Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Why Project Café will struggle with hardcore gamers

4:00 PM on 05.24.2011 // Xander Markham

[Community member and fellow Flixist writer Xander Markham offers his view of the future of Nintendo's new console. Do you think Nintendo will bring over converts from other platforms? Let us know in the comments! Want to see your own writing on the front page? Write something awesome and put it in the C Blogs. -- Kauza]

The prospect of a new console launch is always fun, especially when Nintendo's 'Project Café' has to follow an experiment both so successful and divisive as the Wii. I've been running a feature on my new blog remembering the best overlooked Wii games, and will be doing more articles on what we might be able to expect from Café closer to its E3 reveal. I'm also wallowing in my cracking run of form for predictions: in February 2010, in only my fourth Cblog post, I hit the nail on the head in anticipating that Nintendo's next console would make its first appearance at E3 2011. More recently, for Flixist, when the news broke that Quentin Tarantino was making a Western with Franco Nero, I nailed my flag to the mast for a new Django. Lo and behold, Django Unchained. Seriously, they pay Pachter for this? 

So here I go again, no doubt destined for humiliation now that I've let a few lucky strikes go to my head. But who can resist speculating when there's a new console on the horizon, especially one following an event so unique in gaming history as the Wii? There are many reasons why this is a fascinating time to be a gamer. 
So let's lay the cards on the table. This new console, which I'll refer to as 'Café' since that seems to be its official codename, has the unenviable task of following up the Wii's 86 million units sold. Also unenviable is the fact that it will reportedly mark Nintendo's bid to recapture the so-called 'hardcore' gamer who lost confidence in the Wii after a slew of underwhelming titles at launch and the slews of third-party shovelware that followed. 

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has stated that the new console is being released because the Wii has lost the ability to surprise people. Café will launch sometime in 2012, giving it an expected two year head-start on the next PlayStation and Xbox, both of which are supposedly for release in 2014. 

Here's the good news for Nintendo: as Chad Concelmo's article shows, the fact that the new console will be in HD seems enough to generate excitement in gamers before they've so much as seen a single screenshot or the controller, which we can expect to undergo some revision from Nintendo's underappreciated Wiimote model. The most recent spate of 360/PS3 game have shown how much the gaming experience has expanded on the other side of the power gulf between the HD consoles and the Wii. The idea of an HD Metroid, or a Zelda on an Elder Scrolls scale, is enough to get most unaffiliated long-time players (aka the non-fanboys) frothing at the mouth, even though an HD Zelda is likely to be a very long way away considering Skyward Sword is coming to the Wii later this year. That game is important for many reasons, but that's a subject for another article. 

The bad news is that the Wii has to have a successor at all. Not due to it having to follow such an enormous success story, but because it places Nintendo in a difficult middle ground. Rumours say they want to recapture the 'hardcore' gamer – something they've been trying for since the GameCube launch – yet the type of gamer this refers to is not an audience that has ever been kind to them. Let's not forget that the GameCube, original XBox and PS2 had effective graphical parity at the start of their lifespans and received most of the same multiplatform ports. Why then did the Nintendo versions, barring a handful of exceptions, sell noticeably worse than their rivals' counterparts? The point could be made that the childish appearance of the purple GameCube put off teenagers from buying it, but it was also sold in a sleeker black from launch which, while hardly a stunner, wasn't as outright ugly as the purple version. 

The fact is that Nintendo, to be blunt, aren't cool. Microsoft earned their success by focusing all their attention on a handful of the most popular genres and giving them to its audience by the bucketload. The XBox became synonymous with console FPS gaming courtesy of Halo, which is why the top tier of the genre continues to outsell the same games on the PS3. Sony's library is more diverse and eccentric, but presentation is at the heart of their business plan. They brought in the gamers who now call themselves 'hardcore' during the PS and PS2 eras, and their design teams rarely turn out anything not in slick black or packing power under the bonnet (the PS2 was way ahead of its nearest competition at launch and not significantly behind once the GCN and XBox appeared a year later). 

Sony have a brand intimately tied up in the new notions of 'hardcore' gaming and cool presentation. Nintendo are the opposite. They are a company associated with history, family friendliness and accessible, affordable technology. The only one of those qualities which the new 'hardcore' gamer values is 'affordable', yet even this comes with two caveats. The first is that Nintendo, whose business strategy depends on them making a profit on each unit sold, can't go overboard on impressive technology, a key factor in the Wii losing the interest of this market. The second is that if the image of the product is negative, no gamer striving to stay in the same social strata as their friends will touch one, no matter the price. If anything, a low price then becomes associated with cheapness in quality, rather than affordability. 

