Following Nintendo's E3 press conference earlier this month, Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime was interviewed by Kotaku, an interview in which he shared some very divisive opinions concerning the supposed insatiability of the "hardcore" gamer:
"One of the things that, on one hand, I love and, on the other hand, that troubles me tremendously about not only our fanbase but about the gaming community at large is that, whenever you share information, the perspective is, 'Thank you, but I want more.' 'Thank you, but give me more.' I mean, it is insatiable.
"And so for years this community has been asking, 'Where's Pikmin?' 'Where's Pikmin?' 'Where's Pikmin?' We give them Pikmin. And then they say, 'What else?'
"For years, this community have said, 'Damnit Reggie, when you launch, you better launch with a Mario game.' So we launch with a Mario game, and they say, 'So what's more?'
"I have heard people say, 'You know, you've got these fantastic franchises, beyond what you're doing in Smash Bros., isn't there a way to leverage all these franchises?' So we create Nintendo Land and they say, 'Ho-hum, give me more.' So it's an interesting challenge.""
Being a vocal representative of Nintendo must be difficult at this particular juncture. The Wii U is nothing if not another controversial step into the next generation of gaming for the company, a piece of hardware which yet again they must explain to consumers in a manner which will entice both the casual market and their existing fanbase. Whereas Microsoft and Sony can thrust themselves into the next-gen with nothing but improved graphics and a new line-up of games, Nintendo have solidified the Wii's status as the quirky cousin of the Xbox and PlayStation, and now find themselves faced with the unenviable task of marketing a control scheme that's even more left-field than the Wii Remote.
The problem facing Nintendo at this point is the weight of expectancy. The Wii, whilst fiscally successful, had very little life left to give throughout the past couple of years, burdened with inferior technology and a boycotting from most popular third-party developers. Its relatively cheap price and bundling with Wii Sports ensured that it flew off of shop shelves, only to then find itself gathering dust in consumers' cupboards until Nintendo released a Mario Kart Wii or a Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Nintendo's contentment with wheeling out sub-par mini-game collections and other assorted shovelware whilst seemingly disinterested in keeping core gamers satisified has created an unhealthy distrust between company and customer, something which their E3 2012 press conference failed to address.
The issue with the Wii U's showing at E3 all stems from one particular title - Nintendo Land. Nintendo Land is obviously being geared as the Wii U's Wii Sports, but whereas Wii Sports served as a great taster of the enjoyment Nintendo assured us we would have with their new console in the future, Nintendo Land is instead a reminder of how they have disappointed us this current console generation. Nintendo Land is essentially a mini-game collection featuring big name Nintendo properties such as Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing. It is nowhere near as awful as many have reported, with Animal Crossing's mini-game in particular, the saccharinely titled Sweet Day, looking like tremendous fun.
The problem is that, yet again, we have a Nintendo console with a mini-game collection pushed to the forefront of the line-up, with Ninty so besotted with their creation that they even went so far as to conclude their press conference with it. Reggie's "we've given you Pikmin 3, what more do you want!" comments are emblematic of Nintendo's new work ethic, where they'll give the "hardcore" one or two killer titles per year to seemingly shut them up, before focusing on authorising the development of cheap to develop, profitable shovelware and watering down their already existing franchises for the casual market (hello, Mario Kart).
The original Wii experienced a slow descent into mediocrity following its launch, eventually killed by the same innovation/gimmickry that caused it to be such a big hit in the first place, and at E3 2012 Nintendo did nothing but give us more reason to believe that the Wii U may suffer a similar fate.