The Problem With Nintendo

On July 19, 2005, in Games, by psu

A recent feature at The Armchair Empire takes the gaming world to task for accusing Nintendo of being “only for kids.” I think the piece makes a series of good points, not the least of which is that the current crop of so-called “mature” games are really nothing more than juvenile power fantasies for the 17 year old set. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy the odd juvenile power trip, I did, after all finish both Resident Evil and God of War.

I think, however, that the article misses the real point. The real point is not that Nintendo “just for kids”. The problem with Nintendo is that they only make games for fans of Nintendo games.

This puts Nintendo into a sort of insular niche where they just keep cranking out the same games with the same characters in mostly the same situations. I mean, how many different sports do we need Mario to be playing? Admittedly, Nintendo does very well in the little area that it has carved out for itself. They sell games, and they make profit.

What they don’t do anymore is excite anyone outside of their core audience. As this core shrinks as a percentage of the whole gaming market, it gives Nintendo less room to experiment. This results in an even stronger concentration on the core franchises, which in turn results in the Nintendo niche shrinking even further. Maybe this is OK. Maybe Nintendo can live and prosper in its own little world. But I think that the Nintendo fans, and maybe everyone else, would be happier if they could break out of the bubble and really do something new again. There ought to be a life after Mario and Zelda. I’m rooting for Nintendo to find that and then it won’t matter if they are “just for kids” anymore.


Comments are closed.