Joined: 01 Jul 2007
|Posted: Fri 22 Apr - 15:00 (2011) Post subject: Why Project Cafe will fail
|Sean Malstrom wrote: |
|While I am not going to adopt all the perspectives for every game computer and game console, I will only zero in on the Nintendo timeline. |
Computer Space, a space shooter that was a hit in university computer labs, was a flop in the market. Bushnell goes with a different game called PONG. It is more accessible, about tennis, and the game is a hit at a tavern. This ‘tavern’ is symbolic of the mainstream. The working class do not hang out at university computer labs. But they do hang out at taverns.
PONG’s success brought many versions of PONG and various copy cats. Various arcade games began to come out.
Space Invaders is released and becomes a massive hit. The Atari 2600 would have been pulled from the shelves in America had it not been the home port of Space Invaders. Video game consoles began to be popular with various competitors.
Pac-Man comes out and is a massive hit.
Donkey Kong comes out and is a massive hit. Note that when NOA received Donkey Kong, they thought NCL had gone insane. It was only when Donkey Kong was placed in a tavern (where the masses hang out), that they could begin to see that the working class would enjoy this game.
There is a constant pattern in this industry of being out of touch with the working class. Most people who go into the games industry do so in order to escape the working class, in order to not have to get ‘a real job’. But in order to become successful, they must rejoin the masses and actually like the working class people. You cannot make these people your customers if you think lowly of them. The masses will detect your snobbishness and send your game to the bargain bin as punishment.
The NES was such a joy. The main reasons why the NES was so much fun was…
-Classic games were present.
Hits from the Second Generation were on the NES. Donkey Kong was there. Mario Brothers was there. Pac-Man was there. This may not seem like a big deal, but back then we were overjoyed to have an arcade replica of pac-man on a home console. The disastrous Atari 2600 Pac-Man was one of the reasons for the crash.
-Arcade ports were present.
Bubble Bobble. Contra. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II. Gradius. The NES was bringing in the excitement of the arcades. Many of the NES Generation grew up on these games and swear by them today.
-Sports games were present.
The biggest bread and butter game in the game industry, at this time (or any time) are sports games. Sports games were huge on computers and on the Atari. So the simple sports games on the NES were big hits. Have you heard of Tecmo Bowl? How about RBI Baseball? Or Blades of Steel? There you go. I was always a fan of NES Ice Hockey.
-Introductory games were present.
Since the NES was Nintendo’s and Japan’s first game console, all the games were ‘new’ and designed for new players. Simple games like NES Pinball found audiences with housewives and grandmothers.
The big introductory games were the smash hits of Tetris and Dr. Mario. They were played by everyone… but older women really liked them.
-Massive Adventure Games
Super Mario Brothers. Legend of Zelda. Metroid. Dragon Quest. Final Fantasy. Castlevania. Ninja Gaiden. Mega Man. Need I go on?
These games were not possible to be made on the Colecovision or Atari 2600. They were a huge phenomenon. Especially that Super Mario Brothers.
NES was fundamentally a multiplayer console, not a solitary console. Many games were two players. Even Super Mario Brothers 3 had multiplayer at the same time. Nintendo would even release the Four Score where four players could play games. It was very fun to play the NES in a group.
The decline with the SNES is interesting but a little too complicated to get into here. It wasn’t just that Nintendo suddenly had competition from Sega. The NES was competing with game dedicated computers back during the Third Generation.
When you look at the NES list above, you will note that the SNES did not do the job the NES did. When people look fondly back at the SNES, they think of…
The SNES did adventure games extremely well. SNES fans are often adventure game fans.
SNES was good with multiplayer games later on during the generation. However, it was nowhere as good as the NES.
-Arcade ports were present
This is a mixed bag on the SNES. Some arcade ports were excellent such as Street Fighter 2 (which was a huge deal then). Other ports were not excellent like Mortal Kombat (which also was a huge deal then).
Already, the SNES was not doing as good as job as a game console as the NES. But the problems really became grave when the situation came to…
SNES lost the sports gamers to Sega. When you think of a 16-bit console playing sports games, you only think of the Sega Genesis.
