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Nintendo: Critical State of Abnormalities

Oh, Nintendo… a company that pretty much everyone in the world knows about. A company which, for some reason gets more hatred and backlash than any other company there is. A company who, even when they listen to fans, it’s still not good enough. A company rife with criticism and unjust comparisons that make no sense contextually. Nintendo is a company that most of us grew up with, and yet, we love to hate and hate to love them. The following writings will discuss some controversial topics related to those mentioned above in regards to Nintendo… and it’s going to be a long one, so buckle up everyone.

There will be opinions, but there will also be fact. Either way we go about this, I’m positive the vocal minority of the vicious and absurdly rude internet communities will full-on disagree with us; but we’re doing this anyways. So, without further adieu, let us begin our journey of counterpoints and arguments regarding the largest video games based company in the world.

“Nintendo is doomed to be the next Sega!!”

Ahh, the good ole “Nintendo is doomed!” arguments. We’ve all seen them. We’ve all read a plethora of doom and gloom claims by internet users with nothing better to do than to be armchair critics toward an industry they know little to nothing about. We’ve been hearing and reading these claims since… well, probably since 1886 to be quite frank. To bring it into modern perspective, however, Nintendo has been doomed since Sega launched the Sega Genesis/Master Drive back in the early 1990s, and it hasn’t stopped to this day.

Growing up, I used to always hear playground banter in elementary school regarding who was better; Sega or Nintendo. It was always a friendly rivalry that sometimes lead to physical fighting within some lesser disciplined communites. Sega was always claimed by the doom-and-gloomers to be the one to take out Nintendo straight from the start. Nintendo may have saved the industry in the United States from complete market crash with the Nintendo Entertainment System, then even moreso with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, but it was naught to last long. For you see, there was a new competitor who was going to take them out! Sega was going to destroy Nintendo!!

Except for the fact that it didn’t happen. Nintendo continued to dominate the market in which they had previously held a borderline monopoly over, and while Sega had its fair share of success, they were never anywhere near the levels of Nintendo. Sure, they were a stiff competitor and we absolutely needed them to help balance out the market… could you imagine a Nintendo monopoly on gaming? We’d get nowhere! Point being, while Sega was a crucial, and absolutely vital part of the video games industry, they didn’t destroy Nintendo as so many tried to claim.

Flash forward to 1994, and we have Sony entering the picture. Sony–former partner with Nintendo– had entered the race after a falling out with Nintendo with their own console to compete with Nintendo’s own Nintendo 64. The Sony PlayStation. Sony, much like Sega before them was supposed to destroy Nintendo. They were supposed to put them out of business and crush their foe!

Except–once more–it didn’t happen. Again, much like Sega, Sony was a crucial and very vital competitor to the video games industry, but the Nintendo killer they were not. Sony did, however, push forward a new form of physical medium with their Compact Disc format; which while it did hurt the Nintendo 64, was not enough to put Nintendo out of business as the doom-and-gloomers so adamantly claimed it would. Sony changed the gaming industry for the better in the end, but they didn’t destroy Nintendo… and this is a GOOD thing.

Let’s take another leap through time, to the early 2000s and the fall of once-strong competitor and always a vital part of the industry, Sega. Sega, due to falters of their own (and not Sony as so many try to claim) had dropped out of the console market after the failure of the DreamCast and the Sega Saturn before it, and even before it the Sega 32X and the Sega CD (both failed add-ons for the now dated Sega Genesis/Mega Drive console). Failure after failure, Sega continued to almost literally throw their money away. The DramCast was the final nail in Sega’s coffin. Had the DreamCast been a success, there’s a good chance it still wouldn’t have saved Sega as a large entity due to the amount of money and failed launches they already held by this point. The competition from Sony and new competition from late-comer MicroSoft surely didn’t help any… but, what does this have to do with Nintendo? Well, quite simply… Everything.

