Nintendo’s Genre Innovation Strategy: Thoughts on the Revolution’s new controller

comments 163
Ported Posts / Uncategorized

I’m still jet lagged from my recent trip overseas, but I managed to stay awake for the new Nintendo controller announcement. I must say that I’m feeling like an excited Japanese school boy waiting in line for the latest Dragon Quest.

I’m not going to tackle whether or not this innovative device will be a market success for Nintendo. There will be so much riding on the 1st party titles, the 3rd party support and the actual technical implementation of the controller that any comments at this point are at best opinions and at worst propaganda.

What we can however discuss in some detail are the two central philosophies behind the Revolution controller and their market implications.

  • The increasingly hardcore nature of the game industry is causing a contraction of the industry.
  • New intuitive controller options will result in innovative game play that will bring new gamers into the fold.

Is Iwata-san spouting nonsense or is Nintendo actually onto something?

Genre maturity leads to market consolidation
In past articles I’ve discussed two key concepts. The first is genre addiction and the second is the genre life cycle. These both have major market implications for both individual game developers, but also for the market as a whole.

To briefly recap, genre addiction is the process by which:

  • Players become addicted to a specific set of game mechanics.
  • This group of players has a strong homogenous preference for this genre of games, creating a well defined, easily serviceable market segment.
  • Game developers who release games within a genre with a standardized set of play mechanics are most likely to capture the largest percentage of the pre-existing market.
  • Over time, the game mechanics defining the genre becomes rigidly defined, the tastes of the genre addicts become highly sophisticated and innovation within the genre is generally punished by the market place.

Genre life cycle is the concept that game genres go through distinct stages of market status as they mature:

  • Introduction: A new and addictive set of game mechanics are created.
  • Growth: The game mechanics are experimented with and genre addiction begins to spread.
  • Maturity: The game mechanics are standardized and genre addiction forms a strong market force. Product differentiation occurs primarily through higher layer design elements like plot, license, etc.
  • Decline: The market consolidates around the winners of the king-of-the-genre battles that occurred during the Maturity phase. New games genres begin stealing away the customer base. With less financial reward, less games are released.
  • Niche: A population of hardcore genre addicts provides both the development resources and audience for the continued development of games in the genre. Quality decreases.

What we see here is the consolidation of game designs over the life cycle of the genre. Early examples within a genre tend to have a wildly diverse spectrum of game mechanics that appeal to a broader spectrum of players. As the genre matures, the game mechanics become more standardized and the needs of the genre addicts more homogenized. As the market segment consolidates and standardizes, the majority of the players are well served. They get more polished games that have greater depth. Who could argue that a tightly polished game like Warcraft is a bad thing?

How maturity reduces the number of total game players
Goodbye people on the fringes: The people on the fringes, however, are left out. In the evolution of the RTS genre, there was an interesting offshoot in the form of the Ground Control games. These sported an interesting 3D perspective that was never truly adopted by the mainstream RTS producers. Most players within the identifiable RTS market segment did not enjoy these games and so it was not in the best interest of the game developers to include the innovative features in their designs.

However, some players enjoyed these titles quite a lot. As the mechanics for RTS games become highly standardized, these fringe players were alienated by games in the mature genre. A 2D Warcraft title just didn’t provide the same rewards that this fringe group was looking for.

Some of those gamers left gaming. It may take being alienated from several genres, but eventually a few decided that there were better activities to spend their time on. The market was simply not serving their needs. This shrinks the market.

Goodbye semi-hardcore: The mainstream group, however, fares only a little better. When you recycle the same standardized game mechanics, you put players at severe risk of burnout on a genre. There are only so many FPS many people can play before they don’t want to play them any more. This is less of a problem for the super hardcore players. However, it is a substantial problem for the less hardcore players.

As the less hardcore players burn out on the game mechanics of their favorite genres, they too are at risk of leaving the game market. The result is a steady erosion of the genre’s population.

What is left is a very peculiar group of highly purified hardcore players. They demand rigorous standardization of game mechanics and have highly refined criteria for judging the quality of their titles. With each generation of titles in the genre, they weed out a few more of the weaker players.

This is a completely self-supporting process with strong social forces at work. Players form communities around their hardcore nature. They happily eject those who do not fit the ideal player mold. They defend the validity of their lifestyle with a primitive tribal passion.

There is no internal force within a genre lifecycle that can break this cycle. Only external forces can do the trick. The question is, who would want to break this cycle and who wants to maintain it?

Who genre maturation is good for
Genre maturation is great for the very small minority of AAA developers that can serve the hardcore market. They release titles known as genre kings that are able to address the needs of a large percentage of an existing, well defined segment of genre addicts. Genre kings dominate a particular genre with impressive financial results. The amount of money genre kings such as Halo 2, Half Life, Warcraft, Grand Turismo and other rake in is an inspiration to both developers, gamers and publishers everywhere.

Hardcore genre addicts easily pay for themselves. On average they are willing to spend substantially more on games than the casual or the fringe gamer. When a genre becomes standardized, there is literally an explosion of revenue that comes from successfully tapping into a uniform set of needs. This scalability is a basic attribute of software and is a major mechanic behind hit making in the game industry.

As long as new genres are being created and money gained from better capturing homogenous segments genre addicts is high, the industry as a whole grows with a few fat king of the genre companies taking in the majority of the money.

Who consolidation is bad for
However, when the majority of money and effort is spent on capturing existing markets and not enough is spent on seeding new genres, the natural erosion of less hardcore players begins to decrease the overall market size.

It is easy to ignore this trend. Overall player numbers may decrease in certain genres, but remember that hardcore players spend more and flock to specific games in great numbers. So total revenues keep going up, and the revenues of hit titles keep going up. It seems silly to shout that the sky is falling when there are so many examples of over-the-top success. This is the current state of the American game market.

Only after the trend has been going on for some time does the erosion become too much to ignore. The substantial decreases in the overall revenue of the Japanese market place over the last five years provided a major warning signal. You could easily argue that similar erosion has occurred in the PC market.

People who are less likely to care:

  • Sony and Microsoft have built strong brands around servicing the hardcore players of existing genres. To say that the sky is falling shows a lack of faith in the hardcore market – that could be very damaging.
  • Major genre king developers like Blizzard, Valve, Epic and Square. Their bread is buttered. They own the mature genres and will milk them for many years to come.

People who are more likely to care

  • Companies that serve a diverse user bases: Oddly enough, both EA and Nintendo are in this group. They are broadly diversified such that major trends in industry directly affect their bottom line. Sony is in a bit of a pickle since they fit this definition as well. (Hence they’ll release the Eye Toy, but keep their main controller for the PS/3 as standard as humanly possible)
  • Companies that value brands over genres: People often look at Nintendo’s releases of a half dozen Mario games a year and assume that they are all clones. In fact, they are typically radically different games across a wide variety of genres. Nintendo gains their value from the Mario brand, not ownership of a specific genre. Brand-based companies rely on the creation of new genres since they can take that brand into the genre for a low risk profit opportunity.

Nintendo needs new genres
That last point about the strategies of brand-based publishers is an important one. Nintendo needs new genres to make money.

Nintendo makes the majority of their money by leveraging their brand recognition during the early to mid-stages of a genre’s life cycle. The power of the Mario character can establish a Nintendo game as an early genre king and help tap into a new market segment for great profit. However, as they get later into the life cycle, the standardization of the genre mechanics and the intense demands of the hardcore population reduces the power of the brand.

A few major games will dominate the mature genre and it is unlikely that Nintendo’s will be one of them. Nintendo’s fixation on new genres and their unwillingness to pander completely and utterly to the existing hardcore audiences has made their name mud with many of the most vocal elite in the game industry.

Product innovation leads to increased profitability
C’est la vie. You can’t have it all. Focusing on product innovation at the expense of commodity markets is a classic business strategy that is used successfully in non-game companies around the world. Companies like 3M are required as part of their strategic plan to have 30% of their revenue come from new products. They are constantly exiting markets when strong competition emerges and constantly competing with themselves by offering new products that outdate their existing products. Nintendo releases new genres where other companies release new products, but the basics are the same.

