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Bill Loguidice's picture

Thoughts on Nintendo's Figurine Platform for Wii U and 3DS

The Nintendo Figurine StrategyThe Nintendo Figurine StrategyNintendo doing a Skylanders/Disney Infinity-like take using their impressive stable of characters (news story here and seemingly everywhere else) was one of my past unsolicited suggestions for helping to goose the Wii U's listless sales, but I fear that their intended implementation, which seems to involve the figures working across a range of games is too non-specific. Critically, I think they also need a triple-A Disney Infinity-like open world/mini-game title for fans to rally around and where all of the figures will work. To my mind, having that (and future sequels) in conjunction with letting the characters work in several future games (Mario Golf, Smash Bros., their platformers, etc., all immediately come to mind) would be a slam dunk. It might even help turn the Wii U's fortunes around, but even if it didn't, it could certainly point to a great plan for Nintendo's future and an all-in-one successor to both the Wii U and aging 3DS (whose sales I expect to remain fairly steady, if no longer on a growth trajectory) that could incorporate the needed technology from day one. The only major hold up for incorporating connected figures in future Nintendo titles and, even with a possible triple-A open world/mini-game showcase title, is the company's continued sluggish software release schedule, which has plagued them for many years now. This inability to iterate quickly might also be why their strategy is just to bake use of the figures into select future titles--that would clearly take less time.

At its core, a correctly implemented figurine concept would indeed be a killer business plan, but not if Nintendo continues at their current glacial release pace since this is the type of thing that needs to feed on its own momentum. In any case, we'll know more about Nintendo's intended strategy for this concept around E3 in June. Let's hope they get it right.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Just what exactly is going on with Nintendo?

This new Bloomberg article sums everything up nicely, with some much needed direct quotes from Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata. It's both stunning and kind of sad we're getting this "we're going to embrace a new business model" rhetoric from Nintendo leadership, and that they're "going to study" mobile markets and what-not. It's stunning in that Nintendo is finally acknowledging that it may not be a bad thing to not always go against the grain and follow their own path. It's sad in that this smacks of Nintendo's snail-like move to HD and other modern technologies, which caused a lot of their problems in the first place, i.e., slow to produce new games, behind-the-times online services, etc. Once they're done with their studying and assumed eventual embracing of at least some of these things, how much more time will have passed? Maybe it's indeed time for Iwata to step down like promised and have new, more inspired - and quicker acting and reacting - leadership to take his place. Sometimes it's just time to move on and let someone younger have a crack at the future of the company--just ask Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.

Bill Loguidice's picture

A Critical Look at Today's Videogame Landscape and the Possibilities for the Future

My Nintendo Wii U (2013)My Nintendo Wii U (2013)I've been quiet on the blog front of late as I've been focused on writing three new books for 2013 (and hopefully do what I can to help get the documentary out as well). However, with the latest NPD figures for videogame consoles being dissected across the Web-o-sphere, and Sony likely firing the next salvo for next generation platforms with their upcoming PlayStation-centric announcement (and Microsoft to follow soon thereafter), I thought this would a good time to break my silence and chime in with my perspective on the current videogame-centric happenings.

First off, it's clearly not looking good for pure videogame stuff with three lackluster hardware launches in a row: 3DS, Vita, and Wii U. The 3DS recovered sufficiently with a dramatic price cut that was very much against Nintendo's previous corporate policies that discouraged losing money on hardware, which allowed it enough time to hold out for the software situation to pick up. While it will never reach the sales heights of the blockbuster DS, considering how much competition both direct and indirect there is now versus then, it should still end up selling quite well when it has run through its complete lifecycle.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo TVii (ugh!), and more commentary about the big Nintendo news

We learned several things this morning at Nintendo's big Wii U Preview Event. One, Nintendo of America President and COO, Reggie Fils-Aime, does not appear to be a happy man; two, Nintendo still needs to work on their presentation skills at these events--it was pretty dull overall with not enough meat and too much focus on the wrong things; and three, and most importantly, we got the long awaited hard info on US launch date and system pricing.

