Nintendo: A New Approach?
2014 was a year of highs and lows for the Japanese multi- national video game company Nintendo after following a year of a sparse but somehow extremely well-received line of video games. The money maker for that year was surprisingly Pokémon X and Y which then went on to be the best selling 3DS game to date, raking in 13.29 million sales worldwide! This is no unusual feat as Pokémon is the 3rd best-selling video game franchise of all time edging behind their close cousins Mario and Super Mario. It’s no wonder that we get a new version of the series every quarter of the year these days. But what suddenly occurred to me was just how formulaic Nintendo has become.
Following the universal success of the Nintendo Wii in early 2007, it appears as though Nintendo is struggling deeply with innovative ideas for its follow up console: the Wii U. Predicted to eclipse its sensational predecessor, it would be polite of me to say it fell flat. Awkwardly stuck between old- gen and next- gen, the Wii U has been pushed to the side in production, performance and promotion. Sales figures were, and are still, feeble in comparison to the other giants, such as the previously mentioned Wii and the beloved GameCube system, and it’s clear that the forecast outlined a skewed inkling into how well it would be received. So what did Nintendo do?
Last year Nintendo announced the implementation of the ‘Amiibo’ system, essentially a Skylanders rip-off, in which users can buy figurines that add minor features to already overpriced video games. Take Mario Kart 8 for example – it’s now possible to use a Kirby Amiibo to get a snazzy new costume for your Mii while you speed away on the increasingly creative racetracks. However the issue I have is that those Amiibos cost between £9- £12 each (not to mention the in-game payable DLC that is also available in £7 packs), which for such a minor feature I feel like Nintendo is abusing its nostalgia factor to swindle life-long Nintendo fans, and the act is running dry. In essence, you are paying a hell of a lot more to get the full experience of videogame that, in truth, is just a game made every single year with some glossier aesthetics and flashy features.
However I’m not here to bash Nintendo, I myself am one of those conflicted long-time fans, and Nintendo is not the only company abusing the DLC system. What I want to offer is a potential new direction for them. It would be practically blasphemous to suggest a Mario/ Legend of Zelda/ Pokémon hiatus wouldn’t it? Despite my huge love and appreciation for these franchises I feel as though Nintendo would feel ultimately a lot fresher if they attempted to explore new or lesser known franchises. The 2015 line-up has both given me hope and worry – on one hand we have the exciting new Splatoon and the much anticipated return of the Star Fox franchise, but then again, the rest of the titles are mere character spin-offs or new iterations of the same game. Let’s hope that Nintendo establishes its flaws and rises up to them with a new and exciting plan for the future of gaming.