News Article

Feature: Nintendo Land's Potential

Posted by Nintendo Life Staff

Raising the flag for Wii U

Nintendo Land, a virtual theme park that collects together bite-sized portions of several Nintendo franchises, seems to be the big first party hope for Wii U. It's intended as a title that can match the appeal of Wii Sports and push the console's central concepts: the uses of the GamePad's screen, asymmetrical multiplayer, a system that can appeal to all markets.

We're not convinced that Nintendo Land is another Wii Sports just yet, but there are certainly interesting things at play here. Perhaps we're only looking at a small part of Nintendo's big picture for the title. Assistant editor Mike Mason and features editor Thomas Whitehead look at how Nintendo could make this amusement park as important to the Wii U experience as bowling was to Wii.

Game budgets have started to reach unsustainable levels. Since HD consoles were introduced to the industry, many companies have fallen to the rising costs of game development. Publishers such as Ubisoft and Activision often involve multiple studios on single games – just look at Assassin's Creed, Ghost Recon and Call of Duty as examples. Titles regularly need to sell millions of copies just to break even; Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning did well in the charts, racking up 1.22m sales in three months, only for its parent company 38 Studios to lay off its entire staff because it needed 3m sales to break even. It's not just companies supporting new IPs that have had to deal with this. Big companies like THQ and SEGA are struggling, the former scrabbling to stay on the NASDAQ stock exchange and the latter stripping down its release schedule to focus on major franchises such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Football Manager.

Wii afforded Nintendo a safety net for a time. It meant that it didn't have to force itself or its partners into more costly HD development before it was ready. The decision blew back later in the generation, but not until its bank balance inflated healthily, earning Nintendo a war chest that can now sustain it through multiple failures if necessary. But that can't last forever, and if there's more money at stake it may no longer be sensible to develop games without a chance of a degree of success. What if, however, there was a way that Nintendo could extend the range of safety without resorting to leaning exclusively upon ever-profitable franchises, ensuring that it could continue to take those risks that endear it to us?

Nintendo Land could be the answer. We must look beyond it as a mini game collection and instead think of it as a crucial experiment in market research and franchise-testing. Nintendo knows that Mario is a reliable money maker – there's a reason two New Super Mario Bros. titles are coming out this year – but it can't be so certain of a series like F-Zero. It's critically loved, but its commercial success cannot be guaranteed. Traditionally Nintendo might scour message boards, send out surveys to existing customers or gather consumer panels if it was to find out if a game was viable, but that only takes a small portion of the potential audience into account.

Nintendo Land incorporates a mixture of safe and less safe franchises. Using Miiverse, where comments and social interactivity will be rife, Nintendo could gauge reaction to each of the separate attractions – and in turn the franchises that they're attached to. If Nintendo looks at the Balloon Fight mini game and sees high activity levels and dozens of positive comments and conversations, that could be the impetus to develop a full, all-new game in that series with confidence that it has a decent chance of success. Those traditionally risky developments could suddenly be slightly less of a leap of faith.

Not only could Nintendo Land turn a profit itself, but it could also lay ground for future sales successes. Franchises like Metroid could be introduced to a whole new audience who might be more willing to spend money on a full entry a few years down the line. Attractions for additional series could become free downloadable content, made available whenever a new 'test' is necessary. Even entirely new series could first appear here to reduce the possibility of failure. Used properly, Nintendo Land could be a gateway to increased franchise popularity across the board; despite its apparently safe shell it could unlock the door to more experimentation than ever before; it could guide users to embrace eShop titles and games that they would previously never have looked at.

Despite the fact that its E3 reveal was arguably underwhelming, Nintendo Land became the most talked about title in our E3 team last week. In a sense that's because it's potentially something very different due to the capabilities of Wii U, and as Mike has suggested there are a number of ways that Nintendo can not only use the title as an accessible gateway for new users, but as a means to learn more about its gamers. The fact that so many famous Nintendo franchises will make an appearance in innovative ways means that this could be an excellent platform to win over those unfamiliar with the likes of F-Zero and Animal Crossing.