You'll have two major system options on November 18, 2012: the Wii U Basic Set, which features 8GB of storage, for $299.99; and the Wii U Deluxe Set, which features 32GB of storage plus the Nintendo Land pack-in game. Besides me correctly predicting all of this back in June (not exactly hard), I still stand by my statement that the pricing is right where it needs to be. Naturally, the Deluxe Set is by far the best value, but Nintendo clearly wanted the sub-$300 talking point. Hopefully, not too many people will lose out either by decision or lack of stock for the Deluxe in getting the Basic.

Anyway, I also predicted that a second Wii U controller would run as high as $149.99. It looks like I was off a bit on that, as reports seems to indicate as much as $170 or so. The Pro Controller - the Xbox 360-like screen-less controller - looks like it will sell for around $65. Again, that seems a bit higher than many of us would have liked (in this case, $49.99 for me). At least the system bundles represent what we can perceive as fair pricing.

Mark Vergeer's picture

Summer Holiday Portable Gaming 2012

My games on the iPad while vacationing...This time no Pandora, PSP, DS or 3DS for my portable gaming needs.
Suffice to say that my phone more or less features the same setup.

Bill Loguidice's picture

E3 2012 - Most Significant Happenings from Nintendo's Wii U Showing

After giving my impressions of Sony's and Microsoft's respective efforts at e3, it's time to turn to Nintendo. Since tomorrow is Nintendo's stated day to focus on 3DS stuff, today it was pretty much all Wii U. I think there was a lot there to keep the Nintendo faithful happy, but I think overall there's still some work to be done for those who felt burned by the Wii or who didn't respond to the 3DS. Regardless, here is my impression of what I thought the highlights were:

Chris Kennedy's picture

Generation FAIL: How I Struck Out with the 7th Generation of Consoles (Part 1)

I love progress. I love seeing gaming hardware evolve. We love our games. We love good, solid gameplay. Every so often we love seeing a new gaming console hit the market. A new generation arrives, and we hop aboard.

The evolution of the hardware is sometimes expected, sometimes innovative, and sometimes shocking. WOW! Look what this baby can do! I have got to get my hands on one of these! New ideas breed new hardware. New games arrive. Gaming is revitalized. Developers get new ideas. People spend money.

People. Spend. Money. It is a cycle that is required. Eventually we hit a lull, and it is time for some new hardware to shake things up. People stand in line for new hardware for days. They are excited about spending their money on new hardware. It might be terribly expensive, but who cares!? It is the latest and greatest! Well... OK. Maybe it is the latest, but it isn't the greatest. Hardware developers are biting off more than they can chew, and early adopters PAY for it - literally. They pay with their pockets - possibly twice per console.

Bill Loguidice's picture

E3 2011 Viewpoints: Nintendo Wii U and 3DS | (yes, Nintendo's next console is pronounced, "We You")

After starting off with Microsoft, Sony, and Apple, it's only fitting we conclude with Nintendo, and the biggest announcement of the week: Nintendo Wii U. I'll also talk about how my predictions from April 19, 2011, based on previous rumors, worked out, inline, as appropriate (EDIT: You can read for yourself, actually, so I won't inline comment, I'll just say that I was correct in my prediction that the controller would be the ONLY innovation, in that any other expected innovations would add too much to the cost beyond the fancy controller):