Super Mario Brothers was a complicated game even when it came out. Having Super Mario World, which is vastly more complicated, scared away new gamers. The SNES was chock full of sequels. And sequels are always vastly more complicated than earlier games.
The pipeline to brand new gamers was severed. The only new gamers being made were children who were growing up with the console.
Aside from Super Mario All-Stars, classic games were not available on the SNES. This was extremely disappointing.
Not going to waste time talking about the Virtual Boy. When the N64 came out, it started out big. It sold best in the United States and was matching the pace of the PlayStation for a time. So why was the N64 such a stark decline from the more gentle decline of the SNES?
The N64 only did this well. Mario Kart 64. Smash Brothers. Golden Eye. This was how the console was used for most people. Nintendo did well with the four controller ports.
But what the N64 didn’t do well is what really killed it.
I thought it was bad on the SNES, but the N64 was on another planet. Making every game 3d and having that insane controller just scared everyone away.
No one used the N64 for their sports games. SEGA stole this audience last generation and Sony stole it from SEGA this generation.
These were non-existent. If you liked NES or SNES games, you had absolutely nothing on the N64.
-Arcade ports were present
The arcade ports were appearing on the Saturn and, mostly, the Playstation.
All the adventure games were appearing on the PlayStation. Final Fantasy series moving over there was a big deal at the time. The N64 had no adventure games except for Mario and Zelda.
The steep decline continued.
Like the N64, this is the only thing the Gamecube did decently. But it didn’t do as good as a job as the N64. Mario Kart and Smash Brothers were the best selling games on the system due to the multiplayer.
Other game consoles were beginning to do a better job at multiplayer than Nintendo was. FPS games, like Halo, were played as multiplayer games. The Xbox competed with the Gamecube as a multiplayer system.
Talk about a reversal of fortune! When we use the above context and apply it to the Wii, you can see the excellent job the Wii did as a games console.
Hello Wii Sports and its clones. Wii was the go-to console for sports games.
Wii was also the go-to place for multiplayer games. If you loved multiplayer games, you got yourself a Wii.
They were available through the Virtual Console. Super Mario All-Stars also returned.
The Wii had tons of these! Games like Wii Play were a hit in part of because of their introductory nature.
This is a brand new job for a game console and Wii was the first one to do it on a massive scale. This is due, in part, to Wii Fit. But other non-board fitness games from EA were big hits. If you wanted to use a game console for the job of fitness, you got yourself a Wii. This is really the only true ‘new market’ that Wii created.
-Arcade ports were present
This is so-so. Pretty much all of the ports were just old games from the Virtual Console. The lack of Street Fighter 4 was very glaring.
What was the biggest thing missing from the Wii?
There were no adventure games for the Wii. You had to buy a Xbox 360 or PS3 for that. If you were a fan of adventure games, you would not buy a Wii. Ironically, the DS did an excellent job in adventure games.
The only big selling adventure game for the Wii was Super Mario Brothers 5.
People buy a game console to perform jobs
When I say, “Nintendo needs to put back together the NES,” I am referring to the jobs the NES did. Partially and incompletely, the Wii did this and had a similar market reaction. Nintendo introduced a new job to the console called ‘fitness’. But, the Wii did not do some of the traditional console game jobs too well and completely missed the boat on adventure games.
In order for Project Cafe to become successful, it must do the same jobs that the NES and Wii did.
Nintendo does not view a game console as performing jobs
Unfortunately, Nintendo does not see a game console as performing a job. Like the rest of the game industry, Nintendo does not understand the Wii’s success and views it through a rose-colored lens of cliches.
What is Nintendo’s context of gaming?
Like many other game companies, Nintendo adopts the context of the Lifestyle Developer. The Lifestyle Developer is a context that gaming revolves around a developer who comes up with ‘gameplay ideas’ and ‘surprises’. In other words, things that are ‘fun’ to the developer.
What is not fun for the developer? Things that are hard work. Such as what? Content for one. Making games that he, himself, do not want to play. Gameplay craftsmanship is replaced by gameplay gimmickry. It is why you have someone from Nintendo, like Sakamoto, declare that a maternal instincts, cutscene focused, game like Metroid: Other M is the ‘actual sequel’ to Super Metroid. Of course, it is nothing of the sort.
