Does Nintendo Really Want The Core Gamer Back? It’s Hard To Tell.

Nintendo has been in the media a lot since E3.  After coming off a strong unveiling for the Wii U, things have really turned around for the company.  First there was the stock market drop.  Investors felt the Wii U looked comparably weaker than the Wii in terms of target audience and worldwide appeal, not to mention the highly confusing unveiling.  Iwata-san tried to calm them down by telling investors everyone at E3 was excited for the product and that, once again, only by actually getting your hands on the device can you really appreciate it.  He admitted the company made some mistakes with the unveiling and would have to do a little ground control to fix that.  Some investors asks if the company had learned from their 3DS launch mistakes (including launching without adequate software and missing features), and Iwata confirmed Nintendo will make sure there are enough quality software titles to accompany the Wii U launch.

After the investor meeting, there was this whole business about the core gamer.  You see at E3 Reggie and company said the Wii U was about everyone, it was about keeping the casual fans and bringing back the core gamer.  It’s why they focused on the user experience, showed an HD version of Zelda and had a third party reel consisting of titles like Arkham City and Ninja Gaiden.  These are games that were sorely missed during the Wii days.  They also said they wouldn’t stop supporting the Wii once the Wii U was released.  Surprisingly three big games were missing from E3, Xenoblade, Pandora’s Tower and The Last Story.  When questioned about these excellent looking Japanese-only releases, Nintendo of America refused to comment.

As you all know, we’ve been following Operation Rainfall ever since the fan-fueled campaign kicked off, and it’s the very purpose of this article.  As someone that is making a genuine effort to try and get back into the Nintendo scene, the company is sure doing its best to keep me away.  Since I myself am the core gamer they’re trying to entice into buying a Wii U, I find myself asking a very important question, does Nintendo really want me back?  Do they really want any core gamers back?

I recently picked up a 3DS for Ocarina of Time 3D.  The Legendary Journey series I have been writing has really gotten me back into Nintendo in a big way.  I wasn’t about to leave a remake of one of my favorite games of all time just sitting in some shop somewhere.  Ever since I bought the game, I’ve been enjoying Nintendo’s new hardware.  It’s sleek, offers a console-like experience on the go, and yet retains that Nintendo charm the company is so well known for.  So on one hand, I’m really digging this direction.

On the other we have the Wii, which I think is a lost cause now.  I played through both Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker on the machine and had a really great time.  Sure one of those releases was a GameCube release, but the fact remains, I was enjoying my time with Nintendo-made products again.  Then the whole core gamer issue popped up.  Yesterday I looked at all the articles Ahmed and I have been writing about this issue and I realized that Nintendo really doesn’t communicate well with their fans anymore.  Years ago something like this never would have been an issue, but today, just look at the mess this is causing.

Nintendo no longer controls Nintendo Power, they barely use Facebook or Twitter for social interactions, they don’t have a Major Nelson or an official blog.  So their only resource is us, the media.  Problem is, by keeping core gamers out in the dark the media is ripping the company a new one.  This whole Operation Rainfall situation is making the company look very outdated.  It’s not even so much about the videogames themselves, but rather the company has no official means of relaying information to their fans.  Don’t post a simple Facebook update about why these three big releases won’t head to North America; create a blog with daily updates so we know what you guys are up to.  If we knew more concrete information about why these games wouldn’t be released or if you’re thinking of maybe moving them to the Wii U, that would be better than not knowing anything at all.

Core gamers today expect interaction with their console makers.  Just look at the strides Microsoft and Sony have made because of their tight connection with fans.  They don’t reveal all their cards early, but they know that by keeping in constant communication with the core gamer, they’re staying in their good graces…even when we don’t always agree with what they do.  Nintendo has lost that platform, and right now it’s looking like they just don’t care anymore, even though that may not be the case at all.  Clearly the company is doing something right.  The Wii is the undisputed market leader for this generation, having moved over 80 million systems, and yet the company that makes the system has completely dropped support for it outside a few marketable first party titles including Kirby, Zelda and Mario Party. I know there are a few others like Rhythm Heaven, but honestly the core gamer is looking for something a bit more hardcore, wouldn’t you say?

So I’m not going to go on any longer.  I simply wanted to point out that for a company that claims to want to create a system for the core gamer out there, I fail to see how they’re going to do this when they refuse to speak directly to those core gamers.  It’s going to take a lot of work to convince Steven, Marc-Andre, and myself that the Wii U can really give us the core gamer experience we crave.  Right now it’s starting to feel a little like empty promises, which is a shame considering all my gaming right now is being done on Nintendo consoles.

5 thoughts on “Does Nintendo Really Want The Core Gamer Back? It’s Hard To Tell.”

