This was quite the eventful week for everybody’s favorite gaming company. Well, at least my favorite gaming company. In case you don’t know who I am – why would you, since I’m a nobody? – my name is Michael Bowerman. I’m the Editor-in-Chief of The Nintendo Objective, a news contributor to Zelda Universe, and a contributor for your favorite rebel gaming site, Gaming Rebellion. Now that we’ve gotten the boring introduction out of the way, let’s get to this week in review!
Nintendo put on a “last minute” Direct and released their latest NPD. As per the Nintendo way, it was a mixed bag; some really great stuff blended in with some bad. Let’s break down what happened, in case you were living under a rock the past week.
Firstly, let’s get sales out of the way. I personally enjoy checking out sales just to see how the market is doing and what directions it may be going in, but I understand many people simply don’t care. I have to mention though, as it was very good news for Nintendo, their Wii U console, and for the console market in general. A Nintendo press release was given a couple days ago, revealing some staggering sales numbers in areas that you may not have expected.
Nintendo did very well over the holidays. “Wii U had its strongest year yet thanks to the highly anticipated software lineup and the introduction of the amiibo platform,” according to Scott Moffit, the Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Nintendo of America (NoA). The massive success of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U were to be expected, each selling 1.7 million and 1.3 million, respectively in 2014. These appear to be U.S. statistics alone, since Mario Kart 8 sold over 2 million copies worldwide way back in June. This is very impressive, especially for Smash Bros., as many thought the handheld version would dampen sales. That was promptly proven otherwise.
What you may not have expected were incredibly impressive sales of amiibo, Nintendo’s latest toys that double as NFC figurines with limited game functionality. It was reported they sold twice the amount of units Super Smash Bros. for Wii U sold. That is amazing, but it’s too bad it was tainted by terrible production of certain Amiibo – more on this in the bad section. It seems regardless how much Nintendo got in its own way, they still did very well in 2014, pushing over 75% more software and hardware sales than 2012, and 29% more than 2013. The Wii U is far from dead, with 2015 looking to be one of its best years yet.
Speaking of 2015, let’s talk about the latest Direct, which focused on upcoming titles in 2015. Many titles were given both specific and monthly release dates: Majora’s Mask 3D (February 13th), Codename S.T.E.A.M. (March 13th), Splatoon (May), and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (February 20th) being some of the bigger titles. Note: all release dates above are for North American release.
What’s more, some very exciting (and interesting) reveals were made: a new Fire Emblem title from the fine folks that worked on the excellent Fire Emblem: Awakening is on the way, as well as a free-to-play surprise title from Bandai Namco (titled Project Treasure). On top of this, the New 3DS XL was given a release date (February 13th) , along with a Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate bundle, and an extremely cool Majora’s Mask special edition New 3DS XL.
Why is this all good news? Up until this Direct, we had been waiting for Nintendo games to release, the last bigger title being Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker from back on December 5th. We finally had somewhat of a schedule of Nintendo games to be excited for. And hey, it’s always a good idea to reveal more titles consumers will be excited about before a stock holders’ meeting, right?
Personally, one of my most anticipated titles of the year is Xenoblade Chronicles X, and though there wasn’t a specific release date for the game, they revealed another trailer, titled the “Exploration Trailer.” For all who were dogging on the graphical capabilities of the Wii U, or on this title for not looking very good back at E3, this trailer helped to ease those concerns. The game is looking fantastic, and the trailer showcased the leaps and bounds the developers have done with the game, and how creative they are. I am looking forward to traveling through the alien world, especially after seeing just a few of the amazing locales in the game. Instead of taking my word on it, why not just watch the trailer?
As good as the Direct was in some areas, there were a few things that really missed the mark. For one, why have we not gotten specific release dates for Yoshi’s Woolly World, Mario Maker, and Splatoon? Heck, since you’re showing off more Xenoblade footage, why not at least give an estimated monthly release date, instead of simply stating “2015?” Hype needs to be built around these titles for more than just a month or so. Revealing release dates for these titles in a Direct right before release does not build hype, nor does it lend well to marketing them correctly and efficiently.
