Mike and Gus talk about God of War, Microsoft’s first party problem, Nintendo’s Labo and Switch cracking, and E3 wishes!
More and more these days, people are ditching physical copies for digital, and it isn’t hard to see why. You can pre-load a game and play it right at midnight without having to wait in any launch lines. No more clutter on your shelves. You don’t have to worry about losing a disc, or having someone steal it from you. There’s cons, of course, such as the inability to sell or trade digital products, but there’s an even bigger reason which most people shrug off with indifference: You may not own said product for as long as you’d like.
No, really. Tell people that their purchase is only good for as long as the service provider allows, and they’ll laugh, saying, “Come on, bro. It’s 2017. It costs companies next to nothing to share this stuff on their servers. If you ever need to download your games again, it won’t be a problem.”
Nintendo Wii owners probably have something to say about that.
At the end of September, Nintendo made a statement:
“Dear Nintendo fans,
On January 30, 2019, we plan to close the Wii Shop Channel, which has been available on Wii systems since December 2006. We sincerely thank our loyal customers for their support. You can still ad Wii Points until March 26, 2018, and purchase content on the Wii Shop Channel until January 30, 2019. In the future, we will be closing all services related to the Wii Shop Channel, including redownloading purchased WiiWare, Virtual Console titles, and Wii Channel, as well as Wii System Transfer Tool, which transfers data from Wii to the Wii U system.
If you have Wii Points to spend, content you want to re-download, or content you’d like to transfer from a Wii system to a Wii-U system, we recommend you do so while the services are still available.
Thank you for supporting the Wii Shop Channel and for being such great fans of Nintendo.”
This presents a multitude of problems.
Nintendo may be giving people adequate notice, but that’s the only kudos they get in regards to this announcement. Problems ahoy!
The Wii may be 11 years old at this point, but people can still access content on the Wii Shop Channel on their Wii-U. This may seem like a non-point, but the Wii had over 200 classic games that never made their way to the Wii-U shop. We’re talking Bonk’s Adventure, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Chrono Trigger, Commando, Double Dribble, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Mega Turrican, Super Turrican, and many, many more. So if you have no interest in the retro game market or emulating old-school games, a lot of these will be disappearing.
So, why not buy what you’d like in the next year and be done with it?
Well, hard drives don’t last forever. Nintendo makes products which last for a long time, but if you’ve got a Wii that’s already pushing a decade, it’d be risky to buy stuff now just so it could go belly up in a couple of years. And, that’s really the bottom line here: You could have invested hundreds, or even thousands of dollars through the Wii Shop Channel, and it won’t matter. If that little storage disc inside the system breaks down, it’s all gone.
We could just say, “Well, that’s just a very Nintendo-like thing to do. We’re not surprised. But Sony and Microsoft will never…”
But we don’t know that for certain, do we?
With the PS4 offering zilch in the way of backwards compatibility, I think it’d be great if they kept the PS3 servers alive indefinitely… or, at least, enough to satisfy whatever the demand is. I doubt that’ll be the case, though. One day they’ll want to reallocate those resources. Microsoft, on the other hand, are doing that whole backwards compatible thing, so they’ll probably keep the Xbox 360 economy kicking for some time. But make no mistake about it, folks. The very moment these companies realize they’re spending more money to host these servers than they’d prefer, they’re going to do something about it. I’m not saying this because ‘evil companies are evil’, but because that’s business. When the numbers don’t line up, adjustments will be made.
So, will access to these servers be available 20 years from now?
“Who cares about what happens in 20 years!”
Well, I’m 35, and 20 years ago I was probably playing Super Mario 64… and I still play that game whenever I get the chance. If you’re in your teens or even your 20’s, trust me: Time sneaks up on you faster than you think it will.
Ask yourself this: Is the convenience that a digital library brings worth an inherently shorter lifespan?
For some, the answer may be yes. There’s a lot of people who trade up and never look back. Still, I find it hard to believe that people are fine with spending $60 for a game they won’t have access to indefinitely.
This is something people need to talk about. It needs to become one of the big conversations online. Again, I know it’s easy to wave this off as ‘Nintendo being Nintendo’, but if they’re able to do this without much backlash, it sends a message to Sony and Microsoft that they should have no problem doing the same. If you’re vying for a digital future, do whatever you can to ensure that your library doesn’t eventually disappear!
Mike, Gus, and Gabe discuss the sexual assault allegations against Neogaf’s owner Evilore, why some people continue to buy controversial sellers due to micros and lootboxes, and the ‘all digital’ future.