  • Nintendo Wii U, "equally satisfying for all players" (hardcore and casual). Released some time in 2012 (Nintendo's focus this year is 3DS, with more franchise titles (Mario Kart, Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Mario, Luigi's Mansion)). I'm not sure I'm a fan of the name. I probably like it even less than I did "Wii", which did eventually grow on me. We'll see.
  • The controller looks a lot like a white tablet. It's generously sized (it has a 6.2" screen--goodness knows what the controller will be priced separately!). Pen-enabled. Also works with a finger. The screen (mock-up or not), looks very nice. It's a motion controller too and can play games stand-alone or in conjunction with a TV. It also has a camera (voice and video chat enabled). Nice!
  • Nintendo definitely took inspiration from Apple's iPad here. It's like the bastard child of an iPad 2 and Wii, with a little Xbox 360 thrown in for good measure.
  • It's backwards compatible with all the games and peripherals of the Wii.
  • Games appear to work differently if a player is using the new controller or a Wii Remote. There looks to be a lot of emphasis on the motion control features of the controller.
  • It's NOT designed to be a portable game machine, even though it shares some design characteristics. Everything is wirelessly transmitted from the console (no latency).
  • They talked a lot about HD images on TV or on the controller's screen. So this is definitely HD (EDIT: The console will output 1080p to the TV, but the controller screen will NOT be HD). Based on the non-gameplay and other graphics they showed, it's quite impressive looking, so probably at LEAST a little more powerful than Xbox 360 and PS3.
  • The Nunchuk port on the bottom of the controller is interesting, as it can also be used to snap the screen controller onto plastic peripherals.
  • They emphasized video chat and showing photos on your TV.
  • They talked about the expected interaction between Wii U and 3DS games, with Smash Brothers being the example.
  • They mentioned ONE game in particular (third parties mentioned others, like Batman: Arkham City and EA Sports stuff), Lego City Stories, a new open world game (exclusive to Wii U and 3DS). Beyond that, they made sure to mention what would be considered hardcore (core) gamer titles.
  • They talked a bit about online stuff, so hopefully they'll be more committed to the concept this time. The hardware is certainly there for it, at least.
  • There was no mention of storage or other specifics, so we'll probably have quite the wait for details like that.
Bill Loguidice's picture

State of the Nintendo Wii 2 Rumors - What is suggested and my practical predictions

As mentioned a few days back, rumors about a pending Nintendo Wii successor have been flying fast and furious, led no doubt by the dramatic lack of new game releases and overall declining sales for the worldwide console market leader. The first round of Nintendo Wii price cuts has already taken place, going from $199.99 to $169.99 at many major retailers. More cuts, no doubt, will be on the way. So, what is the present state of the rumor mill? Right now, here's what the most ambitious of the rumors are suggesting:

  • An HD console with slightly more power than either the Xbox 360 or PS3.
  • A controller with a 6" HD touch screen and camera that is capable of streaming all content from the console (in case your TV is occupied) and can also act as a secondary display for things like maps, inventory, and anything else that you'd normally have to pause a game to access.
  • The controller will feature dual analog sticks and a full complement of buttons.
  • A Blu-Ray drive.
  • A robust online service similar to Xbox Live.
  • Full backwards compatibilty with both the Wii and GameCube.
  • A renewed focus on the type of core games that are presently found on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, making cross-platform ports practical.
  • An additional, unknown gimmick/hook similar to the impact the Wii's motion controllers had when that launched.

All this for an "any day now" or E3 announcement, and a Japanese launch in mid-2012, with the rest of the world to follow by late 2012.

With the above pie-in-the-sky rumors noted, here is what I believe would be more like reality if any of that is to be practical, meaning hitting a price point between $249.99 and $399.99, and Nintendo making a nice profit (though I'm suspecting $349.99 will be the actual target):

