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Drew's Eye View: Has Nintendo Officially Abandoned The HardCore Gamer?

Normally I would be content to sit on the sidelines and watch the fanboys light themselves on fire like protesting Buddhist monks in the wake of the comments contained in Will’s and Rich’s editorials Has Nintendo Officially Abandoned the Hardcore Gamer? However, I feel like I can contribute to this discussion.

First of all, do I believe Nintendo has abandoned the hardcore? No. Not yet, anyways. I feel that their first party lineup shows their intent to cater to the hardcore as well as the Brain Age folks. However, I feel that a subject has been glossed over. A very important and until now ignored (albeit unintentionally) part of this discussion is when exactly Nintendo announced and started working on these titles that have kept Wii acceptable to the hardcore. All of these games began development years ago, before Nintendo could ever have known how grand Wii’s casual market success would be. All these games (Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, Super Paper Mario, Twilight Princess to name a few) were being developed during the waning years of the Gamecube. Why is this significant? Because during the Gamecube’s lifespan, the only significant profit Nintendo could make was off of hardcore titles. I say significant because, yes, Nintendo made consistent profits with GC, but it wasn’t much by any stretch of the imagination.

Nintendo was going with what they knew would make them money, slapping Mario on the box and feeding it to their rabid, oftentimes nonsensical fan base. (More on this later.) My point is that while Nintendo has games coming out right now that will keep these people happy, those types of games are absolutely not going to increase in number. It will be the same tale retold since the end of the SNES. Hand full of in-house made classics and then nothing. If you’re all right with this, then you’re part of the problem. What the Nintendo fanboys need to realize, is that Nintendo doesn’t give a s*** about you. They probably used to, but not anymore. To them you’re just a sure thing. The ever present name in the back of Nintendo’s little black book. They only look you up when they need a guarantee.

Moving on, I want to talk about something CB Reader Diderot said in response to Will’s original editorial a few days ago. Said Diderot: “Easy Solution: if you don’t like the Wii, don’t play it.” A fine point indeed if we were simply talking about the fact that we dislike control scheme, or that we don’t enjoy its games. But what we’re trying to discuss is much different. What I (and I believe Will also,) am trying to say is that Wii’s new mass market endangers hardcore gaming as a whole. Nintendo having such huge success with this new market brings to us the risk that they will have no need to cater to us as well. Nintendo has only a limited number of teams available to make games. If it turns out that their casual games are making a crap ton of money and their hardcore games are only making a large sum, I can guarantee that every one of those teams will be refocused to make games for Johnny Cas(ual). ”Easy Solution: you don’t like the Wii, don’t play it.” As of right now, I don’t like Wii, and until I’m shown something worthwhile that’s exclusive, I probably won’t be playing (unless it’s for work of course.) Diderot was right, that is an easy solution, but when Wii is poised to change the face of what it is that I love about gaming, the decision to keep quiet is much tougher.

Consider the impact Sony had on the market with the original Playstation. The success of the PS’s mass market approach all but eradicated what was considered hardcore gaming at the time. The difficult, although often simpler, games of the Sega Saturn were replaced by the big budget blockbuster that is created so that everyone can win no matter what. I’m not here to pass judgement on whether or not that was a good thing, but the message remains the same: One company’s success changes the face of the entire market as others are then forced to make their strategies similar in order to compete.

We’ll have to wait and see to find out for sure whether Wii’s inevitable impact on the market turns out to be positive or negative, but rest assured we’re in for a major upheaval over the next 5-7 years. See Top Right of Page: "Back off Nintendo."

On one final (unrelated) note: has anybody noticed that so far the Wii-mote has made a pretty poor showing? Outside of Wii Sports and Warioware, there isn’t a game on the system that actually controls better on Wii than any other system. Zelda and Paper Mario were ok, but I was definitely wishing for a controller the whole time I was playing them. Thoughts?