To pick up briefly on Mike's final point, Nintendo Land seems like an ideal opportunity to make use of DLC and to effectively promote the Wii U eShop. Rumours are already swirling around, inevitably, that Nintendo Land will indeed be packed in with systems, but perhaps Nintendo could consider an eShop download code that provides access to extra content on day one, essentially bribing the user to get their console online.

That may sound mercenary and unfair, but it doesn't have to be a significant proportion of the game, just enough to encourage the effort of connecting to the eShop and registering an account. There may be workarounds for those without a connection, too, with each console having a card packed in that's eligible for one set of the initial extra content: take it to a retailer, they load the data, or an unlock code for the game itself, and the NFC technology in the GamePad does the rest. That's a long shot, the idea of on-disc DLC isn't exactly popular — though this would be free — and it would be much clumsier than simply making the content available right away without the need for online access, but it would allow Nintendo to support a minority while encouraging the majority onto its digital platform.

The idea of 'test' content as DLC is also a way to push gamers onto eShop, especially if the title succeeds in becoming the go-to family experience in Wii U's early days. If the infrastructure is right then Miiverse and the eShop could combine, with Nintendo welcoming debate through the social network setup, reaching anyone who dabbles in the area, and including plenty of links and prompts to try free extras from the online store. It's all about keeping the experience painless and accessible, giving gamers some fun extra content while, as Mike has pointed out, Nintendo gains invaluable market research. While on the surface pushing people onto the eShop may seem cynical, it will be vital for Nintendo's success on Wii U, and 3DS, to build a well-supported digital platform that contributes to getting the company back into profit. This could be a relatively harmless way to help with that development.

It'll be disappointing if Nintendo Land is just a disc in a box like Wii Sports before it: it has the potential to do so much more.

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User Comments (57)



Kreegs07 said:

I think the gold in this game is simply getting certain franchises exposure to casual gamers. Perhaps when Nintendo does release a full Zelda, Metroid, F Zero, etc.. The casuals will start picking these up too based on experiences they had in Nintendo Land!



Rapadash6 said:

Nintendo Land is a tricky puzzle to solve. It seems like it could have the potential to be a Wii Sports, but even I have trouble imagining that happening. Wii Sports was popular for one reason; it was a simple concept to grasp. The Wii Remote was about as easy of a controller to use as you can possibly release nowadays, but the Gamepad seems much more complicated by comparison. I'm sure many of us celebrated the traditional button/analog stick layout the new controller adopted, but we have to remember that it was exactly the gradual increase of input options that scared a lot of those Wii consumers away from video games in the first place. Suddenly throwing a touch screen onto this "core" controller isn't going to make it more inviting, I feel. Even watching the obnoxious family demonstrations of Nintendo Land mini games seemed unintuitive to me. We'll see what happens, but if Nintendo is banking on this game, they definitely needs to include it with the console, because requiring a separate purchase is going to turn off cores and casuals alike.



Kyloctopus said:

I'm certain it's going to be the next Wii Sports. I can see the headline in two years "Super Nintendo Land announced at E3"



SonyFACE said:

I'm never going to play Ghost Mansion, just out of spite for how long it took to explain at E3. NintendoLand would be a great way to try out different franchises though... I wonder if What'sItsFace Ninja Castle is a "test franchise."



SonyFACE said:

Eh...I don't care. The Animal Crossing one looks fun, and I can't wait to see what the Metroid one is. Also, I've never played Balloon Fight, so I can't wait to try it.



Lew3107 said:

Personally, I think that this game was made not only to showcase the versatility of the GamePad, but also to give the lesser known franchises some publicity. Who knows, maybe an international release of Nazo no Murasame-jo on the Wii U VC, maybe a remake of Balloon Fighter?
And sorry for this in advance, but Takamaru for SSB4!



