Nintendo loosing their touch?

I must say that I really respect Nintendo for what they have done in the past few years. With their Blue Ocean Strategy they successfully subverted the technology rat race and got out of the dead-end the games industry was going towards. The fact that their games were considered as “childish” or “technologically inferior” by many industry hardliners and “core players” is actually a symptom of that deep going revolution.
However, their recent lineup of games for the Wii gives me some reasons to be concerned. It’s almost Christmas so every console ought te have a major no-brainer present candidate released by now. PS3 has Little Big Planet. X-Box has… i don’t know… Gears of War 2.. whatever. What does Wii have? Wii Music and Animal Crossing. Even I find both titles pretty disappointing. I’m wondering in Nintendo is loosing their touch.
To be fair, I haven’t played neither of the two. I probably won’t anyway. Wii Music has some very fancy packaging and obviously, Nintendo had some extremely high hopes that this would be a follow-up to titles like Wii Sports and Wii Fit. Well, it turns out that it didn’t work so well. The reviews are really bad. The sales don’t seem to be going well either (except maybe for Australia). But that doesn’t matter. You don’t need to be an Expert to see how lame the product is. It is a music game but the “songs” you play in it are tunes like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. When was the last thing you were listening to that on the radio? The Blue Ocean Strategy works for Nintendo by using a lowest common denominator approach to get other people into games. I think this time, they went actually TOO LOW. I wouldn’t even call it “Music”. In fact, games like Guitar Hero already hit a sweet spot there. Nintendo seems to have falsely applied the same strategy as in other genres, mistaking games like Guitar Hero or even Singstar for “Hardcore”.

The other Christmas title is Animal Crossing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do like Animal Crossing. I have the DS Version and I think it is an extremely well done game with some astonishingly simple and effective ideas. The only problem I see here is that it is the same fucking game all over again! The FOURTH time now (N64, Game Cube, DS and now Wii). The Wii is even backwards compatible so it should play the Game Cube version just fine. There are some new features but they are nowhere near enough to justify a new release. The Wii Speak is a cool thing but I would like to see that with Mario Kart Wii instead of Animal Crossing.

So with no really interesting titles on the horizon I’m afraid Nintendo might be getting into trouble.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

2 responses to “Nintendo loosing their touch?”

  1. Pablo Varando

    This makes Nintendo a genius in my book…

    Why do you think Dreamwork Films is the highest grossing studio out there?

    Kids Movies/Games ALWAYS make more money… Sure You have a lot of Adult Gamers… but they lack in comparison to how many kids (younger kids) are out there and most (if not all) want or have a wii…

    So naturally; they’re attacking the younger market; so it’s ingenious on their part!

  2. Krystian Majewski

    I disagree.

    Nintendo doesn’t seem to “attack the young market”. Their commercial always feature adults using their products. The ingenious thing about their strategy is that they make games for everybody

    Even if they did, using music like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is a bad idea. Even if it is used so aggressively in kid’s toys, it is not the kind of music kids are crazy about. It is not the kind of music you would actively seek out and PAY for. It is generally just not attractive music – regardless of age. Making games for Kids would mean getting a High School Musical or Hannah Montana license.

    That’s why I mentioned Gutar Hero and Singstar – they are popular because the producers made sure to have good, attractive songs in it.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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