How do you solve a problem like Maria?

hyrule-warriors-review.jpg

Over the past week, I’ve received some interesting responses to my previous blog post. Some believe that it’s unrealistic for NX to receive stronger first party software output than Wii U. People think I’m blowing smoke up their ass, but they completely forget that I was the person who constantly criticized the company for failing to deal with these software droughts.

First and foremost, it’s important to mention that a large portion of Wii U’s  best games weren’t developed by Nintendo. So this idea that Nintendo will solely rely on their own internal studios to create NX software — instead of collaborations with third parties — is absolutely ridiculous. If we’re going to have a real discussion about whether NX’s software output will be a significant improvement over Wii U’s software output, then this is something that needs to be addressed.

Wii U games that weren’t developed by Nintendo

Hyrule Warriors – Developed by Koei Tecmo, Omega Force, Team Ninja (Not Nintendo)

Pokken Tournament – Developed by Bandai Namco Studios (Not Nintendo)

Lego City Undercover – Developed by TT Games (Not Nintendo)

The Wonderful 101 – Developed by Platinum Games  (Not Nintendo)

Bayonetta 2 – Developed by Platinum Games  (Not Nintendo)

Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE – Developed by Atlus (Not Nintendo)

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD – Developed by Tantalus (Not Nintendo)

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water – Developed by Koei Tecmo (Nintendo)

Devil’s Third – Developed by Valhalla Game Studios  (Not Nintendo)

Sing Party – Developed by FreeStyle Games (Not Nintendo)

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge – Developed by Koei Tecmo (Not Nintendo)

Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics – Developed by Sega Sports R&D  (Not Nintendo)

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – Developed by Sega Sports R&D (Not Nintendo)

Sonic Lost World – Developed by Sega (Not Nintendo)

Sonic Boom – Developed by Sega (Not Nintendo) — Nintendo partially funded this

Zombi U – Developed by Ubisoft (Not Nintendo)  — originally a Wii U exclusive

Rayman Legends – Developed by Ubisoft (Not Nintendo)

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate – Developed by Capcom (Not Nintendo)

Lost Reavers – Developed by Bandai Namco Studios (Not Nintendo)

To understand how Nintendo will deal with software droughts on NX, I think everyone needs to take a time machine back to late 2014.

From The Escapist in November 2014:

Nintendo’s decades-old strategy of sparse first-party-title releases may soon be drawing to a close. At a recent financial results Q&A, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata and General Manager of Nintendo EAD Shigeru Miyamoto expressed their desire to release games starring Nintedo IPs more often, and the wish to extend the life of pre-existing games utilizing DLC.

Miyamoto showcased another strategy involving spin-off games as well. He believes that collaborating with second or third-party designers to release smaller-scale games utilizing Nintendo IPs that would concentrate on being smaller-scale than their main series entries, but still enjoyable. He pointed to the recent success of Hyrule Warriors as an example of how this plan could work out.

They have already been pushing hard on this “smaller spin-off games” strategy with Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad, Kirby & the Rainbow Curse, The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, Amiibo Festival, Happy Home Designer, and many others.

Shigeru Miyamoto further elaborates:

…we want to support our character IP and increase the number of games we develop and release by also creating relatively smaller-scale but fun to play games,”

“We’re making preparations to release software within a franchise so that fans of the series will not need to wait for, say, three years in order to play a new experience in that franchise.”


Remakes and ports of old games

wii sports club

Recently I mentioned that Nintendo was conducting experiments with multiple ports for the NX. Earlier this year, I said Legend of Zelda U and Smash Bros U were practically guaranteed to receive NX ports. This week, Nintendo confirmed that Zelda will receive a dual release on Wii U and NX. Meanwhile, Super Mario Maker and Splatoon are currently just experiments, and there’s NO guarantee whether Nintendo will announce/release them.

It’s always possible that Nintendo may turn these porting experiments into full-fledged sequels — Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Maker 2. But it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

There is some actual logic behind these ports.

Super Smash Bros, Super Mario Maker, and Splatoon aren’t seen as just games for Nintendo. They are seen as services where they can continue selling more DLC and amiibo. These games are also seen as “communities” by the company, and they want these communities to migrate from Wii U to NX.  This explains why Nintendo continued to support these games with DLC regardless of Wii U’s disastrous hardware sales.