The non-business person looks at this strategy with horror. Nintendo invented the 3D platformer, yet they have no major product in that niche at the moment. Surely this is the most obvious sort of stupidity. However, consider the following portfolio management issues:

  • The likelihood of getting a genre king early on in a genre life cycle if you invented the genre is quite high. Competition is limited.
  • The cost of creating a genre king early in the genre life cycle is low. You can rely on things like simplified graphics and limited amounts of content. The neo-retro graphics of most Nintendo games has a lower cost of production than the realistic look of many of its competitors.
  • The cost of creating a genre king late in the genre life cycle is high. Customers demand realistic graphics, voiceovers, cut scenes, loads of extra content, etc.
  • The risk of having your game not becoming king of the genre goes up. The competition is simply greatly increased. Mario is a great game, but would it own the entire genre if it were forced to compete against Jax and Daxter, Sly Cooper, Prince of Persia and others?

What you find is that selling innovative products early on can be dramatically more profitable and less risky than selling commodity products. The early market might not be as large, but the money is much better. You see this over and over again. Nintendo sells less but makes more money. Sony and Microsoft sell more, but make less profit.

Consider this tidbit. The Xbox, which focuses on highly mature genres catering to hardcore gamers has production costs of $1.82 million a title. The Gamecube costs half as much at $822,000 a title. The real kicker is that the Nintendo DS only costs $338, 286 a title to develop for, even less than the Gameboy. Some of these costs have to do with the hardware and development kits, but for the most part they are derived from the scope of the projects. Being able to develop successful titles at 1/5th the cost of your competitors is a major boost to your bottom line.

Thus, Nintendo’s profitability and need to innovate go hand in hand. They need those new genres because the old ones quickly become too competitive and too expensive.

New controller features as a source of Innovation
The new controller is best seen in light of this larger corporate strategy.

One of the easiest ways of creating a new genre is to invent a new series of verbs (or risk mechanics as I called them in my Genre Life Cycle articles). One of the easiest ways of inventing new verbs is to create new input opportunities. Nintendo controls their hardware and they leverage this control to suit their particular business model.

And this is exactly what Nintendo has done historically. The original Dpad, the analog stick, the shoulder buttons, the C-stick, the DS touch pad, link capabilities, the tilt controller, the bongo drums…the list goes on and on.

Each time, they also bundle the controller innovation with a series of attempts at creating new dominant genres. Not all attempts are successful, but a few of them are highly successful. The 2D platformer, the 3D platformer, the Pokemon-style RPG, and the virtual pet game all come to mind as successes. By seeding a genre and by owning the key hardware platform that the new genre lives on, Nintendo achieves a position of financial stability and security that is unheard of in the game industry.

As a side note, folks who argue Nintendo should just make games for other platforms are completely missing the point. Nintendo needs to control their hardware platform in order to force innovation to occur in the control mechanisms. Other console manufacturers who rely on the hardcore audiences and standardized genres don’t see this need. They would happily standardize the console platform and make it into a commodity. Microsoft has historically made major comments about having one universal development platform.

The moment Nintendo loses control over their hardware, they lose a major competitive advantage in terms of creating new genres.

The new controller
The new controller is yet another logical step along a path that Nintendo has been pursuing for many years. We are likely to see some very obvious patterns repeated.

  • It allows for a wide variety of new verbs that are unique to Nintendo’s hardware platform
  • There will be a number of genre-seeding attempts that take advantage of the new verbs that are available. With luck and a lot of skill, one or more of these will become a major new genre. New genres bring in new gamers who are loyal to Nintendo.
  • Nintendo will leverage their powerful brand to encourage early adoption and dominance of this genre. I’ll make a bet that Mario, Pokemon or other major Nintendo brands will be a major element of their new genre attempts.
  • As the years pass and the genre becomes mature, hard core gamers will consolidate within it and begin demanding more polished experiences. Craftsman-oriented companies will wrest control of the genre away from Nintendo.
  • Nintendo will innovate once again in order to maintain higher profit margins.

Some predictions about the games
There are also some obvious predictions that we can make about the game designs based off the standard genre lifecycles.

  • Early titles will be essentially technology demos that showcase a specific core mechanic. There will be one or two major titles such as Mario 64 of yore that are highly evolved, but these will be few and far between due to the cost associated with evolving an entirely new genre over the span of a single game.
  • Most early titles will sell small numbers, but will end up being decently profitable due to their low cost. The example given of Brain Training on the DS, which was created in a mere 4 months comes to mind. Even though it isn’t selling what are typically considered ‘blockbuster’ numbers, it is an unqualified financial success. During this period a large number of new genre attempts will be successfully vetted.
  • Only after a year or so will 2nd generation ‘polished’ games start to emerge. The cream of the core game mechanics tested in the first generation will be layered with all the traditional trappings of a modern video game.
  • One or two ‘major new genres’ will emerge. These will be highly profitable and Nintendo will attempt to turn some of them into exclusive franchises. Mario Kart and Mario Party are good examples of this from previous generations.

So when games come out slowly and only appear to be technology demos, I wouldn’t worry too much. A ‘gimmicky game’ is really just another name for a new core game mechanic that hasn’t been polished. Donkey Kong is considered shallow and gimmicky by children playing it for the first time in this modern age. Yet it sported the same core game mechanics that eventually blossomed into an entire genre of highly polished 2D platformers.

In the past, Nintendo built these new genre attempts internally. They got to own the IP and enjoyed the resulting success that comes from being one of the few to understand the benefits of innovation. The result has been a focus on a small number of 1st party development efforts and a trickle of titles. Unfortunately for them there are other innovative people in the world. New genre successes such as GTA on other consoles provided substantial and painful competition.

I see this changing somewhat with the DS. We are starting to get some wacky ideas from smaller companies and Nintendo seems to be a bit more welcoming of others. Nintendo needs to pursue this path further by allowing new companies to join the experimentation stage.

Conclusions
Nintendo’s strategy of pursuing innovation benefits the entire industry. It brings in new audiences and creates new genres that provide innovative and exciting experiences. The radical new controller is a great example of this strategy in action.

Surprisingly, this also benefits Microsoft and it benefits Sony. As the years pass, the hard core publishers that serve mature genres will adopt previously innovative genres and commoditize them. Their profits will be less, but they’ll keep a lot of genre addicts very happy. Everybody wins when a game company successfully innovates.

I see both of these strategies as a necessary and expected part of a vibrant and growing industry. Industries need balance and Nintendo is a major force of much needed innovation that prevents industry erosion and decline.

On a slightly less analytic note, I for one can’t wait to play the new games on the Nintendo Revolution. With all the new game ideas that will be demonstrated, it is certainly a great time to be a game designer. A couple years down the road, I suspect that this will also be a great time to be a gamer. 🙂

Take care
Danc.

163 Comments

  1. I think you\’re missing another problem with hard-core genres: something I call \”grognard capture.\”Because a game for an established genre must satisfy the hardcore fans of that genre first, games become increasingly complex and hard to master over time. E.g., anyone could play Doom–modern FPS games -demand- mastery of outlook. Warcraft was easy to pick up and learn–Age of Empires II a whole lot harder for a newbie. As new features and complexity get ladelled on in order to serve the demands of the hardcore, you ultimately get a genre of games that no one but the hardcore CAN play.As for the controller–I disagree that this amounts to real innovation. New game genres are created when people figure out a series of connected mechanics that produce compelling gameplay. They don\’t get created when you throw in a camera or a motion detector.Mind you, I like the controller, and I expect there will be some interesting uses. But if you want is new game genres, you need to think in terms of the software, not the hardware. Hardware is just an enabler.Now, Nintendogs–that\’s interesting 🙂

    Like

  2. Anonymous says

    A wonderful, insightful article. Thank you! So Nintendo harvests the low-hanging fruit by planting new trees.

