Going Gold: A Totally Outrageous Paradigm

Going Gold: A Totally Outrageous Paradigm

After sitting back and considering everything this year's E3 had to offer, Christian Ward thinks one message comes through loud and clear: Third parties are failing the larger gaming audience.

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A good point made eloquently. The success of the Wii took everyone by suprise, but it is bizarre how sluggish third party developers have been to support the platform. With such a huge, previously untapped audience one would think third parties would be clamouring to flog their wares on the Wii.

Most of what you say is correct and you make a good point but Nintendo consoles won't ever get that much attention from third parties because of conflicts of ideas the third parties like to be revolutionary and take game on to a whole new level and introducing people to pure quality whereas Nintendo poop out anything that hasn't been made into a game. When I first saw the brain training game I laughed and went whatevers next cooking training and guess what they made one. Nintendo's ideas unfourtunately are that of if we pump out enough crap then surely some of it will be bought and its worked by creating millions of cheap games about practically nothing interesting they have made a bigger audience but eventually someone is gonna call them out on it and go wait a minute you're just turning random things into games like I bet ya pretty soon they'll have a game explaining health and safety features and if these don't work they caan just get Mario or Link and re release their games about a hundred times to get more money.

Er.... Third parties 'introduce pure quality' and Nintendo 'Poop out anything'. I think I'd take issue with that one, say what you will about Nintendo but they have consistently produced quality games for the last 2 decades. They do flog their old franchises to death granted, but you really can't argue with the quality of games like Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess.

Unfortunately for you, those previously referred to as "non-gamers" and now referred to as "casual gamer" thanks to Nintendo actually prefer "poop out anything" over "pure quality". Reason being, "poop out anything" games usually tend to focus on one simple thing: FUN, while "pure quality" games tend to get caught up in things like graphical prowess, sound, complex controls, elaborate story-lines, cinematography, etc. It's not that "pure quality" games aren't fun, it's just that they're fun for a much smaller, more dedicated audience. Add to that the fact that "pure quality" games also tend to be expensive to make, and you'll see why Nintendo is making much more profit by taking a different route.

Personally, I would love to see 2D games come back, side-scrollers and fighting games, with simple controls and a cheaper price. Imagine Samurai Showdown or Pitfall with hi-res 2D sprites.

I've found as of late that most Nintendo games have lost their magic. They aren't bad, no, but I have more fun with Super Mario World on the SNES than I do with Mario Galaxy, and nostalgia is only going to be so much of the cause of that. Nintendo makes good games, certainly, but whether they make great games is another matter. What they excel at, though, is making imaginative titles.

As to the topic, I think marketing is the biggest problem. Why aren't third parties selling? Well, how many commercials do you see advertising them? Not many, right? Yet how many commercials have you seen for Nintendo's first party titles? When WiiSports Resort comes out, there are going to be commercials, and people will see them and buy them.

This is a problem with games as a whole. While Xbox Live Marketplace has helped third parties, not all people can be bothered to download the latest trailer for everything, or the demo. What these companies need to start doing is advertising more on television or movie theaters. I guarantee you if my old man, someone that doesn't play video games, saw one of the trailers for Battlefield: Bad Company that was spoofing other game trailers, he'd laugh and remember it. When the Wii was first advertising on television, he was interested in it. There are plenty of games that could grab mainstream appeal, but they don't advertise in ways that capture the mainstream.

As another example, my sister hasn't played much in the way of video games since....a long ass time. However, she still remembers the game Fable from when I played it at home years ago. The only reason she even knew about it, though, was because I had brought it home from College and played it. She never knows what sort of game to get me for Christmas or my birthday because all she sees are game covers. She doesn't see commercials, and she's not about to go reading online reviews.

If traditional games want to capture the mainstream market, they need to start advertising as if they are movie trailers. Hardcore gamers may care less about the story, but unless you're making a game like Brain Age or Wii Fit, then you need to try and sell your game as if it were a movie for the mainstream market to be interested.

Very good points, ccesarano. I completely agree how third parties have no idea how to advertise their games to a non-hardcore audience. Nintendo's system and games have a really accessible appeal that traditional third-party developers are too naive towards.

Nintendo took a huge risk and made it a success, something that few third-party developers are willing to do. They seem happy with riding on the coattails of previous titles... which limits them to only the established customers.

That said, I still think "hardcore" games sell just as well on the Wii as they do on other systems. Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime 3 show a pretty healthy customer base in that realm, it's just that those sales figures get over shadowed by Wii Sports and any other Nintendo title.

But hey, sooner or later game developers will not be able to ignore the size of the install base for Wii games and their need to be a profitable company will override their naive stubbornness.

