[Editorial] Can Sony Help Nintendo To Communicate Better?
The Nintendo press conference for fully unveiling the Switch console to the world happened a few days ago. After watching everything live, I took a few days to mull things over. In my opinion, it was not a good first showing for Nintendo, and I think they could take a page from Sony to improve on this.
No matter what people think about the Switch’s potential future success, if we just focus on that press conference, the reaction from most people seems to be that it was a bad one. It certainly didn’t set the internet ablaze, at least not in the way Nintendo would have wanted.
What went wrong? From over explaining the Joycon feature – that ice cube moment – to the weird guy announcing Splatoon 2 (why is this not called Spla2n?), not to mention SEGA showing up to say they’re developing something. Why didn’t they at leat show the Sonic Mania game that was later shown in the sizzle real?
And EA basically gave Nintendo the middle finger by showing up to announced FIFA. The head of one of the biggest publishers in the world flew to Tokyo to announce a FIFA title. There’s a lot more they could have announced and shown!
Oh, and the poor guy who almost had a heart attack trying to translate SUDA51 when he went off script. That one was such hardcore meme material!
This doesn’t mean there weren’t some big news from the conference, such as the announcement of a proper Shin Megami Tensei game on its way to the Nintendo Switch.
One of biggest issues that Nintendo needed to address during the conference was their online infrastructure. This has been an where a lot can be improved, with people usually joking that Nintendo doesn’t understand the internet. And instead of taking the bull by the horns and explaining how it will all work, they decided to mention that there will be a monthly fee for online services from Fall 2017 and on, and nothing else.
Also, there has been a confusing talk about the “one monthly free NES or SNES (with reworked online multiplayer) game” part. It seems that said game is only free for the month in which it is made available – you then have to buy it if you want to continue playing. Has Nintendo even heard of PlayStation Plus or Games with Gold?
Something else they could have addressed was digital purchases. Right now they’re tied to your console or portable (be that the 3DS, Wii or Wii U – at least you can transfer your Wii purchases to the Wii inside of your Wii U!), instead of being tied to an account. If Nintendo really wants to go all in, they should validate all of our past Virtual Console Wii, Wii U, and 3DS purchases, and give those games to us little by little for free. Sure, on Wii U they gave you the game at a huge discount (pay a buck to get your previous Wii VC releases in the new Wii U VC, with all of its extra functions), but gamers probably won’t have any of that again.
What does Nintendo need to do to fix conferences and directs so this doesn’t happen again? My feeling is that they need to hand more control over to the North America office.
Sony had similar issues during the early PS3 era up to mid-cycle when the PS3 was still struggling. And then, more power was given to the US office. They recognized that the console market in Japan was shrinking and that they needed to focus more on western markets, thus allowing said leadership to handle their media presence. After the transition, which included “relaunching” the PS3 at $299 with the awesome Kevin Butler commercials, they were able to globally outsell the Xbox 360.
This success carried through to the PlayStation 4 where they have dominated so far, selling over 50 million units globally. Every conference so far, minus the PS4 Pro announcement, has been a huge success, further cementing their domination in the marketplace. They seem to have truly managed to understand what gamers are looking for and how to properly communicate with them.
I want to make this clear. My first gaming console was the NES, a console I bought with the money I saved up from my newspaper route back when I was eight years old. The SNES is my favorite console of all time thanks to what is perhaps my favorite library of games. I love Nintendo, and I want to continue to love Nintendo in the 21st century… but somewhere along the way they forgot how to speak to gamers like me.
While I have owned the Gamecube, Wii, and Wii U, I didn’t buy them at launch. The libraries of the systems are not as strong as they used to be “back in the day,” with the exception of their main series releases – and the odd surprise here and there (see Chibi Robo and Splatoon). I need Nintendo to start speaking to me again, and I think they could learn a thing or two from Sony and how it managed to change the fate of the PlayStation 3.
I’ll be sitting on the sidelines watching how the Switch does in the near future. I’ll play Zelda on the Wii U, and see what else is released between launch day and Super Mario Odyssey. In the meantime, I do hope Nintendo takes the feedback from this conference to heart and does things differently for their directs leading to March 3rd, 2017 and beyond.
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