Why the Big N's latest hardware is destined to be a colossal failure ... and why this time, the company may never recover from the financial disaster.
By: Jimbo X
Considering my far from secretive love of all things Sega, it would be rather easy to write off all my musings as the rantings and ravings of a biased fanboy whenever I criticize (well, more like condemn) Nintendo.
But the fact of the matter? When it comes to just how badly the Big N is fucking up nowadays, you can't say I didn't warn you (raise your hand if you predicted the abysmal hardware failure of the Wii U back in 2012!)
The thing is, Nintendo fans are the Bernie Sanders supporters of the video game world (I used to use the Ron Paul analogy, but despite the divergent political comparison points, the simile still works.) For starters, since all they ever do is circle jerk each other, they never, ever leave their little fanboy enclave, so they totally overstate just how many like-minded dildos and dweebs there are in the world like them. Secondly, they're still acting like Mario and Zelda are totally untouchable platinum pillars of interactive entertainment, when in reality those series have been stuck in tailspin mode for at least a decade. They're literally the only people out there that still vaunt and value archaic franchises like Metroid and Mario Kart and have actually convinced themselves that everybody outside the Nintendo cum bubble is secretly envious and revere their legacy games when in reality, don't nobody anywhere give a shit about Animal Crossing or Star Fox no more. The only people who think Nintendo is still relevant in this, the post iPhone and iPad era, are the clueless, delusional Nintendo nuthuggers who have tricked their brains into accepting underwhelming crap like Splatoon and Super Mario Maker as alleged "AAA titles." For fuck's sake, Nintendo didn't even reap the bulk of the profits from the one successful thing they've done since the Wii came out ... clearly, this is a digital empire in decline if there ever was one. (And for those of you who want to give me a lecture about the "success" of the 3DS, just remember - the original PSP still has it beat by a good 15 million sales.)
So, Nintendo - as a company, a brand name, and a developer of video games - is pretty much the multimedia equivalent of everybody's favorite senile, 70-something communist from New Hampshire. Nothing either of them propose would work, they don't know a goddamn thing about how mainstream Americans think and both are depressingly stuck in the past, hopelessly clinging onto their gilded age accomplishments like the triumphs of 1994 mean anything to anybody except their most rabid of autistic cult members.
Or, to put it another way - Nintendo, much like the prospects of a Bernie Sanders presidency, is doomed.
Yeah, everybody keeps telling me the same old tired shit about Nintendo having so much money in cash reserves so they'll never go out of business (although that allegedly astronomical amount - $4.6 billion as of early last year - doesn't sound nearly as safe and secure when you realize all it took was one economic downturn to make a $640 billion dollar company like Lehman Brothers vanish overnight) but let's cut the bullshit, why don't we? The Big N expected to sell 100 million Wii-U units, but they could barely move 13 million. Just six months into 2016, they were reportig operating losses of nearly $400 million. And the same year, Nintendo saw its stocks plunge to their lowest levels since 1990.
This is a company in deep, deep dookie. And after their most embarrassing commercial fuck-up since the Virtual Boy, how did they respond? By literally sinking all their money into the VERY SAME disaster of a consumer product that put them in the hole to begin with.
Mark my words, kids: the Nintendo Switch is going to be an even bigger commercial dud than the Wii U. The entire gimmick is fucking stupid, the third party support - again - isn't going to be there (why play watered down versions of Call of Duty and Madden when you can play the REAL versions of those games on a REAL console in your living room?) and the first party games are all going to be major, major disappointments. Nowhere is the substandard prospects of this ill, ill-conceived boondoggle of a video game machine apparent than its launch line-up: you know, the one with a grand total of six retail games.
Hoo-boy, what do we have here? Another Zelda game sure to disappoint (although all of the hardcore Nin-tards will convince themselves it's better than Ocarina of Time, only to come out 10 years later and refer to it as a piece of over-hyped shit like Twilight Princess), a fucking Bomberman game that has the exact same gameplay as you'd find on a TurboGrafx-16 game released 25 years ago, a glorified re-do of a homebrew game (whose overrated inspiration sucked out loud), a fucking Skylanders game, some stupid dancing title and a glorified tech demo. But hey, what about all of these back-up launch titles, like a barely spruced up re-release of Mario Kart, a Puyo Puyo variation on Tetris, a crappy first person cartoon boxing game that won't work and all those lite-RPGs you could probably run on a PS Vita with no problem? Holy shit, we'll be playing those games for decades to come, no doubt.
