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At the end of the day, is Reggie actually chickenshit?
Editorial by 
April 13, 2010, 18:55:34
Hearing about Jam With the Band coming to Europe kind of sparked a thought in my mind. Or maybe I've been thinking about it for a long time, and the news caused it to surface. In the business world, an executive will rarely lose his job for making a safe decision. Even if that safe decision gets the company in trouble, it's the same safe decision that others are making/would make, and everyone at the company was on board the safety train. In the corporate structure of America (and probably elsewhere, too), risk is to be avoided at all costs (don't worry, though - you've always got that golden parachute to float over to another corporate position with).

How many risks does NOA actually take? I always used to think that they were just puppets of NOJ, but now I'm not so sure. With recent comments and decisions, I'm starting to believe that they really do have control over which titles get localized and advertised (although NOJ could probably still overrule them). If that's true, then fuck them. There have been an incredible amount of titles that have been passed over for localization, the vast majority of them interesting, most of them good, and many of them great. And it isn't like the American release schedules are jam-packed with titles. There are obvious gaps for smaller games to fit into. Band Brothers DX was a huge, grassroots success in Japan. Why not give it a chance? NOA has let the whole 'music game' craze begin and end without even really trying to localize this fantastic franchise. They publish such a small overall slice of the games that Nintendo releases in Japan. And half of the more modest titles that they do decide to publish (dartboard?) are seemingly sent to die, as they spend all of their advertising budget on Wii Music and getting Beyonce for Style Savvy.

People can nonsensically rant and rave about Nintendo not making real games any more, but this kind of shit has my number one issue with Nintendo for the past couple of years. Other people may only care about Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, but I've always been interested in the fringe titles. Thank god(s) for the downloadable services, because they keep Nintendo's current lineup from looking like a Greatest Hits collection.

How many copies does a game have to sell to justify localization? How about it it's already been localized for Europe? Profit margins are nice, but while you keep shooting for that casual gold, how about tossing the diehard fans a bone once in a while? You never know, right? If you market a good game, it might even turn out to be successful. Even if you don't want to market it, a stealth release is better than no release. Hell, relegate Mother 3 to a downloadable platform (maybe even buy the fan translation). Just get it out there.

I mean, it's actually bad news for Americans when Nintendo publishes a title like Fatal Frame in Japan. That's just not right.

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Posted: 04/13/10, 18:55:34  - Edited by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:08:30    
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It's like some bizarro twilight zone to me to see all of these games that Europe is getting and we aren't. Japan is one thing, but Europe?! Come on NOA!!!

I've said this before and I will say it again... a corporation like Nintendo has the potential to do tons of fan service at (relatively) minimal risk. Let's say NOA does bring over Disaster, Mother 3, Band Brothers and a few others. Let's say they actually manage to lose money. How much? A week's worth of Wii Fit + or New Super Mario Brother sales? And then you have at least shut up the "Nintendo doesn't care about its fans!" whining a bit.

Seems like a worthwhile business transaction to me.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:08:10
Don't get me started on the Nintendo/Mother series situation.

The biggest gripe I have with Nintendo at the moment is definitely the inconsistency in their localization plans, and I'm pretty sure NOA (and probably NOE to a certain extent) has their say in what gets localized and what doesn't. Either way, I think it's shit that Nintendo refuses to localize and release titles in general, even if they might not have an established fanbase, but especially if they do.

Given Nintendo's huge amount of money that they're sitting on it wouldn't be too much of a gamble for them to make sure their fans stay happy at all times, it would probably even be benefitiary in the long run. Just imagine the amount of happiness and respect a worldwide Mother series release would generate for instance, even if we're only talking about the Virtual Console.

And this is just one example, a franchise that has actually had a chance to build a fanbase in the west over the years, but a lot of games don't even get that chance. It's a real shame.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:12:17
You know, it might not be a worthwhile business transaction, when all the beans are counted. But still, what the fuck.

Yeah, that is the exception, huh? I can't think of too many others. On a recent NWR, they were saying that even Reggie has to publish games that were developed in America. It would be kind of morbidly amusing, though, if the game was completed, but refused for publishing in all regions.

