It has been approximately a month since Tatsumi Kimishima moved into Nintendo’s Oval Office, and fans have already put a lot of pressure on the man. Nintendo seems to be at a crossroads right now and everyone wants to know whether it will traverse down the path of the NES or the path of the Virtual Boy. With the sudden and tragic death of former president Satoru Iwata at such a tumultuous chapter of Nintendo’s life, this must be a very stressful undertaking for Mr. Kimishima.
Now someone who was the president of Pokemon USA in its heyday, has worked for Nintendo for 15 years, and possesses 27 years of banking experience might wonder what wisdom I, a 20-year-old college student from Ohio, would have to offer him. Well, wonder no longer! Here are five tips to acquire success.
1. Know Thy Audience
With the release of the Wii, Nintendo enjoyed one of the most staggering financial successes in the history of its staggering financial successes. It took the game industry by storm, startling Sony and Microsoft who expected Nintendo’s new system to be a low-performing, Pikachu-shaped box that played triangular discs and implemented an electronic didgeridoo as its primary controller. Instead, they were greeted by an eerily simplistic, little white box and a little white stick. In this bold move, Nintendo reached a demographic previously untouched: non-gamers. If you could move your arms, you could play Wii Sports. Naturally, everyone bought one, because who doesn’t want to see your grandpa in a boxing match with a Mii you made of Weird Al? I certainly did. However, in doing so, Nintendo also isolated its die-hard fans. How? Well, perhaps a parable will make things more clear:
“Once there was a renowned Master of Jewels who made handcrafted jewelry. He had a few patrons who were more than willing to spend a fortune on his wondrous masterpieces. All was well, until one day the Jeweler suddenly started making cupcakes and sold them at drastically reduced prices. He acquired many new customers and everyone, including the dedicated patrons, enjoyed the cupcakes. But after a while, the newcomers became full and bloated and the sugar overdose started to give them headaches, leaving the old patrons standing around, thinking that the jewelry crafting would resume. Instead of giving them jewelry, the Jeweler awkwardly handed them more cupcakes, prompting the fans to leave the shop and never return.”
In other words, Nintendo stopped selling their products to me and focused on infants and the elderly instead. This is a smart and effective strategy to do once, but, by the time the Wii U was released seven years later, most of the Wii’s demographics would either be going into kindergarten or the Great Beyond. Those in today’s very young or very old demographic, who might have been interested in the Wii U in 2007, are now spending more money on Temple Run than their parents realize or are inviting me to play Farmville, Mafia Wars, or Candy Crush Saga on Facebook. Casual gaming, the backbone of the Wii’s success, has moved on to mobile games.
In other words, this is not your audience anymore, Mr. Kimishima. Grandma Patty will not drop $80 dollars on a Zelda game with some accessories because of leaked Ganondorf concept art. I will. And I’m planning on doing so for a very long time, so don’t forget your core fans. We’ll come back if you let us. But we can’t do so unless you…
2. Make Us A Great System
Since its release, the Wii-U has sold worse than molten lead on a penguin ranch. In fact, it is the worst-selling Nintendo console of all time. I did not buy the Wii U upon its release. In fact, I never bought a Wii U at all. This is partially because, until late last year, I did not know a single person who bought one either. So why the huge fallout? In 2008, I was under the impression that everyone was bound to suddenly wake up with a Wii on their pillow if they didn’t already have one. Every household I can think of had a Wii.
So what changed? As mentioned before, the only thing that changed was the market. Instead of appealing to the “hardcore” gamers, Nintendo appealed to a demographic that no longer existed by releasing what appeared to be an HD version of the same thing. Although the Wii was massively successful, at the end of the day, it was a fad. My relationship with my Wii now consists of watching Netflix and moving the Wii Balance Board when vacuuming. So why buy a newer one? Nintendo fans wanted, and still want, something different.
