But Should They Stick To What They Know?
Sony and Nintendo, sitting in a tree. C-O-E-X-I-S-T-I-N-G. SCE boss Shuhei Yoshida was recently goaded into commenting on their erstwhile rival's recent performance, wherein he revealed that they're not really competition at all. Rather, they're just bringing up the next generation of loyal Sony consumers.
“When you look at the situation around Nintendo that way, do you characterize Nintendo as our competition? I think in the bigger scale of things happening in the industry or tech or people’s lives, how they play games on what device, and how they start to learn to play games, I think Nintendo and us are pretty much in the same group," Yoshida told IGN's Greg Miller during a video interview.
“We need Nintendo to be very successful to help induct as many consumers who like to play games with controllers, right? I have two Wii Us. I play Wii U games with my daughters, because they make pretty fun family friendly games.”
A backhanded compliment if I ever saw one. Yoshida suggests that Nintendo's consoles serve to introduce younger or more inexperienced gamers to the medium, whereupon they're likely to graduate to Sony or Microsoft consoles. Preferably the former as far as Yoshida's concerned. The phrase "who like to play with controllers" is suggestive, playing down the GamePad and other motion control methods.
Arguably the Wii U is less effective than the Wii at attracting a wide casual audience - not least because of its confused attempt to appeal to more hardened gamers, but without the third-party support to back it up. Yoshida weighed in on the subject, suggesting that they should stick to what they know. “I think success or making mistakes depends on how you set your goal," he said. "I don’t know what was Nintendo’s goal when they launched Wii U. To me, it was a bit confusing because what they do really well was create some very safe environment for anyone, especially children to enjoy games like induct those people who have never played games ever to become gamers. And they always do very well.
“To me, what they have made with Wii U was continuing what they were doing well. But the messaging when they were saying ‘we are for core gamers’ was a bit confusing. But this year I think they slightly changed their messaging, and it seems to me like they are coming back to where they are focused.”
The Wii and DS were unquestionably pivotal in bringing videogames into the living room, and opening up the hobby to a wider audience - making it more legitimate and ubiquitous in the process. The Wii U has sadly struggled to match its predecessor in terms of sales and appeal, but now that Nintendo have slashed the Wii U's price point and beefed up the software lineup, we're likely to see an upswing over the coming months.
Indeed, I wonder whether the Wii U will become a niche hardcore console for gamers who actually crave colourful yet tightly-designed games rather than the usual slew of triple-A shooters.
Is it churlish of Sony to suggest that Nintendo basically just provide a training suite to "induct" new gamers into the hobby? Or are they right on the money? Are you a "core" Wii U gamer, or did you move to other consoles after finding your feet on Nintendo consoles? Let us know what you make of it in the comments.