Nintendo president Satoru Iwata thinks core players and casual players are more similar than you think.
When people speak about current day “console wars,” it’s no secret the Wii is generally perceived as being in a different category than its two major contemporaries. The 360 and PS3 compete on powerful hardware, robust multiplayer services, and large libraries of third party games that appeal to hardcore gamers, while the Wii has been successful offering unique controls, a friend code system, and multiple first-party classics geared toward the family. But according to Nintendo, just because it can thrive in the casual market, doesn’t mean it should be defined by it.
In a recent Q&A session with Nintendo’s investors, Iwata spoke about the Wii and the DS, claiming that people have a misconception of both consoles’ purpose. “There was a misunderstanding that Nintendo was dedicated to such games at some stage of the lifespans of the Wii and the Nintendo DS,” he said. “We have made efforts to develop video games that are in tune with various consumer tastes; however, we have not been able to gain adequate consumer understanding regarding our intentions, while in the common perception there are no or few core users playing Nintendo platforms, which is not the case.”
According to Iwata, the question runs deeper than simply whether or not “core users” are playing these systems. He claims that the industry’s entire perception of who and what a “core user” is, may be wrong. Iwata believes that gamers are not easily split into two groups, one preferring games such as Wii Sports and another only willing to invest time in Call of Duty. In his mind, a players’ interest fluctuates and grows over time.
“Every avid game player was once a beginner, or in other words, there are no born advanced players,” Iwata said. “Unless we create a flow from beginner to expert by offering an entrance for beginners and the processes for a beginner to become an intermediate user and from an intermediate to an advanced player, the video game industry will gradually shrink.”
One of Iwata’s ideas to bridge the gap is by working with more third party developers and networking Nintendo’s gaming community more proficiently. By allowing gamers to communicate and share ideas, perhaps Nintendo would be better able to cater to the community at large. Iwata feels that Nintendo could meet that goal by “improving the coordination between video game systems and social media.”
Nintendo has been on the defensive ever since posting its first financial loss in thirty years, with Iwata doing his best to assure investors that his company has big plans to reverse its recent bad fortune. Usually, that means good things for the consumer, as Nintendo will now try and hone in on what players truly want from it. Personally, I’m not sure that a simple communication network is going to eliminate people’s belief that the Wii is meant for casual gamers. Anytime I hear about “coordination with social media” it makes me immediately think the exact opposite.