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Sat 2nd Jul 2011

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Debageldond commented on iPhone Gaming Controller Could Mean "The End O...:

Whenever the business media tries to analyze technology, or worse, gaming, it almost always comes across as tone deaf. Almost like when someone's mom talks about video games (my profuse apologies to female gamers with kids, but I hope my meaning isn't lost here).

It's the same shortsightedness that is endemic in that whole realm, what seems like almost total inability to see past quarterly or annual earnings. The same mindset that was one of the parties at fault for the financial collapse.

These are the people who will frame the mobile phone operating system "wars" in terms of manufacturers--Apple vs. Samsung--and miss the reality that it's much more about software (iOS vs. Android). The main reason for this is that it's -easy- to look at earnings reports of those individual companies and entirely miss the big picture. Samsung's hold on the market is fundamentally less stable than Apple's, and that entirely misses the point that Android completely dwarfs iOS in terms of usage.

That isn't to say my fanboyism is blind, because Nintendo is clearly in a rut with the Wii U despite the 3DS for a variety of reasons that this article doesn't even bother to mention because its focus is wrongheaded. As others have mentioned, anyone who's actually familiar with mobile gaming knows that the smartphone gaming market and 3DS/Vita market are not one in the same. This is not the first external controller for a mobile device and it won't be the last. But even if Apple were to bundle it with the iPhone 6CSHHNM or whatever, it likely wouldn't be challenging for Nintendo's market share.

And seriously, a minority of people have iPhones. They make make up a plurality of handsets, or perhaps second place, but that's not particularly important to the big picture. Don't get me wrong, it's great for Apple, and they should be happy for their success, but business writers really need to stop equating hardware sales with real world OS market share.



Debageldond commented on E3 2012: Nintendo's 3DS Software Showcase Live:

This has been one of Nintendo's worst E3 showings I've seen. Not by content alone, mind you, 2008 was probably worse, but taking everything into account, this was a very important show and they punted on it. And it's not just the company's losses which are concerning but I believe overblown, but the fact that most of the past year I've been grumbling to myself that Nintendo had better have a good showing at E3, because things have not been good on the games front.

I'm very excited about Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, but that feeling is overshadowed by disappointment and the feeling that Nintendo has been fairly lazy and traded a certain degree of landmark vision for easy money. I'm tired as hell of the recent style of Mario game, and I can't seem to get excited for another NSMB title. Do you know what would be an excellent showcase for Wii U? A fully 3-D, immersive Mario game along the lines of 64/Sunshine/Galaxy/Galaxy 2. It's not about the hub world, it's about good gameplay based on quality rather than timing and gimmicks a la 3D Land.

Sorry if I'm being a bit unfair here, but I hold Nintendo to a very high standard, as they generally hold themselves to one. When they do well, their often quixotic behavior that flouts industry conventions seems genius and amazing; when they don't, they seem ridiculously out of touch and behind the times. In the early 2000s, the latter was mostly true; in the late 2000s, the latter. Unfortunately, the former seems to have taken hold over the last year or so at an incredibly inopportune time for the company.

What find particularly bothersome about this was that the Wii U looks great, but I'm seeing more of Nintendo playing catch up to the other consoles with it than any sort of "killer app". No, New Super F***ing Mario Bros. Volume 578 doesn't cut it, guys, even if it looks cool. It looks like a great console, and I will buy it on or around day one, but I don't see it creating much buzz, and I expect Nintendo's market share to once again fall to Gamecube levels, mostly due to poor promotion and software decisions. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm generally an optimist. Nintendo Land looks fun, but it's a microcosm of everything Nintendo has been criticized for in an increasingly large number of circles of older gamers. I generally don't like those people, but you can't just ignore people you don't like when you're making a console, as it has to have a larger base of supporters.

