The Nintendrone Volume 7: 10 Ways That Nintendo Can Win E3
It’s almost that magical time of year again where game companies lay out their goals and objectives for the foreseeable future. It’s also the time where journalists and hardcore gamers alike speculate on which company will “win” E3. This year, Nintendo finds themselves in an unusual position. As the only company set to show off new hardware, Nintendo is not competing with Microsoft or Sony. Instead, Nintendo is competing with a much more powerful foe, their own history and the expectations of their fans.
It’s no secret that the Wii was massively successful. The Wii will most likely pass the 100 million mark within the next year, and Nintendo’s first party Wii software has reached unheard of levels of success. Nintendo has made massive gains through their touted “Blue Ocean” strategy which involved reaching out to people who had never before picked up a controller. Unfortunately for Nintendo, their gains in the casual sector coincided with losses in the traditional gaming demographics.
Nintendo is now fighting a battle on two fronts. On the one hand, they must convince traditional gamers that they need a Wii U. On the other hand, they must defend their casual empire from Microsoft’s Kinect and new threats such as iOS and Droid games. How can Nintendo accomplish both of these goals? I’ll tell you how!
1. Flex The Wii U’s Graphical Muscles
At first, Nintendo’s strategy for the Wii worked brilliantly. Releasing a system made primarily of old technology allowed Nintendo to turn a hefty profit while building a huge install base. In the end though, this decision came back to bite Nintendo in the rear. While the X-Box 360 and Playstation 3 owners are treated to a slew of new games each year, Nintendo’s software support has dried up.
If Nintendo’s new console can’t play the same games as the unreleased X-Box 720 and the Playstation 4, Nintendo will be in trouble. Therefore, Nintendo needs the Wii U to be a sizable leap above the X-Box 360 and the PS3.
While unfounded internet rumors have placed the Wii U on par with current gen systems, all credible evidence, such as recent comments from developer Gearbox, place the Wii U ahead of its competitors. Despite evidence to the contrary, gamers are still expecting a console that is a very small leap over the X-Box 360 and PS3. Some gamers are even expecting a console that is weaker than current gen consoles. Nintendo will need to clearly demonstrate that their system is a leap over what is currently available.
If Nintendo is truly serious, they’ll not only show us themselves, but they’ll also have third party developers backing them up. If Nintendo can get Cliffy B from Epic, or someone from Crytek or Valve up on the stage talking about the Wii U’s power, casual gamers will back them up.
Odds– The odds of the Wii U being significantly more powerful than the 360 or PS3 are about 99%. The odds of the Wii U being powerful enough to keep up with Sony and Microsoft’s future offerings are about 60%.
2. Convince Us That Third Party Games Are Coming And Are Superior
The Wii U must be future proof, but it must also be ready to compete with current gen consoles. The early days of the Wii U’s life will be filled with X-Box 360 and PS3 ports, and Nintendo must show us why the Wii U versions of these games are better. Show that they run on higher resolutions at better framerates, prove the value of being able to transfer the game to your tablet, and make good use of touch controls. Have developers tell us that we want the Wii U version of their upcoming games.
Most of all, Nintendo needs to show that the Wii U will be getting most, if not all, of the big third party exclusives. Games like GTAV and Black Ops 2 have to be on the Wii U, and they have to be superior than their multiplatform counterparts.
While we’re on the subject of third parties, the 3DS is also in desperate need of some third party love. The 3DS has seen limited support, particularly from Western developers. The 3DS still has a long way to go to establish itself, and Nintendo can’t make that happen alone.
Odds: 70% The Wii U versions of games will be at least somewhat superior to their PS360 counterparts based simply on the technology. However, I’m not sure developers will really push the Wii U to its limits and make full use of its features.
3. For The Love Of God Change The Name
When the name “Wii” was first announced, we all thought Nintendo had lost their minds. After all of the penis jokes subsided (hey want to come over and play with my Wii?) Nintendo had the last laugh. Gamers are once again clamoring for a name change, but this time Nintendo would be wise to heed their warning.
To be honest, I don’t think that the Wii U is necessarily a bad name in and of itself. The problem is that the name carries certain negative connotations. While the Wii name has become associated with Nintendo’s excellent first party games and great family titles, it has also become associated with dated graphics, poor online functionality, and a dearth of third party support. If Nintendo wants to appeal to traditional gamers, they’ll need a new name.
Personally, I’d drop the Wii part of the name entirely, and bring a new name that emphasizes the “Nintendo” branding. The word Nintendo still brings back fond memories for even the most jaded of traditional gamers, and it represents family fun to the casual audience.
Odds: 20% Nintendo didn’t choose the Wii U name on a whim. I’m sure they put a great deal of time and energy into the decision. I don’t like the name, but hopefully Nintendo knows what they’re doing.
4. Expand The Market For The 3DS
It’s been long speculated that the 3DS is doomed to fall before Apple’s empire of free downloads and Facebook’s free but not really free browser based games. As of now, it’s hard to tell if these predictions are accurate. After a rocky start, the 3DS has gotten to steady ground, but it has a long way to go before it can claim DSLite levels of success. This is because the 3DS has few titles that really appeal to casual audiences.
Brain Age and Animal Crossing were huge for the original DS. Animal Crossing sold more copies than Halo 3 and Brain Age sold more than the 360 version of Black Ops. These were some of the titles that finally convinced casual gamers that the DS was more than a child’s toy.
Nintendo needs to show casual gamers why they should buy Brain Age for $40 instead of downloading a free app, and why they’re better off playing Animal Crossing than toiling away on Farmville. If Nintendo can convince casual gamers to pick up these titles and play them regularly, then those gamers will be more likely to dive deeper into the 3DS’s library.