And don't give me none of that crap about how this time - for real, ya'll - Electronic Arts and Bioware and Square-Enix and Atlus are going to finally come through and deliver AAA titles for the platform. Nintendo has fucked over every company that's made anything halfway worth a damn on their systems since the Gamecube, and they sure as shit aren't going to start bringing da' muthafuckin' ruckus for a piece of hardware whose big selling point is you take the sides off of it and use it as a really clunky tablet.
Seriously, am I the only person who sees the glorious structural design problem there? This thing is engineered so clumsily, it's pretty much a lock to be the Edsel of video game systems. People, by nature, are fumbling sorts. Just how many people out there do you think are going to break apart their machine to play it on the go, only to misplace their essential controller pieces and make the whole goddamn kit and caboodle totally worthless? Forget people swinging their Wii-motes into their TV sets ... that little design oversight is going to make Nintendo a laughingstock for years and years.
|The stunning visuals in Super Mario meets Katamari Damacy truly are some of the best to ever appear on the Gamecube!|
The Switch is one of those things like "New Coke," that in hindsight, can't be seen as anything other than a gargantuan mistake - the kind where you can't help but wonder how in the world the people responsible for the blunder couldn't have realized what they were doing was an all-time commercial fuck-up from the outset. It's hard to believe a company with so many veteran, video game businessmen agreed to double down on Nintendo's greatest marketing snafu in 20 years (or why Nintendo loyalists think the thing would've been a success at all), but therein lies some pivotal business wisdom we can all benefit from.
Since we're talking about a video game company fucking up, I suppose it's only fitting that I use another video game analogy to dissect the great big error Nintendo has committed in the wake of the DS. You kids ever play Treasure's Advance Guardian Heroes on the GBA? Well, you should, not only because it is a kick-ass beat-em-up, but because it has this thing called "devil mode" in it. Now, what in the world is "devil mode," you may be wondering? Well, it's this feature in the game where - rather than start the game all over again - you can literally sell your soul to Satan and become invincible for about five minutes. Naturally, this sounds like a pretty awesome deal - you come across a really hard-ass boss you can't beat, he keeps killing your ass so you more or less turn on the no-kill Game Genie cheat and fuck him up something wicked. The catch - and you knew there was a catch somewhere - is that once your five minutes of "devil mode" invincibility are up, your character just keels over, Lucifer claims your soul for all eternity and it's game over.
Well, in regards to Nintendo, the Wii was their corporate "devil mode," so to speak. By catering - if not flat out pandering - to the casual non-gaming sphere, they certainly opened the floodgate for cheaper, shoddier games to proliferate en masse. Now, had the softcore, women and children-oriented offerings on the Wii and DS not been as successful, perhaps the first wave of iPhone games - shit like Fruit Ninja and Words With Friends and especially Angry Birds - wouldn't have been as popular or lucrative. By focusing on mass appeal shitware games, Nintendo inadvertently drove the dagger through their own hearts, since it was only a matter of time before some other hardware merchant was to come around and do casual gaming even better.
The funny thing is, what killed Nintendo's post-Wii success wasn't the expected rivals Sony or Microsoft, but Apple and Google. The rise of iPhone and iPad gaming naturally meant a boon for developers of low-power, minimal gameplay products, and since the adoption rate of smart phones and tablets is way higher than any proprietary gaming system, of course all of the shovelware casual game merchants would abandon the Wii/3DS platform for the far more lucrative iOS and Droid markets. The casual gaming market Nintendo abandoned the hardcore for with the Wii, Wii-U and 3DS - women and kids and old fucks - have since moved on to the new portables of gaming, which, in addition to delivering them precisely the kind of low-intensity, low-challenge games they enjoy, also offer them a litany of other social and business applications that "dedicated" video game platforms just can't supply. And oh yeah - it fits in their pants pocket and they can take it with them literally everywhere they go.
