All posts by Cartridge

Disney leaves the videogame market; cancels Disney Infinity

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Previously we heard that Disney was going to skip e3 and that Disney wasn’t going to release a new Disney Infinity game this year and now we know why.

Big news for the massive entertainment company.

The developer, Avalanche Software, is shutting its doors  with 300 game developers losing their jobs as a result.

Disney will license out their properties much like they did with Star Wars.

Kotaku did some digging if you’re interested:

-12 inch $45 figures were being planned.

-Story Mode where the world collide was in the works for the next installment

-The franchised was killed due to overproduction.

“A story bouncing around the company was that expectations for Hulk were so huge, they produced two million toys. Unfortunately, as the story went, they only ended up selling one million units.”

-Battlefront took away some of the audience from DI 3.0

 

Nintendo needs to improve their communication with fans/marketing

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A lot of people have been concerned with Nintendo’s e3 plans, or the lack thereof. We believe that Nintendo must make some serious changes in the way they interact with their consumers and here are some thoughts on what they should try to do:

E3:

E3 is known to many as a 2nd Christmas, where corporations compete to impress their fans with new game announcements. It’s a big event that means a lot to people…but it doesn’t seem to be an effective marketing tool. It’s an outdated format made for print based publications which have mostly died out. With online broadcasts, the need to pay millions to rent out a conference hall to show journalists what consumers can see from the comfort of their own homes seems rather pointless. This is exacerbated by the fact that all of these massive companies are trying to put their best foot forward at the same time. Investing all that time and money into a show just to get overshadowed by some company announcing that a game they promised a decade ago is still alive would seem like a waste.

Last year was very bad for Nintendo. The pacing, the lack of interesting games to show off, and spreading all their announcements between Nintendo World Championships, a pre-e3 Nintendo direct, and the digital event let down a lot of fans hoping for a show that could compete with the others and have a great showing. The expectations set by e3 are very difficult to match and if you fail to do so there could be disastrous results as seen by the general negativity around the company seen last year.

Additionally, skipping e3 and delaying the NX for a better reveal later this year isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Communication: 

If Nintendo decides to skip e3 entirely for the next couple of years that might work to their benefit. Not having to deal with the enormous expectations set by e3 is fairly helpful, additionally it allows them to save up announcements and spread them evenly throughout the year. Right now Nintendo has long dry spells in the months leading to e3 and the months afterwards that there’s essentially no communication with their consumers. This is one of the biggest problems Nintendo currently faces. If there are no 3rd parties on board, Nintendo news won’t happen unless Nintendo announces it so if they decide to go a couple months with Nintendo Directs then that’s months of silence that undo a lot of the goodwill Nintendo can build up from any big positive showing. At e3 2014, for example, Nintendo had a fantastic showing that blew a lot of people’s expectations away and made fans very excited for the future. Nintendo followed this with no new game releases for 4 months and no Nintendo directs for at least 3.

Nintendo should look at Sony and Microsoft’s Major Nelson or Playstation blog as ways to fill in the gaps between each Nintendo direct. Spacing their announcements and always having something new to share with fans is a great way to increase consumer engagement. Nintendo Treehouse blog, or common Nintendo Treehouse live showing is a potential way to remedy this. The Nintendo treehouse is a group of charming, knowledgeable people and taking advantage of their capabilities could help Nintendo create more of a connection with their fans.

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Nintendo Directs:

This is the most forward thinking concept and execution Nintendo has had in a long time. These “mini-e3” have managed to eclipse Nintendo’s own e3 showings in some cases and do a great job at getting people excited without having to meet the crazy expectations of e3. The biggest issue is the lack of Directs during a year, usually content with releasing a lot of information through text on a press release site. E3 takes a huge chunk of the amount of announcements they have and dropping e3 could allow for more shows through the year.

The art of the game reveal:

This is something less noticeable but has a massive impact on the perception of quality a title has to the general audience. While Nintendo Directs are great, a lot of games were revealed unceremoniously. Trailers are just random gameplay clips followed by some guy in a suit talking about some new gameplay mechanic. It makes it seem that Nintendo doesn’t care about the game, and if they don’t care why should we? 3D World’s first trailer left a lot of people disappointed with the game until the famous October Trailer turned some heads. It’s wiser to convince people to try your game at the reveal with a good trailer instead of trying to fix the damage done by a poor reveal. Try and help us feel excited about your games, Nintendo.

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Marketing:

Potentially one of the bigger factors for Nintendo’s drop in performance from Wii/DS is the lack of quality marketing. They’re not investing a lot of money into the right channels to promote their content. With their current YouTube program preventing Nintendo content from being made by YouTubers they need to rely on themselves to promote their own products.

I don’t have a great understanding of marketing teams nor do we know how much Nintendo invests in its marketing outside of that one leak from a few months ago. I do recall the marketing team behind the Wii leaving Nintendo awhile back and it shows. They invest very little and you don’t see Nintendo ads anywhere outside of the likes of Cartoon Network. The ads themselves are usually of poor quality that don’t resonate well with their audience. Sony and MS outspend them with ads, they need to think creatively or start spending more if they hope to compete with them in any way.

