Nintendo Wants All the Money Ever!
Nintendo’s problem last generation is that they aimed too low with the Wii U. They aimed to put a console in every home, when they really should have aimed to have each and every resident of said home buy their own personal Wii U. This is not a mistake that Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto is in a hurry to repeat with the Switch:
“The marketing strategy going forward is to instill a desire to purchase Nintendo Switch among a wide consumer base in all regions of Japan, the US, and Europe. Our ultimate ambition is for a Nintendo Switch to be owned not just by every family, but by every single person.”
Well… Given this mindset, it is probably a minor miracle that Nintendo even allowed us to make multiple user profiles with the Switch. Let us hope they do not later remove the feature through a firmware update!
Other than blunt coercion, it is really unclear how Nintendo plans to realise their bullish ambition. The Switch may be selling like hotcakes, but households really do not need to own multiple systems unless the users are dedicated handheld gamers [in which case a 3DS would be more appropriate anyway]. Moreover, the Nintendo tax does the system zero favours in maintaining steam. Regardless, Miyamoto has big plans regarding what will be possible once every individual of every house owns a Nintendo Switch:
“If consumers come to take it for granted that everybody has a Nintendo Switch, then we can create new and very Nintendo genres of play, and Nintendo Switch can have a life apart from smart devices and other video game systems.”
The insinuation here is that once Nintendo has sold all the Switches then they will think about giving users some games, so prease buy a lot. This is a very poor selling point. Moreover, Miyamoto seems to be suggesting that if the console is able to sell well enough then management will let him off his chain to stuff every first party exclusive full of game breaking gimmicks!
Given the way that Miyamoto was able to completely wreck games like Star Fox Zero and Skyward Sword [both of which should have been good] through “””innovative“”” controls, this implicit promise reads more like a looming threat. If Miyamoto’s incessant meddling is the result of the Switch selling well, then one sincerely hopes that the Switch starts selling like the Vita!
B-b-but Muh 2nd GPU: Monster Hunter Edition!
The Nintendonly are not happy. See, they know that the Switch has a secret special second GPU hidden in its dock, yet deceitful and disloyal game developers like Capcom continue insisting that the Switch cannot handle their current generation games in spite of the fact that the Nintendonly know for a certainty that the Switch has the power of all the Xstations and Playboxes! The developers do this on purpose, you see? They deliberately want to omit a viable platform from their release schedule, and so they lie and say that the Nintendo Switch is not technically capable of running full spec PS4 games!
This week Capcom has had to once again dowse the Nintendonly with buckets of verbal ice water in the vain hope that they will be able to be persuaded that Monster Hunter World on Switch is not a viable product:
“We’re aware of that request.
However, taking into account various conditions, bringing Monster Hunter: World now for release is difficult. The reason is that the Switch has different functions from other stationary consoles as well as different players.”
The Switch “has different functions” from the other consoles – that statement is certainly true if one considers the primary function of the Switch to be attempting to offer a standard of performance that is substantially worse than the PS4! That really is a killer feature! No other current console on the market is worse than the PS4 to quite the same extent as the Switch! It really is the market leader in that regard!
Capcom do not wish to anger Nintendo by talking down their system’s capabilities – especially not considering how well the Switch is doing – but using this kind of muddy and imprecise language nurtures foolish hope in the minds of the Nintendonly. This is not even necessarily a slight against the Switch hardware. It is essentially a handheld console, so of course it cannot bloody perform to the standards of the PS4! The Nintendonly just cannot fathom this though. Nintendo told them that the Switch would be both a portable and a home console, so to their feeble minds it must surely have the same kind of power as other home consoles! Never mind the fact that the Switch’s tiny tablet form factor simply cannot accommodate beefy hardware like the PS4 and Xbone, because the Nintenonly have their narrative, and they will happily edit reality to conform to this view. This is what the world looks like when your head is full of magic rocks!
Not even further equivocation on the part of Capcom was able to placate the insatiable demands of the Nintendonly:
“Each game console as its own characteristic, and it’s necessary that we, as game makers, adapt to that when making [a game].
From now on we’re looking at how we can support the Switch with our games, and that also includes Monster Hunter.”
If Capcom were aware of the Switch’s release when they started developing Monster Hunter World, and particularly if they knew that it would have a huge first year, then they probably would have designed Monster Hunter World from the outset to support Nintendo’s platform too – but hindsight is 20/20. The game already has performance issues on the base PS4 and Xbone, so a Switch port is now utterly out of the question.
The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence when one’s only console is a Nintendo Switch. The Nintendonly think that they want Monster Hunter World because it is the newest shiny bauble, but they do not really know what they want. They may think they want the game, but if Capcom were somehow able to miraculously water down the experience enough to squeeze it onto the Switch then most of them would find it a deeply unsatisfactory experience. The visuals would be ghastly, and the performance problems would be substantial. It would be far better for Capcom to produce Switch games that were actually intended for Nintendo’s console since their inception. The Nintendonly will never realise this, but they would find far greater enjoyment in playing a Monster Hunter game that was actually intended for their system.
Activision’s Ill-Gotten Loot
Towards the end of last year EA caused a major controversy through their excessive and grasping use of loot boxes in Battlefront II. Disney subsequently forced them to abandon their plans for loot boxes so as not to tarnish the Star Wars brand [Disney is doing a fine job of that by themselves]. In the wake of this EA claimed that this change in plans would not alter the game’s financial outlook by any great degree, yet at the time this felt like a very weak attempt at Jedi mindtricking consumers into not paying attention to how completely out of control EA’s reliance on loot boxes had become. Later it was revealed that the absence of loot boxes in Battlefront II contributed towards a 186 million dollar loss for EA last quarter.
Until now that EA tidbit was the best indicator we had to help determine the size of the lootbox problem in gaming, but just this week Activision released information which truly boggles the mind. In 2017 Activision made 7.16 billion dollars in yearly revenue. Of this sum a massive 4 billion dollars of revenue came from microtransactions; this includes in-app purchases, DLC, and of course loot boxes. This means that the money that Activision earns from microtransactions now outweighs the money they earn from traditional game sales by a very wide margin.
To be perfectly fair to Activision, they do own King, which is a mobile developer that makes its money exclusively through microtransactions. King brought in 2 billion dollars in 2017, so if we exclude the mobile market then Activision only made 2 billion dollars through microtransactions on console in 2017. On the upside this means that traditional game sales revenue still outweighs microtransaction revenue within the console environment. On the downside this means that console owners contributed just as much in microtransactions as King’s customers, which means that loot boxes are never going away [short of a legislative solution].