    Like

  3. Anonymous says

    Wow that was a spectacular post. I I am always trying to explain to my friend why Nintendo is still around when others like Sega have dropped to just games. But this explains it so much better than I ever could have. I\’ve got to show this around.

    Like

  4. Anonymous says

    Greg -Thats the point OF the new hardware. New genres are created when creative use of the new hardware is put to use.The Hardware certainly is the enabler. And when it enables new things, new genres emerge.Surely you\’re not saying you doubt Nintendo\’s ability to fully realize the potential of its own product.

    Like

  5. A couple clarifications/responses to earlier posts:1. XBOX profitability:The number $4 billion was thrown out as the losses for the XBOX product line. While XBOX has been largely responsible for these losses, technically, they relate to the entire Home and Entertainment division, which had never been profitable until Q2 of this year, when it reached a profit because of the launch of Halo2. The division is not expected to be consistently profitable until 2007 (this was the original plan and stands…however, I\’m not sure that Microsoft expected such significant losses to this point). Microsoft is a noteably cash rich company, and still holds nearly $38 billion in cash as of their 2005 10-K, despite their newfound religion regarding dividends. Two of Microsoft\’s seven divisions (soon to be grouped into three operating entities) have still never had even a single quarter of profitability (Business Solutions and Mobile/Embedded Devices). (Mobile/Embedded will be grouped with Home Entertainment, Business Solutions will be grouped with Office).2. SEGA and the Dreamcast:It\’s pretty easy to demonstrate that the failure of the Dreamcast was in large part due to major mistakes made by management, primarily those in Japan. This was, however, exacerbated by the high levels of debt that the company had accumulated during the disasterous Saturn years (I period that I fondly remember due to all the great import games that I picked up for Saturn). The reorganizations that marked the Dreamcast years were, in large part, related directly to the debt problems that they had. Splitting off the software teams into separate companies seemed to be a good idea, but I think it\’s pretty clear in hindsight that some of the teams not only had no business sense, but an almost complete inability to keep products on schedule. Others (like Smilebit) did very well, and were hotbeds not only of innovation, but of great games (Jet Set/Grind Radio can hardly be called a tech demo). Eventually, when SEGA was still running major deficits after their parent company took on most of their old debt, someone decided to pull the plug on what was now obviously the money losing segment (hardware, which is pretty much always a money loser…that\’s the whole point). Unfortunately, the problems at the poorly managed teams continued and pressure was placed on some of the more efficient teams to crank out remakes and poorly conceived sequels (I\’m looking at you Sonic Team) that may have been inexpensive, but served to reinforce the image of SEGA as an entity that was simply a shadow of it\’s former self, which didn\’t help sales. Meanwhile, the best games coming out of SEGA were being sold at bargain prices ($30 for Otogi2? $20 price tags for a lot of older titles that were good but weren\’t even Platinum sellers? I think there is still some price snobbery out there, and when your game is debuting at a bargain price point, it may have a negative impact on sales with certain people).Ok, that went on longer than I had anticipated.3. Next generation consoles:At this point, the only next gen console that I\’m devoted to buying is Xbox360. It comes out on my birthday, and based on the great showing at TGS (Tengai Makyo! Hudson and Red in cahoots again after all these years!) and backward compatibility, it is basically a no brainer for me. My boycot of Sony consoles will continue, so that one isn\’t even on the table. Revolution is going to be a wait and see. There aren\’t any games out there yet, and even at a low price point, I have no idea how to set the relative value of that console yet, it\’s just way too early.

    Like

  6. The controller is an evolution beyond the mouse.SpaceOrb be shamed. I want one of THESE to control my PC.Up, Down, Left, Right… my current mouse now feels obsolete. Even the once mighty SpaceOrb seems primitive.Microsoft has slowly evolved the XBOX into a platform for online FPS games. This new Nintendo controller makes PC users jealous with the ability to aim and shoot in any direction and the XBOX community? Be shamed.FPS on consoles becomes a major experience starting with the release of this hardware and Metroid Prime 3.

    Like

  7. Re Jeremy: \”that I\’m devoted to buying is Xbox360….and backward compatibility\”Limited backward compatibility. And you also (so far) are REQUIRED to have the HD attachment. Basically, keep your xbox handy. I have all three systems now, and of them all I prefer my Gamecube (love the wavebird). My order of preference would be xbox next (for graphics and the HD) then the PS2. If both the xbox2/ps3 costs $500+ then I it will be a good while before I end up with both of them again. I still fondly remember getting the NES uber pack (still have R.O.B. on my desk) after being drawn in by those wacky Zelda commercials! The only one I will definitely get is the Rev.

    Like

  8. Anonymous says

    Hello Danc, linked from Penny-Arcade here as I\’m guessing many many people who\’ve posted comments were.An insightful article, however the price-points you listed as development costs are fairly inaccurate for Japan (as they were gleaned from an unscientific poll) and completely inaccurate for American developers (of which there are more these days.)None the less, that entire paragraph seems only anecdotally related to the rest of your post, which does clearly extrapolate Nintendo\’s ongoing strategy.I\’m curious as to how you think these strategies effect two of the largest video game markets, children\’s games, and licensed games?Obviously these games fall under neither hardcore nor casual gamer markets, but specifically fans of licenses + games, and small children.It\’s important to note that the major hardware developers (Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft) don\’t keep these markets in mind nearly as much as independent developers and large 3rd party companies (such as Activision and EA).One of Activision\’s best selling batch of games in 2005 were based around the Madagascar license, for example. How do you think licensed and children\’s titles will fit in with this particular turn of Nintendo evolution?

    Like

  9. Re: BrianI\’m aware of the potential limitations of Xbox compatibility, however, the majority of the titles that I own at this point are high profile games that are very likely to be supported. In any case, I certainly won\’t toss the Xbox in the trash (or trade it) until I know that I can play the games that I want to continue playing.The hard drive limitation isn\’t significant to me, since I frequently play on live and use downloadable content now, it\’s part of my basic expectation that the hard drive including package is the only real option.On the other hand, I also have a gamecube, and while I enjoyed Mario Sunshine and Eternal Darkness, I haven\’t touched it in months. I frequently find that I\’m lukewarm about Nintendo\’s core brands, which may be a result of my never having owned a NES, and not purchasing a SuperNES until significantly after the release of the Dreamcast.I also had an N64, which is easily the Nintendo console that I had the most games for, but at some point I loaned them to a coworker in Chicago and I forgot to reclaim them when I moved back to Boston. As a result, I did resell that console.The GameCube currently is very likely to be traded in for paydown related to the Xbox360, although I am thinking about holding on to it just to be able to play the Zelda collection disc (OoT and MM are great games. I\’m not so enchanted with the prior ones…my first ARPG experience was with Dungeon Explorer, Neutopia, and Dragon\’s Curse on the Turbografx, which has somewhat colored my expectations), and potentially the upcoming Zelda game.Given the number of other consoles that I have still hooked up or stored carefully for future use, I find it a little disheartening that I\’m even thinking about trading in a console. Honestly, it makes me feel like I\’ve been taken.

