MTV vs PKap The Sequel: Kaplan talks Seal of Quality, online gaming, tchochkes

Those of you who read DToid like a priest reads a Bible might recall a recent piece I constructed in which I discussed an interview conducted by MTV’s Stephen “The Kurt Loder of Gaming” Totilo in which he was consistently sidestepped by Nintendo’s Perrin “Descriptive Nickname” Kaplan. Try as he might, Mr. Totilo just couldn’t seem to pin her down on any one subject, and Ms. Kaplan demonstrated the lithe agility of a greased puma in dodging anything that might make the House of Mario seem less than sacrosanct.

Earlier today, between episodes of Pimp My Sixteen Year Old, MTV dropped part two of the fateful interview, and this one somehow manages to have even less actual information from Ms. Kaplan. If one could construct a machine to turn her words into food, not only would this analogy be totally stupid, but everything constructed by the machine would be made of cotton balls and kitten farts. No, I have no idea what that means, but it paints a very valid picture of the divergent ratio between how much Ms. Kaplan talks and how much she actually says.

Anyway, hit the jump to hear absolutely nothing about Nintendo’s interesting definition for their Seal of Quality, the official stance on online gaming and why Nintendo simply likes Japan better.

When I was a boy growing up with the NES, the Nintendo Seal of Quality meant one of two things: either the game is going to be awesome (see Castlevania III), or it’s going to be terrible yet memorable enough that sixteen years later I could reference it in a well read gaming blog and instantly spark an outpouring of recognitive affection from people wondering where the hell I’m going with this sentence (see 8 Eyes). Apparently the meaning of the Seal has changed, as Perrin reveals:

[The below question is paraphrased to avoid eyestrain]

Multiplayer: How do you think the Nintendo Seal of Quality is working these days?

Kaplan: We do have an approval process. Publishers who are established publishers with us are free to produce their product for our system. The Stephen Totilo Company, who already has established making great games — I can’t say, ‘That one game of yours is a lemon, and therefore you can’t produce it.’ Because you have legal rights to do that.

I think the Seal of Quality means that the products Nintendo produces will bring entertainment value. [Consider] the systems’ integrity. We go through a lot of testing in our manufacturing. You hear a lot about Game Boys that have been in lakes and still work. There’s a lot of different things you can do to the systems and they still work, so the quality is definitely there.

So, the Seal of Quality merely guarantees that a game exists and was created by a company that also exists? It’s comforting to know Nintendo wouldn’t slap the Seal on ethereal or metaphorical games manufactured by companies in Mexico. We’re also quite pleased to see they managed to live up to the “Seal” part of the description, but we’d like to see a bit more effort on the “of Quality” end.

As the Wii is Nintendo’s first home console to provide true online gaming, and the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the first Wii title to really take advantage of this service, you’d think they’d be enthusiastic about it, right? Well, sorta: 

Multiplayer: Let’s talk about online. Nintendo has gone from basically not having done much with online in the United States as of a few years ago to doing a lot more in terms of Wi-Fi Connect and what have you. With “Smash Brothers” coming in as probably the online game that will be most avidly consumed by Nintendo fans, where do you see online going with Nintendo and how the service might develop?

Kaplan: I think one of the things that is very important for consumers to remember is that comparisons are very easy for everybody to do. Sony does this and Microsoft does this, and, therefore, Nintendo should do this — or vice versa. Very different companies. It’s definitely apples to oranges. Our online efforts are very unique to us and unique to the innovation that we’re doing and are continuing to drive forward. You’ll see some things in “Smash” that are wonderful and different and very Nintendo and not necessarily something you could compare to Xbox Live.

Well that was … defensive. I don’t believe Mr. Totilo ever even mentioned those other consoles, yet had Perrin been an armadillo, they’d still be trying to coax her out of a tight ball.

As for this last question, I’m glad someone finally asked it. Europe, and to a much greater extent Japan, have been on the receiving end of some amazing perks courtesy of Nintendo for years now, and the United States of Awesome America has consistently been shafted. Sure, we get cheaper games than the PAL territories, but I want useless promotional items, dammit!

Multiplayer: Something that I’ve been wondering for a bit which is I sometimes look at the programs Nintendo has in Japan and the programs Nintendo has in America. And if I was an avid Nintendo gamer in Japan, I’m able to take a lot of the bar-codes and proofs of purchase and what have you and I’m able to send them back and register them to Nintendo. And Nintendo of Japan sends out all sorts of interesting tchochkes and nicknacks and you can also get games — there’s a game called “Exclamation Warriors” that is developed just for that community of people who are redeeming it. If you’re a Nintendo gamer in the U.S., I’m not aware of there being any sort of program or promotion like that. Why is that?

Kaplan: So you mean like the My Nintendo, you become a member and you can earn. Europe has had that as well.

Multiplayer: Yeah, the Club Nintendo.

Kaplan: You know we’ve taken a really close look at what they’re doing in Europe and what they’re doing in Japan. You have to remember that, geographically, we’re much bigger here and cost-wise, it is much more expensive to run a program like that. We try to do pre-sale with our retailers as often as possible. You’re talking about a scale that is much larger. But we do look at the differences in markets and what consumers are liking. It’s just a difference in scale.

Multiplayer: You’re looking at it. Do you have any plans to change it?

Kaplan: We don’t have anything right this minute. But let me just say that we continue to look at those kinds of programs and ways to reward consumers for their loyalty and for continuing to enjoy our products.

So what did we learn today?

Well, first: we learned that Nintendo is a huge megalithic corporation interested only in their profits. No matter how their products may play into your nostalgic childhood memories, they are not your friends, they do not spoon with you at night, and given the chance they’d probably try to drink your blood.

Second: we learned that Perrin Kaplan is probably a robot. No person could possibly be as adept at public relations smokescreen work as she is and not be at least 51% cybernetic. If Ms. Kaplan ever asks if you’ve seen Edward Furlong, run the hell away

Finally, ladies and gentlemen: we learned that Nintendo is not the same company it once was. The answers she gave about the current Seal of Quality situation should indicate to everyone who has been paying attention that a great schism now exists dividing the current company from what Nintendo stood for two decades back. Hell, when I was a kid, they did spoon with you, and if you fell they’d pick you up, dust off your knees, call you “tiger” and hand you a Popsicle. Now, you’d be lucky if they didn’t rifle through your pockets.

I urge you guys to go read the full piece at MTV’s Multiplayer Blog, then weigh in with your own opinions. I’m going to go watch The Lost Boys again.

Earnest Cavalli
I'm Nex. I used to work here but my love of cash led me to take a gig with Wired. I still keep an eye on the 'toid, but to see what I'm really up to, you should either hit up my Vox or go have a look at the Wired media empire.