I'd love to know what goes on behind the scenes regarding the planning and marketing of a game like Excitebots. Why green-light it if they didn't want to support it? But the Wheel bundle does indicate some level of support. A very interesting case.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:13:56  - Edited by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:19:10
Even if some of the releases wouldn't generate a profit, some of them still might, and I think that a lot of the time we can never know for sure until they actually take a chance and give it a shot.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:17:59
Yes, it's annoying, but my position is it's much more annoying for the common man than gamers like us. You know about these games, you know ways to get them, you know how to get them to play on your Wii. If you really want them, nothing is staying in your way from getting them. Sure, it'll cost you more and the games will never get as cheap as they would if they released here, but the fact that you can get so many games for cheap here means you probably can afford to splurge a little now and again.

The people I feel bad for are the people who don't even know these games exist.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:19:53
Well, I don't know if it's annoying for them. Not to start the 'ignorance is bliss' argument again, but...

Some of those titles could very well become surprise successes. I guess we'll never know. Atlus will happily publish games that they forecast sales of 50,000 for, but Nintendo... I dunno. Their machinations are just beyond me, honestly.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:22:10
Yeah, it sure is a mystery. I'm very happy that Europe's got Rising Star Games. I gave them a lot of shit back when they published the censored version of No More Heroes, but hell, they did publish it. And they're giving us the sequel, they've brought us Little King's Story, Muramasa, Rune Factory, lots of other titles that practically have no chance of selling millions, but they make it work, and as a gamer I think they're fantastic for the European market.

I bet that if Nintendo weren't sitting on the publishing rights for games like Captain Rainbow or Fatal Frame they'd be all over them too.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:31:30
I wish NOA was as good as NOJ. There's just so much stuff we missed out on. Some of that stuff would have flopped here in the States, I'm sure... but others would be bona-fide hits. Then again, you never know what's going to catch on and what isn't. I remember reading an article years ago that actually said NOA almost *didn't* localize Pokémon. ( ! ) I think taking a risk or two here and there could do the company a world of good.

I think Band Brothers/Jam With The Band's chances of getting localized were officially killed when Elite Beat Agents put up less-than-impressive sales numbers. Despite the fact that Band Brothers actually came out first, and the localized Jam With The Band would have preceded EBA. Ah well.

On the other hand... I have to admit. I've got my hands full as-is as far as games go. There are TONS of games in my backlog thanks to the DS alone, and many more that I'm planning on picking up. While I'll always lament not being able to sample all of Nintendo's output, it's not like I'm left high and dry.

Honestly, as far as having enough games to play, I've never been lower or wetter.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:37:44
I'm just reminded of what that former NOA producer said on RFN during that Geist Retroactive game club: "At Nintendo, if it doesn't hit a million it's considered a failure".

I kind of wish the big Japanese publishers out there (Sega and Nintendo especially) had two pipelines to bring games over here. The main branch would bring the big games over, while a secondary branch would focus on bringing over and marketing efficiently the smaller stuff. An Atlus-inside-NOA, if you will. I mean, NOA might be so big it doesn't see the point in bringing the small games over, but a profit is a profit. I don't understand why they'd pass up on it.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:49:41
@anandxxx But can you ever count all of the beans? I mean a worthwhile business transaction as in, loss potential = minimal (unlike say, your average HD title from some unknown developer), fan happiness potential = maximal (is that a word?) Sure it's difficult to put fan happiness on a spreadsheet at the end of the fiscal year and say SEE IT MAKES US MONEY, but it does play into your overall sales potential. Happy fans buy more products, in general.

@Simbabbad Yes, we did get ExciteBots. And that is one title that it will never, ever be difficult to find for cheap, I see it everywhere for a bargain. I think they overproduced it like woah. No one was expecting it to only sell 1/6 of what ExciteTruck did.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:54:31  - Edited by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:57:24
If that's really how NOA feels about things, there has to be a bigger gap than I thought between their and NCL's attitudes towards what is a success and what isn't given certain releases that only get to see Japanese store shelves.

And I'd like to see something similar to what you're suggesting, but I would be fine with Nintendo allowing third parties to publish Nintendo games in regions for which Nintendo has no intentions of doing so themselves. The Fatal Frame IV situation is a good example; Nintendo doesn't want to see it released in Europe 'cause they don't think it'll do well, Tecmo on the other hand wouldn't mind, but since Nintendo's sitting on the publishing rights noone gets nothing. It's insane.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 19:59:42
Excite Truck didn't sell a million copies... does that mean the NOA considered it a failure? If that's the case, then why green-light Excitebots? Just to sell more Wii Wheels? Hmm.


