


Ahahahahaha. Why didn't you quote how Capcom responded to the whole Resident Evil 3D save fiasco?

Quote:

'In Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, all mission progress is saved directly to the Nintendo 3DS cartridge, where it cannot be reset. The nature of the game invites high levels of replayability, encouraging fans to improve mission scores. The save mechanic ensures that both original and unlocked game content will be available to all users. Secondhand game sales were not a factor in this development decision, and we hope that all our consumers will be able to enjoy the entirety of the survival-action experiences that the game does offer. '
Second, here's the gist:
There was no intention of lessening the experience of the game. Essentially, RE Mercs was treated like an arcade fighting game. You unlock characters, levels, etc and they just stay unlocked as they would in an arcade machine. There was no hidden motive to prevent buying used copies. It's not some secret form of DRM. It's simply the way we designed the save system to work with the arcade type of gameplay.


Any non-retarded person who read that was insulted by the blatant lying.

As for their response to Ass Attorney Investomatic 4 Part 3 The Movie: The Game... no shit. Of course they aren't localizing it because they don't expect to make enough money off of it. What would be the point of Nintendo saying that? We already know that's their reason. That's what the point of Operation Assfall IS. To show that there IS a sizable (or at least, big enough to break even) audience for these games after all. The fact that there wasn't a big uproar over AAI4P3TM:TG isn't proof of Capcom's competence at PR, it's proof that they're right that nobody cares about the game. Releasing 5 games in a series in a single generation does that.

Also, please stop pretending like you actually give a shit about Operation Rainfall or these games with these editorials.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

http://i.imgur.com/0Lsdx.jpg

CericJuly 18, 2011

Miyamoto Tweeting would be like your Grandfather tweeting. 

I'm sorry to anyone who says these avenues do not matter.  Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of marketing and Twitter/Facebook/Blog causes word of mouth to start and one of the closer forms of communication to it.  Especially in something like Videogames you want to manage your community. 

Just like you want to manage your community if you are a sports team.  You want to give reasons for people to be devoted to you.  Why, because their are X amount of teams that at the end of the day do the EXACT same thing you do.  Why is Greg a Bills fan?  Why does Lindy love the Sharks?  Because they have had a positive or impactful experience to link them to those teams, though I don't see it for Greg :P.  Good Community Management helps provide those Experiences.  Why do we all prefer different brands of car?  Their is One car that can be scientifically derived as the best so, why don't we drive that one?  Why do we have Harley people?  Good Branding Good Community Managament.  It is powerful.  It has always been.

@Urkel My point proven. At least Capcom RESPONDED.  People may not have liked or agreed with that response, but at least they explained their position.

NinSageJuly 18, 2011

My dear Lindy,

I enjoy listening to you so much so I say this with all due respect ... I disagree.

2010 was a joy-gasm for Nintendo consoles.  I know that 2011 is sucky so far, but once again, I think the proclamations that Nintendo has lost their way and is now surely doomed are severely premature.

Would it be cool if Nintendo had all this buddy-buddy contact with its audience? Sure. Why not?  But it wouldn't change the only fact that matters: the games that we get.

Do Sony and Microsoft develop/release games based on forum chatter? I think not.

Would it be nice to hear from insiders when problems like TLS/Xeno/PT arise? Sure. Why not? But do you really think they would be candid confessions?

Was Sony "honest with fans and share news with them, even if it's bad" regarding the PSN debacle?
Was Microsoft "honest with fans and share news with them, even if it's bad" regarding the RRODs or the price increase of XBL?

Hint: No.

So where are all the articles about how Sony and MS need to step up? (obviously I don't mean they should be on this site).

Jack Tretton gave a speech that didn't sound very far from a PR-speech at E3 and so many gamers not only immediately forgave them but were like, on the verge of tears!

It's a simple matter that when it comes to Nintendo, expectations are so much higher that all these ridiculous double-standards materialize and harden like friggin' super glue.  Which is why I feel the items 6 and 7 I added above are more important than some social network pacifier.

PS - for the record, I am all about Operation Rainfall and letting Nintendo know they are messing up in that situation.  Soooo, keep that in mind before everyone breaks out the fanboy torches .... kinda sad that in regard to gaming, if you just outright like something, you're dismissed as the wrong kind of gamer (fanboy).  Looking over my spectrum of consoles, I think I've earned the right to love Nintendo ^_^

Ian SaneJuly 18, 2011

Nintendo comes across as out-of-touch and disconnected from their audience because we're not their audience.  We like to think we are because we like their games and we used to be their audience.  But I don't think we are, so I don't think they care.

