14 April 2007

Nintendo dominance

I have been a Nintendo fan since I was a kid. I was born in 1977, which if I do the math correctly, means I was 8 when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was introduced. That's prime gaming age. So needless to say, I've always had a soft spot for Nintendo and their consoles. As I read more about the company and some of the practices they have used in previous years, I'm starting to question how much I am attached to them. I also love the Nintendo Wii, but I'm frustrated with it as well.

It all began when I received my first NES on Christmas Day of 1987. My younger and brother and I were not allowed to play it very often, but at least we got to play consistently. The Atari seemed like last decades technology compared to the NES. On that day I became a Nintendo fanboy.

Since that time I have owned every Nintendo Console that they have released, from the NES to the Wii. When the Wii was announced in 2005 as the "Revolution", I was genuinely excited. You see, the Nintendo Gamecube (GC) didn't do very well despite being more powerful than Sony's Playstation 2 (PS2). Nintendo's business practices had made the developers move elsewhere and caused Nintendo's decline.

Beginning with the NES, Nintendo only made it possible for game developers to use their cartridges with the system. So the developers had to buy the cartridges from Nintendo at a higher rate than they could from a third party. Before the game was released, Nintendo had to put their seal of approval on the game. Also, the game developers were not allowed to release more than five games a year. In short, there were a lot of controls that Nintendo placed on the developer, but the developers put up with this because the NES was the leading console and they wanted to make money. Some of these controls were not without their reasons.

Many problems that had plagued previous consoles was an over saturation of low quality games. Nintendo was trying to prevent this by limiting developers to only five games a year. They also reviewed the games to make sure that the consumers were not receiving a game that was low quality. While this seemed to help in the short term, abuse of this would lead to the company's trouble.

The Super Nintendo (SNES) had led the console wars through the use of its previous success and marquee titles such as Super Mario and Metroid. By the time the Nintendo 64 (N64) was released the Playstation was extremely popular. Nintendo decided to use ROM cartridges for the N64, which was not accepted well by game developers as Sony was using CD-ROMs at the time. The CD-ROMs allowed for more data storage at the cost of piracy. This may have been one of Nintendo's reasons for staying with the cartridge, but many developers saw it as a way for Nintendo to get more money from them since they had to buy the cartridges from Nintendo.

This began the decline of Nintendo. Many gamers were sold on the Playstation and its line of games and many attribute this to the core gamers aging and wanting more from their console. The Microsoft XBox and Playstation 2 were released later with online capability and the Gamecube was released with no online options. Despite being more powerful than the PS2, the GC didn't receive a great fanfare because it didn't have online capability and it did not have a lot of 3rd party support.

Bring on the Wii! Despite the some failures of its previous two consoles, Nintendo comes to the plate and hits a home run with the Wii. Its motion activated controllers were revolutionary and were a big hit with casual gamers that may have been intimidated with consoles before. Along with Sony's Playstation 3 blunder (released at $600), Nintendo began to regain some of its former dominance.

Stay tuned for why the Wii may still fail...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like Nintendo, I just hope they don't screw up the Wii.