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Bill Loguidice's picture

Thoughts on Nintendo's Figurine Platform for Wii U and 3DS

The Nintendo Figurine StrategyThe Nintendo Figurine StrategyNintendo doing a Skylanders/Disney Infinity-like take using their impressive stable of characters (news story here and seemingly everywhere else) was one of my past unsolicited suggestions for helping to goose the Wii U's listless sales, but I fear that their intended implementation, which seems to involve the figures working across a range of games is too non-specific. Critically, I think they also need a triple-A Disney Infinity-like open world/mini-game title for fans to rally around and where all of the figures will work. To my mind, having that (and future sequels) in conjunction with letting the characters work in several future games (Mario Golf, Smash Bros., their platformers, etc., all immediately come to mind) would be a slam dunk. It might even help turn the Wii U's fortunes around, but even if it didn't, it could certainly point to a great plan for Nintendo's future and an all-in-one successor to both the Wii U and aging 3DS (whose sales I expect to remain fairly steady, if no longer on a growth trajectory) that could incorporate the needed technology from day one. The only major hold up for incorporating connected figures in future Nintendo titles and, even with a possible triple-A open world/mini-game showcase title, is the company's continued sluggish software release schedule, which has plagued them for many years now. This inability to iterate quickly might also be why their strategy is just to bake use of the figures into select future titles--that would clearly take less time.

At its core, a correctly implemented figurine concept would indeed be a killer business plan, but not if Nintendo continues at their current glacial release pace since this is the type of thing that needs to feed on its own momentum. In any case, we'll know more about Nintendo's intended strategy for this concept around E3 in June. Let's hope they get it right.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Just what exactly is going on with Nintendo?

This new Bloomberg article sums everything up nicely, with some much needed direct quotes from Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata. It's both stunning and kind of sad we're getting this "we're going to embrace a new business model" rhetoric from Nintendo leadership, and that they're "going to study" mobile markets and what-not. It's stunning in that Nintendo is finally acknowledging that it may not be a bad thing to not always go against the grain and follow their own path. It's sad in that this smacks of Nintendo's snail-like move to HD and other modern technologies, which caused a lot of their problems in the first place, i.e., slow to produce new games, behind-the-times online services, etc. Once they're done with their studying and assumed eventual embracing of at least some of these things, how much more time will have passed? Maybe it's indeed time for Iwata to step down like promised and have new, more inspired - and quicker acting and reacting - leadership to take his place. Sometimes it's just time to move on and let someone younger have a crack at the future of the company--just ask Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Why I canceled my PlayStation Vita pre-order

Well, I did it, I canceled my $359.96 pre-order of the Sony PlayStation Vita - WiFi, ModNation Racers: Road trip, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Hot Shots Golf on Amazon. It's not because it was too much money - it was - but I planned for it. It's not that I don't want it either - I do - but it simply doesn't make sense at this time. I have long gone on record - much to the chagrin of the Nintendo faithful - that I believe this is the last generational hurrah for dedicated gaming handhelds. In short, I believe they will still sell well this generation, just not anywhere near the heights of the last generation when the DS and PSP ruled the roost. I've given many reasons for this line of thinking, but I primarily chalk it up to smartphones and tablets being good enough as game machines and the inclination for most people to carry as few electronic devices as possible. In other words, would you rather have a device that does everything multimedia and Internet effortlessly (and, as a smartphone, makes phone calls and texts), and has inexpensive apps (and a great camera for stills and video, etc.), as well as plays good games, or would you rather have a device that plays really good games (thanks mostly to onboard physical controls), but is mediocre (or incapable) at everything else and has expensive apps? Some of us will have both, but many of us will only choose the most logical of the two. If you look at the issue without the emotion of a dedicated gamer, there really is no good argument for having anything other than a smartphone and maybe a tablet in your portable arsenal, particularly since the former has an excuse to be with you 100% of the time.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Nintendo to Release Analog Stick for 3DS - What's going on over there?

Nintendo 3DS Analog Add-onNintendo 3DS Analog Add-onFor those who didn't catch it, those bizarre rumors of Nintendo releasing an analog joystick add-on for the 3DS are true. What's bizarre about this $20 add-on - besides how quickly this will be released after launch - is that it will require a AAA battery. Some are speculating that this is for some type of rumble feature - something Nintendo has tried a few times before on their handhelds and never supported beyond a few games here and there - but it could simply be because of the way the expansion clips in and is utilized that may it require a power assist. This of course does nothing to help the 3DS's anemic battery life, so why Nintendo didn't address the REAL issue here (hint: it wasn't the lack of a second analog stick) and make it a combination rechargeable battery slice and analog stick combo is beyond me, but then Nintendo has not been making much sense in the past year anyway, be it the anemic Wii game release schedule or the seemingly panicked series of "corrective" responses to a tepid 3DS launch.

Frankly, Nintendo doing a HUGE price drop for the 3DS shortly after launch spurred sales enough where you think they wouldn't have to do this analog stick thing (which, by the way, adds another set of shoulder buttons!), but these days there's no telling what's going on behind the scenes over there at Nintendo HQ. Perhaps Nintendo has projected that the sales boost won't be sustained, or perhaps they're somehow fearful of the wide 2012 release of Sony's Vita, but I really doubt either scenario. While I've gone on record stating that I believe this is the last sustainable generation for a dedicated mainstream gaming handheld in the light of already good enough smartphone and tablet gaming (which will quickly get ever more powerful due to the amazing amount of competition in those spaces, outpacing anything possible in dedicated gaming handhelds), there is still this generation to keep the proverbial good times rolling at least somewhat like they were before the iPhone kicked off the smartphone craze and threw a monkey wrench into the whole portable gaming thing.