I like your Atlus-within-Nintendo idea. *thumbs up*

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 20:05:35
Reggie is a fuckhole and he can go fuck himself. I'm sick of waiting for Nintendo of America to get off their asses and bring these games over. Next generation I'm actually considering importing a Japanese version of whatever system Nintendo releases next, and then maybe modding it so I can play whatever games actually do get released in English.

@Jargon That's true, but then people get discouraged because there are hurdles to overcome in order to play these games (Wii games in particular, because of the regional lockout), so people don't want to deal with the higher prices or the risk of putting Homebrew on their system. Which is fair, but it still disappoints me that a lot of people outside of Japan (or everywhere except America when it comes to Disaster) will never get the chance to play Disaster or Fatal Frame or whatnot.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 20:19:08

Just because they think they've got a failure on their hand doesn't prevent them from thinking they can do better next time, I guess.

Who knows. Maybe they thought on paper Excitebots had the potential to outsell Excitetrucks, then the marketing people saw how the product was shaping up and lost confidence in it. And they didn't cancel it outright, but did shit it out on the market without any fanfare.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 20:20:57  - Edited by 
 on: 04/13/10, 20:22:19
Reggie is a brainless robot like those things at Chuck E. Cheese's. Anything he has to say is simply for entertainment purposes.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 20:27:24
I had similar thoughts about them cooling off on Excitebots during development. Which is weird, because it's a good game, by most accounts. AND they bundled it with a Wii Wheel, which seemed like a pretty strong promotional move, after Mario Kart's success.

Also, they hired the same team a third time for Excitebike World Rally. Nintendo really is just utterly unfathomable. It seems almost impossible to ascribe a logical, reliable pattern of behavior to their movements.

I should've paid more attention during that episode. But they were talking about Geist...

That's an interesting idea about a low-key subsidiary (not sure Sega needs it, though). As for why they would pass up profits, there's something called 'opportunity cost'. If Nintendo could use the exact same resources to develop either a new 2D Mario game or... I dunno, a new Mach Rider, making Mach Rider would be a loss of opportunity cost, even if it made money. That's why I'm not sure if your plan is feasible. Would Nintendo ever really use their resources in that way? Would they really keep the branches separate? Or would they repurpose Nintendo Marketing Division 2 to push Wii Fit to smaller outlets?

My cousin worked on the Nintendo account at a Marketing firm. She said that they're notoriously cheap and slave-driver-y.

That is a beautiful world you dream of. If you ever find it, send me the directions on Google Maps.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 21:58:29
But I think Nintendo realizes this, at least to some degree, right?

For instance, they work hard to maintain a "family friendly" image because they feel that this that leads to more $$$ in the end. But you can't really throw a decision like say... friend codes onto a spreadsheet and show that it maintained the family friendly image and therefore brought in X amount of dollars from families, can you? Yet Nintendo still makes these kinds of decisions.

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 22:19:43
I dunno, is it 'family friendliness' or lack of liability? Nintendo has been sued a lot of times (hence, all those fucking warning screens). Is Nintendo a consumer-friendly corporation? Well, other than the Wii and DS Lite, they build their products to last, which is definitely a consumer-friendly move. And they DID make Animal Crossing: City Folk for the hardcore... but there are all sorts of things you could point to to counter that.

Certainly, they don't seem to feel that they 'owe' it to anybody to localize games. Nintendo views localization as more of a privilege than a right. And I think they prefer spreadsheets to unquantifiable 'goodwill'. But who knows?

Posted by 
 on: 04/13/10, 22:27:44
honestly, only Disaster, Fatal Frame, and Band Brothers makes no sense... the other games are niche or just fucked up Japanese shit.

Posted by 
 on: 04/14/10, 04:34:04
Giant mutant baby robot boy is here to kick ass and take names...then block the release of games to North America that might actually have a chance for decent sales.

That is the way of the giant mutant baby!!

Posted by 
 on: 04/14/10, 07:15:23
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