Nintendo Takes a Reproachful Shit On Filthy Casual Audience
It was painfully obvious to all industry onlookers that Nintendo’s casual Wii audience had fled to smartphone platforms for good and all in and around the year 2010. The buzz ceased, console and software sales fell away, and Nintendo themselves stopped making games for the platform – the console was dead in the water, and Nintendo was left without a home console for around two years [an eternity in this industry]. Throughout this period Nintendo exhausted the goodwill of all but the most stalwart Nintendo supporters, souring many on the idea of future Nintendo console purchases. When it came time to draw up plans it would have behooved Nintendo to double-down on their core audience, as there were bridges to mend – instead [despite PR protestations to the contrary] Nintendo designed their Wii U for the casual audience which no longer existed for them. The Wii U was underpowered on a scale similar to the Wii before it, the tablet controller was clearly a pitch made to the casual audience who were now playing their games on iPads, and the only concession made to core gamers was the existence of physical buttons and twin analogue sticks [making it at least slightly more core friendly than the Wii].
When one factors on top of the Wii U’s design peculiarities the fact that the system carried with it a relatively high price tag, it was not difficult to predict that it was a console with no particular draw to either group, least of all casuals. While the Wii U has not done great with core gamers, they are nonetheless the one group that is currently carrying Nintendo’s console, as their casual market has fallen into the abyss. The casuals themselves are not to blame for forsaking the Wii U, as they had made it abundantly clear that they had moved on before the system’s launch, yet despite this Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamo sounds almost petulant in his resentment of this group when pledging to focus on core Nintendo gamers going forward [like Nintendo has a choice]:
“[These are] the sort of people who, for example, might want to watch a movie. They might want to go to Disneyland.
Their attitude is, ‘okay, I am the customer. You are supposed to entertain me.’ It’s kind of a passive attitude they’re taking, and to me it’s kind of a pathetic thing. They do not know how interesting it is if you move one step further and try to challenge yourself [with more advanced games].”
It is a good thing that casual gamers would not even know Miyamoto to look at him, else they may have been saddened and dismayed by his denigration of the demographic which made the Wii Nintendo’s highest selling home console in the company’s history. Miyamoto goes on to make it clear that Nintendo’s flirtation with this group is now over [at least for the time being]:
“In the days of DS and Wii, Nintendo tried its best to expand the gaming population.
Fortunately, because of the spread of smart devices, people take games for granted now. It’s a good thing for us, because we do not have to worry about making games something that are relevant to general people’s daily lives.”
Yes, thank goodness for Nintendo that they no longer have to suffer the responsibility of selling tens of millions of consoles to one of the least critical consumer groups on the planet! One is certain that Nintendo much prefers their current market position of selling a scant seven million consoles after two years on store shelves – this way they need not cater toward those scummy casual plebs. How fortunate for Nintendo that smartphone platforms muscled in on their territory to remove such a heavy weight of responsibility from Nintendo’s shoulders. Everything is going swimingly.
Nintendo Unveils 3DS U
This week Nintendo has unveiled a new 3DS iteration seemingly out of nowhere. The regrettably named New 3DS features new control inputs [which should have been part of the 3DS’ initial design back in 2011], such as additional LZ and RZ trigger buttons, along with the world’s tinniest analog nub, which looks actively unpleasant to use. The system also features a CPU which runs at a higher frequency than traditional 3DS models, along with a heavily rumoured increased helping of RAM – upping VRAM from 6mb to 10mb, and upping system memory from 128mb of FCRAM to 256mb of FCRAM. Finally, the system’s ability to display a 3D image is set to be drastically improved, with the system’s front mounted camera tracking the player’s eyes, and thus projecting both layers of the screen’s image at an angle relative to them – this means that it will no longer be so onerous for players to locate the sweet spot from which to view the 3d image. The final bow on this shiny new package is some delightfully colourful buttons, which [in combination with with the white model] manage to make the new handheld look very reminiscent of both the European and Japanese region Super Nintendo/Famicom controllers.
Speaking personally, one is more than a little ambivalent towards the New 3DS, and possibly even a little hostile. After just three years on the market, and selling a respectable 44.6 million consoles within that time, it feels a little premature for Nintendo to abandon first party development for the system – and yet that appears to be what is happening, with the newly announced portable version of Xenoblade Chronicles set to be an exclusive for the new hardware revision. A new tier of New 3DS software may have been a little easier to swallow had the 3DS been shown to struggle with the technical ambitions of its recently released games, yet this has not been the case, and the system’s graphics tend to look about as good as they should do given the screen’s low resolution – this creates the impression that boosting the system’s performance to the exclusion of legacy owners was more about new console sales than it is about any genuine necessity. Certainly this is not the first time that such software fragmentation has happened for one of Nintendo’s handheld platforms, as the DSi received some exclusive download titles, while the Gameboy Colour had a moderate library of games which made full use of its colour palette; but in the case of the New 3DS software fragmentation just feels so very unnecessary.