Super Smash Bros. represents a large bulk of the amiibo business. This is the franchise that launched the entire amiibo craze back in 2014. There are currently more amiibo figures for Super Smash Bros than any other Wii U game. But Nintendo can’t afford to wait three years to develop a completely brand new Smash Bros from scratch with a new engine. For example: Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS were announced in 2011, but they weren’t released until the end of 2014.

Nintendo doesn’t have an amiibo franchise like Skylanders, Disney Infinity, or Lego Dimensions. The company wants the amiibo business to continue thriving, and Super Smash Bros is extremely important to the overall health of the amiibo business.

When you analyze the software libraries of Wii U and 3DS, Nintendo did port and remake a decent number of games from previous consoles.

Wii U Remakes / Ports

Wii Sports Club  – A remake of a Wii launch title.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD  – A remake of a GameCube game.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD – A remake of a Wii launch title.

Bayonetta 1 – A port of a 360 / PS3 game with Wii U exclusive content.

3DS Remakes / Ports

Star Fox 64 3D  — A remake of an N64 game

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D — A remake of an N64 game

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D — A remake of an N64 game

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D — A port of a Wii game

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D — A port of a Wii game.


Redundancy leads to inefficiency

Based on conversations with my Nintendo sources, smaller games and spinoffs are only one small piece of a much bigger strategy to increase software output for future hardware. As handheld software becomes increasingly similar to their console brethren, it’s becoming more and more pointless to have two separate teams making two completely different versions of a similar game. From the company’s point of view, it would be much easier to create one piece of software for multiple devices.

Nintendo wants to solve a problem.

And the problem is in the picture below.

Redundancy

 

15 thoughts on “How do you solve a problem like Maria?

  1. > As handheld software becomes increasingly similar to their console brethren\

    This is something that has always bugged me. I really do hope Nintendo can make a move toward a single device for both segments. I don’t think we’re there yet (or if it is possible from a marketing standpoint), but maybe push the idea of actually buying once (or maybe a nominal “other device” fee), playing anywhere. I suppose I’m hoping the software underlying NX really does build the foundation for the games, too.

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    1. I think the hardware would be too expensive for Nintendo to give away the handheld device cheaper. But I think they will do it. It’s is definitively possible just look at the graphics of the PS Vita and remember that it was released five years ago from 2017.

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  2. The history of Nintendo has been enough to prove your point on why NX software output will be far greater than any other Nintendo console before it (at least where first-party games are concerned).

    I’m a Nintendo fan, but I openly detested the Wii era of the company for two major reasons: 1) It was a console that signified how much Nintendo was willing to turn their back on third-parties and the dedicated gaming industry as we knew it then to cater to a more casual audience; 2) It caused many Nintendo fans to begin using a variety of “escape hatch” methods to blindly defend the most objective, poorly executed concepts during the era (Wii U being a perfect example more recently). Wii was a brand that caused a divide between ‘core’ vs. ‘casual’ audiences in a way no other system did before. It created a double-edged sword situation for Nintendo with the Wii U, so-to-speak. The Wii U was going to fail no matter what Nintendo tried to do to market it. Even developers such as Shigeru Miyamoto have acknowledged this same struggle they had faced with the console before and what they were going to do to correct and resolve it, as you said above in your post.

    They lost that casual audience as the Wii was coming to the end of its lifespan, and Nintendo tried to reclaim both audiences with the Wii U, but it disastrously failed to find a proper footing on the market. So what was the most understandable thing to do? Create a bridge to a new era.

    The best time for Nintendo to take advantage of doing this infrastructure ‘shake-up’ (so-to-speak) was during the Wii U’s lifespan ‘due’ to the Wii U’s inability to penetrate the console market in a sufficient and timely manner. To create synergy between future dedicated game systems made by Nintendo, they had to be analytical and observe trends to see what was taking off and how to best leverage for their business. This is when the company’s change of course with their partnership with DeNA came into being back in 2015.

