The Wii and DS consoles were systems which achieved incredible global success and marked Nintendo's shift from "core" players to a much larger market, dubbed "casual gamers". Titles like Wii Sports, Wii Fit and Brain Training made gamers of people who had historically never taken any interest in interactive entertainment, and new interfaces — such as the touch screen on the DS and motion controls on the Wii — removed barriers to entry which previously dissuaded consumers.
Hitting the casual market was a boon for Nintendo, but these new players didn't stick around — the Wii's successor, the Wii U, is struggling to match the commercial performance of its forerunner, and there is data which indicates that casual players have lost interest and moved onto other devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
While this shift may have caught Nintendo by surprise to a certain extent, famed game designer Shigeru Miyamoto has boldly outlined the company's plans to move back towards "core" gamers. Speaking in this month's issue of UK magazine EDGE, Miyamoto spoke in less-than-flattering terms about casual players:
[These are] the sort of people who, for example, might want to watch a movie. They might want to go to Disneyland. Their attitude is, 'okay, I am the customer. You are supposed to entertain me.' It's kind of a passive attitude they're taking, and to me it's kind of a pathetic thing. They do not know how interesting it is if you move one step further and try to challenge yourself [with more advanced games].
Interestingly, Miyamoto feels that the rise of smartphones and tablets has taken the pressure off Nintendo, and their emergence will allow the company to return to what it does best — making amazing video games:
In the days of DS and Wii, Nintendo tried its best to expand the gaming population. Fortunately, because of the spread of smart devices, people take games for granted now. It's a good thing for us, because we do not have to worry about making games something that are relevant to general people's daily lives.
Miyamoto's comments are perhaps the first time that a high-ranking Nintendo staffer has publicly stated the firm's intention to abandon the lucrative casual market and concentrate on traditional players instead. While veteran fans will no doubt be pleased to hear of this change in policy, it could cause some frowns among Nintendo's long-suffering shareholders, many of which hope the firm will return to massive Wii-era profits sooner rather than later.
How do you feel about these points? Is Nintendo right to make the shift, seeing as the casual sector it helped to create has all but vanished following the success of smart devices like the iPhone and iPad? Or should the company try and keep both casual and core happy to maximise its potential success? Leave a comment to let us know how you feel.