  1. I’m really disappointed about how Nintendo is addressing Operation Rainfall. A simple and somewhat vague update isn’t how they should address some of their most dedicated fans. We’ve shown Nintendo that we are willing to pay for Xenoblade (via Amazon pre-orders). I would hope that warrants more consideration on Nintendo’s end. To be fair though, Nintendo’s update says “No plans at this time.” That is not a direct “no,” and so the possibility remains open for the future. I’m not too hopeful, but all I can say is at least it’s not a no. Still, it’s a little insulting. I think Nintendo’s core fans deserve better for all they’ve done.

    However, Nintendo has always acted this way, at least to my knowledge. They’ve constantly kept fans in the dark, but we come back because there are some great games for Nintendo platforms. Nintendo’s first party releases really are something else, and I’ll get a Wii U simply to see Zelda, Metroid, and Mario make the jump into HD.

    In this case, I just think Nintendo is seriously underestimating these particular games. Japanese-developed RPGs and action games are still awesome, but they don’t have the same market presence in the US because of the (completely and utterly oversaturated) shooter genre.

  2. Nice to see you again, Cat. And yes I wholeheartedly agree with this editorial. It also reflects similar opinions said on IGN’s piece. The sad thing is that most of this talk is mostly limited to North America, especially when it comes to operation Rainfall and publishing certain games. They didn’t even give us Disaster, Another Code R, and Fatal Frame 3…the latter of which has been translated to English via fans.

    I do agree that some issues you’ve mentioned also reflects to their other markets like Japan and Europe. Remember when we had the forums, guys? RIP Hyrule Town Square and Nintendo Nsider. That alone give us a huge sense of community. This site is basically an extension of their forums. It was one of the coolest place to hang out and talk with people. Ever since their move to New York, Nintendo of America’s management has been mediocre. Only recently they’ve opened Facebook and Twitter pages, which explains why they’re not using them efficiently. Keep in mind that these pages only reflect North America. Why doesn’t Nintendo of Japan or Europe have social media outings? Why don’t they at least have forums where fans can come in and state their mind?

    Another problem that also involves lack of community is Nintendo’s lackluster online services for their consoles and handhelds. They had a chance to rectify it with the 3DS, but we may wait until the Wii U to see what they’re planning, although I’m less than optimistic as Nintendo itself stated that they’re not looking to outclass PSN or XBLA when it comes to online. The major problem with their online system is that it reflects to the owner alone, not the outside world, not other gamers playing. There’s just a huge sense of disconnect when you’re playing a Nintendo system despite the fun you may be having alone. When playing online, there’s just no way to know your opponents or friends…no way to communicate with them. They’re just Faceless Men and Women. On PSN and XBLA, it’s the exact opposite. Call of Duty alone feels like Facebook in a game.

    The only redeeming quality I get from a Nintendo system is that it offers a superior experience locally. Whether it’s couch multiplayer or having people watch you play Nintendo, that magic is still there as it had been for the past 20 years or so. They just need to find a way to take full advantage of the internet so that it can come full circle.

  3. Thanks for all the comments everyone, and great to see you Cat :) I’m hoping Nintendo comes around because they have some of the best fans in the world. Xbox Live with their multiplayer heavy games would be out of this world awesome.

    Ever since the Nsider forms were abolished and they moved to their new headquarters things just haven’t been the same. There’s zero communication with fans and as a whole the company is feeling very dated. One can only hope the Wii U will offer the online infrastructure their fans deserve.

  4. I mainly don’t care for Nintendo’s overall attitude in this regard. I think all fans have come to simply accept that the company will never unleash the latest and greatest technology when it launches new platforms. Well, fine. But when it comes to this social media stuff, and how obvious it must be to them that all relevant companies have integrated it into their marketing plans…it makes zero sense that Nintendo is conveniently avoiding it. No message boards, scant use of FB and Twitter, and a laughable Club.

    The Wii was a ‘hardware’ success due to word of mouth and news reporting, but the software (what matters most) was again less than impressive. Once again mainly Nintendo properties sell well, while only RE4, Guitar Hero, Just Dance and perhaps a couple other franchises performed…everything else might as well not even have been released.

    I think Nintendo sadly made the mistake of being so consumed with reclaiming the hardware market share crown that they once again disregarded the vitality of software support. Sony and Microsoft have great relationships with third and second parties; Nintendo does not. How do verbal claims and a new box that is finally on par at least with this generation going to make any difference? Let’s face it, the controller screen isn’t going to move software, quality products and marketing will. I definitely have difficulty seeing past another console cycle where there’s 1 or 2 years of legitimate support…only for third parties to give up again and go back to their reliable PS and Xbox audiences.

  5. OR would’ve been much more effective IMHO had the gamers threatened Nintendo’s next generation console (the WiiU) instead of just demanding that the games be released =/

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