All I would really want to see from Nintendo in regards to internet presence is to be more frequent with game announcements and such.  You know why we spend so much time bitching about things?  It's because there is jack shit to talk about.  Nintendo keeps us in the dark for months at a time.  We can't hype ourselves up about games we don't know about.  Though poor third party support does play a part in that as it just results in less games period.

CericJuly 18, 2011

To Ian's point.  Nintendo needs to really wake up and see that being a platform holder has changed.  Sony and MS both make a point to promote their platform offerings.  Even if they are not theirs.  Nintendo needs to get a little more with time and start acting as Nintendo the Platform holder as well as Nintendo the Developer.

NinSageJuly 18, 2011

@ Ceric

Why do they need to do that? Just so we can have triplets instead of HD twins?

I mean, don't get me wrong, I would love it if 3rd parties were warm and fuzzy enough with Nintendo to hop on and enjoy the ride.  But Nintendo's first party stable is so much more powerful than Sony/MSs' that they profit best as a "Nintendo" platform featuring third parties who are willing.  The install base is there, the innovation is there, the cheaper development is there .... 3rd parties just need to opt in.  Instead, third parties largely relegated either their "test" projects or their outright watered down versions of games to the Wii ... those (poor) efforts were met with poor results and instead of blaming the software, third parties blamed the hardware.

Nintendo would love it if the third party content was as alluring as the first party stuff ... but if it's not, they are content to just keep on succeeding alone.

