It appeared that the universe seemed to sense my unease before I had the chance to sit down and write my letter because Nintendo announced that they would be dropping the price of the 3DS from $249.99 to $169.99 on August 12th. While this is hopefully a sign that sales will pick up, it still doesn�t deviate from the point I wanted to make.
I implore you to take a look at the world around you. We live in such a digital and connected age that a failure to take advantage of that is not only a poor business decision but is possibly alienating to your loyal customers, myself included. I would like to start this with a look at the past.
The Nintendo DS was the first real online console that you have released, quickly followed by the Wii. While it was a pleasant change from complete lack before, both were immensely outpaced by the 360, PS3, and PSP. Friend codes were not a good decision in any way possible. A common defense was that they would protect children, but I argue that they only made them more vulnerable.
Instead of being able to have conversations with people where in we could simply tell them an online ID name, it was near impossible to exchange friend codes except on the internet. It was simply easier to post our friend code in a forum or on a social network than to try in person. This resulted in easy to find and access lists of friend codes. Without the feature to add people you play with, we looked to the community to fill our friend lists, and anyone can randomly join the community.
This practice was innately irritating and while you continued this trite trend with the 3DS, the announcements regarding the Wii U makes me believe that you are finally going to buck this annoyance. Online isn�t everything though. Yes people want to play games online, but they want to play good games online, which highlights another problem plaguing your consoles.
Since the N64, it has been a long standing tradition for us exclaim that while you make fantastic games, you have very little third party support on your consoles. This is in no way true, instead you lack quality third party titles on your systems. Third parties mostly provide shovelware and shoddy ports. This isn�t something you can control but affects you regardless.
We, your audience, feel that you have abandoned us. We all rushed out to buy a Wii and promptly delegated it to the closet to gather dust, if we actually stilll own one. While it wasn�t a failure, I believe that it was a failed attempt to obtain a new audience. You wanted the casual �mom� crowd and you got it, but you didn�t hold it. The audience you wanted saw the Wii as a toy, not as a platform. You created the next Tickle Me Elmo not the next PS2.
My opinions have been formed by sales data, but even I�m not sure if you did completely fail. If your new casual audience similarly adopts the Wii U then I will gladly eat my words, but do you have a plan for that? You established your formulas throughout the NES and SNES. The N64 brought us a revolution in 3D game designs and the birth of Super Smash Bros. The Gamecube brought us Pikmin and (one of my favorites) Luigi�s Mansion. The Wii brought us...
Wii Sports was a hit, but it was also bundled with the system. Wii Play sold gang busters, but it was bundled with an additional remote, essentially making it a $10 game. Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Wii Fit+ all sold respectably, but diminishing returns and an increasing lack of interest indicates that this is a dying fad. Please Nintendo, don�t hedge your bets on the continuing success of this new franchise because I see it ending dismally.
You haven�t given us a good picture of where you want to go and it leaves us confused and looking to others. We don�t want to abandon you, but we want to play good games year round and you haven�t provided that for us. We are your fans but loyalty comes at a price. No one is going to stay loyal when we look elsewhere and see everyone having more fun.
Loyal fan, worried friend
This is part 1 in a three part letter to Nintendo. Part 2 looks at 2011 and part 3 looks towards the future for Nintendo.
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