Talking Point: Another Look at the News - 20th July

Sonic, retail downloads and a certain analyst

It's that time again, when a few members of the Nintendo Life team look at recent news and decide that they simply have to give their opinion on it. Last time out things were very serious, with topics such as Nintendo's online services, the number of 'new IPs' on Wii and the continued madness that is Super Smash Bros. hype dominating our thoughts. Is there any light relief this time?

Well, let's see. This week assistant editor Mike Mason looks at retail download promotions, writer Gaz Plant considers comments from everyone's favourite industry analyst, and contributer Morgan Sleeper brings things to a soft conclusion by talking about Sonic plushies.

Mike Mason

Another view on — Nintendo Offering Incentives for Retail Downloads in Japan

The digital download future is something that Nintendo is beginning to adopt enthusiastically. It's a necessity in a world where it's easier to log onto iTunes than to trot down to HMV; where you can instantly download or stream a movie rather than wait for a DVD to plop onto your doormat. It's a positive step to see it move in this direction with full retail game downloads – but why should digital downloaders get all the treats?

With a boxed game you get all the nice packaging, with a download you get nought but a file on your 3DS; it's more convenient but less tangible, and some people aren't quite ready to sacrifice the prospect of a physical collection filling their shelves. Nintendo seems to understand that, hence why it's continuing to offer both retail and download versions of games.

It could be considered a little unfair, though, that those who go for the latter option are rewarded with extra goodies: a free game here, some bonus Club Nintendo points there. Nintendo wants to promote the eShop in all its online glory, yes, but could that not be done by including codes for free eShop games with both avenues of purchase? A plastic case, pretty as it is, is not an extra bonus game. It's nice to see Nintendo offering something a little incentive to push this new channel, but I'm of the opinion that it shouldn't mean the alternative loses out; I don't want this to go the way of pre-order bonuses, where multiple retailers end up with different exclusive bits of content that can't be accessed otherwise.

Gaz Plant

Another view on — Michael Pachter: Activision Demanded Wii U Pro Controller for CoD

It seems that rarely a week goes by when everyone’s favourite industry analyst Michael Pachter has something to say about Nintendo, and the last few weeks have been no different. This time it’s the turn of the Wii U Pro Controller, which he claimed was forced into existence by Activision.

Naturally this caused a bit of commotion online, but Pachter did clarify what he meant, restating what many overlooked in his original quote – he was simply extrapolating from what has been confirmed. When he’s completely wrong I’ll happily join the detractors, but this time I feel he should be cut some slack; after all, a logical conclusion was reached from established facts.

And let’s face it, Michael Pachter arguably knows more about the industry’s finances than all of us put together, and his inside knowledge of this should be respected. There is a reason he still has a job after all. Remember back in 2009 when he suggested Nintendo needed to boost Wii up to HD graphics to keep third party software on the system? We all laughed back then. We haven’t been laughing recently.

What many people seem to miss is that his job is to predict the future as he sees it, and without a DeLorean to hand, he will ultimately miss the mark more often than not. No-one could have foreseen the success of the DS, and Nintendo stunned the entire industry with the selling power of Wii. Perhaps calling Wii U “a solution in search of a problem” was a bit over the top, but in the case of the Wii U Pro Controller, the whole situation was perhaps simply a case of bad phrasing; something that perhaps could have been solved by a simple word swap, as we suggested.

Michael Pachter aside, the existence of the Wii U Pro Controller, a controller borrowing from the now standard controller layout Nintendo originally reserved for the Virtual Console on Wii, certainly seems like a ploy to get third parties on board. After all, isn’t a standard controller directly opposed to the Wii U’s message?

Morgan Sleeper

Another view on — SEGA Wants Sonic to be the Next Hello Kitty

SEGA's recent announcement of a Sonic/Hello Kitty mashup plush, and its aspirations for the speedy little hedgehog to become a merchandising icon on par with Sanrio's legendary cat, might strike the gaming world as a bit of a stretch. After all, even with Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations marking a recent turn-around in the quality of his games, Sonic is still most fondly remembered for his adventures in the 90s: the original 16-bit outings, Sonic CD, and Sonic Adventure. Hasn't the time to take advantage of Sonic's success with merchandising deals already come and gone?

Here's the thing though; I was given a Sonic t-shirt last Christmas, and ever since I've started wearing it I've gotten lots of compliments from all kinds of different people: university students, too-cool-for-school teenagers at a ska concert, a mom who wanted to get one for her kids, younger Sonic X fans, and some enthusiastic gamers who would have been in middle school when Sonic first sped onto the Genesis/Mega Drive in 1991.

Sonic's games may have had a popularity slump in recent years, but it's still amazing to me that a video game character who was cool back when I was running around the playground (I have fond memories of swapping Sonic comics during recess and waiting patiently to play Sonic Blast on a friend's Game Gear) can still appeal to such a wide audience today. It's a unique situation that Sonic shares with few gaming heroes outside of Mario and company, and I think SEGA's wise to try and capitalize on it by marketing its mascot in as many ways as possible. If plushies, shirts, and schoolbags can turn a profit, and help keep SEGA in a position to create quirky, less profitable games like this year's phenomenal Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, then a Hello Kitty Sonic is A-OK with me.

What do you think of these comments, and what news stories grabbed your attention this week?

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