On PS3/60, the first party content is not enough to survive.  Is it good? Yup. Is it popular? Yup. Is it to Nintendo's level? Nope.  So of course they focus on third parties.... there's nothing else to focus on!

~~~

Also, what did you mean about getting with the times?  If anything, this generation has shown that first party software is more popular than ever on all platforms (just more so in Nintendo's case).

CericJuly 18, 2011

@NinSage all well and good for Nintendo the Developer.  Nintendo can't be the be all for everyone.  They Won't be the Be all for everyone.  They Made that point.  They keep making that point.  IF you hold a platform you want to expand your audience.  You don't want to keep just the same audience or you'll never grow.  If Nintendo didn't have a board that wouldn't really matter.  They find a profit level their satisfied with and stay their but, they do have a board and they do care.

Nintendo has chosen a field and that was Dedicated Gaming Hardware and Supporting Software.  You want everyone in the Niche to use your platform.  To want to be on your platform.  To do that you have to be willing to market and support items that are not your own because you have chosen not to make that particular Item.  Nintendo has been pretty clear they are not going to make NFL Simulators or WWII Shooters.  Their not going to do it.  Welp, their is a large market of Dedicated Gaming Hardware Consumers that want to Play NFL Simulators or WWII Shooters.  Are you just going to leave them in the cold to be picked up by a competitor?  No, if your platform is desirable someone should realize that their is an under-served Market for NFL Simulators and WWII Shooters on your Platform.  At that point Nintendo the Platform holder should think, "Hey Nintendo the Developer isn't going to make these type of games but, their is a large market for them. Lets put some of our Marketing dollars to work Promoting a Version of this Genre we feel comfortable with and is popular to grab a market Nintendo the Developer will not."  Hoping to in turn bring someone else to Nintendo the Platform so, they may eventually get a double dip from that person buying Nintendo the Developer goods.

This is not about trying to make a set of "triplets instead of HD twins";  This is about making this a Superior platform.  If you tire has a slow leak you can just air it every morning or spend a little money and get it patched and not worry about it.  You may not take the care if you have to hassle with it.  You can't do everything alone.  A Jack of All trade is Master of none.

NinSageJuly 18, 2011

@ Ceric

I'm sorry, sir, that doesn't make sense.

1. You don't think Nintendo has/has tried to/will continue to expand its audience?!

2. There are NFL simulators and WWII shooters on the Wii - who was in charge of making them look as good as first party games do? Hint: not Nintendo

It's in Nintendo's best interest to make it as easy and attractive as possible to support their platforms. They did not do that with the Wii.

NinSageJuly 18, 2011

@ insanolord

How so? By making the architecture cheaper/familiar to develop for? By giving them an inherently unique and new control method? By giving them a huge and diverse install base? By giving the console free, built-in wifi?

... stop me any time here ...

Or was the only important thing to make it beefed up HD so that third parties could just copy'n'paste their games to a third platform?

Except the architecture was only familiar to developers familiar with the GameCube architecture, which basically meant Nintendo themselves and Capcom. It used a lot of proprietary technologies that were specific to Nintendo, which is why there was such disparity in visual quality between the games from developers who cared enough to learn the intricacies of them and those from developers who decided to ignore them.

The lack of power was a significant sticking point for third parties. They had to go out of their way to adapt their plans to fit Nintendo's console, which is not a good way to attract support. The online infrastructure was atrocious. Install base means nothing if the games aren't selling.

Nintendo is just as responsible for the lousy third party support the Wii got as those developers, if not more so.

UrkelJuly 18, 2011

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

Nintendo is just as responsible for the lousy third party support the Wii got as those developers, if not more so.


NO

http://pietriots.com/2010/12/17/the-3rd-party-wall-of-shame/

CericJuly 18, 2011

Quote from: NinSage

@ Ceric

I'm sorry, sir, that doesn't make sense.

1. You don't think Nintendo has/has tried to/will continue to expand its audience?!

2. There are NFL simulators and WWII shooters on the Wii - who was in charge of making them look as good as first party games do? Hint: not Nintendo

I had a longer one but I honestly think you didn't actually read my post.  Just skimmed it.

Quote from: Urkel

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

Nintendo is just as responsible for the lousy third party support the Wii got as those developers, if not more so.


NO

http://pietriots.com/2010/12/17/the-3rd-party-wall-of-shame/

As much as I love Pietriots, I'm not going to take an argument consisting solely of it at all seriously. Yes, the third parties had a significant role in this, but Nintendo's policies are a big part of why they didn't recover from that once the Wii started selling as well as it did.

UrkelJuly 18, 2011

Well, I've gone over that argument so many times that I'm too tired to say anything other than mention the Wall of Shame. It just kind of blows my mind that people are still convinced that third parties aren't overwhelmingly responsible for their poor Wii software sales. I'm glad to see Pro has since removed the Wall from this place. It was never appreciated here anyway. YOU GET THE FORUM YOU DESERVE.


And the timing of Capcom's cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 is just too perfect. See, they provided a polite little "We're so sorry, we don't think it's worth it" response, too. People aren't taking the news too well.