    Like

  10. Anonymous says

    I am a girl, and a gamer. I\’m not sure how hardcore I would be considered, but I play a game in some form almost every day. Some weeks I only play about 7 hours, other weeks I\’ll devote all my spare time to games. Outside of RPGs (And Katamari, but that\’s its own fluke) I have to say that I often feel that Nintendo is the only console company that really cares about me.I look at Windwaker, and it looks like fun! It looks like something I can pick up and explore and figure out. Same thing for pikmin, or donkey konga, or even ::gasp:: Mario Sunshine. I get bored easily and I want life and light and new things in my games. I love my GBA and it rarely leaves my purse. I actually consider it to be the ultimate video gaming machine of our era. If my dream came true it would have ports of all the SNES classics on it. I have two PCs, a GC and a PS2, but I still marvel at the design of my cheap little SP. I\’ve been feeling alienated from the \”gaming community\” of late. I play almost every genre except for FPS, but because that one genre holds no appeal for me I\’m not seen as a \”real\” gamer. It also annoys me when people say \”the gaming community hates this\” or \”the gaming community rejects that\” when referencing the predominant threads on popular sites and message boards. I would say that 90% of the gamers I know would never post on those boards, or read most of those sites, because they\’re… well sort of mean, and often rude, and the boards are… occasionally a little lacking in the grammar and decorum. Why subject yourself to that? I know that my friends aren\’t likely the average gamers, but they\’re still out there. Maybe call them the \”internet gaming community,\” but there\’s a lot of people who game but who aren\’t involved there. Another subset of gamers who don\’t often have their say on the net is children. Kids love the gamecube, and there isn\’t very much you have to worry about. Cut out RE and eternal darkness and I wouldn\’t think twice about giving anything in my Cube collection to an 8 year old. My little brother did just that… he gave a gamecube with mariokart and pikmin to my little cousins (both girls, 9 and 12 respectively), and they adore it! Parents have this sort of difficult minefield in games, because so much is obviously for adults nowadays. One thing you can count on Mario for is not to have inappropriate sex or violence, which is very important. Same thing for Kirby, and lord knows I love my Kirby. I can\’t think of any sony or MS series that make fun games that parents can instinctively trust. Anyway, sorry to rant here. I really liked the article, this is the level of analysis I wish I saw more often. Who knows, maybe my the Revolution will get my mom to play some game other than Tetris. If it does that then it\’s really got something there.

    Like

  11. Anonymous says

    Excellent article. Anything that contains actual content (in your case, analysis and contextualization) is news worth reading, as opposed to the flood of Revolution articles released in the past two weeks. Thanks.

    Like

  12. rankenphile says

    Regarding your boycott on Sony titles – why is this? I\’m curious why you would limit yourself from such a major market player, as one who seems to be so involved in the gaming industry and community.

    Like

  13. I would like a game that encourages me to move around the room… get some exercise. Perhaps Jog in place… while doing something cool like catching Pokemon, or whatever… Oh wait… you can\’t make a request like the above with Xbox.–Ray

    Like

  14. This is a really interesting article-*glances at About Me*OH MY GOD! I GREW UP ON TYRIAN! IT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST GAMES I PLAYED THROUGH MORE THAN ONE TIME, AND ONE OF THE BEST SHOOTERS I\’VE EVER PLAYEDI LOVE YOU!-17 yr. old gamerPS – I think the Revolution\’s controller is truly amazing, but I\’m hoping its image won\’t be cheapened by a plethora of add-ons. And I\’m hoping the Revolution will hit the market at $200, but that\’s probably a pipe dream. Just my thoughts on the topic.Now for $198.98 more…

    Like

  15. Anonymous says

    A very thoughtful and well written point, I hope inovation pays off for Nintendo in this case as it has done so in the past.

    Like

  16. You know when you feel something or have an opinion but have trouble explaining it to others? This article is the explanation I\’ve been trying to describe to people.Bravo Danc!

    Like

  17. Anonymous says

    I still think the main consideration here, which is fundamental to gaming, is why we enjoy games. There are a plethora of reasons, but they all naturally stem from the fact that we don\’t understand them. When you come to understand a game, as many have with genres like adventure games, shooting galleries, etc., then you tend to spend less money on them. Sure you might play them from time to time but never with the ferocity that you did as a novice gamer. The simple fact is, the lack of vision for new genres or even expansion of old ones may be the deciding factor for those who are teetering on the edge of being gamers. If they play two, of the seeming millions of, cut-n-paste FPSs in a row, they may lose interest quickly. For old skool gamers like I, Nintendo\’s Revolution is the only real choice for the new generation of gaming. PS3 and XBOX 360 have 0, nil, nothing, nada, zippo to offer me. Better (?) graphics on the exact game concept is NOT interesting.I have better things to do with my time and money.

    Like

  18. Anonymous says

    Anonymous who posted at 2:01pm had a valid point about a largely ignored niche market – females. I\’m also a female gamer and believe that all platforms have kind of left us behind. I think they all could use some innovation to catch this market. I doubt I was the only one to really enjoy primal, shadowhearts, and kotor.I really enjoyed the essay (linked to it from penny arcade) and believe you dealt with the issue with a level of complexity I rarely see on the internet in terms of articles and reviews. Kudos!!! Great job. 🙂

    Like

  19. Mistle says

    In response to rankenphile:I also boycott sony in general. As a gamer, I\’m disappointed that they could put deadlines and figures above quality and reasonable demand for a complete unit.On the article, I found it thorough and somewhat biased toward nintendo, but I attribute the positive attitude toward the anticipation for the new product.The market for games, and the moving on to new genres hasn\’t been explained with an understandable clarity, so allow me to further my conjecture on the subject:Innovation costs money. This is a fact, and not worth debating. While this becomes cheaper after the initial breakthrough, it still wields a hefty cost. Now that the new genre has been breached, the third parties and companies that didn\’t innovate can get to this point with considerably less cost. Then, they pour their resources into polishing a game to exorbitant levels, beyond a 10-person development team can pursur in 6 months; the work becomes epic in stature. Exausted from innovation, the breakthrough company can\’t compete with the already astronomical level of production costs. This, moving to a new genre is considerably cheaper than sitting around and using limited resources to master something already dominated by followers who usurped the technology and created an empire.Simple economics enters into the equation. When innovating, there really is no competition.

    Like

  20. Anonymous says

    I just wanted to comment that the article is very well-written and insightful (if not a bit too heavily loaded, causing me to have to run each sentence through a scanner several times before I understand all that is implied)2 Thumbs up :)However, I wanted to point out an extremely important fact that was neglected, and that Nintendo has admitted to recently at a game-show (I think it was the GDC in San Francisco; I don\’t remember). Nintendo lost the last console battle, sorely, and they admitted that they cannot rely on flashy demos and anymore, and stated that they seriously need to go more mainstream in order to compete. They will forever be a minority among consoles if they continue to be innovative, and since nobody is fixated on innovative titles that they don\’t understand, they\’ll go to the OTHER consoles, more and more, until nothing is left for Nintendo.The average console gamer (from what I\’ve seen) already says that the GameCube SUCKED in the last few years, because there was nothing to play, and those same GameCube owners have told me that they are going to forget Nintendo this time. And they have good reason to: the new consoles will come out FIRST, so Nintendo will come out last, AND be the minority.Nintendo may make some money by being innovative, but they are dying, and nobody\’s going to buy this new console. For any person who has all 3 consoles, you KNOW how rarely you\’ve touched your Cube in the last 3 years.So my point is that Nintendo has neglected the hardcore gamers to sch a degree that they will most likely lose the next console battle as well, putting them in a tight spot, which I think will be their downfall.The only way I think Nintendo could have survived this console generation is if they had released the Revolution three months ago, with a wave of super-hot, widely publicized titles.It\’s going to be the Cube all over again, with the same games, and this time it\’s going to happen at a time when everyone already has their PS3 and Xbox, so nobody will care about Mario anymore.That\’s what I think, and Nintendo\’s very difficult position in the console war, since they have so few titles in their lineup, is the one crucial thing that was neglected in this article, and I think it\’s a darn important one.

    Like

  21. insaneDan says

    I don\’t believe that Nintendo will become another sega because even though the gamecube wasn\’t all that great and sony and microsoft owned the console market, nintendo made money anyway. I think that a fierce war will emerge between sony and microsoft and one will make a mistake. Then either sony or microsoft will drop out of the console business. But no matter what the outcome would be nintendo would simply sit on the sidelines and laugh. And as the article said nintendo is the one who creates new styles of gaming, then these styles are copied in various ways. So if nintendo dies so does the rest of the gaming market.I\’m not sure how well the Revolution will sell. The average gamer doesn\’t want innovation, they want something that\’s \”cool.\” And it seems that \”cool\” is X-Box 360. But most hardcore gamers are nintendo fans. Every other gamer will say halo 2 is the best game ever. Next halo 3 will be the best game ever. The average gamer population is taken over by the halo effect.Another large part of the gaming population consist of semi-hardcore PS2 gamers. Many of these gamers will not be willing to spend 400+ dollars on a console. So part of this population might come to buy a Revolution, unless the controller messes up gameplay badly, which it might. In the end, it seems to me that the nintendo market will be like the pc market. The pc market will never die, but it probably won\’t flourish ever again. I don\’t know how the next gen of consoles will play out, but it seems it might play out similar to the handheld market. The DS has worse graphics than the PSP, but the innovation of the DS(and cheaper pricetag) comes through for nintendo.Don\’t get all mad at my views because they are solely my opinion, but I would like to hear what you think.

