How Nintendo Can Rule The World with 5 Improvements
Nintendo is in a bit of a funk right now, the Wii U isn’t selling very well and the Playstation 4 & XBox 720/Durango releases are quickly approaching. Fortunately for Nintendo, they don’t really seem to care what the competitor is doing, as long as they themselves are making a profit. The Wii U is just getting started, as Nintendo has yet to even announce/show off their biggest franchises on the new hardware. Still, the Wii U is off to a rough start, but it can all be fixed fairly easily and bring a ton of money and fans to the new Nintendo console.
The Wii U is much more “GameCube-hardcore” than “Wii-Casual”. Nintendo Land might seem “casual” to the average gamer, but I bet you there aren’t any grandma’s at the retirement home breaking high scores in Donkey Kong Crash Course. The game pad is essentially the standard game controller we’ve been used to, but with a Nintendo-twist, a touch-screen in the center, to the “casuals” this seems intimidating, and also like a little too much for them to handle. Add in the price of the system at $350, without it being “the hottest thing out”, and you can see why Nintendo is having a hard time repeating the instant success of the Wii.
The “hardcore” gamers are going to flock to the Playstation 4 & XBox 720/Durango because it will have better tech specs, which means it will get the more cutting-edge games. This will essentially be a repeat of what happened in the Wii/360/PS3 era, except there is a smaller gap between the hardware power and functionality. Wii U most likely will never see the Red Dead Redemption 2’s, Bioshock 4’s, Assassin’s Creed V, Battlefield 5, Crysis 4, etc that come out for the PC/PS4/720. Those developers/franchises always push for the latest technology, and the Wii U doesn’t have it, anything the Wii U see’s from those franchises will be spin-off’s (Dead Space: Extraction) or ports that aren’t worth it (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Reflex).
This leaves Nintendo with one option, cater to the hardcore Nintendo fans. There are enough Nintendo fans out there that Nintendo can make a boat-load of money off of them if Nintendo would let loose a little and didn’t play things so conservatively all the time. One would figure hardcore Nintendo fans already buy everything, 3DS to 3DS XL or a launch day Wii U, so Nintendo should be able to check them off right? Wrong. Nintendo fans buy just about everything Nintendo, and even the 3rd party exclusives Nintendo pushes to the top. But when Nintendo isn’t releasing anything like the past 4 months on Wii U, that means nobody is buying anything. It’s time to start giving the fans what they want.
#1 – Connect the Nintendo Network Accounts between Wii U & 3DS
This seems like the simplest one, and it is hopefully in the pipe-line somewhere for Nintendo, but I think everyone that owns a 3DS & a Wii U wishes the two accounts were connected. Anything from the Wii/Wii U Virtual Console should be accessible from on the 3DS Virtual Console, stop charging me multiple times for the same games. I can think of at least 7 times now I have bought Super Mario Bros, which is ridiculous on my part and Nintendo’s, I’ve had enough. I’ve come to the point now where I use my Wii U as my Virtual Console for console games and my 3DS as my Virtual Console for GameBoy games. If I were to buy “Super Mario Bros” on the Wii U Virtual Console and then it connects to my 3DS where I can also play it, Nintendo wouldn’t be losing out on money from a 3DS sale. I was never planning on buying that for the 3DS anyways since I just bought it on Wii U, but the ability to play it on 3DS at no extra charge is more of an incentive for me to buy it in the first place. It is also more of a reason for a Wii U owner to pick up a 3DS and also reason for a 3DS owner to go buy a Wii U.
This stuff is all connected, nothing would make me happier than using the same screen name/friends list across my 3DS and Wii U account. The same money/wallet/points used on the 3DS & Wii U, the ability to pay for or cue my 3DS/Wii U to download software while using the other. A family account (Club Nintendo connectivity?) would really push things towards perfection, so those who live together could share between the digital content the same way we do physical content. All this connectivity would make it so I almost always have a Nintendo system within reach, the ability to play these classic treasures at home or on the go for one price, is bound to attract some casuals and some hardcore gamers with nostalgia. A lot of us Nintendo fans are seeing what Sony is doing with the PSP Vita, PS4, PSN+ and we’re jealous. Sony has shown us a better plan, a better sense of connectivity and importance that will let the systems and network all feed off of each other, the only thing is, Sony doesn’t have anywhere close to the archive of hits that Nintendo does. Nintendo must offer something very similar, and if they do, sign me up, take my money.