They made a big deal out of being in touch with the fans, and involving them with the development of the game. So now all that backfired on them and they look like total dicks for cancelling it. It doesn't matter how well they worded their reasons, their shining armor and fine words wont get them anywhere.

PlugabugzJuly 19, 2011

I'm going to treat this entirely as a consumer perspective. If you fail to meet my needs then i will not do business with you.

If my credit card company treated me in this attitude (and one of them did recently) i'd write a complaint. The result was they bucked up their issues and things improved with lots of apologies. No amount of Project Rainfall will tell Nintendo they are doing it wrong.

If every one of these people then went and wrote to Nintendo and told them their attitude to your "fixed fanbase" and online attitude is poor and needs fixing, they cannot argue that change needs to happen eventually. Why? Because lots of people telling Nintendo all about the same thing (in a personal form such as emails or letters) cannot be wrong.


NinSageJuly 19, 2011

@ Ceric

Nope. Read every word.  Though I must say some of the phrasing was a little confusing.  What point do you feel my previous response did not address?

@ Urkel

That Pietriots article is amazing.  That really spells it all out.

Granted, I'd like to see a similar Wall for PS3/60.  You see, what people forget is that a lot of the same shovelware appears on those consoles... but it is completely ignored when they also get the high-profile titles.

CericJuly 19, 2011

Quote from: NinSage

@ Ceric

Nope. Read every word.  Though I must say some of the phrasing was a little confusing.  What point do you feel my previous response did not address?

@ Urkel

That Pietriots article is amazing.  That really spells it all out.

Granted, I'd like to see a similar Wall for PS3/60.  You see, what people forget is that a lot of the same shovelware appears on those consoles... but it is completely ignored when they also get the high-profile titles.

The point I was trying to make is that Nintendo is a beast with two masters.  Their is Nintendo the Platform and Nintendo the Software developer.

Nintendo the Platform (Platform)
1.  Wants to Generally Expand its audience
2.  Wants to Make Licensing Money
3.  Wants More Mindshare and Marketshare for their Platform

Nintendo the Software Developers (Software)
1.  Wants to Expand the Audience of Games they are willing to make.
2.  Wants to have more Mindshare and Marketshare then their Competitors in Software,

A Majority of the time the Platform and Software are in agreement.  Different times whats good for the Platform might be detrimental to the Software in the short term.  In the last post one of key points I was trying to get across was that the Software sees games that they have no intention to make as possible threats.  Why the Platform sees these games as potential way of getting more Market and Mind share by bringing in the gamers who prefer those style of games to the fold.  To that effect the Platform may go to 3rd party developers that Specialize in games that the Software is not going to make and offer incentives to bring those games to a Nintendo System.  The Platform would also go the extra step to slightly augmenting their marketing by including them in Press Materials, Demo Reels, etc.

In summation, the big point I wanted to get across is that I believe that Nintendo is ran a little to heavily as a Software Developer.  Which was fine in the NES/SNES days when they really were the only viable platform but, today their are other viable platforms available for developers.  These platforms are willing to do the bit extra because lets face it they don't have nearly as strong of a First Party brand as Nintendo.  I think that Nintendo itself has arguably done a very good job at reaching a large number of the people who enjoy the types of games Nintendo Makes with the DS and Wii.  So much so that I don't think they'll be able to beat those numbers if they don't start filling the holes in the Platforms lineup.  Every game sold on another is a Game Nintendo isn't getting anything from.

That was what I was trying to say.  I doubt is any clearer in this post in retrospect but that's a limitation on my ability to communicate.

NinSageJuly 19, 2011

@ Ceric

Thanks for the explanation.  I do believe I understand your point now.

So what you're saying is, if Nintendo isn't going to make certain genres themselves (Football sims, WW2 shooters), then they should go out of their way to promote those games when third parties make them.  Is that it?


CericJuly 19, 2011

Quote from: NinSage

@ Ceric

Thanks for the explanation.  I do believe I understand your point now.

So what you're saying is, if Nintendo isn't going to make certain genres themselves (Football sims, WW2 shooters), then they should go out of their way to promote those games when third parties make them.  Is that it?

Right, not Super out of their way but make a point to get them into the general PR stream from them.  Enough to make people not forget they are there.  Of course Nintendo will want to choose the ones they believe are of quality.

NinSageJuly 19, 2011

@ Ceric

Well, in that regard, I absolutely see your point. I really do.

However, I think there are some decent explanations for why Nintendo doesn't go out of their way for those particular products.

The Madden games on Wii have been especially kiddie-fied in both style and tone.  That may make sense for EA because now they have their "mature" version on 360, PS3, PS2 and PSP (can't believe the PS2/PSP versions get that version when the more powerful Wii does not) and then they can try to broaden their appeal by having the "kiddie" version on the Wii.

However, from Nintendo's perspective, why put effort behind such a product?

