Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nintendo's Major Changes

I'm sure, by now, everybody has heard the many articles about how Nintendo is... or rather was doing.  What many people don't realize and the press rarely talks about is the major changes Nintendo has made in order to turn things around.  As one of the people that wrote into them and has seen the dramatic changes they've made in the past year or so, I'm actually really impressed and would like to write about it.  

The Email

Around the end of June/beginning of July last year, I was one of the many frustrated gamers that emailed Nintendo.  This was before Operation Rainfall officially formed but after news officially broke that Nintendo of Europe had Xenoblade ready to be shown at E3 but Nintendo of America didn't want to show games they had no intention of releasing.  Happening right off the heels of an E3 where the Wii U was being shown as a device that's supposed to be more for the core gamers, this didn't set well with me and many other gaming and RPG enthusiasts.  So I emailed them about the current situation they were in as a whole, not just the RPG's, in pretty specific detail.

My email:

“Wii was not accepted by core gamers because they did not want to abandon their preferred
control approach.”

“Additionally, Wii did not use HD because HD cost performance at the time was low.”

“Wii U makes it easier to use conventional controls. Also, the Wii U controller is not as big or
heavy as it looks.”

My comment in response to the above comments:

Wrong, those people that wouldn’t touch it because of the control or the graphics aren’t
hardcore gamers PERIOD. Those are the mainstream junkies that play maybe 1 or 2 games a

The hardcore gamers complaints were things like FRIENDCODES, low demo count for wiiware
games, no demos for retail and vc games, unstable online, no voice chat – then bad voice chat –
then lack of use for both voice chat devices, lack of real mii integration into the system, not
being able to communicate with random people through the net and make friends, small
storage and lack of integrating the SD card properly for storage, not supporting SD card music
in most games (only one did this), sloppy online shop set up (even the 3DS isn’t exactly
organized), and for the 3DS at least no communication between the people on your friends list.
Lets be serious, 3DS does fix a lot of things that the Wii had problems with, but not being able
to communicate between your friends is a slap back down to ground 0 in bad online set up. If
you want to fix your game sales and get the hardcore back, increase the space, start doing
demos, and fix your online. Making it so online communities can’t form and not letting people
try games before they buy them are your biggest faults, for hardware and features at least. It is
so sad that people can turn on there Wii, DSi, and 3DS and look up porn but can’t chat with
there friends, make new friends, and play game demo’s. At this day and age where the iphone
and ipad are creeping up on the console and handheld markets, you need to have these features
or you will fall behind.

My comments on the games not getting released in the US:

The core gamers are the ones who are campaigning to get games released in their region. If you
really want core gamers you would stop these PR mind games and stop ignoring your fans and
release the games people want. This includes Xenoblade and The Last Story in NTSC, Arc Rise
Fantasia in PAL, and Mother 3, Pandora's Tower, and Earth Seeker globally (as well as many other

Gamers are like hardcore movie goers. It's not about the genre, its about the quality. When we
see a quality product, we get it. There are a lot of people though including core gamers who
aren't convinced just at glancing at a product, reading about it, or seeing it in action and need
to try it before they drop money on it. This is where demo's come in. If you want game sales,
you need to make these games available, push knowledge for the games, and let people try
them out, not just the press. Demo's are essential to game sales, just look at how well stuff
does on Xbox Live. For system sales (at least for the hardcore) you need a strong, well rounded
game line up. This is where Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower come in as they're
all exclusive to this platform and are high quality experiences that the core gamers want, just
like Mother 3. To add to this, where is Earthbound? Why hasn't it hit the Virtual Console? Do you
not realize the demand for this game and the sales it would make?

What is happening right now is right on par with the PSN Network outages and 360 RROD. This
is a huge problem that needs to be fixed, not ignored and overlooked through a bad PR stunt.
How do you intend to sell the Wii U to the core when you're refusing to localize core games for
your current systems and ignoring the core gamers (and your own fans). I'm no Nintendo
company fan, I'm not a fan of any publication or console company. All the systems have their
strengths and weakness's and ultimately are there just to run the designers work. I however am a fan of Nintendo software, just as I am of Mistwalker software, Monolithsoft software, Blizzard
software, Bioware software, and MANY other great developers software. I want to support the
developers as it is their products that I purchase the sometimes expensive, unsecure,
underpowered, locked down, and/or faulty hardware to play them on. Hardware and publication
companies need to understand this, as most real gamers only real reason to purchase hardware
or support the publisher IS the software.