If Nintendo wants to become a third party, more of these underwhelming E3 shows at important times is the way to go. There's plenty of good software coming down the pipeline and the Wii U looks like fun, but Nintendo has absolutely struck out in the perception game. That's the area where the company has never fared well (in fact, they seem borderline-autistic), and it's very important for reeling in potential new customers and returnees. I'm a "hardcore" Nintendo fan, but the company's commercial successes (Wii, which was initially predicated upon playing the game of perception well for the first time in nearly a decade at E3 2006) are good for us as well. Don't say "we don't need 'em" about casuals and "omfg so hardcore" Sony/Microsoft/PC gamers. You can't build the company on an island populated by Nintendo nerds like us, just like a successful sports franchise can't build its successes solely on die-hard fans (google "pink hat" regarding the Boston Red Sox). It's something that Nintendo hopefully understands, but a balance is rarely shown off in their presentations. Massively disappointing from a company that really should know better by now.



Debageldond commented on Feature: Games We'd Love to See at E3:

This. Times a billion.

It would be nice to have release dates for those as well as Animal Crossing, especially since PM and AC were announced two years ago. Aside from those, I'd like to see a new, full 3D Mario game along the lines of 64/Sunshine/Galaxy. I'd settle for Galaxy 3. I'm just tired of NSMB and I was thoroughly underwhelmed by 3D Land.



Debageldond commented on Feature: How 3DS Brings a New Dimension to the...:


It's not that an all-out tech war can't be won, it's that it can't be won by Nintendo, so they've smartly stayed away from that sort of thing. At this point in time, Nintendo's biggest rivals are absolute tech titans (Sony and Microsoft), with far more resources than what is essentially a gaming company, albeit an extremely prosperous one. It's sort of inspiring, really, that Nintendo seems to be getting by consistently on creativity and quality rather than raw power.



Debageldond commented on Mobile Dev: "Iwata Makes Me Fear for Nintendo'...:

There are only a few free games that are actually worth playing, and they generally are ones that maybe just have a few adds and don't insist upon micro-transactions. It's a pity, because mobile games can be good, but it every one of those, there are tens if not hundreds of free games which are essentially scams with terribly shallow gameplay. People want free or to only pay a dollar, so hey get crap chucked at them. I'd much rather pay $5 or so for a good mobile game.
That being said, Iwata and Nintendo are sometimes conservative to the point of closed-mindedness. I'd much rather see them innovate and change the sphere of mobile/smartphone gaming than shun that market altogether.



Debageldond commented on Michael Pachter Suggests That Wii U Could Stru...:

There is certainly a lot of overreaction in the comments section here, but asking people who disagree with him to "prove it" with "data" is pretty silly. There is no data. That's the point. Neither Patcher nor his detractors have any data, which is why there's a multitude of opinions here. As an analyst, one is essentially making educated guesses. The closest thing to "data" would be looking at historical trends and trying to map as closely as possible with the present. The troubling thing about that is that reality doesn't always fit trends perfectly. Very, very rarely does the best team in baseball win the World Series.

Also, I'm taking huge issue here with your claim that analysts having as much or more experience and training as a surgeon (notsureifsrs). But let's pretend that actually is true for a moment. This is not a topic that even analysts agree upon, and there's clearly a lot of room for argument both ways, so why would people on here disagreeing with Patcher be tantamount to telling a surgeon how to operate on your heart. With heart surgery, things are much more clear-cut but the stakes are much higher. As a heart surgeon, you usually know what's going to happen but you also can't afford to be wrong. There are some variables which could potentially interfere, but they are much fewer than here. Of course, if you're a heart surgeon, you can't afford to be/do wrong, and you use your education and experience to prevent that from happening. It's an awful analogy. It's more like saying you can't disagree with a politician on one side of a hotly-debated issue--you're ignoring the other side which is equally large/relevant.