    Like

  22. Found your site through PA, wow. What insight.. really thought this through well. Oh yeah, and i used to play Tyrian on an old Acer computer years back, the demo version was preloaded onto it and i absolutely couldn\’t get enough. Soooo… big fan! 😀

    Like

  23. scotts7777 says

    Very insightful. I actually printed this article off so I can physically hand it to a couple \”anti-nintendo\” friends. Until the mind-blowing RE4 came out a few months back, I was really starting to lose faith in gaming. I hate how all new games being released get pigeon-holed into a specific category of FPS, RPG, MMO, RTS etc. The games I want to play are the ones that don\’t fit into one specific genre. I absolutely refuse to play another FPS. I have played a million of them. This article does a great job of explaining the mechanics/psycology of what makes me feel this way.Danc, keep writing these thought-provoking articles, thanks for the great read.

    Like

  24. Danc,Thank you very much for taking the time to write down such a cogent industry analysis.I think your paradigms fit the software industry at large just as well as the game industry. Imagine trying to create a new \”Photoshop\” at this point. Heck, Adobe tried to create a new \”Quark\” and got killed for not having the exact same obscure keyboard shortcuts!Also, I loved your quote on firing customers. It is indeed a hard thing to do, and it is indeed a very, very smart practice. I\’ve reluctantly let a few go in my time, and the surprising part is they are actually pretty happy to get an honest answer from a company. \”I\’m sorry, the features you\’re suggesting are neat but they aren\’t where we want to take our application, and we only have so much time to program. However, there\’s another application out there that might suit you better…\”Thank you, again.-Wil ShipleyChief Monster, Delicious Monster Software

    Like

  25. ain\’t it funny that every person in japan has a PS2 though?the PS2 has become an accessory synonomous with a VCR. its a \”must have\” home electronics device. can nintendo ever get that kind of saturation? anywhere?could MS in america?i doubt it.but i\’m getting a revolution.

    Like

  26. Anonymous says

    Har har har, \”most hardcore gamers are nintendo fans\” and \”all others will tell you Halo 2 is the best game\”. . . (I dislike Nintendo, own a GC, X-box, PS2, Genesis, Atari 2600,Game gear, Gameboy original, colour and advance, and 3 PC\’s and will assert that the best game of all time is a toss-up betweeb Hero\’s Quest and X-COM Apocolypse).Sorry, just had to laugh at that one. Er, back on the topic, a very interesting article altogether. As for all the predictions everyone\’s doing, we\’re all in the hurry up and wait period and we\’ll find out soon enough. One prediction of my own though, if the system bomb (the controller is unweildly, or 3rd part developers don\’t want to touch it, or too many former fans remember the horror of the GC) Nintendo will drop. They\’ll sink or swim with this one, they can\’t survive two bad consoles in a row. Look at Sega for historical precedence.

    Like

  27. Anonymous says

    Great post, nice understanding of the industry.I too look forwards to the new controller and new genre\’s.Xbox cert Jan

    Like

  28. Anonymous says

    Anonymous at 11:41:They CAN survive two consoles in a row. In your insight you forget that not everyone loses multibillion dollars on a \”failed\” console. MS lost billions. Nintendo made mass profits. Which console failed??

    Like

  29. Estarriol says

    First of all, thanks for analyzing Nintendo\’s actions on a business level. After all, the primary corporate objective of Nintendo is to ultimately make a profit – the exact same objective that Microsoft and Sony have.Second of all, this part\’s a bit long-winded. You have fair warning.To all the people who say Nintendo is going to fail as a company, I\’d like to point out that they don\’t need to dominate the industry to make a profit. Specialized services and high-quality products are always in demand to the consumers who want them, even if they\’re only a fraction of the total industry. Nintendo, while it has a negative reputation among many hardcore gamers, is favored by its fans because of the quality of its hardware and its games. Even under a worst-case scenario, where Nintendo completely isolates every third party in existance and fails to sell this product to a single new customer, it has an established customer base. Regardless of whether the Revolution is a \”success\” compared to the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, it will undoubtedly be profitable. Nintendo will only leave the market once it has lost its touch for creating in-depth and innovative games, something which doesn\’t seem likely in the near future.Nintendo has little to lose and everything to gain with the Revolution. They\’ve only posted one nonprofitable quarter (that I\’m aware of). Their games have constantly created innovation (Pikmin, Wario Ware, Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, and Ocarina of Time are all excellent examples), and their fans are used to this innovation. They now have the chance to expand the audience to the average gamer – the type who plays cell phone games or internet games. This is an audience in the tens of millions, and the industry could double or triple in size if this is a success. Besides, just because games become simpler to control does not mean that games have to be mindless. Take Pikmin, a game in which you controlled different types of plantlike creatures to recover the pieces to your missing spaceship. You would have the point-and-click simplicity of a mouse, easily able to select a group of Pikmin and send them to build a bridge, tear down a tree, or carry a spaceship part back to your ship. All of these controls are dependant on the environment – simply selecting an object in the game causes the correct action to be taken, much like Ocarina of Time used a single context-sensitive \”Action\” button to simplify controls. The control scheme would be simple – just point and click – and the game itself isn\’t terribly long (about ten hours to complete); however, anyone who\’s played Pikmin can tell you that there\’s a great deal of depth to the game.This is what I think Nintendo\’s talking about when they say that they want to expand the gaming audience. They\’re not trying to create a bunch of simple tech demos. For people who want a quick little game, they can find what they want online or on a cell phone. Instead, they\’re trying to creating games with enormous depth but simple controls. You\’re probably not going to buy Whack-A-Fly for twenty bucks. However, you could easily buy Mario Tennis Revolution for that price. Same simplicity, but much greater depth. Just because a game isn\’t eighty hours long doesn\’t mean it\’s not \”epic\” in its depth. Super Smash Bros. Melee isn\’t necessarily a long game, but the level of depth is incredible. The same goes for Mario Power Tennis: just when I thought I had mastered the controls, I started paying attention to the various differences in your hit if you hit with a forehand or backhand swing. Now, imagine Mario Tennis with all of the subtleties translated into the wand. You wouldn\’t even need buttons to play the game – topspin, slice, and ball placement would all be handled with the wand. You\’d use the control pad to run around, but the days of pressing a button to hit the ball would be over. You couldn\’t make a better control scheme for a tennis game than that without going onto the court and playing for real.So, to wrap up this entirely too long post, Nintendo has nothing to fear with its new controller. The system is practically guaranteed to make a profit, regardless of how it is received in the public eye. Nintendo\’s reputation hasn\’t changed much in the past few years; the people who bought Gamecubes and still play them have no reason not to buy the Revolution. Instead, they have the possibility to regain their leading role in the industry and put Sony and Microsoft to shame. If the Revolution \’s controller proves its worth, millions of new gamers will come to Nintendo. The entire industry market will have a massive popuation burst, and Nintendo will have the largest customer base of all. There isn\’t a third-party developer around that would pass up the opportunity to make games for a market larger than the total market for console games today. All Nintendo needs to do in order to regain its leadership role in the industry is to successfully sell its product to the everyday consumer. In the end, that\’s something that \”traditional\” gamers like myself can only speculate about.Regardless of whether the Revolution is a mad success or an abysmal flop, I\’m still buying it. Can\’t wait to see what they come up with for the next Smash Brothers game.

