One of my most anticipated releases of the holiday season was New Super Mario Bros Wii
. Not just because the DS title was amazing, and this basically looks like a Wii upgrade of that game, or the fact that I've been actively looking for an excuse to dust off my Nintendo console to no avail, but because my brother and I had grand plans to rock the shit out of this game on coop. There's only one problem... he doesn't live near me and it doesn't support online play... at all. No online coop. No online versus. No online leaderboards. No online chat. Nothing. Sure, it's an amazing game and I don't regret spending the money on it (yet), but I feel like I didn't get the full product, like its incomplete in someway, like I was lied to by the corporate bastards pushing coop gameplay in my face and never explicitely saying I had to have real-world friends that are willing to put on pants and come over.
I paid the same amount for Borderlands
, which boasted coop gameplay and has online content as well, and I've wasted every weekend since I got it playing with friends online. Now, sure, I can play it by myself, but doing so with friends, or even against friends, is way more fun. And the best part is I don't have to be dressed and neither do they cause we're in different parts of the damn country. What I mean to say is that I've got 3 coop missions going with different groups and have spent, and will spend, hours and hours playing this game. Once I finish NSMB
by myself, its pretty red box will sit on my shelf among its dusty white friends, and will soon be forgotten like all the others.
I don't really mean to write just another Nintendo bashing post (of which there are too many on the web), but I really feel like this title illustrates how stuck in the past Nintendo truly is and that pisses me off because I come from such strong Nintendo fanboy roots. Hell, except for a PS2 which died a couple of months after I got it at launch, I never had a console or handheld that didn't have the BigN's logo on it until 2007. So I hope you understand I love Nintendo and really want them to do well and keep making games, but it's getting to the point where I don't think they even comprehend the benefits that they, and their publishers/developers, are missing out on by not supporting online play and a more active marketplace. Lets just take a look at some of this generations numbers to see if they support this line of thought at all.
Nintendo's Wii has sold around 56million units, which is close to twice as many units as the PS3 or the 360 (both around 30 million), and with their main focus being on the casual crowd, most of their top selling games reflect that focus. Of the Wii's
best selling videogames, only a handful have any online support (SSBB, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing
, rhythm games). However, of the best selling PS3
games, all have some sort of online features (whether it be coop, versus, or DLC). That alone isn't surprise since they both put such an emphasis on the community features. But the sales figures for some of the top games really are quite jawdropping.
Super Smash Bros Brawl
, one of this generations best "hardcore" Wii games from Nintendo has only sold around 8.79 million units. Not only is that just barely 16% of the install base, but it's less than Halo 3
(10.33 million) and not that much more than MGS4
(4.31 million) or Gears of War
(5.92 for the original, 5.31 million for the sequel). Even Super Mario Galaxy
(8.2 million), the savior of the 3D Mario franchise, has fallen upon a similar fate (and don't even get me started on the sequel, which shouldn't be anything more than downloadable missions and map packs). Sure, there is MarioKart Wii
(18.24 million) which has sold well to casual and hardcore markets alike, and gained quite a boost from the new WiiWheel peripheral I'm sure... but when compared to multi-console titles like GTA4
(both around 13 million) it isn't so impressive because, although it's still a difference of 5million units, the latter have paid DLC, communities that are still very active, and sequels that are sure to sell as well (if not better) than these installments (points to MW2's
record setting release).
What I'm trying to say/show here isn't how awful Nintendo is or how they've doomed themselves to fail, but to make obvious three related points: first, that although the PS3 and the 360 share the same market, that they are matching or beating most of the Wii's sale numbers with a substantially smaller install base. Second, that this isn't because people with a 360 or PS3 have more money to waste, it's because the games on these two systems give users more of a reason to play and are aimed at the larger gaming audience. And third, that the bulk of users buying games for the Wii own another console which they probably use much more frequently because they offer titles to the "hardcore" market whereas Nintendo isn't. Mario, Zelda, Metroid, StarFox, and Kirby might have been the "hardcore" titles in their own time, but they are the new middle ground, having been replaced by Halo, MGS, GTA, COD, Fallout, and their brethren.
With their dynamic online communities, much better marketplaces, and reliance on DLC to help push games longevity to a new level, Microsoft and Sony have pushed gaming into a new era that necessitates a different focus and a different business model. Nintendo cannot rely on gimmicky controls, new peripherals, and a casual gaming market forever, because as soon as the Wii is old news and there's a new console on the block, the number of people willing to drop another $250 on another toy they barely use won't be nearly as big as it was this time around (after all, they'll still have their dusty Wii sitting under the TV). Eventually, the casual market Nintendo is milking with the Wii and DS will either move on and forget about gaming, or they will "grow up" and demand a more involving experience. Without offering something to appease these growing gamers during this console generation, Nintendo will once again become nothing more than the gateway drug and guilty pleasure of this next generation of hardcore gamers.
All it would take for Nintendo to start making some forward progress is to abandon their retarded friendcode system, incorporate some sort of online component into more of their games, utilize WiiSpeak in all online games, offer downloadable content via their marketplace (the SD card support they already expanded upon should be more than enough to support this), and some sort of trophy/achievement system wouldn't hurt. I honestly want to be a fanboy again Nintendo, but you're making me so hard to even justify owning your current console. How about throwing your longtime, loyal fans a bone. I promise it won't hurt your sales. Scouts honor. read