    After the end results of their various experiments on the Wii U with smaller-scale projects, I think they have noticed themselves that some game ideas took off better than others based on ‘how’ they were implemented and ‘who’ they appealed to. In almost all instances, people reacted to games that felt more polished better than the rest. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Hyrule Warriors, The Wonderful 101, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, and Pushmo are all excellent examples of polished, quality titles. On the flip side, Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash, and Metroid Prime: Federation Force are all examples of titles that have gone horribly wrong due to their reliance on niche concepts that just don’t cut it anymore.

    Their new branding suggests that Nintendo has got their head on straight and will start making games the forefront of their systems again. I honestly can’t wait to find out what this will eventually mean for the capabilties of their software lineup they have planned for the NX.

    It’s a good time to be a Nintendo fan for sure, but we need to be more patient and wait on things before jumping straight to conclusions. 🙂

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  3. But didn’t Sakurai end Smash 4 DLC support & go on a vacation before starting his next project? Smash 4 may have been a service, but that service concluded this past February. And while you did get intel on a Smash 4 port for the NX Platform, you never mentioned if that port will include new characters (if it does & you’re allowed to say so, please feel free to indulge us).

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  4. Combining the two segments (handheld and console) into one hybrid device would instantly cause the software rate to increase, just take all the 3 DS games released and the Wii u games released, remove the duplicates, and you are still left with a staggering library that would blow away any other console. Never mind all the time spent on the duplicates which would be spend on development to make the other games better or entirely other games

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  5. If all this work is not being done by Nintendo why are they having such a hard time making games? Seems like they themselves haven’t made many games at all. I think Nintendo has just been too cheap to hire enough to support both devices. By just developing for one device they’ll be able to continue this practice. The effect will be more and better games obviously but I have huge doubts that there will be a huge difference. They’ll do the bare minimum like they’ve done all alone. They take 4 years to make their Kart, Smash, Mario, and Zelda with a few smaller titles like Star Fox, Kirby and Donkey Kong strewn in their from time to time. Believe me, it will not mean we’ll get yearlly or once every two years..games.

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  6. You make some pretty good points Emily and you appear to be legit. However, I have two major issues with your image.

    1. Several games on here are from third parties, not Nintendo. As odd as it is that someone thought making two versions of Funky Barn was a good idea, it has nothing to do with Nintendo nor them trying to streamline their first party content. If a third party wants to make similar games for Wii U and 3DS, that’s their choice, not Nintendo’s. Including them here makes you look vindictive or trying to pad your list to prove a point. Regardless, it completely undermines your entire argument and I would recommend removing them immediately.

    2. A lot of the examples you use make no sense. Like Tropical Freeze vs. Returns 3D. Why are you comparing a port of a Wii game to its sequel? It makes no sense! I can understand you comparing games like Smash (even though they are completely different games) and the NES Remixes as they have similarities. I’ll even give you Color Splash and Sticker Star even though the former is not yet released and we have no idea how it’ll turn out. But why are you making nonsense comparisons like Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8? Again, one is a sequel to the former. But by far the worst is Yoshi’s New Island and Yoshi’s Woolly World. They are have completely different art styles and gameplay mechanics! Seriously, wtf Emily? You are clearly grasping at straws here and it does you no favors at all.

    I do agree with your points for the most part, as it does make sense for Nintendo to look for a resolution to their software issues. And yes, development for two different architectures that are similar in power (in this case, 3DS and Wii U) split their efforts and caused drought issues. But the problem is not that those titles are redundant. There’s nothing wrong with having a 2D Mario on both handheld and console. The problem is that they couldn’t make just one 2D Mario to be released on both. The latter is what I believe they are aiming for. That way each demographic still gets a game they want without taking away resources that could be put to better use making a different game (like a new Wario Land).

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    1. Her point isn’t that… She wants to represent that are games with the same focus and similar developmnet, not exactly the same game. I understand that DKCTF and DKCR are diferents titles, but Nintendo could create only one game supported by two consoles with the same architecture or a hybrid console. In both cases the companies could eliminate redundancy.