As for the WWII shooters, it may really change in the future ... this year's E3 presentation made it look like Nintendo wants to change up their purely family-friendly image.  However, during the Wii's time, I think Nintendo felt associating themselves too much with those shooters would muddy the message.  In other words, they wanted to clearly be an alternative to the scary, scary (I'm kidding for effect) world of the violent game biz.


CericJuly 19, 2011

Part of the effort is to get the "mature" Madden to came to your platform.  We as gamers should never see that but, it should be happening.

broodwarsJuly 19, 2011

I personally don't understand why we should even want the "mature" Madden games on a Nintendo platform.  IMO, the sport's boring enough without tossing "realism" onto it.  At least with a more fanciful version there's a higher chance of something fun getting introduced, but I guess Sports fans really want the realism.  I expect we won't see such disparate versions with the Wii U, as the more "kiddie" aspect of the Wii versions was likely done to capitalize on the weaker tech specs and the unique nature of the Wii Remote.  You pretty much have to make a game stylized to look good on the Wii, but that probably won't be a problem with the Wii U.

In an ideal world, all platforms would get a version of Madden that included both the more serious, realistic sim stuff and the more arcadey stuff. But the Wii loses out on the sim stuff, and while some of the arcade-style stuff is available on the HD platforms, it's via a separately-purchased download game.

Madden on Wii has always included the sim stuff. What the fuck game have you (not) been playing? Get your head out of your ass before you talk about how EA put zero effort into Wii on Madden. Would you rather have a PS2 port? It's not their fault the Wii market is a pain in the ass.

With the exception of the first Madden on the system, I have genuinely liked every Wii iteration of Madden, and this is coming from someone who has poured thousands of hours into Madden dating all the way back to the Genesis/SNES days. When Madden Wii made the jump to the "kiddie" style you guys refer to, it improved as a game. It stopped becoming a PS2 port and started becoming its own game. Along that way, its never lost what made Madden a great game; it just lost a little bit of the complexity and customization. For some, that's a drawback, but for the majority of those people, they never played Madden on Nintendo systems to begin with. The problems with Madden Wii are the same problems that plague every Madden game: they can only change so much every year, so some things (like the Franchise in Madden 10) are just retreads of the year before (a feature-complete version of the PS2 franchise).

I don't really know what else to do but point you to everything I've written about Madden Wii games during my entire tenure on staff. That came from a very genuine spot before EA PR contacted me last year to do an in-depth preview of last year's game. It still comes from that same genuine spot. I enjoy those games a lot. I'd much rather have a colorful art style that takes advantage of the Wii.

Go complain about Wind Waker being cel-shaded some more.


EDIT: Also, maybe Capcom's fan involvement started turning sour when sales weren't what they expected for games with "active fanbases." Not saying that Capcom's poor business acumen makes up for MML3, but it's a thought.

TJ SpykeJuly 20, 2011

I was gonna say that EA admitted that the first few Madden games on Wii were literally just ports of the PS2 version with motion control tacked on.

I should have said "loses out on some of the sim stuff." As someone who has extensively played both the Wii and Xbox 360 versions of Madden, I can assure you that a not insignificant amount of sim stuff that's in the 360 game is not in the Wii game. I actually like the Wii version quite a bit, though it's funny to me that you didn't like the first one, because I liked its controls better than anything that came after it, except maybe '09. I'd argue Madden '07 was easily the best use of motion controls at the Wii launch outside of Wii Sports.

NinSageJuly 20, 2011

Don't get me wrong guys, I am a diehard football fan but the simpler Wii versions of the game appeal to me much more than the super-detailed aspects of the "mature" Maddens.  Also, the ability to chose receivers with the wiimote in Madden'11 (played it at a friends house) was sooooo comfortable!

The cartoony style is fine... but it's a terrible excuse if EA says they have to do that because the Wii "can't handle" the realistic style... and then put that style on the PS2 and PSP!!

However, I was saying that from Nintendo's perspective it might not make sense because let's face it, most of the Madden audience would find that cutesy cartoon style insulting - agreed?

The Wii handled the realistic style for three years. I honestly have no idea where you're getting your information. Also: http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/23651

You say that it doesn't bother you on one hand, but then its giving your hemorrhoids on the other.

And as for your question, just ask the Madden players who downloaded Madden NFL Arcade, which featured that art style.

Humorously enough, this year's Wii Madden is dialing back the cartoony style a bit (players are less exaggerated).

CericJuly 20, 2011

Quote from: NWR_Neal

The Wii handled the realistic style for three years. I honestly have no idea where you're getting your information. Also: http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/23651

You say that it doesn't bother you on one hand, but then its giving your hemorrhoids on the other.

And as for your question, just ask the Madden players who downloaded Madden NFL Arcade, which featured that art style.

Humorously enough, this year's Wii Madden is dialing back the cartoony style a bit (players are less exaggerated).

XCWarrior is the only comment on that story that wasn't someone in some position on this site now.  Thats sort of funny.

By the way, this article wasn't really about Operation Rainfall.  It used that as a springboard to discuss Nintendo's mediocre interaction with its fanbase online, in general.