Even Ray Charles can see why the Switch is such a horribly stupid idea, and he's dead. You see, Nintendo thinks people play iPhone and iPad games because they are mobile and usually incorporate some sort of delayed WiFi multiplayer element - hence, this horrible, horrible console unveiling video that shows millennials breaking out the controllers for NBA 2K pick-up games at basketball courts and carrying their machines over to rooftop keggers to play Mario Kart. No, you pedophile-supporting, literal hooker hiring 'tards, people enjoy smart phone games because they're on the machines they spend eight-to-nine-hours a day looking at already. They don't absorb themselves into the games for hours on end like dedicated Madden or Elder Scrolls or Forza players, they just need quick and easy hits of instant virtual gratification to ward of the daily rigors of modern ennui. You can play a game for ten minutes, hop off, check Facebook, and go back to cooking dinner or taking a shit or watching Grey's Anatomy or whatever else you do with your life. Whereas commercial console gaming is all about software commitment, the new-wave mobile games succeed by extolling themselves as nothing more than glorified, low-quality time killers. So, in short, the sort of deep, nuanced, intricate gameplay Nintendo used to be known for back in the NES and SNES days is quite literally incompatible with the iPad-era definition of portable gaming.
|Yeah, you won't be seeing this happening in public. Ever.|
And on the issue of multiplayer gaming, I've never in my life seen a bunch of smart phone wielding neer-do-wells gathered in a physical space to enjoy any kind of competitive smart phone/tablet game. Pokemon GO is an outlier, but again, that's already proven itself to be a short-term (dare I say it, devil-mode-esque?) fad that Nintendo barely profited from. The likelihood of Nintendo replicating that success with the Switch is practically zero, since the whole Pokemon GO craze hinged on the fact that the hardware adoption rate to play the game was already high ... if not culturally ubiquitous. Unless Nintendo plans on going cross-platform - which means partnering with Apple and Google, something they almost assuredly would never do under their current leadership structure - there is no way in hell the company can do anything even remotely comparable to Pokemon GO.
That, and no one has really explained how the Switch improves upon the atrocious Wii-U dedicated console/portable hybrid concept. Indeed, if anything, the Switch represents an even worse variation on the concept, which has no successful analogue in any kind of electronics industry anywhere. Factor in the exorbitant $300 day one price tag ... plus the dearth of quality, exclusive games throughout the hardware's first year on the market ... and you have all the makings of an all-time legendary product failure staring directly at you.
There might be some good games released on the Switch. That one Mario game that has him running around in Grand Theft Auto and appropriating Hispanic Day of the Dead culture at least looks fairly fun, and I've been yearning for Syberia III for almost as long as I've been yearning for Shenmue III (except, you know, with not as much enthusiasm.) And first person Super Street Fighter II is the kind of idea so incredibly stupid, you can't help but appreciate the absurdity of its existence. But the rest of the setlist, to put it mildly, flat out swallows. Minecraft variations and re-releases of years-old Disgaea games and generation-behind ports of Skyrim and Dragon Quest and shitty lite-strategy games like Has-Been Heroes and watered down minimal upgrades of Fire Emblem and BlazBlue? For every halfway decent-looking game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 you're going to get three dozen turds like Cube Life and Farming Simulator and Stardew Valley. The ratio of great to shit games is likely to be even higher than the ratio of the Wii, and somehow, the third-party support - where are you, E.A. and Rockstar? - is even more scant than on the Wii-U.
Whether or not the Switch will be a marketing failure isn't even a question anymore. The real question is just how big of a product dud this stupid fucking thing is going to be, and if I were a betting man, I'd venture to guess this thing won't even crack 10 million lifetime unit sales. Hell, it may not even eclipse the lifetime sales of the Dreamcast, which may indeed be the most fitting fate imaginable for the Big N.
At least Sega went down with a dedication to hardcore, innovative and quality games, while Nintendo's hardware waterloo will forever be associated with a crappily-designed, under-powered retread of a console glutted with god-awful ports, shovelware and disappointing first party releases.
Sega failed, but at least they failed with their heads hung high. With the disaster-in-waiting known as the Switch, however, Nintendo is destined to for a commercial manufacturing demise not unlike the one experienced by their former arch-rival ... only they're planning on going out with their eyeballs swollen shut and their tongues splayed out over the floor.
From the undisputed kings of video gaming to a cash-hemorrhaging, woefully out of touch market-blinded laughingstock. One day, the history books will reflect on the launch of the Switch as the beginning of the terminal cancer that eventually upended the Nintendo empire.
Alas, I wouldn't shed too many tears, Nintards. After all, theirs is a gruesome demise they wholeheartedly brought upon themselves.