Naturally this analog stick add-on kind of minimizes Nintendo's other announcement of 3D video recording with the 3DS, which is rather neat, but it will probably be more of a novelty than anything particularly useful anyway given the handheld's inherent power. There was also the usual announcement of additional entries in their popular franchises, which of course Nintendo has been leaning on almost exclusively of late.

Oh, and one more thing... If anyone thinks for a minute that this analog stick add-on doesn't mean that a combined 3DS hardware revision isn't coming sooner rather than later, then I guess you probably also think that Nintendo is fully in control behind the scenes these days...

Chris Kennedy's picture

Chris's Podcast #1: Nintendo Should Just Quit

Alrighty then... This launches my first podcast entry into the bank of Armchair Arcade podcasts - My first topic focuses on Nintendo. I do not really rant on this as it might seem, however I do inject an opinion that most certainly will not be shared by all.

It is unedited. There are typical pauses, clearing of the throat, etc as I gather my thoughts. Although I personally prefer to edit a podcast and try to strive for high production values, there is something to be said about purely focusing on the fun aspect of it all.

I hope you guys enjoy it.

Download the m4a.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Nintendo 3DS Getting Massive Price Cut - Existing Owners Getting Free Games

This has been widely reported, but here's the story on IGN. Essentially, the Nintendo 3DS will now retail for $169.99, and existing owners who paid the launch price of $249.99 will get 20 free virtual console games, which consists of 10 NES and 10 GameBoy Advance titles.

I'm glad they're taking care of their existing owners. Clearly Nintendo priced this not at a price point they had to, but at a price point they thought they could get away with. If they were able to back up the 3DS launch with positive buzz and great software (i.e., software that would excite the masses), they *might* have gotten away with the $250 price point (though I continue to argue the buzz remains with smartphones and tablets, not gaming handhelds), but really, it makes you wonder why this wasn't $199.99 to start with, let alone $179.99, particularly since they're making such a huge drop of $80 already. That's a major mea culpa, and certainly not indicative of business-as-usual for Nintendo, who classically really, really hates to admit that they're wrong about something. I've been talking about this frequently, but there have certainly been some unusual goings-on at Nintendo HQ, from the lack of new titles for their existing platforms to a somewhat unusual presentation of their upcoming Wii U console. Perhaps this will be the first of several steps that Nintendo needs to regain momentum.

Bill Loguidice's picture

E3 2011 Viewpoints: Nintendo Wii U and 3DS | (yes, Nintendo's next console is pronounced, "We You")

After starting off with Microsoft, Sony, and Apple, it's only fitting we conclude with Nintendo, and the biggest announcement of the week: Nintendo Wii U. I'll also talk about how my predictions from April 19, 2011, based on previous rumors, worked out, inline, as appropriate (EDIT: You can read for yourself, actually, so I won't inline comment, I'll just say that I was correct in my prediction that the controller would be the ONLY innovation, in that any other expected innovations would add too much to the cost beyond the fancy controller):

  • Nintendo Wii U, "equally satisfying for all players" (hardcore and casual). Released some time in 2012 (Nintendo's focus this year is 3DS, with more franchise titles (Mario Kart, Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Mario, Luigi's Mansion)). I'm not sure I'm a fan of the name. I probably like it even less than I did "Wii", which did eventually grow on me. We'll see.
  • The controller looks a lot like a white tablet. It's generously sized (it has a 6.2" screen--goodness knows what the controller will be priced separately!). Pen-enabled. Also works with a finger. The screen (mock-up or not), looks very nice. It's a motion controller too and can play games stand-alone or in conjunction with a TV. It also has a camera (voice and video chat enabled). Nice!
  • Nintendo definitely took inspiration from Apple's iPad here. It's like the bastard child of an iPad 2 and Wii, with a little Xbox 360 thrown in for good measure.
  • It's backwards compatible with all the games and peripherals of the Wii.
  • Games appear to work differently if a player is using the new controller or a Wii Remote. There looks to be a lot of emphasis on the motion control features of the controller.
  • It's NOT designed to be a portable game machine, even though it shares some design characteristics. Everything is wirelessly transmitted from the console (no latency).
  • They talked a lot about HD images on TV or on the controller's screen. So this is definitely HD (EDIT: The console will output 1080p to the TV, but the controller screen will NOT be HD). Based on the non-gameplay and other graphics they showed, it's quite impressive looking, so probably at LEAST a little more powerful than Xbox 360 and PS3.
  • The Nunchuk port on the bottom of the controller is interesting, as it can also be used to snap the screen controller onto plastic peripherals.
  • They emphasized video chat and showing photos on your TV.
  • They talked about the expected interaction between Wii U and 3DS games, with Smash Brothers being the example.
  • They mentioned ONE game in particular (third parties mentioned others, like Batman: Arkham City and EA Sports stuff), Lego City Stories, a new open world game (exclusive to Wii U and 3DS). Beyond that, they made sure to mention what would be considered hardcore (core) gamer titles.
  • They talked a bit about online stuff, so hopefully they'll be more committed to the concept this time. The hardware is certainly there for it, at least.
  • There was no mention of storage or other specifics, so we'll probably have quite the wait for details like that.
Matt Barton's picture

What's your prediction for the Nintendo 3DS?

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