H3ro_of_tim3 said:

I will admit I was originally underwhelmed by NintendoLand, but now that I've had some time to mull it over, I think it's the right move from Nintendo. However, I believe releasing it as a full price irst party title with launch would be a colossal mistake. This game has the potential to set system sales in fire by packaging it in with the Wii U. Anything else, IMO, would be counterproductive.



Luffymcduck said:

Great article, shows the potential of Nintendo Land and makes me want to play it more than when I first saw it in E3 (they´d better pack it it with WiiU). Idea of additional attractions as DLC sounds good too, Nintendo Land being the test ground for different series.



Lew3107 said:

@H3ro_of_tim3 I agree. It has to be bundled with the console and the controller. Nintendo do know what they're doing though, they can't really expect to sell this separately at full retail price and expect a bunch of people to buy it, especially if the console bundles with other games.
However, I believe this game has a lot of potential, if Nintendo do the right things. Most importantly IMO, free or cheap DLC is needed in the game to add new attractions - to support the article - that can get test franchises out there. As I said in my previous post, lesser known franchises like Custom Robo, Excite, bit Generations, Puzzle League, etc can be showcased in this simplistic game that will get the word to Nintendo if creating a new game in a franchise is worthwhile.



Koos said:

Flicking stuff towards the screen like the ninja stars that's what it is all about to win crowds over. Some of the rest might be a tiny complicated to the unaware masses but demos of ninjas and interaction between the tablet and TV in a flawless way and its sold big time.




I like how so many are ruling out Nintendo Land. Nintendo are used to people writing them off eh. Reckon this game is going to be BOSS



blackknight77 said:

I like the idea of Nintendo Land. Not everygame needs to bloody and mature. I like to play games like this from time to time.



Shining-Void said:

Nintendo Land is good idea for those buying their first console. So maybe if the F-zero is well liked, nintendo will turn it into a game.



warioswoods said:

Instead of waiting years for all our favorite second-tier characters to make an appearance on the console (Metroid, F-Zero, etc), this game will give us a little bite-sized taste of each one in HD, with fun local multiplayer and Miis that are essentially engaging in cosplay. What's not to love?



Emaan said:

I like the idea of Nintendo Land acting as a way to attract more audiences to the less known franchises. I'm just not sure if this will get people's attention like Wii Sports did.



C-Olimar said:

You mentioned Animal Crossing alongside F0-Zero... to be honest I think that's one franchise Nintendo would have no worries releasing, as it's one of the biggest selling DS games, with Wild World selling over 10 million units I believe.



NintyMan said:

I like Mike's suggestion that Nintendo Land could be the game that pitches new game series to new players. Nintendo Land is sort of like a casual Super Smash Bros. in that there's all of these Nintendo franchises coming together, but with miis thrown into the mix. Smash Bros. Brawl got me interested in the Kid Icarus and Kirby series, so if Nintendo Land can be that way for others through DLC, that would be a wonderful idea.

I actually think this game has potential. With some smart ideas and good choices, Nintendo can make the game have a lasting effect.



Sean_Aaron said:

Great analysis and I hope this is actually what they have in mind. I would gladly pay money for Nintendo Land, but it definitely makes more sense for it to be a pack-in title as a more proper gateway to get people into playing core Nintendo franchises. Also good for people like me who have never played games like F-Zero and want to see what the fuss is about without gambling on full retail release as I have with other untried Nintendo franchises with mixed results.

I'm really looking forward to this console; here's hoping Nintendo makes the most of it!



yobucky said:

Yeah this article puts down exactly what I thought when they announced it, a great way to introduce casual gamers to their core franchises. Far too often I see second hand Wii's being sold without even one nintendo IP apart from wii sports, all third party movie spin offs and sports games, which says to me those people are missing the best part of nintendo. No mario, no metroid, no zelda?? But now if little bobby gets a massive kick out of playing the animal crossing mini game and suddenly he sees they're launching a full version of Animal crossing, of course he's going to desire that games above something else he's unfamiliar with. It shows good thought from nintendo as they really need to lower the average age of their core gamers, and if these kids don't know about all the other great nintendo IPs they'll never give them a try. Look at the way pit's appearance in SSBB increased the support for a full game.