Additionally, Patcher called his credibility into question with his comment about the Wii U's similarities to the Xbox 360, which was pretty much unfounded if you follow what little information there is on the Wii U. Also, there is a contingent of individuals who thrive off attention by saying provocative things, and I'm wondering if Patcher might be a part of that group. Perhaps he isn't, but one can understand how some might see him that way. You are far too trusting of "professionals". While I agree that many hard-working and intelligent individuals who are unfairly questioned and get less credit than they deserve, there are also those who have achieved success for very shallow reasons. I'm not saying this necessarily applies to Patcher, just that his status as an "analyst" does not give him carte blanche to say whatever he pleases and not be rebuffed by those with fewer "qualifications".

I understand that you're frustrated by the fanboyism here, and it does get pretty out of control at times (I saw you correctly call someone out before for saying Apple copied the DS with the iPhone). There are a few comments here that are a bit, shall we say, overzealous and unbalanced, but it's sort of what you have to expect on a Nintendo-centric site. But it does get annoying at times.



Debageldond commented on Michael Pachter Suggests That Wii U Could Stru...:

Saying the Wii U might not be a success is one thing, but comparing it to Dreamcast is quite another. I understand that obvious comparisons are drawn between Nintendo and Sega, but the differences between the two companies are as vast as the differences between the consoles which preceded the Dreamcast and Wii U.

We've seen over the last couple of generations a shift in what's considered by many to be a "hardcore" game, as well as the emergence of a new culture of "hardcore gamers", marked by an obsession with graphics, framerate and lots of brown over creativity. Nintendo is often written off because their vision doesn't match that particular brand of game. As a result, it's often easy for analysts to forget that Nintendo, from a commercial standpoint, has pretty much "won" this generation. I'm not big on the "console wars" theme, but it's hard to understand the prediction of Nintendo's demise at a time when they are the most commercially successful. That criticism would have made much more sense if it were made in 2005. I also am tired of the ridiculous false dichotomy of "hardcore" and "casual", which to many means "epic angry violent brownfests" and "everything else". This is naturally ludicrous: no matter how you slice it, Nintendo's primary (first and second party games, along with good third party ones) are "hardcore". Super Mario Galaxy? Zelda? These are not Angry Birds or Cut the Rope. Those and stuff like Wii Sports/Play/Fit are the "casual games", and while Nintendo has done well to understand that market, I don't understand how so many can write off Nintendo's entire Wii library along those lines. Additionally, I really don't think smartphones are in much competition with the game market. I think they will coexist until the point where a smartphone can magically morph controller buttons, and by that point I doubt we'd have video games in the traditional sense. But that is neither here nor there.

The main point is that Nintendo is a much, much, much stronger company today than Sega was in the late 90s. Prior to Dreamcast, they had pretty much no market share, and they had been doing poorly for a while. The Wii has done better than any of its contemporaries, and even if it got typecast, it's money that matters in these conversations. The Wii U seems like a fairly solid bridge between what different gamers want, so it could somewhat break that stereotype. Add to that the fact that Nintendo is an incredibly shrewd company that is very good at turning failure into success. Even the Gamecube was a net profit for them, and we all know about the abysmal 3DS launch and its impressive recovery. Plus they seem to be sitting on an enormous pile of money and are extremely stubborn.

So in summary: lolno. Even if the Wii U fails more spectacularly than Dreamcast, Nintendo would probably survive. Plus that's almost impossible, since Nintendo is much better positioned and has done a lot of courting of third parties. Fortunately, we're also spared derpy arguments about smartphones, because this is not a handheld. Hooray! The worst that could happen is that it ends up like the Gamecube: still profitable, but in last place with Nintendo taking a reputation hit, not a mortal financial blow.



Debageldond commented on Talking Point: 3DS Depends on Nintendo Titles ...:

I am a huge Nintendo fan, and as such I want Nintendo to succeed. I think Thomas raises an excellent point regarding the difficulty of production of HD games, and it's probably best for them to be hedging their bets with third-party developers.