More broadly speaking, the system looks problematic on several fronts. The first problem with the New 3DS is one of branding; much like the Wii U, the New 3DS does very little to appear perceptibly different from existing 3DS models. Presumably Nintendo intends to simply replace existing 3DS lines with the new model, so it should avoid sales problems like the Wii U – yet problems will likely still arise when people purchase a piece of New 3DS software only to find that their 3DS is incompatible with it [one does not envy the store clerk who has to deal with irate Nintendo customers]. A more long term problem is fragmentation and Nintendo’s ongoing plans for 3DS support. If Nintendo stops producing AAA software which is compatible with the 3DS then owners of Nintendo’s three year old handheld are going to feel like it was not particularly great value. If Nintendo produces only a handful of token exclusives for their new hardware model then the people who bought it because they thought they had to will feel sorely done by. Either way this kind of fragmentation has a habit of eroding gamer goodwill in the same way as the Sega CD. The one saving grace for Nintendo is that they do not really have a direct competitor within the handheld gaming market.
Games Media Declares Gaming Dead
Within living memory there has never been a less dignified week for games media than this one. The last ten days has seen the ignition of the largest game “journalism” scandal yet seen in the industry – and one states this having survived Gerstmanngate, and many other furors. The subject of the scandal is someone of no import whatsoever, and will not be named for fear of contributing any more funds to her Patreon – just suffice it to say that certain events blew the covers off the incestuous relationship that exists between the San Fransisco games media [most American games media] and the San Fransiscan independent development scene, and that two Kotaku writers [Grayson, Hernandez] were found to be having deeply improper relationships with the repeat subjects of their stories. Any gamer who had hoped that the games media might actually do their job by shedding some light onto this troubling situation were no doubt sorely disappointed, as in best case scenarios publications kept a stony silance on the issue, while many other sites actively engaged in telling flagrant lies to protect their mates.
The attempted cover up of impropriety within Kotaku and the silencing of the subsequent outcry [among other events] led to what is known as a ‘Streisand effect’, which is to say that the attempted silencing of a moderate controversy actually served to publicise it and create a major controversy. Many sites which were not initially in the crosshairs of gamers were now sullied by their subsequent deeds, and were called out as such. Gamers demanded more honesty and accountability in games “journalism”, not unreasonable requests, and any writer with an ounce of integrity might have taken stock of their situation and resolved to do better. What actually happened however, was that these publications instead chose to attack gamers, and boldly declared in myriad articles over the past couple of days that the gamer identity is dead and buried, and that gamers were never that terribly important anyway. In short, these cloistered social justice warriors took one look at the shitstorm they created, and decided gamers were what is wrong with gaming rather than they themselves.
“We Might Be Witnessing The ‘Death of An Identity’” ~ Kotaku
“‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over.” ~ Gamasutra
“The death of the “gamers” and the women who “killed” them” ~ Ars Technica
“The End of Gamers” ~ Dan Golding
“An awful week to care about video games” ~ Polygon
One wonders precisely who these people think will read their dreadful clickbait articles once they manage to drive away gamers. At any rate, things quickly took a turn for the worse from here, with the bi-annual release of one of Anita Sarkeesian’s dreadful videos [no doubt rushed out the door before gamer fury could abate]. Sarkeesian was subsequently subjected to death and rape threats by a single person, which the gaming press naturally construed as being all gamers. The funny thing was that no gaming issue or even anti-social justice rhetoric was mentioned anywhere in the screen capture that Sarkeesian posted. Funny that.
Kevin Dobson: Hey Anita, I want to taste your sweet pussy.
Kevin Dobson: I’m going to rape your cunt with a pole.
Kevin Dobson: I want to bite the side of your neck and drink your blood.
Kevin Dobson: All that I want is for you to be mine, my love. I want to caress you and taste you. I want to fuck your hot pussy.
Kevin Dobson: I’m going to go to your apartment at ******* and rape you to death. After I’m done, I’ll ram a tire iron up your cunt.
Kevin Dobson: I’m going to kill Jonny too. He’s a fruitcake.
Kevin Dobson: Oh, Anita. You’re so beautiful and sexy, you know that?
Kevin Dobson: If only we could be together. I’d give anything to drink in your laugh and your smiles.
Kevin Dobson: But instead, I’ll drink your blood out of your cunt after I rip it open.
If you have heard one irate gamer, you have heard them all, right? Polygon, VG 24/7, Play.tm, PC Gamer, and Develop certainly seemed to think so – and they reported upon it accordingly. In the wake of a week spent fighting back against a frightfully out of touch games media, apparently all of us gamers are Kevin Dobson in their eyes.