Nintendo vs Content
by Da'Von B.
Not too long ago Nintendo did two interesting things that caused many to give the proverbial head scratch; they’ve lowered the price of the Wii U Deluxe Set by $50 bringing it’s cost to $300 effective September 20, and announced a new hand-held system the Nintendo 2DS for $130 set to be released October 12. There are questions surrounding these actions where some can be answered without issue while others may not have such an easy answer or one that’s understandable.
Wii U Price Drop & Next-Gen
The best understandable reason behind the price drop in the Wii U could be behind the release of two highly anticipated next-gen consoles in the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. But a price drop won’t help them here, the consensus behind the Wii U touch screen controller is that it’s there as a bit of a gimmick, the promise of what could’ve been done on the controller and with the system was more than what was delivered. The technical aspects behind the touchscreen controller is laughable as it’s less intuitive and less response than smartphones that have come out five years ago. Meanwhile Sony and Microsoft are gearing up for a slugfest between one another not paying any attention or giving any credit to Nintendo as they’re seen not as a threat but likely as a…non-issue(?).
The problem with the Wii U is that the availability of a wide range of content is scarce. Yes, having several Mario games is nice and all and Super Smash Bros looks awesome but where’s the rest of the content? It can be considered extremely exciting to announce you’re coming out with a Zelda game for the Wii U something many Nintendo fans have been waiting for, but it just so happens this Zelda game is essentially the same Zelda game that was available for the Nintendo Gamecube ten years ago. Adding a few new features here and there to a ten year old game won’t satisfy those that have been waiting for a new Zelda experience, but that’s what Nintendo is banking on.
The question remains, where is the rest of the content? Or the swath of content from third parties? If you’re expecting games from EA don’t hold your breath they have nothing in development at this moment…or at all. Then there’s publishing powerhouse Ubisoft who has come out suggesting that until Nintendo sells more systems they won’t be making any exclusive content for the Wii U. Maybe that could’ve been one of the many things that helped Nintendo make the decision to reduce the price…maybe. But in a way that looks like a double edged sword, Nintendo can’t simply sell more systems with an anemic amount of third or even first party content, and it looks like publishers have no desire to build for the system unless there are more systems in the homes of consumers (and that last part makes a lot of sense). The price drop won’t do, and there’s no idea of what Nintendo’s next move will be whether they’re working on new software or washing their hands of the error that is the Wii U in general and developing something new.
What’s The Point Of 2DS?
So now you have the new 2DS a system low in cost and potentially strong in value at $130 this seems like something that would be a stocking stuffer for many, but one has to add in the cost of games. Yes it can play older 3DS games but why would you buy a 2DS to play 3DS games if you already have a 3DS? That question is irrelevant to those with disposable income, but not everyone has disposable income, so with purchasing such a gaming system there’s the question of the cost of games, Nintendo 3DS games are standard $39.99, obviously purchasing one game won’t suffice the costs overall add up for a system that only lets you play games and may make it cumbersome when adding music or any other outside content for consumption.
The problem with the Nintendo 2DS is that Nintendo as a company hasn’t figured out that business as usual simply won’t work. This is a problem facing many that have thrived over the years and find themselves fighting change that will inevitably take place setting us up for the future. The Nintendo 2DS seems like a placeholder or an attempt to hold consumers over until they come out with their next great console or device if they are in fact working on such products and at the moment there’s not much reason to doubt that they aren’t working on that very next thing that will shock us all…at least that’s what we can hope.
With the stagnant release of first party content from Nintendo and the lack of third party support, there’s a lot of chatter that Nintendo should build their IP for other mobile devices…namely iOS and that isn’t a terrible idea, but the possible concerns Nintendo may have are understandable to a certain extent. The thought of Nintendo building IP such as the original Super Mario Bros 1 through 3 where the control scheme on an iPhone or iPad won’t be unnecessarily complex but quite simple based on the original NES controller, the Direction Pad (D-Pad), Start & Select, and the A/B buttons. With the millions of iOS devices around the world and selling these games between $9.99 and $14.99 a piece, in the short term it would be a substantial boon for Nintendo. The concerns here that the company would likely have is that this could eat into their own mobile device sales of the 2DS and 3DS. But it’s not entirely a bad idea since these games are from over 2 decades ago.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball has his own thoughts on Nintendo’s current state, and that building original IP would be ideal selling these games for $14.99 to $19.99. This could also potentially work as a testing ground, but I’m not too sure about building original IP for a mobile device competing directly with their own would work. Either way creating original IP or porting the original Super Mario Bros trilogy for iOS would prompt millions to purchase these games simply for the fact that it’s coming from Nintendo.
In the end, Nintendo doesn’t and shouldn’t have to deviate from their course of making hardware and software, if anything all they have to do is stop being afraid of courting third parties, but it’s clear in order to court these third parties Nintendo has to develop hardware that can get these studios excited. At the same time they have to get to work on their own IP that’s not a simple reboot of the same game they released over a decade ago…time will tell, but with the rapid advancement of technology today time isn’t on their side like it was in years past.