The Gaming Community Killing Nintendo

The Gaming Community Killing Nintendo

The Nintendo Wii U isn’t doing so hot these days, and there are plenty of reasons. Some cite the console’s lack of games. Some cite it’s the consoles lack of games. Others say it’s Nintendo’s dedication to being only a gaming console and their late adoption of the internet. Still others say that it simply isn’t powerful enough to compete with the PS4 and Xbox One and that its gamepad and wiimotes are really just gimmicks. However, I am here to posit a completely different idea. Twas the gaming community itself that killed the beast, or perhaps lack of one.

I originally got this idea from a fantastic episode of Game Theory which talked about how new products and innovations are picked up. Essentially there is a curve on which the adoption of new ideas and technology operates. First, people who can afford to take a chance on a new piece of technology do so. These people are people who wouldn’t really be hurt if the piece of tech ends up being a flop, usually people with disposable money or huge bases of fame. Then, people who respect those people and are respected themselves, pick up the new piece of tech. These people don’t have as many disposable resources, so they need someone who has already tried the tech to tell them that they won’t be wasting their resources on it. From there, the majority of people, who look up to this second wave of adopters, picks up the new tech because there is a well-established basis of experts saying that the tech is worth your time, and then after that everyone else adopts it, making it a household object.

Think of the iPhone, and smart phones in general. Back when we were still dealing with flip phones, a couple influential people (*cough cough* Stephen Colbert *cough cough*) started getting their hands on the new device. From there, more and more people started taking a chance on it, until it seemed like all your friends had one, so you had to have one too, and now they have literally changed society! I can deposit my check by taking a picture of it with my phone! If you told me I would be doing that five years ago, I’d have called you a liar.

So why hasn’t this happened with the Wii U? Wii U haters say it’s because the console sucks, of course, but in actuality it has a lower price point, lower energy cost, and bigger gaming library than any other console in the market. Not to mention that gaming library is filled with long time Nintendo fan favorites like Donkey Kong, Mario, Mario Kart, Pikmin, and more. Nintendo is easily keeping pace with other game developers, so why hasn’t the Wii U exploded?

Well, they have put roadblocks in the way of the consoles spread, preventing the adoption of the technology as we described. So let’s think about this for the second. The Wii U comes out and the people who have disposable resources, i.e. rich people and video game journalists, get their hands on it. From there, early adopters who respect the opinions of game journalists like me (HAH, like those exist) begin to take chances on the system. From there, the word spreads and a big chunk of the majority begins adopting the system.

Except, word hasn’t spread, and for good reason. Nintendo is stopping it from spreading. Nintendo has had a zero tolerance policy about Youtube videos that show their content, taking down gameplay videos and even TRAILERS that weren’t posted with their strict consent. Any early gameplay videos from leaked copies similarly get taken down. Even blog posts that talk about the game and archives of screenshots taken from, say, a camera phone at a conference, are strictly monitored and regulated by the Big N. As a result, the common people don’t see people getting excited over the Wii U. They don’t even see us playing it! We only get to see strict Nintendo approved content.

The Gaming Community Killing Nintendo

Meanwhile, look at what the Xbox One and PS4 are doing. They are integrated with Twitch.TV and other streaming platforms. They have games that let you upload your playthroughs directly to Youtube. EVERYONE who owns one of these systems has an opportunity to be a content creator, and so we get to see those early adopters loving their new system, making the system spread to the majority.

Heck, just look at what happened to the Wii. This was before Nintendo had a stranglehold on all videos, blog posts and articles featuring their content. A few early adopters picked up the Wii and played Wii tennis, and soon it seemed like there was a video of picture of EVERYONE having fun with the Wii no matter where you looked. At the very least you got to see those humor pictures of people who accidentally threw wiimotes through their TV screen. It was very easy for the word of the Wii being the next big thing in gaming to spread.

Nintendo’s problem is that they are not building up their community. They are impeding it. While Xbox One and PS4 gamers are making new web shows about how to win in Killer Instinct , Nintendos followers are just… playing games. If they are going to chat, it’s going to be limited by Nintendo’s Miiverse platform. If they are going to make videos, Nintendo is going to get a cut, or all, of the profits. If you are going to play a game online, it will only be in the format that Nintendo wants for you. Just look at the “For fun” and “For glory” modes of the new Smash .

To Microsoft and Sony, gamers have become producers, creators of content that helps spur the popularity, and thus sales, of their product. Heck, they are producing this content for free! Free advertising! How can you beat that?

But to Nintendo, gamers have always been just consumers. They are there to buy games and play games and do little else. Any time a gamer steps up to become more proactive, Nintendo has stepped in to stifle it. As innovative as Nintendo is, they are very restrictive when it comes to letting other people do the same.

That, my friends, is my thoughts on why the Wii U is failing, and if this new “affiliate” program means anything, it shows that Nintendo wants to learn and change their ways, but is still to addicted to control to let their community grow naturally.

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