Slapshot said:

Nintendo Land needs to be built into the console and freely available to all Wii U owners, just as Sony does with their PlayStation Home. Sony doesn't exactly implement pieces of the games into home, but instead creates home spaces designed around upcoming games with its own complimentary set of mini games inside them, which upon completion unlocks exclusive content for you Home Avatars.

What Nintendo fan wouldn't want to game exclusive content for their Mii's? I know I've wanted that for far too long now!

Nintendo Land holds the key to getting the majority of Wii U owners to access the internet with their consoles, but it'll only happen if Nintendo implements it properly.



rjejr said:

I see the potential here, but I see a whole lot of issues.
First, I'm not even sure what it is beyond a collection of minigames. What about the overworld? Is there online at all?
This and Miiverse seem similar. I pity the salesperson who has to explain the difference to parents if this is sold separately for $50.
Making this a DL would get people into the eShop, but since we don't know how much storage space the Wii U is going to have I don't know if people will want to be filling it up with this. Including it on a 4GB memory card might at least get people to find the memory card slot and make it easier to add levels later on. And I don't think piracy would be a big issue w/ a free game. Expanding the game w/ extra areas seems like a natural. (Does anybody remember the Wii Metroid Prime 3 Channel of videos before the game came out? A new mini-game area would be a better marketing device.)
As Slapshot said, this has remined me a lot o fPS Home, which besides bein gfree has a mini-game collection in Midway which has added an additional 2 free areas sinmce it' srelease. Not to metion Carnival Island which I really like as a Move game. So none of this is as new as Wii Sports.
Which brings me to my last point. I don't see how lightning can strike twice. Wii Sports was genius for selling the console to old age homes and non-gamers (who then never ever bought another Wii game except maybe Wii Sports Resort). Who is going to buy a console for a minigame collection? People who already know those Nintendo properties, which defeats the marketing aspect.



Cloud-San-VII said:

At first, I was a bit disappointed (like many if you). But 2 minutes later I realized that this would be a small dose of what Nintendo will/can do for the franchises. I really hope the Super Mario and Metroid are Battle Mii and Chase Mii (I don't care what you call them, I just want them). Takomaru was a great game to be in there as many of you have (probably) not played it before (it's an amazing game in my opinion). Maybe if we try hard enough, it will be a VC and be localized.
Some of the things that I want in there are: Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Earthbound/Mother, Ice Climbers, Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Kirby, Donkey Kong, something with R.O.B., Golden Sun, 1080, Wave Race, Advance Wars, Pikmin, and Baloon Fight. Most of these are unconfirmed but would make great DLC.



TwilightV said:

I agree with warnerdan. Online multiplayer would greatly benefit this game, especially considering the social angle of Miiverse will be included.



pastasauce said:

I haven't heard enough about Nintendo Land! Nintendo should hold an 8 hour press conference devoted entirely to Nintendo Land and force everyone in the world to watch it, then I'm sure everyone would be sold!



H3ro_of_tim3 said:

@Lew3107 Agreed. I think as a packaged in game, NintendoLand has the potential to be miles ahead of Wii Sports or anything of the like, and I think it can be an awesome gateway for other Ninty IP's like F-Zero, Animal Crossing, etc. This could be the game that brings gamers both casual and "hardcore" out at launch if it's included. I've always been a Nintendo fan, and I trust that they won't disappoint.



Game0ver_Gavin said:

This looks super boring. I'll play it if it comes with the console but if its a separate disk, there's no way i'm getting it.



lanabanana said:

Well , if it is the new Wii Sports, then it should be bundled up with the Wii U... if it's not then I'm not buying it...



LavaTwilight said:

LOADS of people say that they'll only get it if it comes with the console... that's essentially like saying 'I won't pay money for it but I'll keep it if they give it to me for free'. It's pretty well established that NintendoLand is for WiiU what Wii Sports was for the Wii - a way of showing off what the gamepad is all about so people can come to grips with it. Therefore I see no reason why it wouldn't be free with the console just as Wii Sports was. No one liked the demonstration at E3 but it looks to be one of those things whereby it takes 20minutes to explain but only 2minutes to demonstrate! I can see it being far more entertaining than they made it look.



sinalefa said:

Mike has a great argument there.


