The problem with Nintendo fever
Why I hate Nintendo press events
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 15:09
As a journalist that has been following the video game industry for quite a few years now, there is one kind of day that I dread more than any other.
That day is Nintendo press conference day.
I wasn’t born until after the first Nintendo Entertainment Systems and Famicoms left factory floors for the first time. And even after that, I didn’t even get deeply involved in the video game industry until I was a bit older than most. That means when I first started to deeply care about games, the first Playstations had just begun rolling out.
Sure, I had played Super Nintendo games before, but I hadn’t grown up mired in the same Nintendo-mania culture that almost everyone else in this industry did. So, every time that Nintendo gets around to announcing some new console or the 37th “Zelda” game I am interested, but as a fan of video games, not as a Nintendo fan.
That’s why I become so incredibly frustrated whenever Nintendo announces something that looks incredibly stupid, like the Wii and the Wii U, that in no way caters to the kind of customer that I am and 90 percent of my peers leap to the company’s defense.
Nintendo stopped caring about its original fans a long time ago. It is a business, and, like all businesses, its number one concern is for money. And that’s just fine. The Wii was a mass-market device that helped to legitimize video games to a wider audience while also making Nintendo a boatload of cash. It was not, however, something deserving of die-hard loyalty or fandom. Neither, I think, is the Wii U.
So why then do the legions of my friends and co-workers lose their minds for 24 hours every time a new “Mario” game is teased from the big N? Because the company has been hashing and rehashing the same three franchises to them over and over again. They have survived because those children that played “Super Mario Bros.” 25 years ago continue to pass down the worth of the franchise to their children.
It doesn’t matter that they’ve been recycling the same ideas again and again, because they’re playing on nostalgia. And those few nostalgic bones thrown to the fans every few years are enough to fuel the fire that blinds them to the real problem; the Nintendo that they loved when they were children is gone.
But if you tell any of them that, they will turn on you faster than Nintendo turned its backs on them.
It makes life as a non-Nintendo fan incredibly difficult for someone trying to break into the industry. It makes one feel like an outsider in a strange land where the breaking of a simple custom is punishable by ridicule and exile. And it only reaches its peak when Nintendo holds a press conference.
So what can I do? Beyond keeping my mouth shut and trying to blend in, the only solace I’ve found over the past decade has been knowing that this practice isn’t sustainable. The Nintendo brand has already begun to atrophy, with even “New Super Mario Bros. 2” receiving harsh criticism from even the most die-hard fans as being too similar to what we’ve already had.
All I can do now is wait, and hope that there will come a time when I can make my criticism heard without being drowned in a sea of blind loyalty. I just hope that that day comes soon.