Let’s go back to the quote that started this counter argument; “Nintendo will be the next Sega.” Let’s stop and realize something here… At this point in time, Nintendo’s only massive commercial failure was the Virtual Boy. Sega, on the other hand had failure after failure after failure. Sega also poured money into overly powerful hardware in a time era where nobody had any use for it. Broadband internet in a games console? Sure, nowadays if a console doesn’t contain internet it’s going nowhere, but in the early 2000s? Most of us were still stuck with the beeps and screechings of dial-up. Broadband was an absolute luxury that very few had. It also didn’t help that Sony’s PlayStation 2 had DVD playback functionality whereas the DreamCast still utilized the already dated CD format. Even MicroSoft’s Xbox utilized the Digital Video Disc format. Sega was failing multiple times consecutively and using expensive luxury hardware while selling their console at a complete loss and using outdated formats. This is what killed Sega as a large competitor. Nintendo was–and still is– in a much better position.

So, while we’re here, let’s talk about the GameCube. Jumping forward in time yet again, the GameCube was less successful than the Xbox and PlayStation 2, despite being more powerful. The key words here are; “less successful.” To put it in more simple terms, although it wasn’t as successful as the competition, it was still successful for Nintendo as a company and still turned a profit. What ultimately hurt it in terms of competitive growth was the mini-disc format and the lack of the aforementioned DVD format the competition used; especially that of PS2 since it could play not only DVD format games, but also DVD movies. At the time, it was the cheapest way to experience DVD film, thus pushing VHS out of the market. Though, this isn’t the point. The point in this, and the article as a whole, is Nintendo may not have seen as much success, but they were still succeeding where Sega failed.

Jumping and skipping forward through time even more, Nintendo saw massive success with the Nintendo Wii; a console that would assuredly kill them off thanks to the motion control gimmick nobody asked for, according to the doom-and-gloomers. Oh how wrong they were… The Nintendo Wii was by far the most successful gaming platform of the generation. Despite being completely and utterly underpowered compared to Sony’s PlayStation 3 (which followed the PS2’s footsteps by being the cheapest Blu-Ray disc player on the market… once again, Sony pushing new mediums) and MicroSoft’s Xbox 360, it outperformed both by leaps and bounds. You see, that gimmick that nobody cared about or asked for? It was a hit! Everyone wanted it, everyone needed to try it out, so everyone bought a Wii! This massive, combined with Nintendo’s continued dominance in the handheld market (which on its own can keep Nintendo afloat for decades more even if the upcoming Nintendo Switch and its successor and successor’s successor and so on fail) put Nintendo in a safe, comfortable position for a long time to come. This is something Sega didn’t have… massive success of both handheld and console markets. Speaking of handhelds, Nintendo continues to dominate to this day, despite Sony attempting to compete twice (and mostly failing in terms of sales), and despite the uprising of mobile smart devices taking over our day-to-day lives. The fact that the Nintendo 3DS turned around after an initial disinterest has kept Nintendo years ahead in terms of success; even though their Wii U platform has failed in numerous aspects.

To summarize everything here; Nintendo isn’t going to be the next Sega. Nintendo is nowhere near becoming the next Sega. Nintendo needs to continue to fail over and over and over again to become the next Sega. They’re not going anywhere, and it’s time to face the facts.

“Nintendo jumping into the mobile market is a sure sign of defeat!”

Oh doom-and-gloomers… Will you ever cease to come up with these blatant falsities? While this one somewhat goes hand-in-hand with our previous counter-argument, it’s still different enough to warrant its own discussion.

Nintendo joining the mobile/smart device market isn’t a sign of defeat, but rather a sign of the times we live in. Their current handheld consoles still continue to sell out and see success even to this day, and the DS plus 3DS family of systems are their largest successes besides the Wii. They’re not being defeated, but are taking advantage of an era where people have shorter attention-spans thanks to everyone having personal computers in the shape of cellular phones on them at all times.

