Hein (fub) wrote,

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Nintendo's strategy and why the rest of 'em makes crap

The only Nintendo hardware I own is the GBA SP that I hardly use. I'm not so enamoured of the whole Mario franchise -- but it is a fact that Nintendo is one of the most innovative gaming companies out there.

The Nintendo Revolution promises to really be a revolution. Recently, they unveiled the controller for the new console. Hard-core gamer ridiculed it, but only because they lack the imagination of what new kinds of games could be played with that controller. But they aren't Nintendo's market anyway, as stroum explains in this post: Nintendo is going after the 80% of the people who don't game, and that's the biggest market!

I am slowly beginning to become bored with the standard games. I never bought an XBox because the games are dull. I quit FPS games when they stopped being fun (around the time Quake II hit), and that seems to be everything the XBox is offering these days. Oh, and racing games, of course -- which aren't exciting either.

Lost Garden has a very good analysis of how the game market works: as genres mature, only hardcore gamers remain, and they tend to not buy any game that does not conform to their preconceptions as to what the genre is about. This is happening right now with genres like First Person Shooters and Real-Time Strategy Games: there's no innovation there, and the games aren't really accessible to the casual gamers anymore.

Amongst the list of 'People who are less likely to care', Lost Garden lists 'Major genre king developers', because "Their bread is buttered. They own the mature genres and will milk them for many years to come."
This tied in nicely with what 'Designer X' wrote in The Scratchware Manifesto. It turns out that Designer X is, in fact, game designer Greg Costikyan. The Escapist published two articles by his hand, where he explains his vision in a less flammable manner.

In short, it comes down to this: the cost of creating a game has gone up so much that game companies are weary of taking risks. Rather, they tend to milk their 'Genre King'-game for all its' worth. They cater to the hardcore gamers, who shout for ever better graphics, but who resist any change in the core mechanics of their preferred genre.
Look at some of the gaming websites, like Bit-Tech: it's all about benchmarking the framerate of the newest videocard(s) (preferrably two in an SLI-setup!) against the First Person Shooter 'du jour'. Everyone cares about how it looks, but no-one cares about new and fresh things.

If you look at the announcements of consoles like the XBox 360 and the PS3, it's all about raw processing power and polygon count. Sony and Microsoft cater to the hardcore gamers, who have come to expect a certain set of game mechanics -- all it takes is just better graphics.
But where is the innovation? Well, we have to look to Nintendo to provide the innovation. While Sony and Microsoft sell more but earn less, Nintendo captures a wider audience with their products and games: being the first to market means that you can get away with a less polished product -- and that the whole world is your target audience instead of a narrowly defined group of hardcore gamers.

I'm really interested to see what Nintendo and others will do with the Revolutionary Controller.
Tags: games

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