#2 – Introduce a 3DS Player for the Wii U
I love the Game Boy Player on the GameCube and would love to see something similar for the Wii U. With the gamepad on the Wii U and the TV Screen, you essentially have the same thing as a 3DS, 2 screens, the bottom one is a touch screen. If I could play Fire Emblem Awakening on the go, and then come home and throw it onto the big screen, that would be amazing. The 3DS has a very strong line-up in 2013 and I’m sure there are single player games (Mario & Luigi) that my fiance and I would love to play together, but won’t. It’s very hard to take turns and play a portable game together, the other person still wants to watch and see what happens while they’re not playing, this is where the 3DS Player would also benefit players in a big way. How many millions of 3DS owners would consider a Wii U that didn’t before? Add in #1 and that number is VERY high.
The Cross-Play idea that Sony has is a great idea, but a physical attachment of a 3DS player just seems like an easier solution. This allows people to play the 3DS games on the Wii U, with the same cartridge, no transfering/downloading etc. Developers also don’t run the risk of holding back a Wii U game just so it’s able to run on a 3DS, and they don’t have to worry about making two different versions of the same game (Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate). And of course, Nintendo can sell you this hardware at a profitable price, instead of it just being a part of some firmware update. Sign me up, take my money.
This kind of expands off of #1, but the Virtual Console needs to be vastly improved. Just because something is good, or is “working” doesn’t mean that it can’t use improvement. Nintendo needs to start promoting their Virtual Console releases and consistently release a good amount of games. Nintendo tends to treat the Virtual Console as somewhat of an afterthought, and the “media” seems to treat it the same way. Even the biggest sites (IGN, Joystiq) forget to update on Thursday’s with what Nintendo released, and this is due to Nintendo’s lack of attention grabbing titles, or promotion.
Nintendo should put out a release schedule, just like they would with brand new physical copies. Look how excited people are about Earthbound now, our next question is “When?”. The 30cent promotion has the right idea, because it gave us a release schedule, I can’t wait for May 15th to buy Super Metroid and play it on the gamepad screen, even though I have a boxed copy for SNES. To just release a game randomly, on a service people aren’t constantly checking (like something) seems like a lot of lost potential for sales.
No more stringing along releases either, Nintendo should start trying to churn out as many Virtual Console titles as possible, starting with the “Player’s Choice” titles. I wanted so many games for the Virtual Console on Wii that never materialized (Stunt Race FX, Uniracers, Illusion of Gaia, Star Wars: SoTE, etc) and I don’t want to see this happen again. Porting these games over should not be a hard process, and Nintendo should encourage some of it’s third parties to re-release some through Virtual Console. The third parties involvement on the Virtual Console helps strengthen Nintendo’s brand in a similar way that new releases do too. With the power of the Wii U, the ability to add an external hard-drive, I’m hoping to see Nintendo add GameCube games ($15 – $20) onto the Virtual Console too. The GameCube is full of classics, and even some lesser known titles that could benefit from a ported re-release (I-Ninja deserves another shot).
Promotions can really push the Virtual Console into the spotlight for Wii U / 3DS owners. I get the feeling most Wii owners never even used the Virtual Console on the Wii and that’s probably because it wasn’t given enough attention or gave owners enough incentive to use it. If Nintendo were to run promotions like “Buy New Super Mario Bros U, get a Free Mario Virtual Console Download” this would help promote the Wii U game, the Virtual Console service and push consumers to buy new instead of used without the shady feeling of an “online pass”. Those who would’ve never explored the Virtual Console will now sign on to download their free game, but also might end up purchasing something else there. This is an area Nintendo is unfamiliar with, being the retailer, and knowing how to get people to come into your store.
If Nintendo were to come out and 100% guarantee access to our Nintendo Network Virtual Console on all systems in the future, Nintendo would instantly make a ton of money off of me. I like many others are weary of what the future is going to bring with digital downloads. It’s annoying to see Sony claim PS3 downloads will have to be repurchased for PS4, that just seems greedy, the consumers are not benefiting from digital media. Prices are the same cost for the consumer, and we lose our ability to resell, lend, rent our games. On top of that, with the push for “always online” this means it’s possible a console could be nothing more than a paper weight 10 – 15 years down the line, and we lose all of our downloads too. For Nintendo to guarantee that Nintendo Network/Virtual Console is an account that will be around as long as Nintendo, I would sell the majority of the physical retro copies I have, in order to have them all on one system. As of right now I can play Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 64 & Super Mario Kart all on my Wii U (plus the upcoming Wii U version) and that’s amazing, would love to add Double Dash too, and never worry about re-purchasing it all next console. Fix most of these things, and Nintendo can have all of my money.
#4 – Nintendo Network Premium / Season Passes or just more DLC
Super Mario Luigi U is a step in the right direction, I’m going to purchase that day one, this is the kind of DLC I want to see from Nintendo, especially on a game like NSMBU. Other franchises though, they can bring so much downloadable content that some sort of Season Pass or Nintendo Network Premium account should really be considered. A game like Mario Kart has a huge following, Mario Kart Wii sold over 30 million copies, flying off the shelves for years. You can still go online today and easily find a match in Mario Kart Wii, which says a lot considering how most people don’t even consider playing Wii games online.