You see, Nintendo joining the mobile market is not only a sign of the times, but a wise business decision. Nintendo is taking advantage of the interest of mobile gaming by offering shorter, bite-sized games and experiences of their popular, multi-million dollar franchises in order to basically entice people to also purchase their home console and handheld gaming platforms. Basically, Nintendo’s mobile ventures are massive advertisements; and it’s brilliant. Super Mario Run, their newest entry (at the time of writing) into the mobile spectrum has already (again, at the time of writing) surpassed 50 million downloads and it’s not even on Android devices yet. That’s just on Apple’s iOS! Sure, 50 million isn’t much when the first three levels are free then you have to pay US$10 to unlock the rest of the game, but… the game is also one of the top grossing games on the Apple App Store; meaning a lot of people are purchasing the full experience. Exact numbers to this day have yet to come forth, but estimates place it at about $14million in revenue already. That may not seem like much compared to the 50 million downloads, but that’s still a hefty profit from their first official mobile outing. (We’re not counting Miitomo as it’s a social app, not a game, and we obviously can’t count Pokémon GO even though they do get revenue due to their ownership of the Pokémon license because it’s made by Niantic.) Let me reiterate… this is just their FIRST full outing! Their next two mobile entries, Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing, likely won’t see these kinds of numbers because they’re not Mario, but they’re sure to rake in a good chunk of change for the big N. This is why they’re jumping on the mobile train… It works, gets them extra revenue, and most of all, increases and revitalizes interest into their brands.

Don’t forget, 3DS still continues to dominate. Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, for example, are already breaking records for the franchise and the success of Pokémon GO, despite not being Nintendo developed helped super charge 3DS sales once more over the last few months. This is why Nintendo is joining the mobile market. Not because they’re admitting defeat.

“Nintendo targets fan-creations and doesn’t allow YouTube style videos for their games! IT’S FREE ADVERTISING, NINTENDO!”

Where oh where do we even begin with this one? I suppose I’ll begin with the latter half and cover the bases on that whole YouTube ordeal…

Here’s the thing about Nintendo and content-ID… It’s blown out of proportion by a long shot. YouTubers are just angry and upset because they get a less of a cut from Nintendo property, not because they’re not allowed to make videos on them.

“Wait, then why do their videos get flagged and taken down?!” you may ask… Well, here’s the thing; it’s because most of those people creating YouTube videos utilizing Nintendo properties are too lazy or ignorant to sign up for Nintendo’s 100% free Creators Program. It’s literally as simple as registering your YouTube channel (or individual videos) and putting in a disclaimer into the description or video somewhere explaining that you’re part of the Nintendo Creators Program… They will not strike your videos, they will not take them down (unless you’re tarnishing their name, of course) and they will not prevent you from making a profit off their property. Sure they take a cut on top of Google’s cut, but it isn’t like they’re blocking monetization entirely like so many angry ranting “YouTubers” try to claim they are. They’re ultimately making profit off Nintendo’s content, even though they edit the videos, it still uses Nintendo imagery and sound which oddly enough goes pretty well with the former half of the above quote. Meaning, Nintendo reserves all right to get a cut of their YouTube revenue as it’s their property being used in the videos.

Anyways, now that we’ve mentioned it, let us discuss the former half… Fan-creations. This one is a very touchy, very controversial topic.

Yes, Nintendo shuts down more fan-creations than any other company.

Yes, Nintendo sends out more Cease and Desist letters than any other company this side of Disney.

Yes, Nintendo is more protective of their intellectual property than, say, Sega, our old friends of constant failure.

There’s a reason for this.
Are you ready?
We’re going to explain it…

Nintendo IP are worth FAR more than other company IPs are. That’s why they’re more strict. That’s why they regulate more. That’s why they send more C&D letters out. Pokémon alone is worth billions. Mario alone is worth billions. It’s the Disney-effect of business. When you have some of the most profitable, properties in existence from any form of medium and not just gaming, you basically don’t have any choice but to be more strict about it. Just like Disney is more strict about their properties than any others in the film industry… because their property is worth more. It’s literally that simple, people.