Their response:


Once again, I want to thank you for taking the time to write to us with your feedback regarding the Wii, Wii U, and those games that you'd like to see translated. I can certainly understand your thoughts on this matter and want you to know how much we appreciate you sending them in. I also want to assure you that your comments have been added to our records for these topics and made available for other departments at the company, all they way up to our executives at Nintendo Company, Ltd. in Japan.

I'm afraid I don't have any new information to share, but I do want to say that we're very aware of your last point that it's the games and the gaming experience that sell the systems. As we go further in to the life of the Nintendo 3DS and as we approach the launch of the Wii U, I hope you find that we're providing a gaming experience you find worthwhile.


Shawn Ford
Nintendo of America, Inc.

The Changes

The response seemed very standardized but shortly after, we seen major changes in just about every area I mentioned in that email.  First was the price drop on the 3DS which was the official moment when people who may of not realized what was really happening with Nintendo took notice.  The price drop came because of many reasons, none that really need to be discussed again but the move was intended to get its price in line for the holidays.  To compensate those who adopted the system early, they announced the Ambassador Program in which they gave away 10 NES games and 10 GBA games away.  To my knowledge, they are the only gaming company that has ever done this after a price drop and is above and beyond the level of compensation that other companies gave for much worse.

Soon after this though, they introduced Nintendo Direct which was basically their mini E3's.  The first one was all in Japanese and shown off a number of really big titles on the way, including 2 new Monster Hunter games for the 3DS.  This of course made a huge splash on holiday sales in Japan but it also had a huge effect on Nintendo globally.  They were shocked by the amount of people that tuned in and were overwhelmed by the amount of people that watched it internationally.  This was their first major step in communicating what they're doing and what's going on behind the scenes better with the fans and the gamers and it payed off very well.  3DS saw major success during the holidays, exceeding all expectations and drastically softening the blow of the predicted money loss.

This didn't just happen because of the price drop, it was also a number of changes and things they did right that made people interested again and got them taking a second look at their products.  Some of those changes were also listed in that email.  For the sake of shortening the article I'll just list what all Nintendo changed and did right:

  • Dropped the price of the 3DS to be in the range of what parents would buy for kids
  • Started doing Nintendo Directs to communicate with the gamers and fans to show what the future has in store
  • Got many of the games out people were wanting on both 3DS and Wii, including Xenblade, The Last Story, Kid Icarus, Resident Evil, Mario Kart, Super Mario 3D Land
  • Implemented Swapnote as a messaging system so people can finally communicate
  • Started pushing major eShop titles to really make people get connected and check out what all is in the systems online store
  • Started doing demos so titles that may not be as big or don't have the major following that the major Nintendo titles have can garner interest and get support
  • Tweeked the eShop to be easier to browse and find what you want
  • Introduced full downloadable games into Club Nintendo giving people more incentive to buy there games new
  •  Started doing summer sales on eShop games
  • Bundled different color and style 3DS's with major games to help pick up sales including a completely awesome Legend of Zelda limited edition 3DS bundle
These and many other things came as a complete surprise to me and made me regain a lot of lost faith in them.  Furthermore the changes coming with the Wii U touch just about everything I wrote and go well above and beyond that email.

  • Miiverse fully integrates Mii's into the system
  • Miiverse allows people to communicate easily and is all about the community
  • Wii U will have more then just voice chat, it'll have full on video chat
  • We'll have more storage options then ever before
  • It'll have a new Pro controller and full Wii Remote support to go along with the Pad controller
  • Nintendo TVii
  • Lots of praise from indie developers and major developers
  • Unity support
The changes that they made have been completely unprecedented by any console company.  Not only have they made a huge turn around, they seem to be making a huge push forward and the support seems to be overwhelmingly positive in both the East and the West.  The launch window titles are pretty impressive even for multi console owners like myself and even the actual list of launch day titles is one of the more impressive lists I've seen (arguably the best since Dreamcast).  Add this to the already plethora of changes they've made across the board and you have a recipe for success.

I don't think in any way that my email alone made them change there stances but I wonder if the feedback given to them from other fans and gamers had anything to do with this.  I do know that they've been listening to the feedback from developers and were getting help from other companies with their online but changes this drastic means they must of really taken the feedback to heart.

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