Mike and Gus discuss everything 2017! Resident Evil 7, Yakuza 0, Ni-Oh, For Honor, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and of course the Nintendo Switch and Zelda: Breath of the Wild!
Gus and I have already registered our opinions of the Switch on our podcast, but it’s time to break things down in print.
Now, obviously, Nintendo needed to reveal the Switch in a way that didn’t echo the unveiling of the Wii-U. I mean, let’s be honest… they didn’t do anything to help that console. They didn’t convey what it was, nor did they market the damn thing. But the Switch reveal was quite different. After all was said and done, we had a great understanding of what the console is, why it has the potential to benefit everyone, and most important of all, how it’s actually supposed to work. It was the necessary ‘un-Nintendo like move’ they so desperately needed, but unfortunately, the company left their stink all over the rest of their presentation.
At least they started strong. Right out of the gate, they told us what the Switch’s price point was and what its release date would be. Everyone was surprised to learn the console would be out on March 3rd, sooner than expected – media outlets a plenty had reported March 17th – but the price point, $299.99, was a little confusing. Without any context, I think $300 is reasonable, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that Nintendo probably aren’t selling the Switch at a loss, and they really should be.
You see, Nintendo like to pretend they’re not competing with Sony and Microsoft, but that’s poppycock. If you’re a gamer that has yet to enter this generation, and someone gives you $300 to spend on a new machine, you’re probably not buying a Switch. As of right now, Target’s website offers the Uncharted 4 PS4 bundle and the Battlefield 1 Xbox One S bundle for only $299. All of a sudden, the Switch’s ‘reasonable’ price point doesn’t seem so reasonable, especially since it doesn’t even come with a game. So yes, Nintendo, you ARE competing with Sony and Microsoft. To pretend otherwise is… well, pretty much what I expect out of you, you daft, clueless bastards. And let’s not forget, this holiday, the Switch will also be going head-to-head with the Xbox Scorpio.
So, there’s two things Nintendo should have done for the Switch, and keep in mind these are minimal moves.
First, they really should have included a pack-in game. 2 + 1 Switch seems to be a simple a tech demo; a smattering of mini-games which show off the system’s distance measuring IR sensor as well as the HD rumble feature. If this title was included with the Switch, people would have something fun to play with their friends right out of the box… which would have been a brilliant strategy if Nintendo had employed it. People would have been compelled to call their friends over to try 2 +1 Switch on the hybrid machine. This would have put the console in people’s hands in optimal settings, possibly causing these people to want a Switch of their own… but that’s a future not set to pass. Instead, Nintendo are charging $50 for their slate of demo experiences… and NOBODY is going to buy it. No, instead, everyone is going to buy Zelda and play the shit out of it for months… alone. Now, if anyone wants to get hands on with the Switch, they’ll probably have to try it at a Gamestop, which is probably the LEAST optimal setting I can think of.
Nintendo could have reduced the Switch’s price to $249.99. Would that put them at a loss per unit sold? Maybe, but consoles are often sold at a loss. Hardware distributors understand that selling at a loss usually leads to a faster growing install base. One day, their console will be easier and cheaper to produce, and that’s when they’ll be able to turn a healthy profit. In the meantime, they’ll make a little off software sales and accessories… or in Nintendo’s case, severely overpriced accessories. Cover the ears on your wallet, because this rundown is going to make it cry:
A Pro controller is $70. An additional dock – which is basically just a plastic case with HDMI passthrough – costs $80. A single Joycon controller – that’s just one SIDE – is $50… or, you can get a ‘discount’ if you buy two for $80. The Joycon straps are $8 a pop. The controller cradle for the Joycons – that is, a hunk of plastic with a tiny USB charge port – is $30.
Worst of all, Nintendo have finally joined the multiplayer paywall club. And that… that’s just terrible. But damn it, if you want to play Splatoon or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online, they’ve got you by the cajones, don’t they? Now to be fair, I think everyone expected Nintendo would burrow down this rabbit hole one day… ‘because’, but that doesn’t make it any less of a disappointment. I mean, this was the only consumer friendly thing Nintendo had left… yet they just cast it into the wind like they couldn’t give less of a shit. And for those of you thinking there’s some other way they can justify their ‘service’, think again. They’re going to give you either an NES or SNES rom each month, and some of the latter will have multiplayer enabled.
“A rom? A bloody ROM?!”, you might ask.
Oh yes, a rom.