    Like

  30. Maybe this is just ignorance on my part, however I find it odd that no one, at least in the last few posts, has mentioned anything about the DS in the conversation of whether Nintendo is in trouble or not. I have no idea how much of Nintendo\’s business is divided between their consoles, and their handheld systems, however I still feel that Nintendo is the dominating force in the handheld market, and will have a presence there for a long time, regardless of whether or not their consoles fail. Beyond that I think that it will be hard for the revolution to fail, as Nintendo still has some appeal to hardcore gamers (such as myself). They have strong brands that will help support their console, and their handheld systems. Even though there is little else that Nintendo has to offer me, Zelda and Pokemon are two very successful brands that I will still support. I feel that as long as Nintendo continues to do a good job on games in their strong brands, and their handheld market, all of their innovation can back fire (as hard as it is to believe that this could happen), and they still would be doing ok.

    Like

  31. I\’m glad I\’m not the only one who sees the potential for truly innovative gameplay from the Revolution. Also, I heard there was a gameplay test group that played a couple of levels of Metroid Prime re-made for the Revolution and said it worked great, even better than PC mouse aiming. I agree with you, a great time for gaming is definitely just a year or two down the road.

    Like

  32. Anonymous says

    It makes my heart feel accepted when others feel in similar ways about something like this. I also have to thank Danc for writing such a well thought out article which gave me a feeling of increased understanding of the game industry as a whole. Thank you.

    Like

  33. The amazing thing is how I have done a 180 degree turn around in my attitude towards Nintendo. I have always enjoyed the company\’s games, but things began to go downhill from the SNES onward, and I became more of a PlayStation fan (though I do own an Xbox as well).I was greatly looking forward to the PlayStation 3, and while I still am, I\’m looking forward to just how this controller will work with games at E3, where it is likely that games wil be shown (and played).I have an idea for a Silent Hill type game. Opening a door could be done by moving the pointer on the door handle. The A button would be context sensitive, and clicking on it while pointing at the door handle would open it. But by clicking and holding onto the button, you could open the door more slowly for dangerous areas. By twisting or turning the remote in a clockwise position, you would turn the door knob. \’Pushing\’ in or pulling back with the remote would then open or close the door in a more measured, safer fashion. Another \’wand\’ could be used like a flashlight, to help you peek through the door\’s crack, and see what is on the other side. Would you open it if you heard strange noises? What if you did hear strange noises, and opened it anyway, only to see a ghoulish creature? You could instantly pull the door shut behind you, and perhaps get into a wrestling match with the creature to stop it from opening.Of course, this is all pie in the sky theory, but this controller could make games more immersive and exciting to play.

    Like

  34. brilliantNintendo has the same ultimate goal as other companies-profitBUT goes about it in a different way- innovation and care not repetition

    Like

  35. Anonymous says

    just wanted to thank danc for this great article and everybody else for the comments! :)very well thought about and written. i too think the next years will be great for gamers, there need to be more innovations, (nearly) everything is just the same at the moment.nintendo sure will live long, there are millions out there who dont like the \”today standard games\”. the new controller is a revolution in itself, great games i can imagine…

    Like

  36. I agree completely on Nintendo\’s Direction and their place in the Gaming Industry, the thing I\’m curious about is the impact that the Revolution will create if successful.As you said, Nintendo\’s past Innovations and Genres, after having been \”Demoed\” by their Brand Characters, are then polished and increased in quality by Third-Party Developers, be it on a Nintendo Console or competing Console/PC. The past innovations and Genres have in the past been 3D Gaming, Analog Sticks, 2D Platforming, and more. With the Revolution though, similar to the DS, these ideas seem to be far more \”out-there\” than previous Innovations by Nintendo.The Game Industry has become increasingly competitive internally between the competing consoles, and as it becomes political as well (Inside the Gaming Industry that is), will making a switch from Traditional Controllers to Revolution-esque controllers ever occur for Consoles like the Xbox and Playstation? Making an obvious switch from Traditional Controllers to the Revolution-type controller will definitely make Microsoft and Sony both nod their head to Nintendo\’s superiority quite clearly, and based on today\’s competition, it seems like they would rather die than do that (Microsoft very well could take it to the extreme, after all, they went to the extreme of losing money for each Xbox console they sold in order to gain a foothold in the Gaming Industry).Past Innovations and Brand-New Genres by Nintendo have all seemed quite expected and an eventuality. Here though, even as technology slowly but surely reaches the advent of Virtual Reality, the Revolution Controller has made a few jumps too far ahead to really seem like an eventual occurence, and that is precisely what makes predicting the results of its success in the Gaming Industry difficult to do.Great article of course, I have been looking for the perfect representation of Nintendo\’s placement in the Gaming Industry, and this has definitely summed it up in ways I could not have even dreamed of.Reality….

    Like

  37. Fabián Ortiz says

    The smartest and most tolerant posts & article u can find in the web for this topic. Cheers everyone!I was amazed about the skepticism of the new controller in the gamers community; and found myself thinking of the actual loss of market percentage they will suffer. But there are some topics in here that makes me reconsider.One thing is true, the old gamers community has been left out of the game entirely. It’s not about playing Atari games anymore, it’s about playing simple games but with far more graphics and statistics.On the other hand, the female gamers are also quite left behind with the development of games. Nintendogs is an exception amongst the games, because the number of female gamers almost reaches 50%. This actually looks like a real human population. But making games like this for attracting women is misguided; is just a stereotype to think that if u make more puppy or social oriented games, u will satisfy this market. More R&D is need it.The revolution controller is an excellent innovation, because brings the gamer into the game. This can develop the gameplay of the future. And it’s simplicity tries to acquire the market of non gamers that have wanted to play, but got scared of the controller.One thing is important, don’t forget that an add – on, it’s expected for play games in a traditional way (details in IGN; http://www.ign.com/articles/2005/09/16/understanding-the-revolution-controller). I do think this controller + shell should be bought with the console, to make it less expensive and look for a bigger market. I’m not fan of buying add ons.Great stuff Danc!Ps- Nintendo has been great in innovation, but they have done some cheap shots as well. And before anyone think in Virtual Boy, think Mario 2 for the foreign Japan market (details here: http://www.nintendoland.com/home2.htm?funfacts/smb2doki.htm)

    Like

  38. Jared says

    Amazing. Simply amazing. I have been a fan of Nintendo\’s innovative track record for a number of years, but I have never really thought about why they did it, financially or otherwise. Any gamer worth his salt should read this, if only to make him think about what kind of games he plays.

    Like

  39. Anonymous says

    Why isn\’t anyone talking about the serious social/cultural shifts that need to take place in order for Nintendo\’s plan to (broaden their market) succeed? Does it necessarily follow that if you make a controller look like a remote, enable more intuitive controls, and make games that are easy to pick up and play, that the 30+ demographic will actually start playing video games? And as for porting \”casual\” mobile phone gamers to the Revolution – if you plop a 20-something girl that plays \”Snake\” on her cell phone while on her way to work on the subway in front of a Revolution, she\’s taking off. Quick. You are instantly taking the \”casual\” away from the \”casual gamer\”.