Hell, even BioWare is making a DS game now. Sellouts! ;-)

I think it is just a matter of time. Great games take around 3 years to make from start to finish and 3rd parties were not initially on board with the Wii. So if a company that already has teams setup for development on traditional consoles takes 3 years to make a quality game, how long should it take a company to create a team to handle development on a system that used controls unlike anything out currently or before it? This is a major change for any third party company. I am sure Nintendo tried to prepare them before their console was released but like I said no one was buying it. EA is a big third party developer that has made it well known that they have established a dedicated team to working with the Wii. For third party developers to create quality Wii titles they need to be large companies who can create development teams strictly for the Wii or I think we will start to see companies who only make games for the Wii. The Wii is unique and requires a completely different skill set to produce quality games for it.

ccesarano:
She never knows what sort of game to get me for Christmas or my birthday because all she sees are game covers. She doesn't see commercials, and she's not about to go reading online reviews.

Make a list which you update everytime you buy something. Worked wonders for me. As long as your list is wide, there's still going to be some surprise, plus the stuff your family will grab that is not no the magic list. But at least you know you'll get your family buy good stuff that you want.

If traditional games want to capture the mainstream market, they need to start advertising as if they are movie trailers. Hardcore gamers may care less about the story, but unless you're making a game like Brain Age or Wii Fit, then you need to try and sell your game as if it were a movie for the mainstream market to be interested.

Trouble is, I've seen some ads from time to time for "core" games, and for some reason, they are cringe worthy, slightly embarassing to say the least, because to my eyes, they're all the more ammo uninformed or biased people like to use to assault games as a whole.
I don't get that feeling when seeing an ad for some random TV action movie or even an ad for Too Fast Way Too Furiousish 3, it makes me smile and I know this does not is a representation of the whole film industry.
Point: the problem lies more with the way people treat games.
Of course, that's a bit circular. If we don't make more heavy ads for more traditional games, they are never going to kick in living room cultures as much as we'd want.
Then you think about the price of these ad campaigns... added to the dev budgets... *sigh*

More on topic, from Kirby to typical PR company fapping:

Somewhat gloatingly, Iwata reminded us of that the "paradigm shift" in the games industry that he promised three years ago has come to pass. "When a true paradigm shift occurs, common sense doesn't seem to make as much sense anymore," he declared - and one announcement on the heels of E3 certainly backed that up. The latest NPD data showed that the Wii has surpassed total sales of the Xbox 360 in the U.S., a console with a year's head start, a far stronger online presence and a much better line-up of traditionally strong-selling games.

It never gets old. McDonalds sells, what? A billion burgers a day? Wouldn't surprise me.
Now a famed posh restaurant sells only a few dozen plates in the same time?
Guess where I'd rather go to eat if it's outside though.

Other thoughts:

With perspective now, Playstation 1 and 2 are less consoles asking for shovelware as the Wii is. It's the whole etiquette problem, and what's the point trying to sell some casual gaming when it's likely going to drown? You'll make some sales, but unless you're the next Guitar Hero, they won't be stellar, and Wii's newly converted customers are, for all I'm concerned, not the likes to buy that many games.
I can understand the chill, really.

Expansion and growth is crucial for any industry, but even more so for gaming, which has let users slip through its fingers since day one. How many Pong players were never converted into future customers? How many Japanese families who sat happily around their Family Computer failed to upgrade to its Super equivalent? As Peter Molyneux, another speaker at E3, noted, "the games industry has failed us all."

Molyneux says a lot of things. The industry failed some Pong customers the moment it realized it had better to offer than Pong stuff. You can make Pong 3D and it's still terribly limited, not to say shite. Now you can make Beyong Good and Evil in 3D and that starts to look special.
Oh sure, not everybody plays such games, but as a whole, the industry has prospered rather well for decades and it didn't fail us all. As far as I'm concerned, it made me happy for all this time, and still does, and that's not by buying some Wiiware stuff mind you.
Now people are being sold Pong stuff at prices which defy logic. Yes, because Nintendo is certainly not going to get those juicy price tags down anytime soon. It's just too easy.
Besides, stuff like Pong has been existing even since Pong came out. Numerous casual games and legions of Breakout were made on consoles, but kept hidden under the otaku barrier put into place by manufacturers, Nintendo included.
The exact reason some people played Pong years ago was for the same reason that they play Wii stuff now: it looks new, and it's incredibly easy.
The industry has not filled all promises, but we're certainly far from that claimed epic fail.

In the same interview, Molyneux - technically on Microsoft's payroll - gave a word of support to Nintendo's efforts to take gaming mainstream. But there's only so much that Nintendo can do. Without support from third party developers - big titles and new ideas, not minigames and low-quality ports with added motion controls - the "fad" moniker that has been unfairly applied to the Wii will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Big titles and new ideas which strike the casual market? That's almost like trying to mix water and oil.
There's not even a middle ground market anymore. What new idea should we force ourselves to imagine to take advantage of the wiiggle? If they find something truly original, why people openly satisfied with pseudo games and non games would try those new games? Surely, we can't say 'til we tried, but I still find it hard to believe that we could find a properly new application of the wiimote without making more glorified shovelware.
The motion-plus addon may help here, if only people can move beyond the bile of late this thing is getting. The wiimote required to be properly aimed at the screen, and still had disputable accuracy.
The real problem is that I don't think many studios like the idea of having their game mechanics submissive to the wiimote. That's all. It seems they'd rather have manufacturers make special controllers for (their) games, not the contary. Now there are exceptions, as much as there are potentially good ideas which could fit the prerequisites of the Wii's controllers.