I've never understood why Nintendo hasn't gone out of its way to court third-party console developers (aside from wanting to keep their console audience to themselves).  Their "opt-in" policy comes across as more of a "you're welcome to develop for our hardware, but you're on your own" policy.  They made the Wii hardware completely different from PS3 and 360, making it less appealing for third-parties to develop for the system because they couldn't spread development costs across a fourth platform (like they could with PS3, 360, and PC). Nintendo made Wii the odd man out by design.

Then the lack of a packed-in traditional controller made it motion control or the highway for third-parties, resulting in many of them abandoning the platform. They knew that fans of their games didn't want motion control (or at least the mediocre motion control on the original Wii; heck, most of them don't even want Move or Kinect either), and their games didn't benefit from it anyways.

Funny, the DS never had a problem with third-party support, even with its goofy control setup.  Handhelds have always been development islands, so spreading development costs across platforms was never an option to begin with.  However, the fact that it was an island was offset by the fact that it was cheap to develop for.  As a result, plenty of third-parties jumped on board.

I think the "Third Parties Hate Nintendo" rhetoric is ridiculous. There's no emotion involved here; the game industry is not the NWR Forums.  It all comes down to dollars and cents. Funny how Epic has pretty much confirmed that the Unreal Engine is going to come to Wii U now that it's HD...wait, weren't they reviled as Nintendo haters last generation?  Oh wait, didn't John Carmack hate Nintendo too, but suddenly he's talking about bringing id Tech 5 to Wii U?  Yeah, but these third parties HATE Nintendo.  They HATE them.  Nintendo's actions have NOTHING to do with it.  Right.

CericJuly 20, 2011

Lol,  this thread has about 3-4 different conversations going.

NinSageJuly 20, 2011

@ Neal

As someone who owns the Wii version of Madden 08, I'm fully aware that they used to use the realistic style.  All the more evidence that it was possible on the Wii.

@ Lindy

Not even sure if you were talking to me but I've never, ever, ever said third parties hate Nintendo or have it in for them.  What I do believe is that third parties were lazy with the Wii and then blamed Nintendo when their laziness was properly rewarded.

I also believe that Nintendo's cheaper/older development requirements should, at worst, balance out the fact that third parties couldn't just cut'n'paste their games to yet another platform.

Also,
Wiimote + Nunchuck = traditional control scheme + optional motion input.
Classic controller = traditional control scheme.

Third parties choosing to implement poor motion control instead is there choice.

It's true, Nintendo made their own island with the Wii ... it was a plan that put them back in first place after a long absence.  But, they threw a pretty sweet party on that island and third parties were invited.  It's true, third parties had to make an effort to get all the way out there.  Third parties that made said effort were rewarded appropriately.

Nothin' wrong with that!

Ian SaneJuly 20, 2011

There was a telling quote about the Wii U.  Can't remember which third party dev said it but it was to the effect of Nintendo providing a lot of options to developers instead of having a very rigid setup where Nintendo tells you how to do it.  The Wii was Nintendo's self-serving "do it our way or fuck off" design taken to such an extreme that even selling more consoles than everyone else could not prevent third parties from wanting absolutely nothing to do with it.  I would argue that even the N64 was more inviting.  You can talk about third parties making the effort all you want but when one guy demands that you put in extra effort when no one else does, who would you bother?

Though this argument is nothing new and at this point everyone seems to have gone into one of three conclusions regarding third party support typically based on how much slack they cut Nintendo:

1. Nintendo scared off third parties with restrictive hardware.
2. Third parties are lazy dipshits and never gave the Wii a chance.
3. The third party support was never bad and the Wii is super awesome and perfect in every way.

We know the Wii U is trying a different approach and it seems to be a reaction to conclusion 1.

CericJuly 20, 2011

Quote from: Ian

There was a telling quote about the Wii U.  Can't remember which third party dev said it but it was to the effect of Nintendo providing a lot of options to developers instead of having a very rigid setup where Nintendo tells you how to do it.  The Wii was Nintendo's self-serving "do it our way or **** off" design taken to such an extreme that even selling more consoles than everyone else could not prevent third parties from wanting absolutely nothing to do with it.  I would argue that even the N64 was more inviting.  You can talk about third parties making the effort all you want but when one guy demands that you put in extra effort when no one else does, who would you bother?

Though this argument is nothing new and at this point everyone seems to have gone into one of three conclusions regarding third party support typically based on how much slack they cut Nintendo:

1. Nintendo scared off third parties with restrictive hardware.
2. Third parties are lazy dipshits and never gave the Wii a chance.
3. The third party support was never bad and the Wii is super awesome and perfect in every way.

We know the Wii U is trying a different approach and it seems to be a reaction to conclusion 1.

I think I may have heard some Hope in there.

NinSageJuly 20, 2011

@ Ian Sane

I think there is truth in all three of those statements actually.