  • An HD console with slightly more power than either the Xbox 360 or PS3.
  • A controller with a 6" touch screen and camera that is capable of streaming all content from the console (in case your TV is occuppied) and can also act as a secondary display for things like maps, inventory, and anything else that you'd normally have to pause a game to access. Note how I didn't say HD touch screen. I believe it will be similar to how the iPhone 4's screen is just really, really beautiful (reitna display), but not what we'd consider a traditional HD resolution. The "HD" part will simply be marketing speak for a really nice looking screen, like "4G" on cell phones is really just marketing speak for "faster than 3G" rather than descriptive of true 4G service.
  • The controller will feature dual analog sticks and a full complement of buttons.
  • A DVD drive. A Blu-Ray drive would add additional unecessary cost and would really only be a benefit if Nintendo embraced movie playback, which they've never done in the past.
  • An online service somewhere between Sony's offering for the PS3 and Xbox Live, sort of like a souped up version of what is hinted at at present on the 3DS.
  • Full backwards compatibility with the Wii (it will no longer be necessary to be GameCube compatible, as that could be part of the new Virtual Console service; it COULD be GameCube compatible, however, assuming it doesn't present any additional problems or represent unecessary costs, so I'm not really sure on this one since in theory the new controller layout would mitigate needing legacy GameCube controller ports).
  • A renewed focus on the type of core games that are presently found on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, making cross-platform ports practical. This is a given--Nintendo has mastered the production and sale of evergreen family-style titles, now they just need to seal the deal by catering to fussy core gamers as well.
  • No additional gimmick/hook. This is for practical reasons, because if you have such a sophisticated, costly controller, you need to make sacrifices elsewhere. I find it unlikely they could have such an advanced controller and on top of that include another groundbreaking feature. With that said, I wouldn't consider that type of controller groundbreaking, but it would at least be interesting. The ability to stream to the controller would be pretty much useless in my opinion, outside of the aforementioned ability to display info you'd normally have to pause the console to access or clutter up the main screen with.
  • Storage is not really addressed in any of the rumors. I can see it going one of several ways. First, is include an 8GB - 32GB high speed SD card. Another is to include a 128GB SSD drive. While the former is practical now in volume, the latter will be practical in volume by the time of the system's intended mid-2012 release. A smaller capacity SD card may be a viable option assuming more focus is put on streaming, a la what Netflix or OnLive do, rather than focus on onboard storage. This all depends upon how much Nintendo is willing to gamble on the general availability of high speed Internet.

So, what do you guys think? I'd love to hear your thoughts on both the rumors floating around and my own take on what form the system would have to take given the current scuttlebutt.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Nintendo working on Wii's successor for a pending announcement and 2012 release?

Well, it was only a matter of time. Many of us have been noticing the dearth of major Wii releases for 2011. In fact, my own observation went a bit further, in that while the Wii received many quality first party titles in 2010, it didn't receive anything that would require a significant monetary or time investment befitting a typical AAA title (because, let's face it, many of these were just 2D-style side scrolling games). That's why the recent news (here, among many other places) of a possible Wii price drop and the potential for a Wii successor announcement in the next month or so - with more details at this year's E3 - was not really all that surprising. It's really the only logical way to explain how Nintendo can trump even if its own classicly lethargic release schedules with what it has been doing - or not doing as the case may be - in regards to new product on the Wii. It would also explain why the relatively modest 3DS launch would have been such a drain on the company, since their resources were divided between that and the Wii successor.

Certainly the price drop is a typical move for a product in this stage of its lifecylce and is one that the competition has parlayed to some advantage as well. However, I feel that the launch of a possible next generation successor to the Wii in 2012 - let alone its potential pending announcement - is extremely premature. Here's why:

  • Though overall sales have dropped considerably, Nintendo could have easily continued to milk the Wii for more sales with a combination of successive and properly timed price drops and a few big first party titles here and there
  • If, as some of the rumors suggest, the Wii successor is only roughly as powerful as the 360 and PS3, it puts Nintendo in the exact same position they're in now with the Wii when the inevitable 360 and PS3 successors are released--presumably as quickly as 2013 if Nintendo releases in 2012
  • By announcing and releasing so early, Nintendo would give both Microsoft and Sony (who are of course each working on their own next generation platforms) plenty of time to copy all of the Wii successor's best features and then trump them. This is not something a company in a solid first place should do.

In any case, what are your thoughts on this? Too soon for Nintendo? Right time? Let's hear it!

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