It's also funny... note that the examplary games cited by Nintendo and the article fail at taking advantage of the wiimote, really. It's also worth the notice that one of the wiimote's best usage is as something that's pointed at another thing. Translation, a gun.

There could be more third party titles if there were clearer numbers on what the core niche represents on this console, and much more leeway regarding the wiimote, even up to the point it would become useless. But we know Nintendo, they'll have studios cram the wiimote into the designs as much as possible, and that's an obstacle.

Arbre:

If traditional games want to capture the mainstream market, they need to start advertising as if they are movie trailers. Hardcore gamers may care less about the story, but unless you're making a game like Brain Age or Wii Fit, then you need to try and sell your game as if it were a movie for the mainstream market to be interested.

Trouble is, I've seen some ads from time to time for "core" games, and for some reason, they are cringe worthy, slightly embarassing to say the least, because to my eyes, they're all the more ammo uninformed or biased people like to use to assault games as a whole.
I don't get that feeling when seeing an ad for some random TV action movie or even an ad for Too Fast Way Too Furiousish 3, it makes me smile and I know this does not is a representation of the whole film industry.
Point: the problem lies more with the way people treat games.
Of course, that's a bit circular. If we don't make more heavy ads for more traditional games, they are never going to kick in living room cultures as much as we'd want.
Then you think about the price of these ad campaigns... added to the dev budgets... *sigh*

You're right in a few ways. It all depends on the game you are advertising, and the greatest shame is that most core games end up being rated M. It's like no one can think of a good idea that gets a lower rating. This is something I think the industry will come to fix in time, but this generation is pretty much defined by AAA M titles and the occasional excellent E or T game by Rare or Nintendo.

At the same time, I fear the day that the game industry decides to go for the T rating as Hollywood goes for PG-13, just to open up to a larger market. In some ways its a good idea, but I want plenty of my games to remain bloody.

One can speculate how hardcore games could appeal to mainstream all day, though. I still feel that most games should try reducing their price to $30 instead of the full $60, and with an adequate marketing strategy manage to sell well. It's a move that could easily double the units sold, and the Atari fiasco has already taught us that mainstream will purchase cheaper games than more expensive. It's just we're in a place where a game like Gears of War can still sell at $60, but if Earth Defense Force 2017 released at $60 it wouldn't have sold at all.

Arbre:
There could be more third party titles if there were clearer numbers on what the core niche represents on this console, and much more leeway regarding the wiimote, even up to the point it would become useless. But we know Nintendo, they'll have studios cram the wiimote into the designs as much as possible, and that's an obstacle.

As I mentioned, RE4 ($30) and MP3 ($50) did pretty well (sold about 1.5 million each) and you have to remember that those games hit the scene pretty early on when the install base was much, much smaller. If a Metroid Prime 4 were to be released on the Wii right now, it would sell insanely well. Makes me wish BioWare would make a version of Mass Effect for the Wii.

I hear you on useless motion controls. Twilight Princess is worse off for them and Nintendo didn't offer people any choice with the classic controller... even though the programming was already there in the game cube version. That judgment call by Nintendo really pissed me off.

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ccesarano:
One can speculate how hardcore games could appeal to mainstream all day, though. I still feel that most games should try reducing their price to $30 instead of the full $60, and with an adequate marketing strategy manage to sell well. It's a move that could easily double the units sold, and the Atari fiasco has already taught us that mainstream will purchase cheaper games than more expensive. It's just we're in a place where a game like Gears of War can still sell at $60, but if Earth Defense Force 2017 released at $60 it wouldn't have sold at all.

I agree... but it's interesting to note that games haven't really gone up in price since the early NES days despite inflation. I still cringe at the $100 Ultima: Exodus NES game I bought way back in the day. As the install base grows, you'll see more competitive pricing emerge. Fantastic games like Boom Blox might not impale themselves on their greedy, pointy price tags.

I'm still blown away that I bought RE4 and Endless Ocean for $30 retail each when they were released though.

Oh, and what Atari fiasco are you referencing? I'm always looking for a reason to hate Atari. ;-)

I'm personally content to see the console plebians have as little clout as possible in the industry and thus maintain the focus on better (PC) games.

Echolocation:
Oh, and what Atari fiasco are you referencing? I'm always looking for a reason to hate Atari. ;-)

The shovelware Flood which happened decades ago with Atari's home consoles. Have you played Atari today? Most games turned out to be mediocre, and people had little way to know what to buy. It was a very primitive era in a way, quite raw.

I agree. You've really hit the nail with this article. I myself have said that the Wii is a gimmicky device for nintendo fan boys. But the demographic is proving otherwise.

Though Nintendo could do a much greater job at wooing third party developers it is the third party itself that is missing the point of Nintendo's possible paradigm shift.

Great article, thank you.

 

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