Nintendo Doesn’t Care About “Hardcore” Gamers? Hmm…
Lately, being a freelance gaming writer and what not, I‘ve been out and about scouring the internet on my regular fix of gaming-related pieces from many different news sites, and unsurprisingly, I‘ve been focused mainly on the Wii U articles, where I tend to generally see a mass of controversy from people on all ends of the gaming spectrum. This may not come as a big surprise, that is until I tell you some of the things I‘ve seen while on my journey – they vary from the considerably debatable “The Wii U GamePad isn‘t that innovative,“ to the downright absurd “The Wii U isn‘t a next-gen console,“ and “The Wii U is just an Xbox 360 seven years late,“ which is the most fantastical load of tripe I‘ve ever heard. One such popular general argument that is neither here nor there and has recently caught my eye is “The Wii U isn‘t proving serious about the hardcore gamers.“ Interesting.
Now, first of all, your interpretation of this comment would depend on the ideology you have of a “hardcore gamer“, which to me does not primarily involve guns, boobs and fast cars, as is oftenly misplaced – but opinions, opinions. It is true that since the beginning, Nintendo has openly stated that it is pretty determined to reel in the gamers that the Wii had supposedly failed to interest among its Sony and Microsoft counterparts, and we have seen quite a few steps taken in that direction with the Wii U. But for some proclaimed “hardcore“ gamers, it seems everything Nintendo has done so far just isn‘t enough. While it‘s perfectly understandable that a few of these gamers are simply uninterested in a Wii U for now, saying Nintendo hasn‘t done anything significant to actively cater to this set of gamers alongside their pre-existing casual consumers sounds a bit of an under-informed statement to me; I‘d even go to the extent of saying that the people sharing this opinion are considerably insatiable.
So without further ado, I‘d like to take this opportunity to displace this argument from my own point of view (which, for the record, you aren‘t necessarily subjected to agree with).
Giving you a familiar alternate option for control.
A problem Nintendo encountered with the Wii was, despite the fact that the integration of motion controls in gaming was the Wii‘s biggest selling point, the Wiimote and Nunchuk control combo wasn‘t very well suited to a certain set of gamers. The Wii Classic Controller Pro was introduced at a certain point in time, but unfortunately it wasn‘t all that popular – most unsatisfied gamers had already moved on to the more mature PS3 and Xbox 360, and the ones that remained were having too much of a blast to notice such a mundane option.
Now with the Wii U, Nintendo is opting to avoid a repeat of that situation. While the GamePad is essentially a standard game controller with an embedded touchscreen, there will still be the hardcore gamers out there who will yearn for their unaltered game controllers, especially for the amount of more mature titles Nintendo is offering on its platform this time around. By having the Pro Controller available on the market from the get-go, Nintendo‘s reassuring hardcore gamers that they will have a familiar control option at their disposal to enjoy games their own way. That way, the Wii U has the flexibility to adapt to gamers of various standards from the beginning – no issues whatsoever.
However, many gamers are arguing that if Nintendo wanted to truly capture hardcore gamers from the beginning, it would have the Pro Controller bundled with the console. I disagree; while Nintendo is more than willing to cater to all gamers from all angles, the GamePad is still the main experience of the Wii U that it wants people having a go at from that first touch of the power button. It‘d be very naïve of Nintendo to compromise the Wii U by giving console adopters the chance to ditch the GamePad entirely from day one – that‘d make the Wii U, at a first glance, no different from any other current-gen competitor. And everybody knows how Nintendo likes having its inventions significantly different.
Reviving a prominent mature IP on their platform.
The harsh truth is that before the Wii U came along, Bayonetta had been pretty much scrapped – only one absolutely brilliant game in the series, and the world would‘ve never seen a sequel. Done. Fin. Finito. The original Bayonetta saw itself as an acclaimed favourite among hardcore gamers, and to not have seen it get itself another go in the gaming scene would‘ve been worth crying tears of blood over – and that‘s something Nintendo was aware of and couldn‘t let happen.
With the Wii U, Nintendo is now more prepared to cater to the more intensive needs of hardcore gamers, and saving one of the biggest mature IPs of 2011 to see a sequel on its platform is a big way of showing this. Platinum‘s executive director said it himself that Bayonetta 2 wouldn‘t exist without Nintendo; it isn‘t a change of platform at all, but the fact that Platinum was in dire need of a strong, cooperative partner to create and publish the sequel, and that‘s where Nintendo stepped in amongst all the uncertainty. Essentially, Nintendo offered to invest its own time and resources to revitalise and restore Platinum‘s best hardcore IP and be able to give the core gamers another chance to see what will be one of their biggest prospective titles of Q1 2013. And you tell me Nintendo cares nought for the hardcore?
Offering all the latest current-gen multiplats.
One major issue with the Wii that it‘s been made infamous for was its appalling lack of significant third-party support. While the competing HD twins got all the great mature third-party games radiating in their sheer brilliance, the Wii was left underpowered, overshadowed and in the dark – and that was one of the core reasons (pardon the pun) that the console didn‘t appeal to the hardcore set of gamers. There was just too much to risk missing by adopting the Wii as their primary home console.