Another gripe I had revolved around amiibo. Now, I enjoy collecting amiibo, as I was already searching for decent quality figurines for the right price before amiibo were even announced. When trying to promote them with game functionality, though, they have fallen very short thus far. Nintendo announced Captain Toad amiibo functionality, and it was truly pitiful. There is so much potential in a game like Captain Toad, regarding how amiibo can work for it, yet all they will do is add hidden pictures on each level. Finding these pictures doesn’t appear to add anything to completing the game, outside of being able to say “I found all of them!” Also, it was revealed that if you want to use your currently-purchased amiibo with the upcoming Mario Party 10, you will have to erase previous data (right now, the only data really saved being from Smash Bros.) This means that in order to fully enjoy the latest Mario Party experience, which revolves around amiibo, by the way, you will have to get rid of your amiibo fighters you’ve trained over the past months. No thanks, I think I’ll pass on this.
But hey, we have the New 3DS XL to look forward to, right? Well, I had a problem with this as well. It appears that Nintendo is attempting to promote their most recent handheld system to previous 3DS owners, instead of…well, instead of everyone. They announced that the New 3DS would be $199, which is fine. They announced a bundle and a special edition system, which are also fine. But the New 3DS doesn’t come with a power supply, only the XL version will be available in the West, and thus far only has one exclusive title, which won’t be coming until later.
Now, I realize the lack of a power supply is minor (since previous model power supplies will be compatible with the New 3DS XL), but this shows me that Nintendo is banking on previous 3DS owners to get this unit, not necessarily the gaming masses. I bought a 3DS XL just 7 months ago, so I’m not “upgrading” to this unit, even though it does have better technical specs. And what about those who don’t have a 3DS (you know, those crazy people?) and might be looking to finally take the dive? Well, they have to find a power supply for a unit that should already come with one. If they’re only $5, then why can’t Nintendo include it with the system?
Furthermore, only the XL version of the New 3DS will be available in the West, while many wanted to get the smaller version with interchangeable faceplates – which is cheaper than the XL. This is another shot to the foot in terms of potential sales. If it’s all about having more options for gamers to choose from, then give them all the options. This whole thing has baffled me, and has convinced me that I will save my money for this system until a later date, if at all; that is, unless Nintendo suddenly reveals some other exclusive titles – that aren’t Wii ports – that entice me to spend money on another version of the 3DS, then I’m going to pass. Especially since the 3DS XL that I would’ve gotten is unavailable already…
Well, I take that back. It is available, for the wrong price. Scalpers have become great friends with Nintendo in the past months. It first started with amiibo – Nintendo didn’t produce enough of certain amiibo for fans, many of which were sold out almost immediately. Scalpers took this opportunity to make a huge profit, selling the desired amiibo for double, triple, and even quadruple the price. This is ridiculous. I’m fed up with this and I’m not even an avid collector or hardcore “hunter.” I can’t imagine what the collectors are feeling right now. I wanted to get a Pit amiibo; I can spend over $40 if I really want it. I wanted to get Mega Man, Meta Knight, Toon Link, Sonic, and Ike; I can’t even pre-order them, and it appears that I will be missing out on all of them unless I fork over too much cash.
It didn’t stop with amiibo, though. When a Majora’s Mask 3D special edition was announced, they sold out incredibly fast, with no sign of more being produced. In other words, I missed out on that as well, simply because I was at work and didn’t have the opportunity to buy it. But it’s okay, scalpers have my back! Oh wait, maybe I could pick up that awesome Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL, right? Wrong; they’re already sold out, with some scalpers charging ridiculous amounts.
Nintendo needs to fix this, and fix it quickly. If amiibo sold 2.6 million units, imagine if they had produced enough of the Marth, Wii Fit Trainer, Villager, Captain Falcon, Pit, and other figurines? Nintendo could be printing money with these things, but they’ve botched it; big time. What’s more, they briefly mentioned they would be making more Marth amiibo, but no mention of any other amiibo was made. I fear I’m not going to get my much-desired Mega Man, Toon Link, or Meta Knight amiibo. Nintendo, in a passive way, is treating their customers and fans with disrespect, and hurting themselves from a business perspective. Oh well…I suppose…
And that’s it! My long-winded rant has finally come to a close. I’m sure you were bored to tears by the second paragraph, but if you happened to make it to this point, I commend you! Here’s your figurative high-five…you get it? Cool. Until next week, stay safe and play recklessly!
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