Dear enthusiast media: games trump features.
I consider myself to be a rational person. When I start to get the feeling that I’m surrounded by fanboys, I lash out. I have spent more hours than I’d care to admit arguing in comment threads, bulletin boards, and even at the dinner table. Whenever someone comes at me with a hard and fast opinion, I play devil’s advocate. It doesn’t help that many of the things that are dear to me (Nintendo, Apple, college football) are things with vibrant online communities and crazy people masquerading as passionate fans .
When Nintendo announced the final price and release date of the Wii U last week, many questions remained unanswered. These are questions that are important to me: how will the DRM work for online purchases? How will the friends list work? How exactly does Nintendo TVii get its content? When can I buy Pikmin 3? Despite everything we know about the Wii U, there’s a lot more we don’t know.
What we do know is that the gaming media is skeptical. I listen to many gaming podcasts, and enjoy them greatly. If I didn’t enjoy them, and often agree with them, I would stop listening. It’s hard for me to ignore, however, that pretty much every podcast I listen to is completely uninterested in the Wii U. (Notable exception is the always excellent Player One Podcast). In particular, I was drawn to an episode of The Besties, a podcast by Polygon featuring some of my favorite people. These are not particularly Nintendo-friendly people, but I enjoy their podcasts nonetheless.
On the particular episode of The Besties, the crew dropped their normal format and launched into a fairly typical roundtable discussion of the Wii U launch details. To a man, they were all floored, and not in a good way, by what Nintendo had said. More precisely, what they have failed to say thus far. When you look at the advances in distribution and services provided by Nintendo’s competitors, as a fan of technology, it’s hard to disagree with the guys over at Polygon. The Wii U looks like a gaming console from about 7 years ago, when the industry seems to be moving closer and closer to examples set by Apple and Valve. Sony in particular has made great strides in their PlayStation Plus service, offering loads of free content after subscription. Microsoft has turned their Xbox into far more than a gaming console, it’s a multimedia center. Nintendo TVii is a good start, but it feels like a drop in the pond compared to what Microsoft has been doing for years.
As I listened to the episode of The Besties, I found myself nodding along. I don’t disagree with much at all of what they said. As fans of the gaming industry, rather than fans of Nintendo, they’ve every right to be concerned by what the Wii U has to offer.
While I follow it closely, I’m not necessarily a fan of the gaming industry, specifically mainstream games editorial. I like some developers, and I certainly like the kind of distribution that Apple and Steam have brought to the table. Mainly, though, I’m a Nintendo fan. After all of the DRM restrictions and online functionality and third party struggles have come and gone, I will still be playing The Legend of Zelda. I will be playing The Legend of Zelda until the day I am no longer capable of playing The Legend of Zelda, and then I will watch people play The Legend of Zelda.
I’ve played both Pikmin games multiple times. I’ve played every Metroid game, most of them multiple times. I even liked Metroid Other M. I can play any of the Super Mario Bros. games for NES with my eyes closed. Not for very long, but that’s not the point.
I am a Nintendo fan, and I always will be, through every questionable decision, and every botched system launch. Even when I lose my 3DS and have to track down a police report, I will be a Nintendo fan. Nintendo earned my loyalty when I was eleven years old, and that’s a hard bond to break.
So to the rest of the gaming media, I say the following: you’re not wrong. If you don’t buy a Wii U, or talk about Wii U, I don’t blame you one bit. As a fan of technology, Nintendo will never come through for you. But that’s not why I play Nintendo games. I play Nintendo games because if I don’t hear the Zelda chime at least once a week, I will lose my mind.
Is it November 18 yet?