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      1. If she were comparing Wii original vs. 3DS port, then that would have made sense. But she is basically comparing a game to its sequel and saying it’s redundant. That’s like saying a Call of Duty game every year is redundant. While that may be true, it has little to do with her point. The games are on two different systems, and are not the same game at all. In fact the 3DS port of Returns was worked on by a completely different studio so it didn’t waste Retro’s resources at all!

        If her point is that you could have made TF for both systems had the architecture been similar, then I absolutely agree. But it has nothing to do with redundancy, which is what she claimed her argument was. The 3DS port wouldn’t have magically disappeared just because of TF.

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  7. There’s good redundancy ala Smash Bros. That game was pretty much the same game on both platforms. It was a same day release on both platforms. That’s good redundancy. Nintendo isn’t really making two separate games to sell to the same number of customers. The customer can play the game on his or her platform of choice. I think this game represents Nintendo’s new direction.

    And then there’s bad redundancy. The worst offenders being Mario Kart, Super Mario 3d and Super Mario Bros. These were 3 major Nintendo franchises with completely different versions on handheld and console. This is bad for the customer and bad for Nintendo.

    If the customer wants to play both games in any one of these franchises then that customer has to buy a 2nd Nintendo hardware device. That’s a tall order to ask of the customer when Nintendo’s hardware is increasingly first party only. It also doesn’t make much sense to the customer given these games are similar in scope and control virtually the same on both platforms. I think in today’s world this means the customer only plays 1 of the Mario Karts, 1 of the Super Mario Bros titles and 1 of the Super Mario 3d titles.

    This is a waste of resources for Nintendo.

    If those franchisees were dual-platform to begin with then Nintendo could make twice the software for both platforms. They could have made 2 Mario Karts that run on both the 3ds and Wii U or they could have made just 1 that works on both platforms and freed up the 2nd team to make a 2nd completely different game. In either case it would mean more Nintendo software on any given platform.

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    1. You obviously haven’t played both Smash on 3DS and Wii U so it’s understandable that you would assume that they’re the same. They’re not. They are very different games, each one tailored to their specific console. In fact, Sakurai has referred to them as Smash 4 and Smash 5, confirming this. So no true redundancy.

      But while they did not come out at the same time, they were released only a few months apart. And the two games were designed to be sibling games, which is what you described: a game that you can simply choose for your console of choice. Mind you, you need both to get the full experience (plus the soundtrack and free Mewtwo), but some don’t want that and that’s their choice.

      But it also demonstrates the issue at heart. Sakurai had to create two games for two different consoles at the same time. Smash is already a huge project so now multiply that by two! On top of his health not being good around that time, I am quite certain that he is lucky to be alive after development finally ended. This is why I think that Nintendo is going this direction with NX.

      Stay tuned for Part2…

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    2. Time for Part 2, where I address the bad part of your post.

      Frankly, your bad redundancy argument stinks. As you said, the games are completely different. Redundancy means that they are the same, so how can there be any when we have different games? See how terrible your logic and Emily’s are?

      And how is giving the consumer what they want a bad thing? These particular examples are awful because as I mentioned before, the Wii U versions are sequels to the 3DS games. If you want to play both 3DS and Wii U games, then of course you have to buy both. It’s common sense. In order to play Halo, you have to buy an Xbox. That’s the point of system exclusives. If you just made Mario Kart 7 and then gave the Wii U the same game in HD, you’re punishing the consumer that has both systems and that is an even worse idea. I already played that game in 2011. Why can’t I get a new Mario Kart game in 2014 instead of what I played 3 years ago “in HD”?

      And that is why Emily’s image is so incredibly stupid and makes her look like a complete moron. Because the 3DS and Wii U are not the same at all. Like these games, they are different machines and each audience wants an authentic Nintendo experience. This is even more true for the Nintendo fans who have both. So again, the problem is not one of redundancy. The issue is that there is no parity between the systems to allow sibling games. This is why making the NX a platform with form factors and having a shared library is a great idea. It eliminates the need to have two different games for two systems. One game. One system. Mo time for mo games.

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  8. Yeah, Nintendo did delay the NX for the purpose of having games ready at launch, which I have no problem with. That also (hopefully) means that there wont be software droughts and from what we’ve been hearing, there definitely wont be any. Only thing to do is wait see for now.

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