Even if Nintendo convince third-parties to support the Café in the way they're hoping – and they're certainly talking the talk in the pre-E3 build-up - all this would amount to is them making up distance on the competition, not overtaking. The Café could be as powerful as the sun, but with costs of development equally astronomical, the games it receives from third-parties will be the same multi-platform releases as the other consoles, with little noticeable improvement. The Wii survived on its exclusives, even from third parties, but they will be significantly harder to come by. When the next consoles from Sony and Microsoft launch, there's every chance they will be packing powerful enough hardware that will leave Nintendo in the same weakened position they've been in with the Wii. Fortunately for Nintendo, those same development costs should stay their competitors' hand for a while: but the moment they feel threatened, it will spell trouble for Café. 

Let's also not forget that the gamers Nintendo are going after will have little reason to buy a multiplatform game on the Café, because their trophy/achievement accounts are already established on rival consoles. Why start again when you can improve your existing records? Even if Café becomes the new first choice gamers' console and Nintendo includes their own version of achievements, everyone will be starting from scratch and bragging rights will take some time to come by. The 3DS' slow launch should be a warning sign to Nintendo that there's far more work to be done here than securing the third-party support which the competition already has. Though the handheld has since slipped into one of Ninendo's trademark game droughts, there were plenty of appealing, big name third-party games at launch (Ridge RacerStreet FighterGhost ReconPES etc), yet sales have dipped rapidly. 

There are no more encouraging signs that Nintendo will be able to rely on the support of the new gamers they've brought into the fold either. Several studies have found that the Wii is the forgotten console in many households and its 'casual' users barely aware that its library extends beyond Wii Sports and Wii Fit. What are the chances that these people, who already paid out for a product that has fallen into disuse, would be willing to pay top dollar again for the kind of gaming rig which some speculators are predicting the Café will be? (At the very least, this thing won't launch at GameCube prices). It's not impossible that these people can be brought around and over the previous five years, Nintendo's track record in launching innovative, widely appealing products was excellent. This will require concessions though, to accommodate that audience's need for straightforward controls and technology, which will be offputting to the self-declared 'hardcore'. 

So what does all this mean? In short, Nintendo's best chance is to do what they did last time with the Wii, pulling a product out of the hat which promises to change the way we play games, while also making it functional (I love the Wii, but no-one could argue that its technology worked as well as it should have) and compatible with the experiences 'hardcore' gamers are already getting, as not to alienate them. No easy task, being all things to all people. 

The final step, then: pray for a miracle. 

It would be awesome to have some of the Dtoid community visit me on my blog, and rest assured that the 'no copy and paste' rule will be fully respected! You can also follow me on Facebook for regular updates and the chance to leave that uniquely Cblog brand of sarcastic comment!

Xander Markham,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
No comment.
Parismio avatarParismio
Omg i love the internet
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Iron Paladin avatarIron Paladin
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
I can't wait to mute Niero. #NoRules #ThePurge
Joe Parlock avatarJoe Parlock
I spent all last night playing Day of Defeat: Source. If only Valve gave it even half the attention it did to TF2 or CS:S...
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Nearing Platinum status.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Parismio avatarParismio
Sheesh i played metal gear rising before and Platinum ruined the franchise.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Toonami is running a poll right now at [url][/url] where one of the questions is which show you'd want un-cancelled. Oh, Teen Titans is included? That's curious...
SlyTAdvantage avatarSlyTAdvantage
"The Ravagers dropped the giant insects and waited for them to evolve ... it's clear. This is their plan from the start" -EDF 4.1 scientist So dragons are evolved forms of ants, spiders and/or wasps ....... what?
Ckarasu avatarCkarasu
Every time I hear "I don't understand why people like _____ game", I get annoyed. Of course you understand, if you've listened to what those people were saying. You just don't agree, and that's A-OK. I HATE Twilight, but I understand why people like it.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Just tried playing the first Bayonetta game... it was really bad. Honestly I don't understand why Platinum games are so well regarded. None of them are really worthwhile.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
The first person I block is the person who talks shit about Platinum
Torchman avatarTorchman
Even though your waifus are shit
Darth Wachen avatarDarth Wachen
Finally, a blog that I can call my own, I feel accomplished somehow.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Gonna be honest; this really made my day.
Rico the Penguin avatarRico the Penguin
I doubt I'll use it much but I'm totally fine with a block/ignore feature. Everyone has a right to speak, but I don't think anyone has a right to be heard. If this place played country music I'd want a mute button, basically :p.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Mall haul today (plus I split a BEAUTIFUL Star Wars Slave I with my brother). Any thoughts on Haze? Wanted to play it back when it came out and I had no PS3. For a dollar you can't go wrong!
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
I'm not gonna lie, I don't feel "good" about the upcoming "ignore" feature. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the idea that people can mute other people because they don't agree with them. Spammers and trolls, sure, but not regular community members.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -