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Nintendo Reiterates Baffling Philosophy


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IGN LINK

 

Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata reiterated the company's feeling that prettier, deeper, online-supported games are not the answer.

 

Iwata pointed once more to simplistic, intuitive software that anybody can play as the way to go.

 

TIME Article

 

How have the Japanese responded to online play? Perhaps there is a cultural difference that is driving Nintendo's reluctance?

 

Strange that they are totally dismissing online. What will they say if/when warppipe succeeds?

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Originally posted by Sam P@Dec 10 2003, 02:02 PM

Don't mean to sound snobby, but I'm so satisfied with XBOX and LIVE that a lack of Nintendo online is their loss, not mine.

As much as I love Live, I really would like to see Nintendo get online because they (and their platform in general) have so much to offer in terms of unique games. I can't even imagine how fun, say, Super Monkey Ball would be online!! Mario Kart DD is another one. The GC has so many good party games, why confine that geographically?

 

Speaking for myself, I'd buy so many more GC games if they had online components. Just like Live has induced me to buy many more Xbox games than I would have otherwise.

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Internet access is very expensive in Japan.

 

It used to be, but now, broadband access in the major cities is way cheaper than it is in the West - we're talking insane speeds for less cost than ADSL or Cable usually is.

 

The Japanese just haven't latched onto online play for consoles though - DoCoMo is what they play online instead.

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As much as I love Live, I really would like to see Nintendo get online because they (and their platform in general) have so much to offer in terms of unique games. I can't even imagine how fun, say, Super Monkey Ball would be online!! Mario Kart DD is another one. The GC has so many good party games, why confine that geographically?

 

Agreed! Add Mario Party, the new 4 player Pacman title, Four Swords etc...etc... So many unique titles that could come from Nintendo moving online.

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Add Mario Party, the new 4 player Pacman title, Four Swords

 

You took the games right out of my mouth ;).

 

But let us not forget the real online juggernaut that Nintendo is sitting on, and we all know what it is ;).

 

Pokemon!

 

Kids would club themselves silly to have the chance to use the internet to pit their Venasaurs against their friend's Pichus from across town. Hell, I would for that matter, Pokemon is a fun little game in the right doses ;).

 

Crystal Chronicles would be another good title for online play, for that matter :).

 

Edit: Holy shit I love that winking smiley.

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Is it possible that abandoning online right now is actually a great strategy for Nintendo? Neither Sony nor Microsoft are directly making money from their online services, and Mario-come-lately isn't likely to either. Nintendo hates to lose money on anything. But listen to us, we're fantasizing about playing online Nintendo games that were released before even the Xbox was Live. A lot of people would buy a GameCube right now just for online Double Dash. Wouldn't those same people, and many more, buy GameCube 2 for Double Dash 2, or sequels to any of the other games mentioned? Very few people question the quality of Nintendo games, it's merely the marketing strategies that seem misguided. I think they rely too heavily on perceptions gleaned from the Japanese market (cute purple GameCubes), and it seems that might be coloring their prejudices about online gaming.

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I look for Nintendo to really focus on online in the next generation console. Remember, nintendo likes to keep things secret. I'm guessing they're currently working on an online strategy to launch with their next console.

 

Nintendo's dismissal of online gaming is most likely just a poker face. In some cases they're right in dismissing it since no one will make any money off of it this generation. However, next generation is another story. Unfortunately, by dismissing it they're shooting themselves in the foot by making people think they're clueless.

 

All I know is Super Smash Brothers Melee online would be the king of all fighters :)

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I agree.

 

I think Nintendo is pretty much just keeping an eye on what is working for Microsoft and Sony, and what isn't working for Microsoft and Sony, so they can try to jump in and put the best of both online services together. That's my hope.

 

Honestly, Animal Crossing Online, Mario Golf Online, an MMORPG in the Zelda universe.

 

All of those things spell Next Gen Success for Nintendo, or at least Next Gen Nintendo happiness for Glen.

 

Glen

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I know that I may be in the minority here, but I believe Nintendo is completely right. When I say the minority, though, I mean within the group of hardcore or beyond-casual gamers such as ourselves. I do believe that we often fail to see the big picture as it relates to the average gamer. And I believe that is what Nintendo is able to do much better than all of the armchair analysts out there that give their opinions on what THEY want out of Nintendo. Again, these analysts usually end-up being medium-to-extreme hardcore gamers. Of course, this is a bit ironic as I'm giving my own armchair analysis, but what can you do?

 

Nintendo realizes that online gaming hasn't exactly been snowballing into a mega-industry. It just hasn't. So, in the meantime, they try stuff that other people don't, such as connectivity. Successful? Not by a long shot, but you never know what the next big thing will be until you try it.

 

But, Nintendo DOES have to realize that the western market thrives on promises and hype. Like the promise of online (eventually) and all that great stuff that is supposed to come from it. I think they would benefit from keeping select comments to themselves, and hyping some other things a bit more to cater to the western market.

 

Shawn

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Originally posted by OddJobPrime@Dec 11 2003, 11:12 AM

When I say the minority, though, I mean within the group of hardcore or beyond-casual gamers such as ourselves ... Nintendo realizes that online gaming hasn't exactly been snowballing into a mega-industry. It just hasn't.

You make a good point about hardcore gamners, Shawn. Still, on the second point, broadband penetration has been increasing by leaps and bounds (hasn't it)? Monthly fees recently dropped to about $30 and my understanding is that the cost is approaching that of dial-up.

 

With that in mind, some observers are wondering why Nintendo appears to be ignoring this situation and isn't building the know-how and brand identity for online gaming. This brings two things to mind: 1) Appearances can be deceiving and 2) I believe that these observers include industry analysts whose job is to look at larger implications -- not just those relating to a small group of hardcore gamers.

 

Purely anecdotally, I have a couple of friends and acquaintances who are definitely not hardcore gamers who purchased Xboxen and Live kits because they got broadband and wanted something to do with it other than surfing the web. The social aspects of Live gave them an opportunity to find their friends online and "hang out" in a way they couldn't or wouldn't with their PC's.

 

The Nielsen Corporation seems to think an enormous amount of twenty and thirtysomethings are playing videogames in lieu of watching television as their primary choice for entertainment. Might it be a good idea for console manufacturer's to find ways to attract these people to their products -- especially with broadband penetration increasing?

 

-j

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Perhaps, but every single casual gamer I know simply buys the latest movie license title or Star Wars title, plays it for a bit, thinks it's cool, and moves on to something else. They simply can't be bothered with getting an ethernet cable all the way over to their TV just to play online.

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j,

 

You make excellent points.

 

While I agree that broadband penetration is greatly increasing, I don't think online gaming is increasing at anywhere near that rate. Having the infrastructure doesn't necessarily lead to the success of the service. That's not to say that it won't hit exponential growth, just not now (opinion).

 

I absolutely agree with the aspects of jumping online with friends. If everyone were to try that a few times, I'm sure they'd all run out and get hooked-up. But for everyone to see this and realize this (if they ever do) will take much more time than we may think. And I also believe that Nintendo is waiting for that time to come. Pioneers don't always get to cash in on all the hard work.

The Nielsen Corporation seems to think an enormous amount of twenty and thirtysomethings are playing videogames in lieu of watching television as their primary choice for entertainment. Might it be a good idea for console manufacturer's to find ways to attract these people to their products -- especially with broadband penetration increasing?

I think this whole generation of consoles has been about that particular demographic...at least for everyone but Nintendo. Yes, they should make a greater effort to target them (myself included). And maybe you're right about offering online really being the way to do that, but I'm still not totally convinced that it will do it for the general population. Though, saying that you WON'T do it will just turn away those who find it important, and that's a bit of silly move.

 

About industry analysts, you're right. I was a bit unclear as I meant to refer to video game site self-appointed analysts. For example, for a while there was a debate almost every week on Gamespy about the state of Nintendo. Everyone had some new beef and some new solution to the Nintendo "problem". It's this type of analysis that feeds the fire more than Nintendo's announcements, I think.

 

Shawn

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Neither Sony nor Microsoft are directly making money from their online services

 

How do we know this? And what about indirectly? In several cases, the Live component of a game has pushed me over the edge into buying it (Amped 2 is a perfect example). That's $50 spent because the game was online.

 

In other cases, it's clear that the online components of a game was the reason to buy it (Midtown Madness 3), and without it I'm confident that the game would not have done as well as it did.

 

They simply can't be bothered with getting an ethernet cable all the way over to their TV just to play online.

 

...Until they have a friend that does. It's become clear to me that online gaming is only partly about gaming, it's also largely about socializing. Nintendo has spent a good amount of time making great games that are centered around that social aspect, and yet they seem positively myopic about how to extend that beyond a single room.

 

I find this terribly ironic. Of all the companies that could focus their immense creative energy on building a new kind of social gaming experience, Nintendo would have been my pick, they already have the hard part done - creating great party/social games! The easy part is making them work online, really...it's old technology and it exists in their current console!

 

Nintendo's dismissal of online gaming is most likely just a poker face.

 

A poker face means not giving away your plans. That's not what Nintendo has done, they are publicly stating that online isn't the future of gaming.

 

I think Nintendo is confused, as evidenced by the fact that they went so far as to design their latest console with (add-on) online capabilities, and then later disavowed the need for it! If they really knew what they were doing, they could have simply left broadband connectivity out and saved some money in the process.

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...Until they have a friend that does. It's become clear to me that online gaming is only partly about gaming, it's also largely about socializing.

 

I agree completely. The main reason I got LIVE was to play with LCVG members, I didn't even own an XBOX or any games for Christ's sake!! LIVE is what put me over the edge. I'm about to move, which will cause me to lose broadband internet access and the ability to play my roomates XBOX. I'm already planning to buy an XBOX and I will be planning time to go to my sister's house simply to connect the XBOX to her broadband internet. :)

 

I LOVE my Cube, but had it been online, there is a very good chance I would not have started investing in Microsoft's console. Microsoft gained a sale, and Nintendo lost some of my gaming time, which will probably equal me buying slightly fewer games from them.

 

Nintendo says there is no profitable business model for online gaming right now. I'd like to know: What is? How much would they have to charge? Are Sony and Microsoft really losing money? What will finally push the big N to go online?

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I find this terribly ironic. Of all the companies that could focus their immense creative energy on building a new kind of social gaming experience, Nintendo would have been my pick, they already have the hard part done - creating great party/social games! The easy part is making them work online, really...it's old technology and it exists in their current console!

Yeah, that's a hell of a good point.

 

But making an offline party game incurs no extra costs or responsibilities after the sale of the game. Is that a true justification for staying offline? Well it is if you believe that after all is said and done, your online game doesn't stand to make any more money than your offline game. I think that's what part of Nintendo's analysis of the situation tells them, and I'd have to agree.

 

I compare online console gaming right now to e-commerce during the .com revolution. Everyone was going to buy everything online, it was inevitable. And everyone bought into the hype...but then most people realized that they didn't really want it all that much anymore, and they switched to paying bills or searching for cookie recipes. I think the same will happen to online gaming (minus the cookie recipes). It will have its place for sure, but it won't become the be-all-end-all of gaming.

 

I apologize for writing so much today and I hope I'm not ticking anyone off with my thoughts on the subject.

 

Shawn

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Are Sony and Microsoft really losing money?

 

This is a very, very good question, actually. I'm guessing that neither one of them are, for different reasons. MicroSoft probably isn't because it has a yearly fee for their online service, and you don't actually get a net connection from them so the bandwidth concerns are out of their hands, more or less. (Correct me if I'm wrong please :P)

 

Sony's not simply because they don't have a centralized service as refined as the MicroSoft one. They let EA and whoever else wants online play to just handle it themselves. So a hands-on approach versus a hands-off approach and neither is likely to lose a ton of coin because of the cash associated with each.

 

That's my interpretation, but I'm sure you economists know more than I. I'm not exactly skipping in the streets with Nintendo's rapidly solidifying partnership with AOL, but long as I don't require an AOL account to get online with my Cube, that's acceptable. I think that that whole thing bears keeping an eye on.

 

I apologize for writing so much today and I hope I'm not ticking anyone off with my thoughts on the subject.

