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Has Reggie been right about (not) localizing niche games? [roundtable]
 
I don't want to admit it, either. But, fiscally speaking, has Reggie been making the right decision in passing up all of those cool-looking Japan-published Nintendo games? The responsible decision? I mean, Sin & Punishment 2 bombed, right? Did ANY of us think it would succeed? Would Captain Rainbow? Would Zangeki No Reginleiv or The Last Window or Jam With the Band or Tingle? Or even Soma Bringer or Mother 3 or a Nintendo-published Tales of Graces/Hearts? Will FlingSmash sell, even at a discounted price? NoE has been localizing a lot more games than NoA, and it seems to have resulted in an unending series of flops.

Or is that just perception? What examples can we think of? I know Jam With the Band flopped hard in Europe. Sin & Punishment 2 seems to have flopped here, and there were a LOT of copies of Rhythm Tengoku and Style Savvy on the shelf at Best Buy. Starfy actually did pretty well in the US, but the seems like an obvious gimme - a Nintendo-published platformer. The first Endless Ocean was a pretty successful game, I think, and Nintendo bundled the second with a peripheral. I'm not sure how it did. I guess Wario Land Shake It did fairly well here, as well. Excitebots bombed like your moms, but if they didn't publish it here, it wouldn't have been published ANYWHERE. And WHY did they fund the game, if they weren't going to market it? Puzzling! Then again, they did bundle it with a Wii Wheel, which could be seen as a huge push, after the gonzo success of Mario Kart.

That's just a small sampling of the data I'm familiar with, off the top of my head. But here's another important question: Does Nintendo owe us those games, anyway, as loyal fans? Can you think of a way to fiscally rationalize the localization of niche games by such a high-stakes publisher? I think letting a smaller company (who will be satisfied with smaller numbers) publish the more niche games is a perfect solution. There was already some precedent for this last gen, with Atlus publishing Cubivore and Polarium Advance. Has Nintendo cooled on the idea, or have companies like Atlus? I can't imagine that they (or companies like them) wouldn't jump at the opportunity to localize some of this stuff. If Nintendo is actively cockblocking other publishers, in addition to refusing to localize the games they have control over (including Japanese third-party deals like Fatal Frame), then that is just inexcusable and, just, irrational. They could offload all the risk of building the brand to other publishers, and capitalize on any success by publishing the follow-ups themselves. Seems kind of win-win. I really wish more interviewers would directly grill Reggie about this matter. Or even Iwata. He must have known that certain games would never take the world by storm. Why did he green-light them in the first place?

This is kind of disorganized, and I was going to write more, but I'll throw the floor to you guys. What do you think about the whole situation? From your own perspective and from Nintendo's. How can everybody be happy?

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Posted: 08/24/10, 18:23:21  - Edited by 
 on: 08/24/10, 19:12:40
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bpumpkin777 said:
I think the reason NOA hasn't been bringing games over has as much to do with the quality of the games than it does with whether they think they'll be profitable.

But from all accounts I've heard Soma Bringer and and Last Window are high quality games.

Besides, NOA releases an ass ton of crappy games. If they can release Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, they can release a few of these games.
Posted: 08/25/10, 04:46:47
Another reason I'd like to point out is that Reggie has surrounded himself with people that do not know the game industry. Cammy Dunaway and Denise Kaigler? They're great for selling games to grandmas and soccer moms, but Reggie needs more people like himself and that can speak for what we want. Gamers do not take either one of those ladies and what they have to say about anything game-related seriously, for good reason. Cammy and Denise don't know and most likely don't care about games like Soma Bringer and Xenoblade.

@Zero
NOA releases an ass-ton of crappy games? Like what? Yeah Barrel Blast sucked but that game came out forever ago.
Posted: 08/25/10, 05:28:01  - Edited by 
 on: 08/25/10, 05:38:03
@Simbabbad

That video was pretty awesome.
Posted: 08/25/10, 15:38:03
GameDadGrant said:
@Simbabbad

That video was pretty awesome.

It was also made by Nintendo UK, which seems to have people that care about courting the "core" gamer.

Is Reggie "right", fiscally? Probably. Still doesn't take the sting out of it for me, the gamer that would be interested in those types of games. Why should I be concerned with how many units these games sell if I know that I will buy them? Unless bad sales would put the company out of business (hint: it wouldn't), I'm not. Nintendo has garnered the success it has by being fiscally smart, but, at least in NA, it has come at the cost of the respect of many of their long-time fans. Not that they'd notice with all the money they've made this gen...
Posted: 08/25/10, 16:55:02
@Simbabbad I wouldn't put it all on Reggie, even if he is the figurehead of the company. I'm sure that he isn't the only person involved in making these decisions. NoA in general has been sucking pretty bad when it comes to bringing over anticipated "core" games recently. I just hope that things won't stay this way for too long.
Posted: 08/25/10, 17:49:55
Good discussion. I'm enjoying it. Goofing around is always fun, but it's nice to get a bit more in-depth, every once in a while.

Ben_Strife said:
Nintendo has garnered the success it has by being fiscally smart, but, at least in NA, it has come at the cost of the respect of many of their long-time fans. Not that they'd notice with all the money they've made this gen...
Punk bands pretend that they care when their original fans think they sold out, but they really don't.

Anyway, it's true that we should be most concerned with our own interests, but so should Nintendo, right? The point of this thread is to try to find a solution that will make everybody in the whole little ecosystem happy. Even those casual fuckers.

