I know that you’re automatically expecting the worst. We don’t talk anymore unless it’s something negative, do we? If I was your boyfriend, I’d be that asshole dating a girl chasing her doctorate, and telling her she’s fat at her graduation. It’s not been a pleasant relationship these past six years, and for that I’m sorry.
Here’s a little fact I want you to hold onto before I launch into something I also feel like I’m going to apologize to you for later: I’ve been playing the shit out of my Wii the last 3 months. My 360 got a much needed vacation while I’ve plowed through Metroid Prime Trilogy, and it’s remained on vacation while I’ve wrought havok upon my back catalog. And it reminded me why I had such faith in this system to begin with, and why I love you guys as developers.
Then around 11am EST, in New York City, I was reminded what happened to that faith.
When the Wii was announced, every rational gamer had a moment of pure imagination, and I’m sure developers had the same reaction getting the devkit for a system that basically allowed the player to use a remote control in the way everyone under the age of 60 has since childhood. The ethos: This system is for everyone. Not just the hardcore, but the elderly grandfather who has never touched a video game. The following years were a slow, steady lowering of those expectations till they were under our shoes right around the time WiiFit happened. But past is past. I’m not about to ask “why hast thou forsaken me, Nintendo?” like so many have been quick to do. I’m beyond the point where I need you to cater to my needs. Where I’m at is the point where I wonder about your needs, what you need to stay in this game, and be a viable source of fun and profit again.
The simple question I’m asking you to ask yourselves is: Who the fuck is this system for?
It’s not for the hardcore. My people all have 360s and PS3s, systems we can and will play every single one of your not-kiddie titles on. This is what we’ve done for years now, when it became blindingly obvious we would not find solace on the Wii. We’ve yet to feel like we’re being seduced back. Believe it or not, we WANT to be seduced back. Most of us believe in you, grew up with you, and our disappointment is tripled because of those facts. And no, an exclusive Bayonetta sequel’s not enough. Read that again: A sequel to one of my favorite games of the last generation is not enough. Nor are ports of games we’ve been playing for over a year. The gems in the lineup (Wonderful 101, Rayman Legends, Lego City Undercover) are indeed gems. None of them would not seem vastly more intuitive with a proper controller.
It’s not for the casual. These are the people who you said you wanted to turn into us. It failed. All they wanted to do was play darts at home, and occasionally, remember what it was like to play Super Mario Brothers in the 80s. You gave them what they wanted, and they did not stick around a second longer than the nostalgia stank did. And yet, you have to know that you tapped into something primal with these people. The Wii, particularly Wii Sports and its sequel, were so simple and perfect they couldn’t be ignored, and statements of abject quality notwithstanding, so were a lot of the best selling experiences on the system. Is a tablet at this point so universal? Each subsequent presentation of the WiiU controller proves that it’s not. The people making games for it can’t work the damned thing proper. Grandpa Moishe down at Sunnyside Pines is going to soil himself trying to learn the WiiU, and he’s not even incontinent. These are fans you’re not going to get back, but unlike Sony and MS, who can release shovelware casual games, an yet can still carry on with business as usual when they flop, you’ve bet the farm on these people, and they’re not coming back, especially with the new brainwork you’re planning to pile on them just to play Wheel of Fortune.
It’s not for techies either. Graphically, the system is only marginally better than the 360/PS3, which means it’s not even fit to wipe the horse crap off the boots of a mid-range new PC, and the next XBox/Playstation will call it Peaches Larue and pass that system around the yard like currency. The tablet has a few neat tricks up its sleeve, every single one of which is a self-contained gimmick, none of which makes me think this is a vast improvement from the controllers we’ve got. The XBox’s Smartglass is trying the same gimmick, using equipment 50% of the country has already got, and equipment that has applications beyond gaming/entertainment. I’ll grant that TVii is the kind of consolidated feature multimedia devices need, but it’s not enough to make people excited about a $300 piece of equipment.
So, really, here’s the answer to my earlier question, found when you made this montage-riddled dog-and-pony show play out this afternoon: This system’s for yourselves. It exists because you could do it. You wanted to innovate, you wanted to disappear around the curve, where no developer could follow, you did it. Kudos. But that innovation is not for the medium’s benefit. It’s not FUN. It’s not primal. It’s certainly not cheap. And there’s a purity to that, to offer something different than anyone else.
But this is not the nature of the medium, Nintendo. It’s just not. This is an invention akin to obsolescence. It is tech without application. It’s inert without purpose, and that purpose will be lost, if the halfheartedness of the third party support indicates anything. It is, as bluntly as can be put, a bad idea. And in the wake of the refinement of tried and true ideas happening on other systems, to see so much of yourself pouring into such a lateral, creaky step when we’ve seen you be bolder, and be capable of bolder in the past is heartbreaking.
Maybe I’m just talking out of my ass, Nintendo. Maybe this’ll be a grand success, take off with the general public, your company prints money again, and we all live happily ever after. And yet for the first time, I don’t believe your chances are that good. But it’s not my job to tell you why, and I don’t care. It’s my duty, right here and now, to square with you. You say you want me. You want the elderly granddad. You want the tech geek. You want the nostalgic soccer mom with 80s memories. You can have us, and all of our money. We don’t want you to reinvent the controller to do so. We want you to reinvent GAMING. That’s all we’ve EVER wanted. Let us play some fucking games. New games. new experiences, experiences unlike anything we’ve ever seen. That’s really it. That feeling of total immersion and wonder every gamer had seeing Mario traipse around in 3 dimensions for the first time, free to roam wherever we desired? That was innovation. Making Zelda a cel-shaded art project? That was innovation. Being able to play Just Dance while I’m on the john doesn’t even measure up. Give every man, woman, and child a reason to share joy in one game. ONE. It won’t be in how we play it, it will ALWAYS be in WHAT we’re playing, and the 51 games I see right now are not giving me that.
Find the one. You’ll have us back.
Otherwise, you’ve just taken a $350 Wii on yourself.
Fix this. Or we’re gone for good.
A Friend. Believe It Or Not