Miymaoto is just as guilty. While he doesn’t say a cutscene maternal instincts games is a sequel to a side scroller adventure game, he does say that a puzzle-based NPC obsessed Zelda game is the true sequel to the arcade/RPG hybrid Zelda of the past. And Miyamoto is literally obsessed at forcing 3d Mario to become the successor to 2d Mario despite decades of market rejection.
Nintendo is denial over the N64 and Gamecube
The reason why the N64 and Gamecube were failures was because of the N64 and Gamecube games. But Nintendo is in complete denial over this. They hilariously believe the N64 and Gamecube games were ‘super successful’ when they were not in any way. Nintendo software on the NES and SNES sold hardware way more than anything ever produced on the N64 or Gamecube did.
What software sold the Wii? It was games like Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Super Mario Brothers 5. What software did NOT sell the Wii? It was games like Zelda: Twilight Princess, Mario Galaxy I and II, and the Metroids.
Mario Kart DS surged by rejecting the N64 gameplay and attempted to replicate the SNES Super Mario Kart gameplay. “Why are you telling us your opinion, Malstrom?” It’s not my opinion. That is exactly what the producer of Mario Kart DS said. His mission was to be SNES Mario Kart. Mario Kart Wii, naturally, emulated Mario Kart DS. Mario Kart Wii is more of a SNES game than a N64 or Gamecube game because of that.
Now listen to Iwata:
When we launched Wii, “The Legend of Zelda” was one of the launch titles. Not all the people who were willing to purchase Wii in order to play with the Zelda game were willing to purchase “Wii Sports” as well. As we did actually include “Wii Sports” in the hardware package, even those who had purchased Wii just to play with Zelda were also able to play with “Wii Sports.” Moreover, they volunteered to play the game with other members of their families.
This is denial of actual events. Wii was sold out from day one in the United States. It remained supply restrained for three years.
This myth comes from Gamecube fans buying the Wii for Zelda and having their families take over the console for Wii Sports. In order for this myth to be true, Wii’s market performance should have started out slower and increased in sales. What happened instead was that the Wii was in massive demand from day one. And it had absolutely nothing to do with Zelda.
Let me repeat this so the Unfortunate Person From Nintendo Assigned to Read This Site gets it down. Zelda had absolutely nothing to do with the Wii phenomenon.
I don’t think Nintendo has faced reality on this fact. They cannot possibly believe that the mass market is not interested in their bloated 3d visions of Mario and Zelda.
You might say, “Malstrom, how can you say for sure there is denial? How can you say Nintendo does not live in reality?”
Two easy examples. The first is Metroid: Other M. Sakamoto was clearly not living in any resemblance of reality. Despite that, he was referred to as a ‘god’ within Nintendo. Note how the PR machine of Nintendo was trying to build Sakamoto up as the next ‘Miyamoto’ prior to Other M being released.
The other example is Miyamoto and 3d Mario. Miyamoto is in clear denial that the mass market has no interest in his 3d Mario and prefers the gameplay of Super Mario Brothers. After Mario Galaxy failed to move hardware, Miyamoto was so much in denial that he made Mario Galaxy 2. It failed to move hardware as well. So now Miyamoto is working on a handheld 3d Mario. It will fail to excite the market for the same reasons why every 3d Mario fails to excite the market.
More specifically, few people would disagree today that the “Wii Sports” software was the major driving force that boosted Wii hardware sales. However, when we look back to around the time when we launched the new hardware, the general public, who had not yet experienced “Wii Sports,” did not realize that this software would change the world of video games.
This is not true. The general public DID know about Wii Sports.
Look at the timeline perspective I provided above. Ever since PONG, sports games are the bread and butter of video games.
Iwata is absolutely wrong when he says Wii Sports ‘changed the world of video games’. What actually happened is that Wii Sports ‘restoredthe world of video games’. The Wii Sports gamer is identical to the Atari gamer and to the early NES gamer.
