In a word…
Yes, it does look like Nintendo did enough with their new console/handheld hybrid to ensure that third-party software is not an issue – mainstream GPU, and a fairly “normal” controller (well… Nintendo Normal.) But, let’s face it – at this point in time in video game history, your average gaming enthusiast is not going to purchase Nintendo hardware to play what we can safely assume will be slightly watered down versions of CoD, GTA, Dishonored, Madden, etc. (when compared to their PlayStation, Xbox and/or PC brethren.)
So, leaving their main gaming platforms and making the switch to Switch is not going to be within the realm of probability for most gamers. Once again, and without any compelling reason for mass-man to join in on the fun (as they did with the original Wii), my belief is that the Switch will be (if Nintendo is lucky/smart) relegated to “second system” status and that its relative success will be almost entirely dependent on the quality and quantity of first-party software.
The new Zelda is already a foregone conclusion. The Switch teaser trailer offered a short, generic Mario game and not a whole lot else. How willing is Nintendo going to be to dip into their bag of under-utilized IP’S (here’s looking at you “Metroid Prime” series) and to nurture new IP’s more befitting an adult gamer demographic (if they can even remember how to do that?) And, can they put a new face/spin on those series’ that they have gone back to time and again to give them a reboot (here’s looking at you “Mario Kart” series?)
No, I think it is safe to say that there is not enough in what we have seen of Switch to make gamers switch. And, only time will tell if Nintendo’s first-party software development studios are up to the task this time around. They failed miserably with the Wii U and that wasn’t too long ago – their customers are still feeling the sting of that purchase decision. A strong offering out of the gate, with a clear road map of year one releases, could make their path to second system success a little easier to navigate and make Wii U consumers a little more forgiving/excited. But, without a strong lineup and a lack of vision on the software side of things?…
… consumers might just flip this particular Switch off.
Did Nintendo Learn Their Lesson? Will New IP Be a Priority? Will They Give Gamers ANY Reason to Make the “Switch?”
Wow! This one really came out of nowhere. “Unbox,” from the moment you first hear the steel drums kick in the very tropical theme that plays in the game’s first open-world, evokes fond memories of classic Gen 5 and Gen 6 platform games – most notably “Mario Sunshine” on the Nintendo Gamecube. The game, a third-person, open-world platform adventure that draws on all of the best of the genre (including collect-a-thons like “Banjo-Kazooie”), is an interactive love letter to a style of game that is all but lost in 2016. It is beautiful, simple fun that, a few hours in, has left me with a smile on my face and wanting to play more. Oh… and you play as a cardboard box.
UnboxPublisher: Prospect Games Developer: Prospect Games Release Date: 9/5/16 Platforms: PC/Steam Price: $12.79 Initial Impressions: Fun, fond memories, incredible bang for the buck, Amazon Prime (if you play the game, you’ll get the “joke”)
Unbox is an Interactive Love Letter to the Great Platformers of Gens 5 and 6
Nintendo Thinks They Oughta Be in Pictures
Nintendo has announced that they will be entering the feature film business/home video market as the company looks to diversify its entertainment offering after the sale of its stake in the Seattle Mariners. Apparently, they are looking to partner with production studios to bring their IP to deliver CG/animated content but shy away from producing live-action films based on their characters – sounds like they are still feeling the pain from 20 years back and “Super Mario Bros”… aren’t we all?
This diversification can be seen in any number of different ways. I tend to see it as a game company desperately trying to figure out its place in the modern gaming world as its market share crumbles, its software development pipeline has slowed down to a trickle, and its inability to deliver new IP has created stagnation for a company that has always valued innovation over everything else. There is no denying that times are tough for Mario, Inc. With their next console, the NX, slated to launch next year and their current console, the Wii U, on life support, Nintendo is truly at a crossroads. Will they turn it around… become the company they once were? Or, is this announcement just another step toward irrelevance in the gaming world with the hope of new life in other forms of media/entertainment?
Speaking of Movies… How is it Going for Ratchet & Clank?