First, I think the Wii U is an attempt to build a bridge to Isle de Nintendo.  It's really silly to think Nintendo doesn't care about third parties.  I think Nintendo just under-estimated how much third parties would fall in love with the same ol' shiny graphics = more fun mentality.  So, yes, in theory, the Wii U will allow Nintendo to have its cake (Wii success) and eat it too (first tier third party efforts).

I do believe third parties were lazy and foolish in how they approached the Wii.

However, I also believe that amidst the garbage there were some truly amazing third party experiences on the Wii - so much so, that I, personally, have been very happy with my overall Wii experience.  :D

I don't think they were lazy or foolish; they just didn't have enough money to float a completely separate team of developers specifically dedicated to Wii development.  Look at the companies that made the most Wii games: Capcom, Activision, Ubisoft, Nintendo, etc.  All of these companies shared the same qualities:

1) Lots of money
2) Lots of development teams to assign to different projects
3) Internal developers with plenty of GameCube experience, which translated over to Wii
4) Not necessarily any allegiance to a single development environment or engine, or enough time/expertise to create their own

Smaller developers, or those that make mainly PC/PS3/360 games, would have:

1) Limited budget (meaning that it's in their best interests to re-use code or engines across multiple platforms)
2) A single development team
3) Mainly experience in PC development, which would translate over to 360 and later PS3
4) Reliance on a single engine, like Unreal or Gamebryo, or a need to create their own engine that they can re-use across platforms

I think this was why third-parties shied away from Wii.  They just couldn't afford to not re-use their code and game engines across platforms.  This especially hurt devs who made games that didn't necessarily play to Nintendo's audience, which tends to skew younger than PC/PS3/360.

Ian SaneJuly 20, 2011

Quote:

First, I think the Wii U is an attempt to build a bridge to Isle de Nintendo.  It's really silly to think Nintendo doesn't care about third parties.

I think part of it is indifference to third party support, in that as long as Nintendo stays profitable it doesn't really matter if the system has good third party support or not.  The other part I think is obliviousness in that Nintendo wants third parties to make games for their systems but does not know what specifically attracts or repels them.  Hell, I would consider a lot of Nintendo's questionable decisions to come out of obliviousness.  I don't think they have the slightest clue why the N64 or Gamecube were not very popular and they come across as quite shocked that the Wii got branded as a casual console that core gamers were not interested in.  Nintendo is like an autistic savant whose brilliance changes the world and yet can't have a conversation with someone without offending or scaring them.

NinSageJuly 20, 2011

@ Lindy

Fair enough ... got two follow-up questions though ...

1a. Why wouldn't smaller developers enjoy the cheaper development requirements?

1b. I still don't see how using similar architecture to a previous generation doesn't make things easier.  Even if they didn't develop for Gamecube, it seems over time they would become knowledgeable about it.  For example, I don't listen to emo music, but as a musician I'm familiar with the genre and its goings on.

2. What explains why even certain Wii exclusives from big companies do not have the robust mechanics or polish of certain PS2/GC titles? (I can't speak to XBox because I never owned one... only played the Halo games on a friend's box).

@ Ian Sane

Haha. Ya know that's certainly not the worst way to explain things =)

1a) My reasoning is that the Wii wasn't cheaper to develop for as a small developer if you had to hire a whole new team, or train an existing one from scratch to work on the Wii hardware and create a whole new engine.  And then you also took the chance that either the majority of the Wii audience wouldn't like your game, or the hardware wouldn't let you do what you wanted to do, or there was already a Nintendo game that owned your category.

On the other hand, you could just keep doing what your team knew how to do (PC/PS3/360), fully make the game you wanted to make, and triple the chance of recouping your costs by releasing it across three platforms with a minimum of additional time investment (PC to 360 would be easy, leaving the majority of porting effort to be put into PS3).  Even better, you could add DLC into the mix post-launch and then double-dip with a Game of the Year Edition.  None of this was possible on Wii.

1b) As for the similar architecture, that does make it easier...if you already have people on-board that have used that architecture.  A lot of the third-party developers that have risen to prominence since the 2000s are coming from the PC world, not the console world.  Bethesda, Bungie, Epic, Rockstar, Infinity Ward, they all started as PC developers with no GameCube experience at all.  The ease of porting to 360 was what got them involved in the console space, and they were making more adult-oriented games to begin with, so they never deviated from that or felt a need to make something more "suited" to a Nintendo console.

2) I don't know.  Maybe they hired the B-Team, which is entirely possible.  Just because something is exclusive doesn't mean it's going to be good.  :)


NinSageJuly 21, 2011

@ Lindy

1a) Good point. Thanks for explaining.

1b) Good enough point.  Though, at least in my opinion, the spectrum of developers on that list (Bethesda, Bungie, Epic, Rockstar, Infinity Ward) is like a 3 color rainbow at best =P  Not exactly the guys I'm concerned with ... maybe that's why I've enjoyed the Wii's offerings so much!

2) Exactly. And that's not cool!