 

Hardly, you've been making some very good points and doing it in a mature, thoughtful manner. Just the sort of thing we like around here :green:.

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Originally posted by OddJobPrime@Dec 11 2003, 03:03 PM

I apologize for writing so much today and I hope I'm not ticking anyone off with my thoughts on the subject.

Absolutely not. You raised some interesting points. Too often this kind of discussion on the internet devolves into people slamming Nintendo with a feeding frenzy mentality or blindly defending the company. This hasn't happened here thanks to everybody's thoughtful approach, including yours.

 

I'd like to discuss the thought that Nintendo's in-house analysts are telling them they can't make any more money by making a title online. If this is true, they might have a business management problem. I've seen many businesses (personally, too) slowly spiral into failure because they failed to seek out new markets or plan for changing market conditions, comfortable in the notion that their current niche can't be exploited by an potential competitor or rendered irrelevant by market changes.

 

I'd also add that at $99, a GameCube would be a compelling proposition for me if I could play those fun Nintendo party games online. And despite appearances or suggestions otherwise, I am a very casual gamer.

 

-j

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No way, Shawn! Keep it coming.

Be careful what you wish for. ;)

Seriously, though, thanks for your acceptance everyone. I don't know why I haven't spent more time here since I joined.

 

j,

I'd like to discuss the thought that Nintendo's in-house analysts are telling them they can't make any more money by making a title online. If this is true, they might have a business management problem. I've seen many businesses (personally, too) slowly spiral into failure because they failed to seek out new markets or plan for changing market conditions, comfortable in the notion that their current niche can't be exploited by an potential competitor or rendered irrelevant by market changes.

I agree, and maybe they are being complacent in some ways. But what about the iQue? I see introducing that into an untapped market as being more innovative and potentially much more profitable than jumping onto the online gaming bandwagon as it exists now.

 

Shawn

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But making an offline party game incurs no extra costs or responsibilities after the sale of the game. Is that a true justification for staying offline? Well it is if you believe that after all is said and done, your online game doesn't stand to make any more money than your offline game. I think that's what part of Nintendo's analysis of the situation tells them, and I'd have to agree.

 

Also good points. I wouldn't say there's zero risk in taking the extra time to put a game online, I just happen to believe that the likelihood of a return on that investment is rather high. I believe this especially when it comes to party games where multiplayer is the focus of the game. And even moreso when it comes to Nintendo's venerable multiplayer games.

 

I think the same will happen to online gaming (minus the cookie recipes). It will have its place for sure, but it won't become the be-all-end-all of gaming.

 

You know, there was a time not too long ago when I could have written that sentence. I've had a really change of heart after having had experience with online games (other than FPS games on the PC/Mac). And now I believe pretty much the opposite.

 

The .com rush is a lesson, but I don't think it means that anything done online is bound to fail or be marginal.

 

I think the internet is well on it's way to being more deeply ingrained into daily life than television. I firmly believe that term 'online gaming' won't even exist in several years because it will be indistinguishable from just 'gaming'.

 

I'm not suggesting that everyone will be playing in multiplayer arenas, or any specific kind of game, but at a minimum that all games will be online-aware for scores, for trading items (animal crossing), for purchasing upgrades (new levels characters, etc). Going further (in both time and scope), I can see games being served directly over the net and not even purchased in a store (which unfortunately probably means pay-per-play).

 

I'm drifting off-topic here, but suffice to say, I think Nintendo's current message has it exactly backwards. In a broad sense, online gaming will be all there is in the future.

 

For the present, I won't argue that Nintendo must be online now, nor that they are doomed if they don't. My arguments are largely ignorant of the economics, aside from my anecdotes that my game purchasing has gone way up since I've been playing online. I just think that we're all missing out on some amazing game experiences because Nintendo isn't behind online gaming, and I question their reasons.

 

For the future (say 10 years), I think that eventually they will have no choice but to go online or get out of the game business. I just wish they'd do so sooner rather than later.

 

I apologize for writing so much today and I hope I'm not ticking anyone off with my thoughts on the subject.

 

Now way! You're making great points!

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