Nintendo will usually release one iteration of it’s biggest franchises each generation, so the way Nintendo can expand on the money it makes off that one title would be through constant DLC releases. Mario Kart continues to be the best example, if every 3 months Nintendo released some sort of Track Pack, I’m sure there’d be a very large crowd wanting to hand over there money for it. Nintendo can do this in a very simple way, for example the first pack could be a SNES Track Pack, which would be a remake of all of the SNES tracks for Mario Kart Wii U. Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup, Lightning Cup, buy the tracks individually for $1.99, buy the whole Cup for $5.99 or buy the entire SNES Pack for $19.99. Included in these packs could also be some new racers from the SNES era (Magikoopa, Geno, etc). Or they release the SNES Racers seperate too. Think about it this: N64 Track Pack, GameCube-Double Dash Track Pack, Wii Track Pack, DS Track Pack, 3DS-7 Track Pack, Battle Mode Track Pack 1, Battle Mode Track Pack 2 (collections of the Battle Mode Tracks). That just turned Mario Kart Wii U from a $60 game, to a $200 game, but I as a gamer/fan/consumer will feel as though I’m getting more and more content that I want, not that I’m being strung along. Nintendo can later add other Cups & Packs that are entirely brand new: Paper Mario Cup, Luigi’s Mansion Cup, Yoshi’s Island Cup, or even cross-over to more non-Mario related themes.
With all of this Mario Kart DLC, it will keep people playing Mario Kart, it will keep the main game at $60 and on the stores shelves, and it will keep those who purchased it to continue to happily spend money. This method could be used on other games such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Sports games. The best part about this, is that the courses are just remakes of previously designed race tracks. This means Nintendo doesn’t need it’s A-Team to focus on these, they can put it off on an up and coming group of developers or a lower team to work on. This prevents Nintendo from having to sink a ton of resources from it’s top teams into designing new ideas and tracks into the DLC, this is a low resource, low risk, high reward scenario. When the gamers are spending $200+ on Mario Kart, and the same on Smash Bros, or Mario Golf, they’ll start to feel like the $50 games of the past have skyrocketed in price. This is why Nintendo would offer some sort of Pass, or Premium account that will discount those high-spending users. This could be done in multiple different ways, maybe Premium members get access to the DLC early, or they get a % back similar to reward points, maybe they get a discount up front, or even get access to the DLC for free for the first month its available. Any one of these will keep these Nintendo fans spending a lot of money, and keep them happy, who would even need to care how well the PS4 or 720 is selling when Nintendo fans alone can push a profit for Nintendo.
#5 – Remake More Old Franchises (Especially GameBoy)
Ducktales, Castlevania Rebirth, Double Dragon Neon, TMNT Re:Shelled, Tecmo Bowl Throwback, and many others are the results of companies updating their old games, but keeping the gameplay mechanics nearly identical. Some Nintendo franchises haven’t aged that well (Kid Icarus, Ice Climbers, Balloon Fight, Clu Clu Land) and a re-make of them in their original style would push these franchises a lot further. They’re limited by their simple concept and mechanics, and aren’t always fitting for a next-gen reboot. Kid Icarus Uprising seems like it could’ve been a brand new franchise, as it doesn’t feel like the classic Kid Icarus at all. Nintendo tried this with Excitebike World Rally & Dr. Mario Online RX and I thought both of them turned out great, most Nintendo fans would agree.
If Nintendo could put smaller studios in the company, or smaller outside independents put together a few more of these kind of remakes once in a while it would help strengthen Nintendo’s franchises and online presence. A well-done remake of Ice Climbers could lead to an Ice Climbers sequel done by the same team and the expansion of a franchise that Nintendo has tapped out with NES, e-Cards, GBA NES Classic Releases, and the Virtual Console. These don’t have to be anything heavy in new features either, it could be the equivalent remake of Super Mario 2 on NES and Super Mario 2 on Super-Mario Allstars SNES.
Think about all of the GameBoy & GameBoy Color games that could be remade in full 16/32 bit color. The Super Mario Land series, Link’s Awakening, Oracle, Metroid II, Donkey Kong 94, Wario Land Series, Donkey Kong Land, etc. That would be incredible, and playing some of those as remakes would feel just about the same as a brand new game in the series. Take a look at Castlevania Rebirth as a perfect example, that was a remake of the original GameBoy’s Castlevania Adventure. Again, if Nintendo does this, they can sign me up and take my money.
Posted on April 23, 2013, in Featured Opinion and tagged 3DS, 3DS Player, Connectivity, Cross-Play, Mario Kart DLC, Nintendo Network, Remake, Virtual Console, Wii U, WiiWare. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.