Ninsage - I'm not saying it's not possible to do that style of Madden. I'm saying why the hell would you want it? Madden 08 was a PS2 port! The art style you're crapping on, in my eyes, looks way better than a PS2 game. I don't think it looks kiddy or any of that jazz. It's stylized. That's why I linked to the article I wrote, where you'll see that they didn't change the art style because they couldn't do realistic graphics, and they were influenced by things like Team Fortress 2 (Do people crap on that for not being realistic?) and The Incredibles.

Usually, when I'm in an argument, I see the other side's point of view. I honestly have no idea where you're coming from. I never knew an improved game that isn't a port was an issue and a detriment to EA and third parties.

NinSageJuly 21, 2011

@ Neal

You're absolutely misunderstanding me, my friend.

Quote from: NinSage

The cartoony style is fine...

I'm sorry if you think "fine" means "something I'm crapping on" =P

My only problem is that the message it sends is that the Wii is for kids, or that the Wii can't do "realistic" graphics.  That is just especially lame to me when the same company puts those "mature/realistic" graphics on the PS2/P.

I also have no problem with games for kids, but with a high-profile franchise like Madden, and given their primary audience, it's just another humiliation piled on a severely underrated console.

If you don't think the graphics make the Wii version appear as the "kids version" then that's your perspective and I respect it.  But do you really think most Madden fans share that perspective?

I mean, come on...
http://www.cinemablend.com/images/gallery/s24146/Madden_NFL_11_Cover_Athlete_12719497461311.jpg
http://gomadden.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/pic_wiimadden.jpg

CericJuly 21, 2011

You know in the more realistic one he looks scared.

"Realistic" graphics on the Wii would look bad compared to 360/PS3. I don't think it'd be doing the system any favors.

Mop it upJuly 21, 2011

Quote from: Ceric

You know in the more realistic one he looks scared.

You've seen the size of some of those football players, haven't you? I'd be pretty scared too if I saw several huge guys running at me with full force.

NinSageJuly 21, 2011

Quote from: NWR_Neal

"Realistic" graphics on the Wii would look bad compared to 360/PS3. I don't think it'd be doing the system any favors.

But not on PS2 or PSP?

TJ SpykeJuly 21, 2011

At this point who is really buying the PS2 version of a sports game?

broodwarsJuly 21, 2011

Quote from: TJ

At this point who is really buying the PS2 version of a sports game?

Or PSP, for that matter.  The PSP might as well not even exist outside of Japan these days.

Yes, I'm sure a Wii version that is a port of the PS2 version with waggle will appeal to sooooo many people.

NinSageJuly 22, 2011

@ TJ / brood

Enough people for EA to release them?

But let's not muddy the waters here, that's not really relevant to the point I'm trying to make =)

@ Neal

You've avoided the question... what will appeal more to fans of the Madden franchise?

Also, I've played two Madden games on Wii and I don't recall waggle in either of them.  In fact, as I said above, the motion control in Madden '11 is downright sick.  (Not sure if the point'n'click style was in M'10... never played it).  I never wanna play another football sim without it!

Well, the 360/PS3 version, obviously.

The point of the Wii version isn't to get the same crowd; it's supposed to get a new one. Madden on Nintendo systems in the '00s has never been a big seller, especially compared to the other systems. EA did a smart thing and tried to attract a new audience with Madden on Wii instead of doing the same ol' port they've been doing for Nintendo systems since the late 64 years. I'd say, in all honesty, Madden on Wii hasn't done what EA wanted it to (it still doesn't sell too well), but as far as I can tell, that's their intention.

NinSageJuly 22, 2011

Yes, bad ideas tend to get bad results. =)

Results wouldn't be any better if they kept making PS2 ports...

NinSageJuly 22, 2011

So how 'bout this crazy idea: they actually put some effort into making a separate AND good version for the Wii!

...they did. Did you not just say you liked Madden 11? I enjoyed Madden 10 and 11 a whole lot. It's a separate AND good version. The idea for making a Wii-exclusive version of Madden might not be doing wonderful things sales-wise, but those games aren't bad. Shit, when 2011 is all said and done, I imagine Madden 11 will likely be one of my favorite games of the year.

NinSageJuly 23, 2011

Just to minimize confusion, this would be my ideal ...

==="Realistic" aesthetics===
I dig cartoony, I really do... but not for something that is supposed to "simulate" non-fiction.

===Wii pointer functionality===
Best thing ever to happen to a football sim.

===Effort in Visuals===
Will it be HD? No.  Can it look better than a PS2 port? Yes.

... is this so much to ask?! ^_^

As someone who buys Madden every year, but switched from Wii to 360 a couple years ago, I'll say that I couldn't care less about the graphic design. If I were buying the Wii version I'd probably prefer the cartoony style, because it's something the Wii can achieve and not just look like a pale imitation of the other systems.

As for the pointer stuff, that is awesome, and probably the biggest thing I miss about the Wii game. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they'll do with the Wii U, as you could map a lot of that stuff to the touch screen while still having traditional controls for those who want them. I like the motion controls, but would probably rather play with traditional controls most of the time.

Everything you request is in Madden Wii these days.

I'm done with this conversation. I'll continue to enjoy Madden on Wii. You can continue to ignore it and wish for things that are actually happening but you don't notice it.

Anyways, yeah, how about those Facebooks?

NinSageJuly 23, 2011

Quote from: NWR_Lindy

Anyways, yeah, how about those Facebooks?

Capcom did all sorts of community outreach for MML3.

It didn't matter.  And their cancellation announcement was nearly as PR-esque as Nintendo's.

So ... now what? =)

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