The thing is, third parties are not all equally third-party. Certain developers and studios clearly get preferential treatment and are elevated by Nintendo. HAL Laboratories is an excellent example of this: they are still independent, but play to Nintendo's... gestalt, shall we say. Plus the lines are a little blurred since Iwata used to be their president. Kirby and Smash Bros. have a decidedly first party Nintendo flavor. Additionally, I cannot wrap my mind around how exactly Pokemon works. "The Pokemon Company" is held by Nintendo, but the developers seem to have a fair amount of autonomy, especially considering the miraculously poor timing of Black and White (so near the 3DS launch).

The question is how third-party developers see it. They might see the odd linkage between Nintendo and a few third-party developers and get frazzled, but I'm not sure. As a player on the outside, many developers often seem finicky and obnoxious, especially when certain developers don't make any bones about different platforms. It's the mid-size mobile devs and big console devs that seem the most incompetent at times. Small mobile devs seem fairly obliging, but slightly larger devs crow about cross-platform issues. However, Airport Mania, whose developer has posted here several times and generally been awesome, is on iOS, Android, Wii, DS, PC and maybe somewhere else I don't know about.

I'm not sure what to believe when hearing the complaints of developers anymore. Devs complain about Android because it's controlled so loosely, then also complain about Nintendo's restrictive environment. At the end of the day, it has to do with sales: if they think a game isn't going to sell in a certain environment, they make up a reason why the platform is somehow deficient. Generally, it's because the culture of the userbase simply isn't geared toward what they're selling.

It's a catch-22 for Nintendo: they've cultivated a large base of gamers who are primarily interested in games released by Nintendo or its highly regarded third parties. I believe Nintendo is aware of this, which is why so much emphasis has been put on the Wii U's horsepower, and some big devs seem to be going for it (cough cough EA).

It'll be interesting to see where that leaves the 3DS. Clearly, a great deal of the 3DS's hopes are pinned on how well Vita sells, and it's hard to say how that's going to go. It will be interesting to see how it sells in Nintendo and Europe, and if that can reverse Sony's fortunes. Naturally, one shouldn't judge a system so early on (look at the 3DS), but Sony doesn't have a devoted userbase that's waiting for first-party games. If the Vita doesn't do well, it will be because it doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from a smartphone, and it will be a major pay day for Nintendo's third party support. We will see how this really pans out.



Debageldond commented on Nintendo May Not Call Wii U a Home Console:

This is pure silliness. More BS marketing by Nintendo. We live in an increasingly integrated world, but it's still a console. Smartphones are essentially portable computers with less power and a less versatile UI, but they are still phones first and foremost. Likewise, even the PS3, which is the most "integrated" of the three main consoles, is still a video game playing platform (read: console) before anything else.

I am probably more loyal to Nintendo than any other company, but I can smell their marketing BS thousands of miles away. Will the Wii U be cool? I'm sure. Will it be a lot of fun? Absolutely. Will it fulfill the needs of most hardcore Nintendo fans, myself included? I'd be surprised if it didn't. But will it CHANGE THE WAY WE PLAY GAMES AND EVEN THINK OF GAMING??!?!?! Absolutely not, sorry. Now, it might add a new feature or ten like Nintendo's consoles usually do ("usually" being directed at the Gamecube), but let's be realistic here: it's a console, and a damn good-looking one.



Debageldond commented on Zelda: Skyward Sword Misses Wii's 2011 Top Five:


I'm surprised that people are missing the major point that Skyward Sword was only around for five or six weeks of 2011. As has been pointed out, most if not all of these games were on sale the entire year. I wouldn't be surprised in Nintendo sold more Game Boy Advance units than DS units in 2004.

That being said, I'll agree that 2011 was a truly pitiful year for the Wii, and hopefully it's mostly due to Nintendo working on the Wii U, not just the 3DS.



Debageldond commented on Industry Analysts: 3DS is Bouncing Back:

Looking over everything "industry analysts" have been saying for some time now, it's just sort of breathtaking how useless and inept these people are.

Here's the analysis: especially in Nintendoland, software sells hardware. Period. End of discussion.