Give us a system that we can get behind. Give me a system that I love, like the Super Nintendo, N64, or GameCube. And please, for the love of all things that are holy, lay off the gimmicks. The previously mentioned systems didn’t attract people because they were wacky or experimental. The reason we loved them so much is because they at least attempted to be state of the art. Their charm was innate, not forced, because they were Nintendo products.
At one point, Nintendo rivaled Sega and Sony, but now, Nintendo seems to invest no effort in paralleling the PS4 and Xbox One. Make a capable system that wins the developers back so we’re not left out on the latest releases. All I want is a Nintendo console that rivals the PS4 where I can play all of my favorite franchises in one place. Speaking of which…
3. Know Thy Franchises
Nintendo has a great multitude of massively successful franchises. Kirby’s left nub is probably worth more than Crash Bandicoot and Kratos combined, let alone the heavy hitters like Link, Pikachu, and Mario. Nintendo seems to think that releasing a Mario game every other week is a clever use of its franchises. It’s not. While I admit that Nintendo has handled Pokemon exceedingly well as of late, it feels as if many of its other franchises lie inert. For example, when the only Metroid game in production in the last five years has an online petition of over 20,000 signatures to not make the game, it presents a rather foreboding future for that particular franchise.
Recently, Nintendo has improved its strategies. Winder Waker HD, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. Wii U, and Pikmin 3 were all surefire hits, but none of them were released until a year after the Wii U’s debut-long after everyone decided not to have one. Nintendo’s theme park is promising, but I want to see a Metroid game. I want to see a real Zelda game, not a hack and slash extravaganza with Zelda skins. I’d love to see F-Zero, Mother, Advanced Wars, and any number of great Nintendo series rebooted. So give us a good system with good games. While doing so, bear in mind….
4. Pay No Heed to Nay-Sayers
There are people who have lost faith in Nintendo. They suggest that Nintendo should forfeit their hardware endeavors, claiming that the iPhone and Android have slayed the 3DS and the Wii U has slain itself. These people suggest a world in which one could play the newest Zelda game on an Xbone, PS4, or mobile app. Don’t listen to them. That would be a disaster. Look at what happened to Sega. As soon as Sonic lost his home in his own console, his games suffered. A LOT. Forever.
I would feel dirty playing Mario Party on an Xbox, because I would know that Nintendo was limited. With their own systems, they can tailor their systems to their games and vise versa. Gimmicks aside, the Wii handled this issue exceptionally well. A multitude of Wii games were genuinely fun because they integrated the motion controls so well. And Nintendo has made some truly unparalleled systems that greatly deviated from their contemporaries. So don’t give up hope, Nintendo. You can turn this bad spell around. You’ve done it before. How will you go about this, you ask? Well…
5. Do Something Revolutionary and Magical That Defies All Reason and Expectation
What? Too dramatic? You don’t think you can do it? It certainly doesn’t seem farfetched to me. You rescued the game industry after Atari drove it into the ground with E.T. You invented the save system in The Legend of Zelda for the NES and perfected open-world exploration in Zelda and Metroid. You are responsible for Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, the best party games of all time. You made Ocarina of Time and Pokemon, for goodness’ sake! Even more so, you made the GameBoy! You’ve made me and millions of others tremendously happy more times than anyone could count. You have some of the best music, the strongest heritage of quality gameplay, and the most popular characters at your disposal. Video games are in every household because of you. So blow us away, Mr. Kimishima. Change the video game industry in ways that none of us could have ever even imagined. Implement new technologies that we haven’t even conceived of to make games fun again, because I know that you can and, even though we’ve had a rocky relationship the last few years, I expect nothing less.
So what do you think, fellow Nintendo fans? Are you disgruntled and jaded about Nintendo’s recent endeavors or actually pleased with their performance? Do you think Kimishima is going to be a game changer and, if so, in what way? Please, discuss it in the comment section below! And don’t forget to stop by Top Shelf Gaming for brand new articles every week.