Nintendo hates the Wii’s Mission
The Wii was designed with a close eye on the NES. The NES created new gamers, certainly elements of the NES could be replicated with the Wii. This led to resetting the controller to make it possible for new gamers to start playing. It also led to making introductory games.
Hindsight is 20/20. It appears Nintendo assumed the new players created by the Wii would play Mario Galaxy and Zelda: Twilight Princess (and even Metroid: Other M! * snork!* * snork!*).
If Nintendo was to follow the Wii’s mission, it would have to make more games like Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Super Mario Brothers 5, and less games like Mario Galaxy, Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Metroid: Other M. This is why Nintendo hates Wii’s Mission.
The Wii was an attack on the Lifestyle Developer
The Game Industry HATED the Wii. Game developers HATED the Wii. Even Nintendo began to HATE the Wii. Yet, customers LOVED the Wii. What the hell was going on here?
The main reason why someone becomes a game developer is adopt what I call the ‘Lifestyle Developer’. It is a life of leisure where their ‘work’ is making the games they wish to play while declaring themselves creative geniuses.
Note how Nintendo executives no longer say the common phrases they did when the Wii launched like “We need to make games for other people, not just ourselves”.
Project Cafe is an exercise of this denial
Listen to Iwata. He said this in 2011 in January:
The question was if the value (created by home consoles) or “the rich experiences which could be realized only by home console video game systems” have changed. Until recently, it was true that the focus had been placed significantly on the “rich experiences” which were available because of such advantages as it could use the home electricity and, accordingly, home consoles have less restrictions in terms of power consumption, unlike portable devices which require batteries to operate, and that large and dynamic graphics can be created for the large monitor screens. But are these “rich experiences” the only unique characteristics which could be realized solely by home console video games in the first place?
If such “rich experiences” were actually the only uniqueness, home consoles would lose their meaning when battery-operated portable devices become capable of reproducing similar rich experiences. On the contrary, and this is something which started to be discussed when Wii made its debut in 2006, bigger screen TVs were entering our living rooms around that time, which enabled people to use their living rooms for a more broad range of purposes. More specifically, living rooms had morphed into play areas where people could move their bodies. This is one of the unique entertainment features that home console systems, not handheld devices, were able to realize.
With this as an example, even such a distinction that “home console machines provide rich experiences but handheld devices cannot” will change as time goes by, and I believe that there will always be unique experiences that only home consoles can realize. Nintendo has to make efforts to offer the public something only our home console systems can achieve. There are also a number of restrictions with home consoles such as you have to be in front of a TV set, all the players must get together in one place and you cannot play if someone else is watching a TV program. I feel that an increasing number of people, who are playing with a variety of games, are saying, “I used to be able to start home console games rather casually, just whenever I felt like playing with them, but nowadays, because I am used to the easy-to-start handheld game devices, I have to have a rather strong determination to start playing with home console games.”
Reader, what is your analysis of the gamer saying the above? I will repeat it so the Unfortunate Person From Nintendo Assigned To Read This Site will see it.
“I used to be able to start home console games rather casually, just whenever I felt like playing with them, but nowadays, because I am used to the easy-to-start handheld game devices, I have to have a rather strong determination to start playing with home console games.”
I feel the same exact way. So what do you make of it, reader?
I suspect your conclusion would be similar to mine. Home console games used to be very arcade-like and very fun to jump in and play. But no one wants to make games like that anymore. The ever useful microcosm of that would be 3d Mario versus 2d Mario. With Super Mario Brothers 5, it is easy to turn on the home console. With 3d Mario, you better be dedicated and it seems more like an act of effort to play through the game.
If you happened to be Satoru Iwata or another game developer, who believes in the Lifestyle Game Developer, you would not have that conclusion. The Lifestyle Game Developer always believes gaming is getting better (despite the freefall decline all around us).
This is Iwata’s conclusion:
I understand that the situation surrounding home consoles is changing. Home consoles have to provide something unique to users that is only possible on home consoles in addition to the “rich experiences.” For example, we must focus on what kinds of unique entertainment can be created when a home console can reproduce its images on a large monitor screen which can be viewed by several people at the same time. I think that in the mid and long term, the mission of home console machines will change in this fashion.
