Gamers who don\’t own a Wii have nothing against Mario and Co. They wouldn\’t mind having Skyward Sword, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid Prime Trilogy, and Super Smash Bros Brawl alongside their Call of Duty, Mass Effect, and Skyrim. It’s only when they\’re forced to choose- either Skyrim or Mario- that’s when they plunk down the cash in the areas that matter most to them.
Finally, Nintendo has shown a focus on bringing back those gamers who have remained exclusive to the HD consoles. They primarily want to do this by appealing to third party developers who have felt Nintendo’s console performances were stilted in regards to hardcore gaming. Qualities that mattered to them in a console went unnoticed by Nintendo. And that is a perception Nintendo wants to change with the Wii U. Yet, the question presents itself: what will it take for Nintendo to change this image? How difficult will it be? And, what are some concrete strategies Nintendo can implement to lay the groundwork for this shift?
That question has been analyzed and over-analyzed many times from a hardware perspective. HD, powerful graphic processor, robust online strategy, a non-limiting controller, etc. But, I\’d like to attempt an answer to those questions from a software point-of-view. What specific software is needed to satisfy the hardcore gamers? Of course, Nintendo can\’t force hundreds of developers to jump on the bandwagon with promises alone. But, they can pad the coffers of a few choice developers in order to buy some friends in high places. So, who matters the most in this generation of gaming?
Let’s go back and look at the top selling games on the PS3 and 360 over the past generation and we can make an educated guess from there. The magic formula for success was: Call of Duty, Rockstar, Assassin’s Creed, a realistic racing game, and two exclusive \”shooter\” IPs. That pretty much sums up the list of best selling games on both consoles.
1. Each had four Call of Duty games in the top ten.
2. Each had Grand Theft Auto in the top five and Red Dead Redemption at number 15.
3. Assassin’s Creed was just outside the top ten for both consoles, and three games in the franchise were in the top twenty.
4. Sony had Gran Turismo in the top ten and Microsoft had Forza just outside the top ten.
5. Microsoft relied on two exclusive hardcore franchises: Halo and Gears of War (each with two games in the top ten.) And Sony relied on their own two exclusive hardcore franchises: Metal Gear Solid and Uncharted. God of War 3 weighed in at number 16.
So, basically, Nintendo would have to convince Rockstar to support the Wii U with their franchises and Ubisoft to bring Assassin’s Creed. They would need to supply strong enough hardware to provide gamers with a proper Call of Duty experience (not dumbed down, like the Wii versions.) And they would need to create two new franchises for \”mature\” gamers, preferably one of them being an FPS. And, lastly they would need to get a hold of a realistic racer. (Although, even HD gamers might be convinced to play Mario Kart or F-Zero.)
I think the toughest thing would be getting Nintendo to create two new hardcore franchises. Although, there may be a solution to this. If Nintendo focused Retro on making the next \”Call of Duty or Halo-killer\”, it just might work. Many loyal Nintendo fans would be disappointed in seeing such a talented studio go down that path, but it would make sense for Nintendo from a business standpoint. Second, they could work on broadening the appeal of the Metroid series to reach more gamers. Taking Metroid down a more cinematic route with Other M was a smart move. It may not have worked out as well they hoped (Nintendo doesn\’t have much experience in the story department and supposedly Sakamoto was in charge of that; not Team Ninja.) Maybe they should work with a developer like Hideo Kojima or Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed team.
And lastly, I think Nintendo should make Zelda darker. Like, Majora’s Mask dark. Majora’s Mask featured a twisted, disturbed world constantly in a state of impending doom. No blood or guts were needed to portray a grim environment that was pervaded with a creepy and eerie atmosphere . As great as Wind Waker was and Skyward Sword will be, Nintendo has to create a tone that appeals to a different type of gamer. If they want the casual fans, Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Just Dance already take care of that for them. But, if they want their library of software to appeal to gamers that never looked twice at Nintendo, they must offer them something that competes with their range of tastes.
And, maybe if Nintendo corners that hardcore \”niche\” of this ever-expanding industry, their classic franchises will be picked up again by some who had abandoned them since childhood. Imagine: Skyrim, Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto, Super Smash Bros, Pokemon, Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Deus Ex,Â – all on the same system! And with that, Nintendo will have created the ultimate software library: hardcore, regular, and casual. A gaming dynasty.
P.S. Super Smash Bros. VS Capcom wouldn\’t hurt, either.