If fans really want to show their love for large, highly profitable franchises, they can still do it in the form of an homage. Take Undertale, for instance. Undertale is an obvious homage to games in the vein of Nintendo’s own Mother/Earthbound series, but uses completely original assets, therefore shows love for a franchise without infringing upon copyright in any way. Fast Racing Neo, another example… an homage to F-Zero… but uses original assets. Axiom Verge, yet another example. Pays homage to Metroid, yet once again, uses completely original assets. It’s really that simple. Don’t use the name, don’t use the sprites, don’t use the sounds… and you’re golden.

“Nintendo just needs to give up and go third-party!”

No, they don’t. In fact, Nintendo needs to do the exact opposite of give up and go third-party. Yes, this is essentially a “Nintendo will be the next Sega” style argument, but at the same time it’s entirely different. The key difference between this argument and that, is that we’re arguing whether Nintendo needs to rather than that they are going to. Both are wrong, however, so that’s where the differences end.

Here’s why this one’s wrong… Nintendo, love them or hate them, are the only company who consistently takes risks. In-fact, they’re really the only company who can afford to take risks. Without Nintendo here to take the risks that the others won’t or can’t, the industry would grow stale very fast. No, we don’t need Nintendo to make another normal console. Sony and MicroSoft have that market under control at this point. Nintendo specializes in handheld gaming and taking risks to improve the gaming industry. If Nintendo didn’t take the risks, the others wouldn’t have a need to innovate or expand upon said risks.

Let’s take motion controls for instance. Yes, motion controls would exist without the Wii, but they wouldn’t have blown up or gained mass appeal anywhere near the levels that they did without Nintendo’s risk.

Virtual reality; while Nintendo’s attempt in the 1990s was arguably their only true failure (Wii U still did decently by comparison), it showed that VR gaming can potentially work in the future; and here we are today in the late 2010s with virtual reality experiences that actually do work very well.

Second-screen experiences… Nintendo practically invented dual-screen gaming all the way back in the 1980s with the double-screened iterations of the Game & Watch, then expanded upon the concept later with GameCube and GameBoy Advance linking capabilities that expanded even moreso with the DS line that continued through 3DS and even the Wii U. Other platforms occasionally try to jump on the dual-screen gaming experience by linking smart devices to your console gaming for an added bonus experience. Without Nintendo taking this risk, we’d have never had the wonderful lineup of titles we got on the DS lines or the second-screen attempts on modern consoles.

Without Nintendo, the industry would be at a standstill. Graphical prowess is nearing a point where it can’t improve much more without costing a literal fortune, so we need Nintendo to enhance the industry in other ways by taking said risks.

If Nintendo were to just give up and make another normal console, we’d have an oversaturated market. Two is all we need, Nintendo is the perfect balance to the PlayStation and Xbox lines and helps keep the industry fresh. Not only this, but Nintendo also keeps people interested in gaming longer by offering something different. Nintendo devices should be looked at as secondary; not primary. Nintendo devices are essentially a gamer’s companion console. Game on PC, PlayStation or Xbox primarily, but we should always leave room for Nintendo on the side. Not only for the risks they take to keep the industry from growing stale, but also to enjoy some of the most highly sought after and valuable intellectual properties in existence. Mario is said to be more iconic than even Mickey Mouse in today’s society, after all.

In conclusion;

Alright, so here we are. We’ve gone on quite a while with our counterpoints, opinions and arguments against the most commonly repeated and misinformed doom-and-gloom quotes floating around the internet at all times and it’s time to move on. We here at Games Chemistry sincerely believe everything we’ve written out here, and really do hope you take the time to read through it; even if it is a tad long. We are also open to discussion, criticism and any sort of feedback you may have for us. Not only for this post, but for our site, group, Facebook page, Twitter, and… well, everything. Please don’t hesitate to respond or argue your points if you so feel. Again, we’re completely open to friendly debate. Keyword being “friendly,” of course.

That being said, everything we’ve talked about today is truly how we feel, and we really do believe that Nintendo is the critical state of abnormality that the gaming industry needs to stay fresh and keep from growing stale from too much sameness.

We hope you have a great life, happy gaming, and if you’re reading this as we post it; happy holidays!

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