That’s what their ‘free game’ offerings will be… and at the end of each month, they’ll take them back… unless you want to buy them, of course. Know what that means? Nintendo doesn’t give a squatting shit how many times you’ve purchased games through their Virtual Consoles; they STILL want you to buy them again. The only positive thing I can say about this, at least for the time being, is that we have no idea how much Nintendo are planning to charge for their ‘service’. If they were smart, they’d make it way less than what Sony and Microsoft are charging… but nah. Still, the price of this thing is a big question, and they left it hanging in the air.
There were other questions they neglected to answer too, such as, “What’s the launch line-up going to be?” It wasn’t until the next day we had confirmation of five titles… and boy, did a lot of people express concern about that. I’ve lived through numerous console launches that had been worse, so I’m not going to complain. Besides, can you think of a better launch title than Zelda: Breath of the Wild?
“But it’s going to be on the Wii-U!”
So? Nintendo have only sold between 13 and 14 million units, so for the many that never bought a Wii-U, they won’t care about Zelda being cross-platform. The people who own a Wii-U won’t care either… you know, since they’re still getting the game.
Despite everything I’ve just shared, I know this may be hard to believe, but, Nintendo know EXACTLY what they’re doing. We may not like their approach, but every decision they’ve made has been steeped in money.
While casual consumers may look at this thing now and say, “There’s not enough that interests me,” Nintendo doesn’t care. They know there’s enough demand from fans to keep this thing selling throughout the entirety of 2017, and why? Because Zelda, Mario Kart, Splatoon and Super Mario Odyssey. You can argue nobody will care about a port (Mario Kart 8), nor a sequel that hasn’t differentiated itself enough from the original (Splatoon 2), but again, they have a large ‘didn’t previously own a Wii-U’ market to tap into as well.
But will the Switch sell as well as Nintendo and certain analysts believe?
Well, Nintendo apparently plan to have 10 million of these things produced by the end of 2017. Considering where the Wii-U is sitting, that’s an ambitious goal. However, there’s a lot of positivity buzzing around what this console can do, so I do expect this thing to outpace its predecessor every step of way. Certain analysts have guessed that after all is said and done, the Switch will have sold 40 million units.
To that, I say, “Not so fast.” I don’t think it’s impossible, but Nintendo need to stop being so wishy-washy.
What’s with all the ‘we’re going to continue to support the 3DS’ bullcrap? They come up with the brilliant idea to market a console that’s suitable for home AND on-the-go usage, and they want to keep its primary competitor on the shelf? I get that third parties love this machine because there’s 60 million units out there, but not putting the kibosh on the Nintendo 3DS in early 2017 is a mistake, and Nintendo will have to rectify that by this time next year if they hope to bring over the portable crowd.
And this ties directly into that whole ‘third party support’ thing.
Most Nintendo fans will say, “Nobody buys Nintendo hardware to play anything but Nintendo software!” But a 3DS fan has to be pretty short-sighted to actually believe such baloney. That system wouldn’t have moved 60 million units if not for third party support. If you believe otherwise, think of all the people that would recommend Monster Hunter, Ace Attorney, Dragon Quest, Etrian Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei, Bravely Default, and so-on and so-forth. Beyond that, history shows there simply hasn’t been a successful console without a fair amount of third party support.
Thankfully, Nintendo has told us they’d like all third party games to appear on the Switch, but they shouldn’t hold their breath. They’ll continue to see remasters of popular games, but that’s about it. However, as long as the Switch keeps its momentum at retail, it shouldn’t be hard for Nintendo to convince third parties already on board with the 3DS to switch to… well, you know. But again, Nintendo can’t wait years for this transition to happen. It needs to be a year, tops, and then they have to commit to the Switch 100%. No ifs, ands or buts.
I’ve let Nintendo have it pretty good in this article, but it’s so you, the consumer, will be aware of what the current value of the system is for the average consumer (not great), how the first year and beyond is likely to pan out (better than the Wii-U… slow at first, perhaps hot afterwards), and what things Nintendo could have done if they were truly ‘in it to win it’. That said, I think the Switch is a pretty remarkable piece of hardware, and we could see a healthy balance of first party Nintendo games, as well as third party titles once those publishers are convinced to make their 3DS games for the Switch as well, or perhaps even exclusively, leaving the old portable behind.
Of course, success really is in the hands of Nintendo at this point. They need to deliver on games. No more of this ‘Metroid Space Ball Horseshit’. Nintendo always say they listen to their fans, and now is the time for them to deliver.
Mike and Gus break down the Nintendo Switch reveal!