However, with Nintendo now optimising the Wii U to cater to all current-gen third-party AAA titles being released (including re-iterated year-old ports), it is ensuring prospective Wii U gamers that they will never have to let anything sweet pass them by again. This is one vital aspect of gaming the hardcores mostly weren‘t willing to compromise for the sake of a Nintendo experience, and having more than one home console in your living room is just too much hassle. This is something Nintendo realises and is now addressing as a flaw of the Wii with this set of consumers, and is ensuring it as the first and last time it happens with their consoles.
But another raucous has been caused among this set of gamers, saying Nintendo are offering these current-gen multi-platform titles and passing them off as next-gen experiences with the Wii U. Again, I find this untrue; the Wii U is currently the only next-gen console of its time and currently still has the PS3 and Xbox 360 as its contenders for an indefinite time until their successors alongside the Wii U are announced. Due to this fact, many gamers are still stuck in the current-gen experience and with a host of current-gen AAA titles still being released nearing the end of this generation, the Wii U can‘t afford to just ignore this situation for the sake of being classified a next-gen console – they still need to have all these titles to get the maximum appeal to hardcore gamers (which the Wii can‘t provide, and so need to substitute the Wii U as an outlet for our sake), and again make sure they don‘t miss out on anything at all with a Nintendo platform.
Seeing as third-parties are still not going to be willing to output their next-gen titles on to one home console alone in fear of not being guaranteed maximum exposure, the Wii U has undeniably jumped the next race ahead of many; and as a consequence of such an advantage, Nintendo still needs to finish what‘s left of this race to guarantee Wii U owners complete coverage – yet another way of showing it truly does care for the benefit of hardcore gamers.
Miiverse, the gamers‘ social network.
Laugh as much as you like, but I‘m dead serious – this actually does benefit us as core gamers in a certain way. Have you ever found that when stuck in a difficult game, it can be way too much hassle to have to switch off right in the heat of the moment and log on to the internet to find an appropriate forum or site to ask for help? Even then, it can‘t be guaranteed that anyone would have a direct answer for you or have played the game for themselves – a lot of the time, internet forums are too vague for topics like in-game help to get detailed, specific answers. This is a situation that all core gamers have found themselves encountering at least once in their gaming lifetime, and is an issue Nintendo aims to solve by introducing a dedicated “social graph“ for all avid gamers where they‘re bound to find what they‘re looking for; even outside of getting game help, Miiverse is a more convenient option for setting up online matches/tournaments, discussing strategies and tips etc. all because it‘s a dedicated platform for interaction inhabited by dedicated gamers – nothing less! It‘s more expansive, tidy and accomodating to core gamers than just another vaguely mundane internet forum.
One of Miiverse‘s most prominent features is its specific “game bubbles“ of sorts, which are messaging areas (that for once will be devoid of trolls!) for you to discuss everything on the game with other gamers like yourself. When you first log on to the social hub, you‘ll be able to see what titles are currently popular, allowing you to see what everyone else is currently playing worldwide, so there is no doubt you will be able to find the help (or the simple gaming-related chat-up) you‘re looking for from other players in its respective “game bubble“. That way, it‘s easier to just switch from the game you‘re playing and leave a quick shout-out in the game‘s messaging forum for other players to give their quick responses to – it‘s quick, easy and the convenient utility that most gamers have been yearning for since the Stone Age, and Nintendo‘s given it to us in an online concept that‘s empathetic to single-player core gamers in need of an interactive community (filled with other core gamers, nonetheless).
“I‘ll love you as a digital consumer.“ – Reggie Fils-Aime.
Digital retail is slowly starting to find itself as a prevalent option in the industry, and ignoring this fact isn‘t going to help anyone. While having a retail copy of a game may prove more secure and therefore preferable to most people, downloading games digitally is convenient and so more people start to go this route – take Steam, for instance. Nintendo has this within their concerns and so is starting to make this a convenience on home consoles too with the Wii U, by making retail games available for download on their respective release dates via the eShop as well as providing easily expandable storage.
Then again, gamers are wondering why Nintendo didn‘t include a bigger hard-drive with more internal storage than a mere 32GB in its Deluxe/Premium system. Well, it‘s debatable. Personally, I think even if the Wii U did come with 160GB worth of internal storage, buying an external hard-drive will always be inevitable for the hardcore gamers; most even already have a spare lying around. On top of that, adding more internal storage space would only add to the expense of the console – and why do that when by the time I‘ve filled up my 32GB hard-drive, I‘d have saved up enough to get a portable external hard-drive of an overwhelmingly massive 1TB for only £60 off the market nowadays; enough to last me for years to come? The prices of external hard-drives have decreased immensely than from their initial use in gaming some six years ago; expansive internal storage is no longer much of a necessity, and it‘s only logical that Nintendo decides to capitalise on this fact for the benefit of an affordable console for consumers.
And don‘t forget: having too many things stored on a console‘s memory noticeably slows the system down, and makes it more liable to system crashes and hard-drive failures. It‘s only an educated guess on my part, but maybe Nintendo‘s also significantly limiting internal storage and pushing gamers to buy external hard-drives more (what with cheaper prices for bigger storage nowadays, as well as being generally faster than HDDs) to ensure optimum performance and security for all Wii U consoles, and the ability to operate safely at their highest capacity.
Now, it‘s time to open the floor – what are your opinions on the points made above? Do you believe Nintendo really is intent on catering to the hardcore gamers this time around, or otherwise?