I don't see that as an issue, as the assymetric gameplay has one person using the fancy multiinput device while the other players use simple wiimotes. So most likely the core gamer in the family takes the gamepad while the others use the simpler controls. Soon enough they will be yearning for the tablet, so they will learn how to use it.

If Nintendo is so serious about having this as the next Wii Sports, I think they can afford to bundle it for free but not afford to have people skipping this one, specially if it does not look that cool but it is fun. I am pretty sure a lot of people would not think twice if they have to pay for it, but if it is there they will try it and possibly have a blast. I am one of those who would have never paid for Wii Sports, but I enjoyed it while I waited for Brawl to arrive.



sc100 said:

I think Nintendo Land has a ton of potential if it's executed right. I'd love to play this in the MiiVerse.



LegendaryQ said:

It looks like a lot of fun, though I doubt I'll be playing it unless it is packaged with the system or is fairly cheap. I just can't see Nintendo Land working as a full price retail release



Redfield_Lynch said:

Great article... for me the most important is the way they'll present this. For me there are only two ways for this to work, one would be to include the game with the console the other would be make nintendo land some kind of home for the console.

Since i don't see the 2nd option becoming true, here's me keeping my fingers crossed for the 1st idea to come true



H3ro_of_tim3 said:

@LavaTwilight: I see your point, and please don't get me wrong: I believe that NintendoLand looks like a great game. I'm sure that it would do well as a stand alone game as well, but I believe that it would be much more beneficial as a
Packaged in game due to the fact that it would drive sales of the system, especially for those that are a bit unsure about buying a Wii U at launch. Games like these sell well, but look at something like Mario Party. These are games for casual gamers, and many "hardcore" gamers aren't going to spend $50 on a Mario Party game. I believe it's the same sort of audience that would consider paying retail for NLand. I believe that Nintendo knows how to make a great game, and no doubt it would be worth the price tag, but I believe that people that are still nervous about taking a risk (although I don't see it as one personally) on a new system would be lured in much more easily with a first party star like NLand.



Burning_Spear said:

I don't look at this game and say, "Wow, mini-games with Nintendo characters. Must have it." If I'm on the fence about getting a Wii U — whether at launch or at all — this game doesn't sway me. I also can't see paying $50 or $60 for this.

Wii Sports was something that drew people to the console. I don't see how this game does that.



eternalstar0211 said:

Maybe getting it even if it is sold separately but I think Nintendo should just bundle it with the Wii U. Nintendo Land if sold separately may cause Nintendo to have some losses.



Malkeor said:

This game should either be packed into the console

or I would take it as a cheaper retail game than the norm.



WolfRamHeart said:

Great article. Even though I was underwhelmed by this game when I saw it at Nintendo's E3 press conference I do see the potential for it. I agree that by making it a pack-in title and selling additional content for it later via DLC would definitely extend the life of it. I don't see myself paying full retail price for this as it looks more like a tech demo. However, if the game ends up being fun then I wouldn't mind shelling out money for some additional content just as long as the game is a pack-in title.



BenAV said:

Everyone be full of praise for the Balloon Fight minigame so they make a new Balloon Fight!



TimboBaggins said:

I really hope this comes in the box with the system. Then I will sing its praises all day long



doctor_doak said:

Is it market research or are they simply imposing brand recognition though?? I mean the F-Zero minigame is nothing at all like F-Zero and so forth. How could you gauge whether kids would like playing a game where you fly in a futuristic aircraft doing 80, 000 miles per hour around ridiculously challenging tracks from that?

I think it would be a great idea, but the minigame would in someway actually have to represent the full titles beyond simply the association of the 'name', and they don't appear to do that well enough.