Debageldond commented on EA Pledges "Key Franchises" to Wii U:

Please, please MVP Baseball. 2K Sports has destroyed MLB games for Nintendo--I still try and keep my rosters updated in MVP 05. PowerPros was fun, but everything else for the last six years has been garbage. If I can get MVP Baseball 2013 on the Wii U, I will weep happily.



Debageldond commented on Super Mario 3D Land Made for Snacking, Not Gor...:

I'm not trying to be a jerk or pick on Nintendo here, because it does look like fun... but why do we need a diminished title? We often would get such titles on handhelds because they are by definition less powerful than consoles, but we're to the point with the 3DS that there's no need for games to be much less than console game.

Please excuse me if this smacks of a lack of imagination or just plan laziness on Nintendo's part. Considering how amazing both Galaxy games were (IMO, SMG2 is the gold standard for "snacking" without the game seeming vapid), many will inevitably be disappointed with this and likely the next major Mario console release. However, this just seems overwhelmingly unambitious. I hope I'm wrong, and I'm certainly going to buy the game, but I hope Nintendo realizes that the 3DS is more than powerful enough to handle a full-course meal.



Debageldond commented on SEGA, Aksys and Konami All Use Permanent 3DS S...:

Let me start by saying that while this is a fairly alarming development, there is no way it becomes a meaningful trend due to very simple economic principles: if a game is this draconian, very few people will buy it. Ever heard of Spore? EA had a public relations nightmare when they locked that game down with the obnoxious DRM Apple used to put on its music downloads. Keyword: used. As in not anymore. If you look on Amazon, Spore was carpet bombed with one-star reviews by angry gamers because of this. Of course, since the game had been hyped for years, there was a sense of disappointment in the content, but it was still a very fun game, and if you look at the reviews, it's easy to tell why the bad ones are so bad. EA even released a tool to de-authorize computers because of it.

I don't think we're going to get anywhere near that, however. Certainly, if a company were to do this with a high-profile story-driven game (for example, had this been done with the 3DS Ocarina), it would cause a massive uproar. Even at its current level, when people find out, they're quite angry. Hell, I would be, and it's an understandable concern. However, when I read comments like "3DS BAD! I AM BETRAYED!", it shows incredibly poor critical thinking skills. This is certainly never going to touch the big-name titles, and my guess is that if it becomes a major PR distraction, Nintendo will likely put a stop to what most would agree are the more blatant abuses.

That doesn't mean it's not an issue and it's not something to get worked up about, regardless of what companies do it. Those who say that we essentially brought this upon ourselves: what level of ownership do you expect to have of any product? If I pay for a microwave, use it for five years, and then sell it, does the company which makes the microwaves lose profit? Perhaps. However, this is basically like saying "you own this microwave but it will cease to work in 10 years", the rationale being lost profits. That, in my mind, is wholly unacceptable.

This discussion is complicated by the sub-discussion concerning portable gaming and value. The reason why someone, in this day and age, will own a 3DS or Vita (when it comes out) is because there are games available which are well-designed by professionals and are more immersive than your average mobile app game. This is why we pay $40 instead of $1-5. With that added cost comes an added sense of ownership which, personally, I don't feel when I buy a $1 game on my phone. Naturally, with the extra money and sense of ownership comes with a responsibility on the part of the developer to produce a quality product, which includes save file flexibility, which has never been a problem. Now, some of the developers in question are pretty big names, but they've also been historically pretty hit-or-miss. While it's easy to see this move as evil and greedy, I think in reality it's more indicative of laziness. It comes across as a whine, because if developers would consistently make good games, they'd be making enough money not to resort to this sort of pathetic desperation move. So, while I'm alarmed and irritated, this sort of thing can not and will not stick unless some other concession is given by the company. A significant reduction in price would make sense in tandem with this, but my guess is that this lost profit is mostly phantom lost profit in the first place. Stop whining and make good games on a consistent basis.