The full title was supposed to be "Why is Nintendo such a polarizing company, and why do we care so much about the industry?" One of the most fascinating aspects of videogames to me is the sheer power of the emotional commitment they elicit out of us gamers, in a way I don't think any other entertainment medium does. I don't follow other mediums closely, so I might be mistaken about this but I can't imagine a discussion between music buffs ever touches on the business practices of Sony Music, or that the most fanatic book reader has any idea who the CEO of HarperCollins is.
We, on the other hand, spend almost as much time, if not more, talking about sales charts, business strategies, analyzing company policy and the like. We know by name not only the CEOs of many game companies, but the names of several lower level execs as well. We're all analysts, and we love it! Many gamers like to pretend to be "above fray", that it's "just videogames" but they just can't help themselves. They will let us know how everyone is so silly to be wasting time talking about whatever, and then proceed to chip in anyways! When there's a thread they "couldn't care less" about, say, EA's latest exec reshuffle, they care so little that they make sure to log in and let all of know know just how little they care. Repeatedly. Sometimes they'll even respond to comments in the same thread they don't care about!
It's not rational. It makes no sense. We don't have a stake in any of these companies. But we care anyways. Why? I have no idea. I know I care. I've tried not to, because, really it makes no sense and is kind of silly, but once I realized it wasn't about making sense (and when you think about it, not much about life really does), what the heck, I gladly embraced it.
Which brings us to Nintendo. Among all the companies in the business, I don't think there's a company that generates stronger reactions than Nintendo. Nintendo is scrutinized in a way that's probably unmatched anywhere else in the industry. It seems that virtually everyone involved in the business, from raging fanboys to financial analysts, care about Nintendo one way or another. Wait, what about the legions of Nintendo haters? That's just the thing, you only hate what you care about.
Even when "professional" analysts discuss Nintendo, it's not unusual to see the "analysis" clouded by Nintendo love/hate. Consider this article
on Forbes titled Nintendo: The New Sega, an article so, shall we say... inconsistent, that the writer was called out in the comments by at least one fellow Forbes writer, something I never thought I'd live to see. To give you just a sample of the quality of the work, the guy cites ATARI as an example of a company that successfully transitioned from hardware to software.
Or this one
on GamesIndustry International, titled "Wii U: Death By Apathy". It's pretty obvious where the writer is going by the incendiary title. And obviously the Wii U is struggling, and there are many ways to reasonably argue that it won't succeed (just as there are many reasonable ways to argue that it will), but what caught my attention wasn't the content of yet another DOOMED piece, but the wording. Intersped throughout the piece we have the likes of "Christimas is cancelled for Nintendo" (his take on EA not supporting the Wii U), "a title no one asked for and no one is interested in" (referring to Insomniac's Fuse) and "Fisher Price tablet" (the Wii U Gamepad) among others, that make you wonder if you're reading a professional industry analyst or a slightly better written forum response in a console wars thread.
Just as interesting are the comments. Unlike most websites, commenters on GamesIndustry are identified by their real names and jobs, and most work in the industry. Obviously, the level of discourse is far above your average Destructoid or IGN, but they still duck it out. Some loved his "Fisher Price" gag, others called him out on his "venom". Hum... where have I seen that before...
To say nothing of the recent twitter tirade and possible career suicide of EA's Bob Summerwill. The list goes on and on. Just as long is the list of articles that read like love letters to Nintendo, although right now they are naturally eclipsed by the doomed crowd.
I'm sure many of the people above are intelligent people, yet when it comes to Nintendo, it's like the emotions just take over. Why is that? I don't know, but of course I just HAVE to present my own armchair psychology theories! Maybe it's because Nintendo had an inordinate influence on the chiildhoods of legions of gamers, and those memories stay with us. Maybe because some former Nintendo fans resent the company for "betraying" them with the Wii (or even with the N64).
Maybe... who knows. What I do know is that it amazes me that Nintendo in particular, and games as a medium, can have such a powerful hold on people. What do you folks think?
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