To me it looks like Nintendo saying, "at some stage down the track we are going to release an F-Zero title, and the F-Zero minigame is sort of a way of indoctrinating the kids who weren't alive or were too young to play the last release".

If they'd wanted to create NintendoLand as market research they should've made the mini-games better reflect what the full titles do.



BenAV said:

doctor_doak wrote:

How could you gauge whether kids would like playing a game where you fly in a futuristic aircraft doing 80, 000 miles per hour around ridiculously challenging tracks from that?

Who cares if they end up liking it or not though?
As long as they buy it, I'm sure Nintendo will be happy.

F-Zero fans would buy a new F-Zero and fans of the F-Zero mini-game in Nintendo Land would be likely to be a new F-Zero.
There's a good chance that they won't like it due to it being so different to the mini-game, but by the time they realise that it might be too late.



doctor_doak said:

Yeah, well I guess so. They still might buy it... But, they're going to be in for an awful shock when they see how the full game plays .

What I meant was, that if Nintendo were doing the mini-games as market research, I don't know by what measure they'd be able to judge whether these kids would actually want to play the full version, simply because they're so different.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Good to see i'm not the only one thinking along these lines. I completely agree with the wonderful words of Mike. Imo it should be bundled with the console and i just hope it won't lead to more watered down games in our beloved non-Mario franchises in the long run.And while i agree that DLC for the included minigames as well as completely new ones would be a good idea it can only be one pillar in the strategy to bring people to the eShop imo. Another one hopefully available at launch would be to have demos of as many games as possible imo.

Also: Judging from the weekly reactions to the eShop updates here i don't think Ninty will want everybody constantly greeted with a "Nothing but crap here!" before even entering the shop.



rjejr said:

I think Nintendo COULD sell this alongside the Wii U for $50 and get sales, I mean, people bought Wii Music didn't they, and Wii Play and Wii Party and Mario Party, BUT people who already bought the Wii U would be buying it, it isn't a system seller, and it wasn't worth 20 minutes of E3 time. This seems like a good 2nd or 3rd year game once 30 million Wii U have already been sold, not a way to sell the system. Their resources should have been better spent elsewhere. If it turns out it is included that's ok.

BTW - I haven't seen anybody mention it but I know Japan didn't get Wii Sports bundled at launch, so maybe Nintendo isn't announcing this as bundled b/c the bundle will vary by region?



aaronsullivan said:

Should be in the console when you start it up. This is the best way to get people to play mini games. I've always thought of this as a bridge for casuals to Nintendo franchises and even a way to get some of the more traditional players into these types of mini games.

Promoting new potential games and releases through it is a fantastic idea, it could even be a hub into actual demos or video promos.

I'm still tickled by being able to put costumes on me and my family's Miis. I cannot wait to see my 3-year-old's (actual) face the first time he sees himself dressed up as Link, whom he loves. Or my 7-year-old girl in a Samus helmet and shoulder pads. We're going to have so much fun.

I do agree that it doesn't have the immediate attraction that Wii Sports had. Not by a long shot. The success story of this console seems to me like more traditional gamers introducing it to casuals through Nintendo Land and getting them hooked. That's slower growth, but it could be more sustainable. Guess we'll see.

Oh, then there's the other scenario, the huge number of kids that were young when their parents bought a Wii and got the whole family introduced to console gaming and are now old enough to beg for the new one.



Lew3107 said:

@bahooney Much as I love me some Earthbound, there'd be no point. Prooducer says he's finished with the series. Most you could hope for is a HD Trilogy, and pray it gets released in the West.



Urbanhispanic said:

I agree with some people here: package this game with Wii U AND include online connectivity from the get go; down the line they should provide DLC content to showcase new attractions. It's a great way to show love to some of Nintendo's frachises that have been dormant for so long.



Dannythegamer said:

I hope the Wii U will be bundled with Nintendo Land, like the Wii being bundled with Wii Sports. If Ninendo Land was sols separate, who would dare buy a bunch of minigames explaining the basics of the Wii U. But I'm still hoping to buy the Wii U.

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