Nintendo’s influence on the gaming community provides an image so evocative that speaking the very name of the Japanese developer is able to draw out childhood memories as though you were fondly remembering a rite of passage. Close your eyes and imagine it for a moment; what the word Nintendo represents. The Mushroom Kingdom and all of its perils. Late nights spent stealing coins and breaking friendships in Mario Party. Learning to fly an arwing, or drift on mute city, or edge guard against Marth players. More than a list of games, Nintendo is a culture of innovation and creativity, which makes you wonder why they would ever bother limiting themselves to one console in the first place.
News of Nintendo’s consideration of mergers and acquisitions to help the company grow has sparked a wide range of emotions in the gaming community; sadness at watching yet another era of gaming slowly creep up is chief amongst them. But Nintendo’s problem has never been creating amazing games, but rather at being an effective business. We’ve seen this issue time and again from the N64’s lack of power to keep up with the competition to the Gamecube’s lack of titles to enjoy, and if it’s our job as gamers to keep a developer like Nintendo honest then perhaps it’s time we start with the truth:
Nintendo, you’ve already taken the time to admit you’re not so great at some of the important parts of being a business, now it’s time to pick yourself up and let someone else take over.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been some incredible advances by Nintendo’s design team in the past, and there are many elements of modern gaming would perhaps be nonexistent if not for their brilliance. Rumble features and the N64 Z-trigger altered the way we looked at controller design, and motion controls (for better or worse) continue to find their way into genres of all kinds. 3D gaming may yet still have a future, and at the very least has shifted the way the average customer views the power that handheld platforms are capable of.
But the advancements to Nintendo’s gaming hardware are limited at best, and the cost of these technological blips has left Nintendo behind in almost every other respect. Graphically their consoles have always been behind compared to the competition, and third party developers being forced to include random gimmicks into game design doesn’t exactly help foster good working relationships. Not to mention that online play and communities are fractured by Nintendo’s refusal to invest proper time into updating their restrictive family friendly policies. Too much creative freedom has left Nintendo as a developer that knows how to create amazing games without the knowledge to market or sell themselves.
The argument that creativity alone sells titles goes out the window when your company declares three quarterly losses and your CEO commits a sort of public financial seppuku as a form of apology, and that’s why we should be so supportive of Nintendo as they do a little soul searching.
What they need is someone to handle everything that isn’t related to the development of an actual video game, another company to help push the advancement of a real console for their games to launch on or a mediary to help build relationships with third party developers. Nintendo needs to decide once and for all if building a console is really something they should be doing when they could easily make more profit opening their games to every platform, rather than convince everyone that buying a Wii-U to only play their games is the best option.
Most importantly they need to finally be taught that online gaming isn’t something to be afraid of, and that their games can have online functionality that doesn’t compromise the integrity of their family friendly image. There is no justifiable reason why adults must be restricted from enjoying platform games unless they’re treated like children.
So as the world’s biggest creator of family oriented titles sits back to think long and hard about where they’ve gone wrong, remember that a merger for Nintendo wouldn’t really be the end of the world. Perhaps it’s just time for them to expand elsewhere and an acquisition could very well mean the end of a publisher that only really publishes one kind of game. Nintendo is far from a bad company; they just don’t fully understand the market and have only just come around to figuring that out. It’s taken a long time to get to this point, and it’s good to see that they’re willing to reconsider their current business practices in favor of some real genuine change. With a little support from us Nintendo can still go a long way.