Friday, June 10, 2011

Wii U Impressions

For anyone who suspected otherwise after seeing the Nintendo Wii U for the first time – and to be fair, in photos they do look a little too high up on the unit – trust mewhen I say that it wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t exactly where they currently are. At first glance they look as if they’re going to be uneasy fit for the upcoming slew of new ‘hardcore’ software that Nintendo’s top dogs have been barking about, but once it’s in your hands, the concern vanishes into thin air.

One player is Mario, and they controls the inimitable Italian plumber around a map by using the Wii U tablet; whilst four other players use sideways-on Wiimotes in order to pursue him. The benefit of having the Wii U tablet is that you can always see where everyone is on the map, and can avoid them accordingly. Every thirty seconds or so you’re also given the chance to collect a power star that sits (and respawns) in the middle of each level, and gives you a speed boost and brief period of invincibility; a risky manoeuvre that’s only advisable when things get really dicey.

The press conferences are over, though the gaming news still has another day to go. But for me E3 this year represented something else: a chance to learn. A lot of people felt that I took on an apologist stance when I gave Microsoft a C+, but that simply wasn't the case. I've been dealing with my marketing courses and I've been trying my best to approach these conferences all with that core marketing concept in my mind because that's exactly what E3 is. How well do these guys market themselves? And a lot of people felt content to say that Microsoft failed E3 this year, but at the time of their conference that simply wasn't the case. They did an average job of it. But people on here don't care about that, they want their games and so I understand the nature of saying Microsoft failed in that regard, but they showed themselves decently. At the time at least.

A lot of people felt that Sony did really well, but how could anyone possibly say that when they, word for word, did exactly what Microsoft did? Microsoft showed off Gears of War 3, then they went and showed off Kinect functionality for everything else they had at their conference. Sony showed off Uncharted 3, then they went and showed off Move functionality for everything else they had at their conference until they got to showing off the PS Vita. And while the Vita tech certainly looks cool and has some neat functionality and at a decent price, they also failed to show how it could be relevant in this market. They basically showed a mini-PS3 and as I and many, many others have expressed already, what's the point?

Honestly, did anyone else see a tangible difference between the two Uncharted games that were shown at Sony's conference? Nope. So what's the point of the PS Vita version, Golden Abyss, if it just wants to be the same thing as the console versions?

Anyway, it was in keeping with my marketing courses and lectures that I approached each conference, but it was clear that both Sony and Microsoft are stuck playing catch up with Nintendo. They're trying to show that they're the dominant force with an idea that Nintendo pioneered in 2006. And no, I don't give a crap if there were motion controls before the Wii, the fact is, Nintendo marketed their system to a whole new audience and came away wildly successful. The problem became that people consistently bagged on them, saying that there's no 3rd party support (a lie, of course) the tech is underpowered, the controls are a gimmick (another lie) and that Nintendo don't release anything other than their established library of games (though tell me how many new IPs Sony and Microsoft revealed, and no, using the excuse that Sony and MS's IPs aren't as old as Nintendo's IPs is not a valid excuse since neither company has been in the gaming business for as long as Nintendo).

There come various concepts that a company needs to go after for consumer attention and Nintendo addressed all of them with the Wii U (and the Wii back in 2006). It's preemptive, no one else has attempted it before. The one thing that I remain unsure of is how affordable it will be since a price was not mentioned, but they certainly hit that mark with the Wii in 2006, nor do I know if it will be profitable, but again, they hit that mark in 2006 with the Wii. But it's communicable, it's distintive and above all else it is both important and superior. stripesonfire is currently the only other user I can see sharing the same sentiments as me and quite frankly it's because stripes is one of the most intelligent people around on this site.

Sony and Microsoft are both stuck in 2006 and in 2006 they were stuck in 2000. There was of course Sony's stupid marketing myopia fiasco with the PS3's reveal and later launch where they chose to focus on the product rather than the consumer, but Sony have righted their wrongs and did a 180. That is until they released move and reverted 90 degrees back the way they came. As far as Microsoft? Those retards have been stuck in a perpetual circle ever since they launched the NXE. Let me be blunt, I've made it clear many times before, but I am not purchasing an Xbox after the 360. I've been paying attention to Sony in the hopes that they would somehow do something to convince me that they can be the replacement but they're stuck trying to mimic the Wii.

Nintendo saved the industry once from collapsing due to Atari. I want you all to know that even if many of you aren't aware, they just preemptively saved gaming again, this time from the hapless hands of Microsoft and Sony. I said that MS and Sony marketed themselves as average and had Nintendo done the same we'd have been in the same boat as them remaining average. As it stands, Microsoft and Sony both failed. Nintendo was the only success at E3. I don't want to hear any apologist nonsense of what you enjoyed due to brand loyalty that you don't want to mention. Since 2001 I had been an Xbox kid singing the praises of Halo and I'm tired of Microsoft, but seeing Sony trying to do the same thing as opposed to showing off their excellent line-up put us all in a sorry state. Many argued with me that I was wrong tosay Sony gets a C+, and now I admit it, I was wrong. I should have given them and Microsoft F grades. There was no way to know what was coming from Nintendo.

People act like Nintendo wasn't impressive this year, but the Nile is more than just a river that runs through Egypt. Nintendo preemptively saved this industry from an eventual collapse. Motion controls forced into everything that don't need them. Voice recognition in games that don't need them. Games losing thier freedom to put me on rails so I can play without my hands. These ideas, these concepts, these were the signs of bad times. But I said something that I regret saying. I said that this would become an inevitable part of the future of gaming and that we had to deal with it and just play what was released with our preferred method of play. And then Nintendo came on the stage. They rendered both Kinect and Move as obsolete. They shut-up both Microsoft and Sony. They just made gaming a level playing field againand that was what was so unexpected.

When it all came down the line, Nintendo saved gaming over two decades ago from collapsing. They broadened the market in 2006 to an untapped and unserved audience and now they are ready to unite all audiences, and if they succeed they will dominate the market in a bigger way than they ever did with Wii. No you may not care for Nintendo, and that's fine. What you need to care about is that next year, Microsoft and Sony are going to walk on stage with their heads out of their asses. That Microsoft and Sony are going to be fully aware that suddenly Nintendo holds all the momentum again. That suddenly they are going to announce and show games you care for because Nintendo didn't rely on a gimmick add-on. Because Nintendo built their vision from the ground up in 2006 and are doing so again for 2012. Because Nintendo just rocked all the third party support, with full Wii remote support so that owners of the Wii won't waste a damn thing. All accessories and games are backwards compatible. And suddenly households like mine with an Xbox and a Wii, suddenly only need Nintendo's system. Because they have all the games the others have and they have Nintendo's innovative ideas to make something everyone can enjoy.

It's still too soon to say whether or not the Wii U will be the runaway hit that the Wii was, but I'll tell you this much, the ball is in Nintendo's court and Kinect and Move both just died. Oh, they'll stick around on life-support. Kinect doesn't let us play games the way we want to but the way Microsoft wants us to. Be unimpressed with Nintendo. Tell me Sony was a success. It just means you have no idea what you're saying. Nintendo did something no one expected them to do: bring everyone back to the same level. They just balanced everything and whether you enjoy Xbox, PS or Wii, it doesn't matter anymore, because Nintendo just bounced Kinect and Move out of the picture. The begining of the end is here in a good way.

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