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6. With Satoru Iwata recently announcing that the company intends to fully integrate its Network Network Ids (NNIDs) across all current and future Nintendo devices, Nintendo has finally dropped its archaic practice of tying user game accounts to hardware, and embraced backwards compatibility. Of course, true backwards compatibility isn’t promised until Nintendo’s next console, but it’s a step in the right direction and means that consumers won’t lose their digital games in future if they are to sell or upgrade their Nintendo consoles. They also won’t need to buy the same game twice – a consumer unfriendly practice that has benefited no-one but Nintendo.
The only problem however is that this policy should have been implemented nearly a decade ago, and whilst Nintendo are trying to operate in tandem with consumer and market trends, they still have some way to go in order to offer the kind of digital catalogue that Steam, PSN and XB Live now offer. In other words, Nintendo’s competitors have a 10 year head start.
Despite the promise of DS games coming to Wii U in future, Nintendo’s Virtual Console store still doesn’t take advantage of Nintendo’s legacy games to the same extent that rivals such as Sony are able to. After all, wouldn’t you like to be able to download and play Gamecube games (like F-Zero GX) on your Wii U, or take advantage of the 3DS’s Gamecube-level technology and be able to play Gamecube AND SNES games (like Contra III) on the go?
Nintendo have announced that their future hardware offerings will act like “brothers”, with both console and handheld devices sharing similar DNA architecture, and having similar power. And much like Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices, the advantages of allowing consumers to consume content according to different lifestyle requirements may yet yield a boon for Nintendo – as this will only open up options for both the company and its customers. Indeed, given Nintendo’s desire in wanting to cater to both markets simultaneously (without increasing resources), the company could very well amplify its strength by combining its hardware and software.
However, one should also be aware that Nintendo, for all their good intentions, still so often snatch defeat in the jaws of victory. For while the company is internationally renowned for its creativity, its methods for executing its ideas in a manner that is beneficial for both the company and consumer often leaves a sour taste and leaves much to be desired.
But postulating on the merits on how NNID’s will interact between Nintendo’s forthcoming hardware is a discussion best left to soothsayers and fortune tellers. As it stands however, Nintendo have much more pressing matters that the company needs to attend to urgently if it wants to be taken seriously within the online gaming sphere.
Seeing as to how Nintendo’s online strategy is seriously lagging behind its competitors, the company’s first port of call should be overhaul its entire online infrastructure so as to have it operating in a manner more reminiscent of PSN and Xbox Live. Messaging and Voice Chat features need to be implemented also so as to encourage online multi-player interactions, as well as ensuring that sufficient servers are operating in order to avoid downtime and lag issues.
But with premier franchise updates (such as Mario 3D World) missing out on key multi-player components, Nintendo once again displays its inability to keep up with modern gaming trends. People don’t tend to play in the same room anymore, and whilst Nintendo’s drive to encourage local multi-player should be lauded, it’s worth noting that their stubborn refusal to adapt to changing gaming lifestyles also makes the company come across as being unsophisticated and unequipped in being able to meet the demands of the current market.
No wonder the House of Mario is worshipped by an ever decreasing cult of fanatical loyalists, as the company for the most part, fails to keep up with modern gaming conventions and is unable to cater to the needs and requirements of modern players. Indeed, and for the most part, Nintendo appears thoroughly unconcerned when it comes to catering to the desires of its audience, so it’s no wonder that its once loyal audience has been driven into the arms of its competitors.
One thing which Sony started doing (via its PS+ subscription service) was to generously reward its customers by giving them access to free games, which would be theirs as long as they continued subscribing for a nominal fee. And since PS+’s introduction, gamers (across all of Sony’s formats) have been able to gain access to old forgotten classics, as well as content that has appealed to niche interests. In short, PS+ has been a master-stroke and a wonderful token gesture by Sony so as to foster loyalty and generate good will among its customers. And this is a strategic tactic that Microsoft has also found itself adopting after the company nearly jeopardised its XBox brand prior to the XBox One launch.
Nintendo however has announced no such intention of following suit, with its “Ambassador Program” merely sweetening the raw anxiety driven fury of early 3DS adopters. And whilst Nintendo does intend to roll out a program that allows serial purchasers to buy subsequent software at a discount, their program for rewarding customer loyalty isn’t as generous as what Sony and Microsoft are offering via their “Playstation Plus” and “XBox Live Gold” services.
From the point of the consumer, it would therefore make sense for Nintendo to ape many of the discount schemes that Sony and Microsoft provide, by reintroducing its “Ambassador Program” for the benefit of Nintendo loyalists, and giving away free games (even if they are old retro games) as part of a generous subscription package. Part of this would be to also allow generous discounts on online purchases, and to offer value added incentives for consumers to stay committed to Nintendo and its heritage.
One example of this where consumers would benefit from Nintendo’s heritage is if Nintendo allowed all of their legacy games to be made available, as opposed to having the content be drip fed through intravenous releases on multiple hardware releases. And as stated before, it should be the company’s priority to ensure that its online infrastructure is able to handle the rigours of modern gamers, by ensuring that its features (such as the eShop) are clearly laid out, and that all games are able to run on hardware if the machine is technically capable of supporting such content. In other words, all previous Nintendo handheld games should be made available on the 3DS, and all previous console games should be made available on the Wii U. And if “Cross-Save” and “Cross-Play” can be implemented for Nintendo’s two devices, then all the better.
Click here to go to Part Eight.