So Nintendo has found themselves in an odd spot. For the first time in their long history with video games, they are taking a beating in revenue. It seems that modern concepts of game design, such as using the internet, has eluded them until very recently, and as such, many people have not been impressed with their latest console outing, the Wii U. The success generated by the original Wii had Nintendo riding high for quite a while, but it seems the crash has been hard. The company recently announced some changes in the way they want to go about things, in the hopes of bringing more people back into the house that Mario built. It’s a weird tightrope that Nintendo is walking; a weird and slow moving one. This company has always been one known to make its steps slowly, never playing a hand too fast or too loose. So any changes that would come to Nintendo’s fundamental structure would not be seen for quite a while.
However, I don’t work for Nintendo, nor am I a businessman. So let’s talk about some changes I would like to see from a fictional “Dream Nintendo”. These are simply the changes I would make with no inside knowledge, thinking that this could bring the company back into sync with more of the gaming community.
Embrace the Internet: Nintendo for years has pretended that the internet is not an extremely important part of video games today. Always wanting to control a brand to the smallest bit, Nintendo consoles and handhelds have been traditionally kneecapped in the online department by things like Friend Codes. However, while Nintendo is not there yet, it seems they are inching to this goal. While still requiring Friend Codes for a lot of the features, the latest Pokemon outings on the 3DS are a lot more internet-friendly than anything put out in the past. Also the E-Shop is the closest Nintendo has gotten yet to something like what Sony and Microsoft have offered for years. So while like always, Nintendo is slow to move, they are at least moving in the right direction with this.
However, not everything is roses with their online model. Nintendo needs to ditch the Miiverse as soon as possible, and go to a more traditional structure that caters as a service, not a masturbatory message board. While there is some fun, amusing stuff on Miiverse, usually in the form of incredibly well-made drawings, it really serves no purpose as a lasting hub of player interaction and competition. Xbox Live is still the standard in this market, with PS Plus following close behind, and sometimes is even better in certain respects. Nintendo needs to stop their obsession with always going in their own direction and just recognize other companies sometimes just do certain things better, and copy those things. I guarantee you Microsoft will not be upset of Nintendo based their online service on XBL.
Some Nintendo Products should be on Smart Phones, but not all: Anyone who thinks old Mario games should be on their iPhone is an idiot. Whenever people ask me my opinion on touch controls for games, I usually tell them how much I hate using them. Everything feels off, no tactile response, I despise it. However, there are certain types of games that lend themselves to not totally sucking on a phone or a tablet. It just so happens that Nintendo has a bunch of games like that, and a huge back catalog. While new games carrying the Nintendo logo should never come out first on a phone, there are a few properties I would love to see on my phone.
The easiest choices for me are old Fire Emblem and Advanced Wars games. XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions are two strategy RPG’s that transitioned from dedicated gaming machines to mobile devices with aplomb. The slower, more methodical nature of these titles lend itself to something that can be put on a touchscreen, even the small one of a phone. They also lend themselves to pick up and play sessions on train rides and such. You don’t have to finish a complete battle, just do what you can while you have the time, and get back to it later.
Also the old Pokemon titles are something I would love to see on phones and tablets. Now this is something Nintendo would have to handle carefully, as Pokemon games come out with some regularity, and they still want people grabbing the newest games on the newest dedicated handhelds. The best way I think to allow customers and Nintendo to meet in the middle here? Offer older games. The GBA games would be the perfect target for this, as they do not look as horrendous as something like Pokemon Yellow, but they have very little of the improvements the 3DS’ X and Y offer. The Pokemon games also have a pace plodding enough to where the touch controls would not be a big issue. My only major question when it comes to putting Pokemon on mobile devices though would be this: Do you modify the games to include something like the newly released Pokemon Bank? Off the cuff, I have to say no. Use these titles as a way to entice people into getting the newer games on dedicated handhelds.
Now this is the most important part of putting Nintendo games on mobile devices. Do not change the games. Do not make them free to play with microtransactions. Go the Square-Enix route and charge considerably more than typical mobile games, but far less than handheld games. Recent mobile ports have shown that going free to play on classics does not end well. Anyone would gladly pay 15-20 dollars for Pokemon Fire Red on their phone, no need to change anything.
I have a few more ideas for what my dream Nintendo would do when it comes to reversing their recent fortunes. However, this is already running a little long, so check back soon for a part two.