I’d recommend dropping the YouTube creator’s program. The results can’t be as positive as they would need to be to counteract the negativity that afflicts YouTubers when covering Nintendo games.

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Please your fans:

Nintendo has a lot of disgruntled fans that just want a thing or two. A lot of their biggest detractors used to be their biggest fans that started feeling ignored. Even if they’re not very profitable, releasing Mother 3 in the states, a new F-Zero, a new Metroid, etc would please fans. Just give them a token effort to make them feel like you care. The Last Guardian and Shenmue 3, projects that have been in development hell for several years or have struggled to get greenlight, are Sony’s token effort to their fans. These games likely won’t end up well, but just the press leading up to their release is worth it.

Bottom Line:

Nintendo could leave e3 and benefit greatly. E3 is a large investment and the competition trying their best to leave their mark is a lost cause better spent elsewhere

Their poor communication likely has a rather large effect on their negative public image. If they aren’t talking to consumers, their critics will.

If they wish to find success they need to fix the way they handle their marketing. It feels that, in more ways that one, Nintendo gave up on the Wii U rather quickly. Major Wii U games got little to no prominent advertising and everyone else was very negative on the system. They need to make sure their marketing team is up to the task of promoting the NX properly or things are not going to change from their current Wii U fortunes.

The YouTube Creators program is a detriment. Cancel it immediately.

Finally, Nintendo must try and please their fans. At the end of the day, these are the only ones they can count on and ignoring them for so long will have harmful effects in the future.

Speculation: NX to use cartridges

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Rumors, speculation, and an official patent from Nintendo seem to indicate that the NX will potentially use cartridges, or “cards” instead of a variation of the Blu-Ray disc. The latest bit of news was sparked from a Macronix report, a company which produced previous Nintendo cartridges in the past, that shows that they are producing ROM chips for Nintendo. Though it’s worth noting that these ROM chips could just be the NX’s bio chip and this does not guarantee anything.

(UPDATE: more speculation leading to this idea?)

In the past, specifically with the Nintendo 64, Nintendo suffered from sticking to cartridges instead of moving to the superior CD-ROMs costing them a lot of of 3rd party support and console sales due to the high cost of producing the cartridges and the high price per each unit sold. Advancements in the technology would allow Nintendo to return to cartridges and produce physical media whose cost is not considerably higher than its competitors while retaining several advantages.

Benefits of using cartridges:

Believe it or not, there are plenty of pretty major benefits from sticking with cartridges. The most obvious would be that the NX would not need a disc drive. As seen in the picture below, disc drives take up a significant amount of space in a console; they also use a lot of power and create heat. Removing disc drives from future Nintendo hardware would allow Nintendo to create a smaller system that is more energy efficient without sacrificing a lot of potential system power. Having fewer moving parts also reduced the amount of broken systems and lowers costs of potential returns/repairs which. Additionally, disc drives can’t keep up with the required speeds needed to properly stream video game data from the original game file to the hardware so most modern require installs to perform optimally. This takes up a ton of hard drive space, though, so if Nintendo decides to forgo disc based media they can make the most out of their given hard drive space and consumers don’t have to wait around for installs.

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Cons:

Not many negative aspects would exist that couldn’t be counteracted by the benefits provided. Essentially, cartridges no matter what will cost more to produce than disc based media. I’m also not entirely sure about capacity. Should be bigger than Wii U games, but smaller than PS4’s 50GB+.

Shared Library:

Another idea that’s been thrown around that’s practically been confirmed by Nintendo several times is the concept of a shared library between the portable and the console. Read more about that here. If the shared library does work out, sharing game media between the two could be highly beneficial for Nintendo as well. Producing only one SKU would increase the demand for that particular game since more people with different systems can buy and play it. This, in turn, can increase the value of Nintendo’s software and improve relations with retailers. Instead of over shipping the console version and under shipping the portable version and vice verse, they can ship a set amount of software.

The cost of cartridge based media lowers depending on various factors. The size of the packaging and the amount of copies one can ship in a crate and the amount produced are two major factors. Cartridges are smaller in size and thus can be shipped in larger quantities per crate, if the size is right they could potentially manage to lower the cost of cartridges down to something similar to disc costs. The difference could be somewhere around $1-2, an amount that could be offset to 3rd parties by lowering royalties. If you’re interested in an in depth post about the logistics at work, check out this post by Terrell.

 

TL;DR

Cartridges can allow Nintendo to produce a system without a disc drive that’s smaller, requires less energy, and less damage prone. This could allow Nintendo to produce a good system with specs that are up to par while breaking even or profiting off of each unit sold. A shared library would benefit from shared media increasing the value of each SKU produced. Cartridges cost more, but with the right logistics one can lower the costs to something comparable to discs, any minor deviation to 3rd party developers can be offset by lower royalty costs which Nintendo can afford due to more profitable hardware.

While not set in stone, it seems very doable and with a lot of benefits that Nintendo would likely appreciate. They love small systems with low energy consumption, especially for japanese markets and this would allow them to achieve just that without hindering the performance of their hardware.