Due to the emotional bias toward the ‘Lifestyle Game Developer’, Iwata is missing the obvious. The reason why the person is complaining is not that the mission of home game consoles is changing, but that it has already changed.
With the NES and SNES, the games were very arcade-like. They were pick up and play. Afterward, the game console ceased to be the ‘arcade machine at home’ and began to be filled with games that were not pick up and play or addictive.
Handheld gaming adopted the arcade gameplay due to handheld gaming needing to be short, addictive, and simple as it was on the go. The reason for the shift from home console to handheld in Japan (and even in America as Nintendo consumers bought the Gameboy Advance but rejected the Gamecube) is because of the embrace of arcade-like values.
Why is the PSP outselling the 3DS? Same reason. The PSP games are far simpler and less hassle than the ‘eye-bleeding’ 3DS. In America, PSP sales actually went up when the 3DS came out.
Why did the DS outsell the PSP? Same exact reason. DS games were simpler and less hassle than the PSP games.
Why did the Wii outsell the PS3 and Xbox 360? Same exact reason. Simpler and less hassle.
Iwata is in complete denial that the N64 and Gamecube software direction of Nintendo was a disaster. He is in a make-believe world thinking consumer behavior is changing.
Consumer behavior is not changing at all.
Consumer behavior is identical to as it was in 1980, in 1985, in 1990, in 1995, in 2005, and 2010. There is no change at all.
The change, however, is coming from the games. As Nolan Bushnell noted, games got more and more complicated which pushed people away. Games got increasingly more violent which pushed away women.
People are responding to 2d Mario today similar to how they responded to 2d Mario two decades ago. The change isn’t coming from the consumer behavior. The change is coming from the games. When Mario became 3d Mario, many consumers stopped showing up.
Why is the 3DS not performing as well as the DS? Is it because the consumers changed? No! It is because the games had changed. People don’t want these bloated 3d insanities.
It is imperative for the President of Nintendo to live in reality. He should be laughed out of the room for suggesting that Zelda: Twilight Princess had anything to do with the success of the Wii. Or that the reasons why people play handheld games is because they are ‘richer’ when they are actually more like the NES/SNES arcade-like style of gaming they prefer.
Why Project Cafe will fail
When the Wii was made, a touchscreen controller, due to the success of the DS, was a prototype. There is a decent probability that it will find itself as Project Cafe.
The Wii worked because Nintendo was trying to get back to the roots of gaming and wase emulating the NES. Project Cafe will not work because Nintendo is making the console perform a job that doesn’t need to be done.
People do not want the home console to change. Iwata incorrectly sees the Wii as ‘changing’ the home console experience. The masses who bought it see the Wii as ‘restoring’ the home console experience. The Wii seems like a sister to the Atari 2600 and early NES.
The premise of Project Cafe is that it believes the home console needs to be ‘fixed’ in order to align with the ‘rich experience’ of handheld gaming.
Handheld gaming has always been popular since the Gameboy. The reasons why more and more people prefer handheld gaming over console gaming is more of a problem of console gaming.
The problem of console gaming is the N64/Gamecube direction. This is where Nintendo lost Japan and pretty much lost everything else.
In order for the next Nintendo console to be a success, the N64/Gamecube direction must be wholly rejected. I am not seeing any of this occurring. Instead, Nintendo appears to be trying to ‘tweak’ it so they can sell their N64/Gamecube games to them. After all, it is the games they wish to make. They can be Lifestyle Game Developers then.
3DS shows the way
Why was the 3DS made? The 3DS design went against every rule for a game handheld Nintendo made.
The 3d focus, both in brand and in hardware, gives Nintendo permission to continue their Gamecube software direction (which is what they want).
What Nintendo is looking for with Project Cafe is permission to continue their failed Gamecube software direction. The rumors of a console streaming a game to a touch screen controller fits this.
What people want from a home game console is an actual home game console. They do not want a computer. They do not want Blu-Ray player. They want a game console.
Nintendo is not interested in making a ‘game console’ because that would lead them back to the Wii/ arcade-like gameplay direction. Nintendo is, instead, interested in how to resume their Gamecube direction now that the handheld also has the Gamecube direction.