    Like

  40. Apologies in advance, just gotta get this offa my chest. :oI\’ve always been one for simple gaming. While I\’ve always been tempted by the complex RPGs that only PS seems to offer nowadays, as I grow up and have a busier life, I want to turn more and more to the simple yet addictive, lighthearted escapism that Nintendo is best at offering. Something I can not only become engrossed in, but put down when I have to. Stuff with insane levels of replay value, WITHOUT relying on \’net play because sometimes I just don\’t want to deal with others.People who say Nintendo is unsuccessful compared to giants like Microsoft and Sony are forgetting that Nintendo is in an entirely different league from them. Nintendo is still catering to the \”original\” gamers, from the pixely days. I don\’t see them slipping. They are still just as strong as they were years ago, just dwarfed by the megaconsoles that have grown up around them. They have a much smaller percentage of the gaming industry, but its an industry that has EXPLODED with growth. What used to be a hobby for geeks and kids is now a pastime for any male and even a good population of females. Gaming is not what it used to be as a whole, it has become much more diverse, a diversion for almost anyone nowadays. So Nintendo has its niche, and I\’m sure it will do just fine, as long as they don\’t try to compete. And a suspected mid/late \’06 release date is truly indicative of not comepeting. Nintendo probably saw Dreamcast\’s flop and took that into account. I think that strategy will help, since people will have gotten over the purchases of their Sony and Microsoft products by then. I\’m happy to hear that Nintendo is deviating and exploring, jeebus, people are just too nervous about change. I read a really good column about how the film industry and mainstream consoles are too afraid to innovate and are just spewing out the same old stuff because its tried, and true, and not a risk, since the incresing hype for graphics and special effects have become absurdly expensive. How much more realistic can you get anyways without a TRUE revolution at this point, a step in a different direction? Sure, televisions are going high-definition, but even that can only go so far.Anyhow, the controller makes me uneasy, yes, because Nintendo will surely follow its old and tired routine of draining your wallet with accesories after you buy the deceptively cheap console…but if the games turn out to be worth it its not a loss. And I obviously have faith in Nintendo. So here\’s hoping. 😉 Becuase if there isn\’t something fresh enough soon, gaming as we know it is gonna kill itself off from inbreeding the same old crap.

    Like

  41. good article.It\’s a combantion of Nintendo\’s innovation, the rumored prices and the fact that old games will be aviable that makes me the most geeked out of the new consoles. It very smart of nintendo to stay a head of the pact but I do see where some of the nay sayers have a point about the GC not having a lot of games. But I think that was do to something a bit out of the big N\’s hands and that was a getting 3rd party publishers to make more games for the system. If the revolution can over come that problem (and nintendo keeps on doing what they do in the innovation field) then I can see the revolution being the system that brings Nintendo back into the forfront in gamers minds.

    Like

  42. Anonymous says

    WoW. I think that you have hit the nail on the head and will open many people’s eyes. Congrats on a perfectly written article.

    Like

  43. Fabian:I had the same thoughts that you did when I saw the machine\’s controller; I had hoped to see a traditional \’shell\’ of a controller added with it, so I would not have to \’buy\’ another add on. But I decided that Nintendo\’s approach may be the best one.If Nintendo were include a traditional controller \’shell\’ with the machine, many developers would not attempt to use the \’wand\’ to play games. They would instead build games on traditional controller gameplay concepts, and then add some Revolution wand type functionality. I think that this would defeat the purpose of having a 3 dimensional, real time motion sensor.KT: I might end up regretting this, but I don\’t think that Nintendo will ask for many accessories to play Revolution games. I think that their current controller setup eliminates the need for most any accessory. While accessories will most certainly be sold for the controller, they will likely only be for a more \’authentic\’ feel for gameplay, much like the relatively useless light gun attachment that will likely end up on store shelves. The key is, unlike traditional controllers which require additional accessories and features work with different games, the Revolution\’s controller should be versatile enough to allow for easy, intuitive play across a wide variety of genre\’s, including new ones yet to be discovered. This is why there is so much excitement over this machine.Also, no one is talking about how Revolution could help financially stabilize the industry (have you thought about this Danc ?) By having a console that requires much less money for development, but has near limitless potential for new ideas and creativity, developers could make games that sell a decent amount of copies and make tidy profits from Revolution, and use these profits to help development of larger, AAA games on either Revolution or it\’s competitors, the 360 and the PlayStation 3. To my mind, people who blast the machine are seemingly ignorant of the enormous cost of development on these upcoming super machines. Publishers must have a way to make consistent, tidy profits in order to make big budget games, because the risk of failing to move copies of a game is more pronounced in the high development cost of the new machines.While a lot of Revolution games will appear to many to be \’gimmicky\’ (a word that has been used so often with the Nintendo DS and Revolution that it\’s quickly losing all meaning), big publishers and developers can expound on ideas found in creative circles in Revolution software, integrating them into their own games while adding functionality. All games do this in one way or another – I see no reason why this will not happen on Revolution. Developers and publishers will likely be more interested in sharing ideas or at least learning from each other, as the \’wand\’ will probably cause some confusion as to how it \’should\’ be used in each genre of gameplay. Nintendo will likely be the company that helps further this approach of adopting \’core\’ gameplay mechanics by demonstrating them in some of it\’s games.The only real question that lingers in the air is what Martin has said. I\’m not sure if even this new controller will be enough for Revolution to attract more quality third party developers to the machine. All of some of the biggest developers (Bioware, Squaresoft, and ironically Silicon Knights) are deep into development on games for other platforms. Sometimes people seem to forget that there are only so many good, quality developers out there, and by choosing to unveil Revolution the current time, Nintendo has made it difficult to acquire much in the way of quality developmental support from third parties. Developers are simply not going to abandon development mid-term on multi-million dollar games for PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. They could create new Revolution titles after they have finished work on other machines, but this will likely not be for at least two or so years, leaving most of the work of developing games up to Nintendo and a handful of quality developers that have not yet already commited to making games for other machines.Also, ease of use and low cost in development might be overrated as far as third party developers are concerned (Danc, maybe you could elaborate on why this is). Gamecube had the easiest development environment of any next generation machine, and the lowest cost as well. PlayStation 2, but most accounts, was the most cantankerous machine to program and code for, yet has the greatest breadth of quality titles of any machine of this current generation, and by far the largest installed base. Installed base goes a long way for creating an environment suitable to making innovative games. But installed base doesn\’t mean much to publishers if the demographics of people who are in this base will not buy quality third party software. Resident Evil 4 on the Gamecube sold a paltry amount of copies – less than one million if I\’m correct. Compared to the \’big hits\’ of PS2, which sell well into the millions, this sales number shows that Nintendo players, largely, buy the machines for Nintendo\’s product and not for high quality, big exclusives like Resident Evil 4. This low sell through number of even a large franchise such as Resident Evil does not encourage 3rd party development on Revolution. Nintendo might have a difficult time balancing new, innovative games that will appeal to the thirty something crowd that enjoys these types of gameplay, as well as core gamers like myself who want to see innovation done not only in new games, but in existing genre\’s that have become tired and mundane (see Japanese RPG\’s). I can\’t imagine non-gamers being motivated to buy the latest Final Fantasy type RPG on Revolution, for example.Anon:\”Why isn\’t anyone talking about the serious social/cultural shifts that need to take place in order for Nintendo\’s plan to (broaden their market) succeed? Does it necessarily follow that if you make a controller look like a remote, enable more intuitive controls, and make games that are easy to pick up and play, that the 30+ demographic will actually start playing video games?\”I do in fact, believe that by having more intuitive controls, a remote style design to the controller, and a lower price point with a greatly reduced learning curve will, in fact, appeal to all people who would ever interact with a videogame. I think that the DS \’learning\’ game that has been bought en masse in Japan by much older people is indicative of this. To the extent that all of these things – ease of use, low price point, and remote type design of the controller don\’t appeal to some, it\’s unlikely that they will ever play a game.I wouldn\’t worry about what \’society\’ deems correct and proper for persons of different ages to enjoy. You\’d be surprised what people do by themselves…

    Like

  44. Anonymous says

    What a great article. It makes so much sense now when Nintendo\’s president says \”the day nintendo doesn\’t make a console is the day we are out of the industry\”.

