I respectfully disagree. I love Nintendo, I’ve had one of their consoles since I was four. If I had to make a list of the top ten games that have changed my life (gaming-wise, though I can correlate certain games with certain life developments, that’s a different article), most of them would be on Nintendo.
Nintendo’s issue is not free-to-play (which I also believe to be a vile and obnoxious practice, Candy Crush could vanish from the Earth tomorrow and I would frolic amongst the rubble as the masses wailed and ground their teeth around me), but a distinct lack of innovation in a few areas.
Allow me to explain.
Online and Multiplayer Support – I literally dread the moment when my Wii stops working. I have spent good money picking up games from Virtual Console and according to the system, no real way to document those purchases so, when/if/ever I had to buy another system, those games won’t be coming with me. Whereas their peers in the arena – Xbox (though Windows Live is an apocalyptically awful system and does not translate to computers well, again, another rant for another article) and Playstation have robust and well-structured systems to a) register your purchases to an account that you can take with you and log into at will on other systems and b) allow you to play with other people, LOTS of other people. If games are moving to a diskless existence, this is going to be a huge obstacle for Nintendo, which basically built its fan base by letting people share games.
Hardware Integration – Nintendo has always had a strong presence in the handheld gaming arena. They’ve even had a strong history of integrating those hand held systems with existing consoles. The Wii U, while a seemingly awesome effort at bringing in high-definition gaming, just isn’t going to be on the level with the big boys from what I’ve heard. The Wii was revolutionary for the number of accessories that interacted with the hardware wirelessly. The Wii mote showed that you could be active and still enjoy your favorite games. (It also caused my Dad to require knee surgery from Wii bowling but…hey, no one said gaming was safe.) With the Wii U GamePad having touchscreen functionality, how awesome would it be for Nintendo to also allow your friends to use their phones/tablets to play with you with the download of a simple app?
As I’ve discussed in a previous article, I would be delighted to see Nintendo go where none of their peers have with mobile integration. I’m not saying make everything available to everyone on any device, I’d just be happy to see something different and awesome to remind me why I love them so much. I’ll even pay for it.
I love my 3DS, it’s my first Nintendo handheld (I flirted briefly with the Gameboy Advanced as a kid, stealing my brother’s to play Donkey Kong) but the interface is…clunky. It looks like Nintendo is getting better about accounts and multiplayer functionality, but I’m not surprised as their handhelds have always played nice with their flagship hardware.
Nintendo has had a great run of creating systems and games that people love. I like my PS3, I just “like” it. To me, it is a means to an end, but Nintendo for me has always been nostalgia, remembering my first journey into IT support (blowing the dust out of the cartridge and the inside of the system on my NES), playing Goldeneye against my brother (poorly) and as an adult, playing Mario Kart for the Wii with my sister and uncle, who both live in different states. Few other systems do that for me.
So please, I implore you from a place of love and perhaps fangirlish adoration – get it together, Nintendo. You can lead the pack again, show Sony and Microsoft what almost three decades of gaming prowess has taught you. Stop following trends and start blazing new trails. Build up mobile, give people reasons to spend money on a new system, not excuses.
I believe in you.