Nintendo: A Heavy Handed Epiphany


So this post has been building since I saw the travesty that took place at E3. The travesty you ask? Nintendo’s completely lackluster presentation. I saw the Star Fox Zero gameplay, the lack of Zelda, and no Nintendo NX in sight. And I freaking lost it.

When are they going to freaking figure it out!!” I had become tired of seeing the same old franchises revived or altered. I was mad about Star Fox because it just feels like a rehash. I was peeved about not seeing any Zelda news because of the bread and butter Nintendo still commands, this was what I wanted to hear about the most. And with no new info on their next console, NX, it would have been nice to at least received some confirmation of more 3rd party support for Wii U (the lack thereof is usually the calling card of a dead system). But we received nothing.

So what gives? Why is Nintendo still here? And it’s not like I want them gone, I very much support them and would love to see them continue to succeed. But the current strategy wasn’t making much sense. How can a company continue to limp along? What will finally push them over the edge? I was missing a piece to the puzzle, until I walked into two movies this summer, Jurassic World and Terminator: Genisys and finally the light bulb went off. Nintendo, while it’s console and handheld future are certainly in jeopardy, they will most likely never fail with their tried and true franchises. Video games have shown more resiliency toward creating new content and franchises, but even they have fallen into the same trap of just pumping out sequels. This summer in cinema, we saw Jurassic, Terminator, Mad Max and we will also see a 5th Mission Impossible dominate the headlines. And in video games, it’s no different: At E3, some of the most hyped games were continuations: Fallout 4 (not to offend, but it’s true), Mass Effect: Andromeda, Uncharted 4, Final Fantasy VII remake, Gears of War 4 (Xbox 360 Backwards compatibility and Rare collection as sweet icing on the cake, bu they too are taking us “backwards”, not forwards).

I realized that the same nostalgia money cranking machine that the new Jurassic Park was is exactly what Nintendo has been doing and so has the rest of the industry. Jurassic World has already made 1.3 billion dollars as of this writing. The movie industry has had every incentive to keep cranking out sequel after sequel because the money is there. We keep eating it up, so why would Nintendo’s strategy ever change. They won’t be riding it to their grave, they’ve been rolling in a pool of money. I love new stories and innovations in a franchise, but how long can we continue to re-tread the same issues, areas, maps, heroes, villains before it starts to get old. And the sad part is, I’m pretty alone in this feeling. While I’m sure there’s a bunch of people who would pay lip service to the concerns I’m raising with this article. They will most likely fall into the same trap that I myself am victim to as well.

We really love these characters. You couldn’t turn them into money machines without first creating a timeless classic or having us attached in a profound way. Each new story gives us another chance to live vicariously through the hero or heroine who we have already spent money and time into learning how they work, their history, pains, joys, victories and defeats. But because of this attachment, I feel like we get blinded to the fact that our characters don’t always treated with respect. And we lose out on getting to experience new properties or their continuations when all the revenue of a company is getting passed over the small working groups to the big dogs working on Call of Duty and the like.

This is what I find to be the worst cost of just pumping out new sequels and remakes. What opportunities for creativity are we missing out on when we don’t allow opportunities for growth? Steam has helped facilitate a great marketplace to allow indie games and studios a voice in the market that they otherwise would have missed out on. And the various online services of the big 3 have improved as well. But in the larger market, those new ideas or franchises would likely have never seen the light of day.

So here’s to you Nintendo. You’re just as bad as any other company so I applaud you for sticking to your guns. While this realization will most likely not stop me from buying your games or even your next crazy controller-fueled, awkwardly named console, it has set me frustratingly against the blockbuster machine. I hope they can figure out how to balance reaching financial goals and delivering innovative new titles; just don’t count me in the total of people who believe it will happen.

-Kenneth Shipp

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