    Like

  45. Anonymous says

    a few completely disjointed thoughts:1. danc-please clarify: when you say \”mature games \” are your referring to genre maturity or M rated games or both? 2. I think I\’m less pessimistic about genre life cycle. you seem to imply that the niche stage is equivalent to the grave. I\’d like to think that as long as given genres are economically viable, devs will continually refine them, combine them, try new things.3. this gen has probably been the weakest for nintendo in terms of inventing new genres, much less creating hit genres. there\’s nintendogs for the ds, of course, and more to come, like elektroplankton, but the gamecube has been sadly lacking in new genres. I sure can\’t name any new genre games on the gamecube. the mario and zelda games of this gen are subtle refinements of what came before. metroid prime and pikmin are part of genres they didnt create. it\’s because, as I see it, there is a gen of raw innovation followed by elegant refinement in nintendo\’s consoles. from the NES to SNES and from N64 to GC. its time to start the next innovation cycle, and ninty has done it twice, with their new console and the handheld DS.4. the upcoming legend of zelda from all accounts, is meant for the hardcore zelda action rpg fan. ninty can \”pander\” to the HC just as well as anyone.5. Xbox 360 jump starting the next-gen is incredibly short-sighted. this gen\’s consoles, including the xbox, still have much to offer devs, gamers, etc. they will risk alienating the casuals just to profit (or not) from the hardcore, \”HD generation\”. this will possibly make this gen the shortest life-cycle of consoles, about 4 years.6. the big question is whether casual/lapsed/non-gamers will be willing to spend $400 or so for a console and a small library of games, when most other pick-up-and-play style casual games are much less expensive. the jakks pacific arcade games go for about $25. 7. another key to any game company\’s success with the casuals is FIXING THE FREAKIN\’ CAMERA CONTROLS ALREADY!!! even the AAA titles have cameras that need constant manipulation, something you didnt have to contend with in 2-D. 8. finally to the naysayers: the power glove was a third party device from mattel. the creator of the virtual boy, gunpei yokoi, was swiftly fired from nintendo and died in 1997. I\’m sick of the constant comparisons; those were a long time ago. it would be like tweaking on sony for the failure of betamax or the minidisc.

    Like

  46. My brother and I are casual gamers, and long time Nintendo fans, even though I have to admit, playing Halo is wicked.We just found out about the new controller and at first I was totally underwhelmed. I hated it, in fact. So I started looking into it. I was all, \”Could that be thr real controller? Give me a break!\”Well, I completely sold!We just spent the past two hours dreaming up uses for the new controller(s). That\’s right, imagine a game using more than one.Some kind of new Punch Out where you are actually shadow boxing, or lightsaber fight on a big screen?O my God, it just keeps getting better!What about using the controller as the flight stick for a plane, or when you run out of bullets being able to pummel someone with your rifle?Surgery? Amazing!Developers must be having wet dreams every night because of this.ps. If you like art, check out my link…it\’s actually my brother\’s site, but it\’s pretty cool.

    Like

  47. Mr. Wonder says

    RE: Anonymous at 4:51 pm.\”Nintendo may make some money by being innovative, but they are dying, and nobody\’s going to buy this new console. For any person who has all 3 consoles, you KNOW how rarely you\’ve touched your Cube in the last 3 years.\” – Anonymous(Excuse the long post, but I really felt like I have made an extremely important point here)I think you fail to see what the real deal is here. Nintendo created the video game industry and are the driving force behind redefining games and creating new experiences – something Microsoft and Sony have never done.From their beginnings approx. 25 years ago, Nintendo have constantly innovated the industry; THEIR industry. I mean let\’s face the facts. Microsoft and Sony have many other departments which can make them their millions. Microsoft has hold of (or more like monopoly) of the computer world, and Sony has their home theatre/mp3/other electronic device departments. Nintendo only has the video game industry in which to make its money. Therefore, if the video game industry becomes stagnant and dies, so does Nintendo.Although this is a harsh reality for the company, they are very aware of this threat and do all that they can to make sure the gaming public does not become bored. THIS is where Nintendo excels and innovates which in turn becomes standard concepts among videogame consoles. If you look at Nintendo\’s history, you can see this in action. NES was a marvel in its time, a brand new experience. SNES followed, providing enhanced gameplay and graphics, and although very different, it was still much the same as its predecessor. Nintendo needed a change as competition became inevitable (Sony\’s Playstation). They then released the Nintendo 64 which gave the first full 3D experience on any console to date. This was a significant stepping stone as it provided a fresh new approach to gaming and kept the gamers intrigued. Then, history repeats itself with the Gamecube, where it is very different from the N64 but still very much the same. And now, Nintendo are set to release another significant stepping stone in the industry\’s evolution – the Nintendo Revolution.I\’m not sure if everyone can see my point in the last paragraph so I will spell it out for you. The whole industry runs on the gameplay experience. Graphics, sounds, storyline, etc are all second to gameplay. Simply by looking at Nintendo\’s history, you can see that a certain gameplay mechanic can only last through 2 consoles before it starts to wear thin and gamers become bored – NES and SNES as group 1, and N64 and GCN as group 2. With Revolution on the way, it is the first contender in group 3. Between each group, there has been a significant change in the gameplay experience which is both innovative and enhances the experience between player and game. Chances are the successor to Revolution will have a different, yet very much the same gameplay mechanic as Revolution has. The successor to Revolution\’s successor however, will yet again start group 4, and thus sport a new era in gameplay with a totally new gameplay mechanic. This kind of innovative vision is essential for Nintendo in order for them to survive – they MUST keep us intrigued or else they will dwindle off and die.I have great respect for Nintendo\’s ability to do this, as they have always succeeded at doing it. The biggest problem for Nintendo, or at least for them in the past, is getting the credit for it. Both Sony and Microsoft stepped into this industry and stole much of what Nintendo had invented. Examples include the D-pad, rumble pak, trigger button (Z on N64), 4 player capability, 3D platformers, device slots on the controller (N64), L and R buttons, the analogue stick, and the list goes on. Neither Microsoft or Sony have ever really redefined their own console system and its games – they have simply stolen the ideas from the one who was there before them – Nintendo. What makes things even more bizaar, is that Nintendo innovates and reinvents the very innovative products they produced in the past – a fact with noticing.It pains me to see that both the Xbox 360 and PS3 sport relatively the same style controllers as they have in the past. This is a major mistake they constantly never fix. There is no such thing as the \’perfect controller\’ and it should be bloody obvious that when games step up a notch, so too should the level of player input into the game. Nintendo are the only company who have completely changed their controller with every console they produce in order to maximise player input for that particular system. The Revolution controller is bound to be successful in my opinion, simply because Nintendo have 25 years worth of controller design and production experience – something the competitors dont have. They KNOW how to make great games that work the way they were intended to. As I have stated throughout the entire article: gameplay is the most important factor in the gaming experience, and Nintendo seem to be the only company in the current market who is making the effort to constantly challenge the very meaning of the term.In conclusion, the Revolution is set to be a hit in my opinion. Microsoft and Sony are heading down the same road that has been travelled for the last decade, not that that is a bad thing, but to be quite frank I am bored of it all. FPS after FPS… they are all the same. I leave you with a quote of my thoughts…\”Nintendo\’s controversial innovative designs in the past have always become standard game mechanics in the future. If Nintendo dies, the entire videogame industry will be going down with it.\” – Mr. Wonder

    Like

  48. Spirit says

    To Anonymous at 6:17,The genre life cycle does not encourage innovation. It encourages only refinement of design. For instance play any two games of the same genre, and name the differences between the two. How many of them are noticable? Now play a game in a different Genre. The differences are very noticable; this is the difference that innovation makes. I\’m not saying that all new games will be this polished, most definately not. But with time, these new genres will hopfully floursh.This brings me to the difference between innovation and genre following. At worst the difference between Genre following and innovating is the difference between a slow and painful death, and a quick and explosive death. At best, the difference is proffiting of a dwindeling fanbase, and getting a new fanbase that no one believed would become fans. Both are difficult paths, but I believe this is the only time that Nintendo can hope to innovate.I agree that the Gamecube is the Nintendo\’s worst Generation for innovation; but with the Revolution, Nintendois forcing innovation.If Nintendo were to continue to directly compete with MS and Sony, they would most assuredly die off. Currently the Hardcore gamer\’s opinion of Nintendo is that it is a kiddy company that cannot compete with the rest of the pack. Nintendo knows this, and they agree: thus the Revolution controller. Nintendo\’s philosophy of innovate or die is literal. If Nintendo is not succesful, they will die; after the revolution, there will be no way to reverse people\’s opinions of nintendo and no way to reverse their falure.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s