The answer – not well… not well at all. The movie has been in theaters for three weeks – grossing a little over $8 million in the process. After week two, the number of theaters showing the film was reduced by over 60% and it is playing to an average of 50 people per showing. I don’t want to be Negative Norm here, but these aren’t the kind of numbers that are going to get “Sly Cooper” into your local film house anytime soon… Oh, and as a point of comparison, the reboot of the game franchise has grossed over $30 million during this same period. I beat the game and saw the movie. The game was great, the movie wasn’t bad. But, the whole time that I was watching in the theater, I kept thinking that I could be at home playing.
Ratchet & Clank (2016) – People are Playing the Game, but Skipping the Movie
What’s Next for “Grand Theft Auto” – Declaring Itself a Sovereign Nation?
If you read our weekly feature, “The Games People Play,” you will know that Rockstar’s “Grand Theft Auto V” has made an appearance on the VGChartz weekly top 10 list every week since ICG has been around. What you might not know is that the game, which has appeared on both Gen 7 and Gen 8 PlayStation’s and Xbox’s, [...]
This Week in Gaming History has a little of something for everyone – book-ended by the first “Wolfenstein” game, and the latest offering from the IP, “Wolfenstein: The Old Blood” (enthusiastically recommended if you have yet to have the pleasure.) In between, you’ll find some Mario, the first Forza, and a significant entry from the “Elder Scrolls” – not to mention some portable “Castlevania.”
May 5, 1992: The granddaddy of all first-person shooters, Wolfenstein 3D, is released for PC
May 6, 2001: Nintendo releases Mario Party 3 on the Nintendo 64 in North America
May 1/2, 2002: Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind releases on PC in North America/Europe
May 6/8/9, 2003: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow releases for Game Boy Advance in the three major territories
May 3, 2005: Microsoft releases the first Forza Motorsport on the original Xbox
May 6, 2008: Speed Racer: The Videogame is released for Nintendo Wii and DS
May 8, 2012: Starhawk by SCE and LightBox Interactive is released for PlayStation 3
May 5, 2015: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood debuts digitally on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
I originally posted this article on ICG’s launch date (10/28/15.) Given the news coming out of the Nintendo camp today, however, I thought it would be appropriate to move it up front and center. Six months have apparently done nothing to improve Nintendo’s fortunes… there is still a lot that is really wrong with Nintendo.
Over the past few years, since the massive herd that was the Nintendo Wii installed hardware base stopped buying games, there has been a lot of talk about Nintendo’s future in the home console business. With the anemic performance of the Wii U (sorry Nintendo hardcore folk, but facts are facts – Wii U was DOA in the marketplace and its market share has been on a downward trajectory since launch), this discussion has only intensified. What can Nintendo do? Should they focus on Mobile? Will the NX put them back in a position to challenge SCE and Microsoft? Has Nintendo lost its magic touch?
While all of these questions are valid, my perspective is that they are tertiary to the main problem facing the company. It is not a hardware issue at all – it is a software issue. Nintendo, in my opinion, is no longer a company that innovates – they iterate. As hard as it is to hear, they are now much closer in spirit to EA and Activision than to an Apple or SCE.
Because third-party software publishers all but abandoned Nintendo platforms years ago (the root issues in their TP relationships date back to the original NES/Famicom), Nintendo has been solely responsible for keeping its hardware alive with a regular flow of innovative, imaginative software. Can you imagine SCE or Microsoft in this position? SCE would be dead in the water this holiday season and Microsoft would have only Forza 6 and Halo 5 to keep hope alive.
The problem is that the flow of AAA-type games from Nintendo for Wii U and 3DS has slowed down considerably and that the games they are shipping are products of the same IP that they have been pushing for decades… Mario-this, Zelda-that, Super Smash, Yoshi, Pikmin, etc. Hell, they can’t even do that right – Wii U launched 3 years ago and they still haven’t shipped a Metroid or a legitimate, killer application Mario (before anyone starts down this path… Super Mario 3D World was Super Mario 3D Land on the big screen, and 1990 called and they want their New Super Mario Brothers U back.)
Here are the hard facts; the Wii U has sold roughly 10MM units, life-to-date, and it claims about 20% of the market. With the exception of the original Wii, Nintendo’s hardware market share has been falling consistently since the SEGA Genesis came out of nowhere to split the market with the SNES in the early 1990’s. While in the past 20 years they could always count on the Mario’s and Zelda’s to pay some bills and keep them in the ballgame by ensuring that they were the second system for core gamers, [...]