Odds: 75% These games are likely to be a big focus for Nintendo. Hopefully they’ll use Streetpass, Spotpass, DLC, user generated content, and the Nintendo Network to demonstrate the value of these games over cheaper alternatives.
5. Show An Online Network That Competes With X-Box Live
Let’s be blunt here. Nintendo’s online network doesn’t even match the standards that Microsoft set with the original X-Box. Even with the 3DS, friend codes are still a nuisance, online multiplayer options are limited, voice chat is virtually nonexistent, and communicating with friends is an issue. If Nintendo wants to compete, they’re going to have to do better.
Nintendo needs to take large parts of their competitor’s services wholesale, while adding their own unique flavor to online gaming. Nintendo has a knack for making routine applications fun and intuitive. Take a look at the 3DS’s intuitive and amusing Streetpass as opposed to the Vita’s convoluted Near functionality. If Nintendo applies this know how to their online network, they can create a superior online service.
Odds: 40% I think Nintendo will certainly try to create a compelling online service, but given their track record, I’m not sure they’ll succeed.
6. Announce Wii Fit Plus Plus At Launch
If you make a product that claims to help people lose weight, it will sell. Period. Of all Nintendo’s franchises, Wii Fit is the one that will definitely inspire casual gamers to pick up a Wii U. It doesn’t even matter if the gamer already has a Wii Balance Board collecting dust at home, they’ll still be ready to give Wii Fit another go. That’s just how the diet/fitness industry works.
Of course, Wii Fit for the Wii U can be a lot more effective than the previous Wii Fit. Ideally, Nintendo will allow gamers to update their calorie input, possibly by partnering with one of the many calorie counting websites on the net. The Wii U version of Wii Fit can also allow gamers to join in online weight loss communities and compete with friends in weight loss challenges if they so choose. Last but not certainly not least, Nintendo should promise constant new DLC exercises and games to keep players from getting bored. For good measure, create an app for the 3DS that will allow gamers to log foods and activities on the go.
We don’t need a huge chunk of Nintendo’s E3 to be taken up by Wii Fit U. Simply mention the game, give a quick sizzle reel of the new features, and move on.
Odds: 80% We know Wii Fit will be coming to the new system, it’s just a question of whether or not it will be available at launch and whether or not it will make full use of the Wii U’s functionality.
7. Launch With The Big Guns
With the 3DS, Nintendo had three first party games available at launch; Pilotwings Resort, Steel Diver, and an updated version of Nintendogs. Two out of these three games were pretty fun, but none of them screamed “buy a 3DS to play me”.
Nintendo can’t afford to make the same mistake again, especially considering that the console market is far more competitive than the handheld market. Nintendo will need Mario available at launch, along with at least one of their other major franchises (Metroid, Zelda, Kirby, etc.) available near launch, and a major original IP available by black Friday.
Odds: 70% Nintendo promised that they wouldn’t make the same mistakes that they made with the 3DS. I’ve been burned before, but I’m still going to trust them on this one.
8. Let Us Feel The Difference With Haptic Touchscreen Technology
This is a rumor that has been floating around for a while, but has never gained any real traction. A haptic touchscreen is a type of touchscreen which can change the way it feels. For example, if you were in an icy area, the screen might feel extra slick, and in a desert area, the screen might feel incredibly coarse.
Would this technology be incredibly gimmicky? Yes. Would it lead to any sort of real gameplay innovation? No. Would it be cool? Yeah. On the practical side, it would probably make a lot of people curious to touch the Wii U’s tablet. I bet you kind of want to try out a haptic touchscreen right now, don’t you?
Odds: 5% This one is a bit of a longshot. To be honest, I don’t exactly know how much this kind of technology would cost. Unless it is very inexpensive, don’t expect to see this.
9. Partner With Retro To Make A Cinematic Story Driven FPS
I absolutely love Nintendo’s first party games. Super Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword are among my favorite games of this generation. However, I realize that not all gamers share my tastes. Many people love FPS games, and many people love cinematic style experiences. These are experiences that Nintendo traditionally hasn’t given to gamers. Making this kind of game would be Nintendo’s way of telling hardcore gamers, “we get you and we care”.
Nintendo’s internal studios aren’t particularly well adapted towards creating these kinds of games, so they’ll need to reach out to their second party developers. Retro Studios in particular seems well suited to this task. Retro seems to have a knack for capturing the soul of a game. They managed to keep the heart of Metroid while shifting the series from 2-D to 3-D, and later managed to recapture the magic of the SNES era with Donkey Kong Country Returns. I have confidence that if given the resources, Retro would be able to take what has made the FPS genre thrive and infuse it with a bit of Nintendo magic.
Odds: 40% It stands to reason that Retro, who hasn’t fully developed a game since Donkey Kong Country Returns, is readying something for the Wii U launch. It’s likely that the game will be something for an established franchise, likely Star Fox or Metroid (not both), but I’d be far happier to see an original IP.
10. Two Tablets Are Better Than One
When Nintendo showed off the Wii U last year, gamers were quite disappointed to discover that the Wii U could only support one tablet controller at a time. That will change at E3.
Odds: 99% I’ll keep this short and simple. We really want dual tablet support. Nintendo knows we really want two tablet support. Response to this particular issue has been so strong that Nintendo would have to be run by chimps to not make this happen. The question now is whether or not any of the Wii U’s early games will make good use of this feature.
So, what say you Gotgamers? Are these the things that you want to see from Nintendo at E3?
Also be sure to check out: 7 Ways Microsoft May Try to Win E3