@bpumpkin777
I dunno about you, but Reggie doesn't speak for me. His 'favorite' game at the DS launch was Spider-Man. I mean, DS launch was pretty shitty, but still. I think he's as much of a gamer as Cammie or Denise, honestly.

I'm not sure about your quality thing, either. As an import enthusiast, I can attest that there are a lot of fantastic games that get passed over for localization. Like, a LOT. Some of my favorites.

I agree that NoA doesn't release many bad games, though. (Hell, they barely release anything now!) Barrel Blast was a looooong time ago. But even NoJ doesn't publish many bad games.

Zero said:
They just don't see much potential for Wii games outside of core franchises and casual games.
Well, after all, nothing sells on Nintendo systems except for... hey, wait a minute!!

Simbabbad said:
And there's more than sales anyway, there's console appeal and image. The Fatal Frame fiasco had more impact than just the people interested into Fatal Frame, it's an image thing.
I'm not sure about that, to be honest. It was a pretty big sticking point for informed gamers (although I'm not sure how many actually wanted to play the game), but how many of us are there, really? Most people probably have no awareness of it, including 'hardcore gamers', who would have found another reason to rag on the Wii and soil its image and salt its earth, anyway.

Pandareus said:
Why do that, if the profit is slim? Because there's always that small chance of getting a hit against all odds. Of a title exploding like Animal Crossing did. Publishers need new franchises and ideas eventually, milking something successful isn't viable in the long term (as Activision's shareholders will learn too late).
Right, that's true. And I think NoA tries to publish the titles they think have a chance of exploding. My OP is basically saying that their judgment might have been, for the most part, correct. Of course, we'll never know for sure. Zangeki No Reginleiv could have become the next... no, I can't even try to sell that. But I want to play that fucking game!!

Zero said:
The problem with the logic is that most of these games have little to no chance in Japan either. So if it is purely a financial decision, they shouldn't be published/developed/funded by Nintendo to begin with, period.
Yeah, that's an interesting wrinkle that I tried to address. Why did NoJ green-light these games if they weren't going to localize them (or even really promote them in Japan)? It bears consideration. But NoA seems to have a decent amount of autonomy these days, in terms of deciding what games to localize. Their priorities might be different than NoJ's. I mean, Iwata used to fricking PROGRAM games. Reggie is basically a bigger, jollier(, slightly less evil) version of Bobby Kotick.

And during Yamauchi's reign of terror, it's not like we had a very good localization record. We missed out on series like Advance Wars and Fire Emblem, among others. It just wasn't as conspicuous, because Nintendo didn't publish nearly as many games. Why DO they publish so many games in Japan? I dunno. Maybe because they have to support their systems (the Wii, at least) with quality software almost single-handedly?

As far as the cost of localization, I keep telling you, goddammit! Opportunity cost! You know how Nintendo makes more money per employee than ANY COMPANY EVER? You don't get there with small profit margins. I love Atlus, too, but c'mon, now.

GameDadGrant said:
Oh, yeah - I almost forgot about Glory of Heracles. Thanks for the reminder.

I wonder why that got the green-light for localization over Soma Bringer. *scratches chin*
Yeah, it's puzzling (although I still think Fossil Fighters seemed like a sure thing!). We should make a chronological database of games that Nintendo published, isolate the ones that they did or didn't localize, and try to figure out some sort of method to their maaaadness. See if we can generate a theory that works with all of the data.

I dunno. It sounds fun to me...
Posted: 08/25/10, 17:58:20  - Edited by 
 on: 08/25/10, 18:09:19
It's possible, and it certainly affected Nintendo's image among longtime fans like us, but I still think the amount of gamers that actually know about Disaster and Fatal Frame is an incredibly small percentage of the total. It might seem like a bigger deal to us because we're surrounded by people with similar priorities and concerns.

I dunno. But I really wish the media would try to get to the bottom of this whole thing. For real. Stop asking questions about fucking 'games for the hardcore audience' (like Kirby!) and find out what's up with localization, for god's sake.
Posted: 08/25/10, 18:32:15
@Simbabbad
It did, but just like war would exist without religion, I feel like the parties in whose interest it was to paint the Wii in that light would have found another reason to do so.

How much of the media even discussed that stuff, beyond IGN's Wii team? I don't remember.
Posted: 08/25/10, 18:44:19  - Edited by 
 on: 08/25/10, 18:44:58
@anandxxx

I'm still not sold on Fossil Fighters - how many Pokémon rip-offs really succeeded, anyway? Do the creators of the Digimon series still make those games? I think Spectrobes did alright, but... neither of those franchises have anything on Pokémon. Even combined. Not sure why Nintendo would try to saturate the market even more with yet another Poké-clone. Especially considering they'd basically be competing with themselves.

Anyway, I have a theory as to why Glory of Heracles got green-lit. It's kinda far-fetched, but... could Nintendo be trying to reap some benefits off the recent popularity of Greek mythology? (which I believe got a big revival of interest thanks to God of War) Or maybe stir up some interest in Greek mythology in hopes that Kid Icarus: Uprising gets some more attention?

I dunno, these are just random guesses. Who knows how Nintendo thinks.
Posted: 08/25/10, 18:49:46
@anandxxx
Actually, Reggie was a gamer way before he ever came to work for Nintendo. He owned a NES and SNES back in the day and A Link To The Past is his favorite game of all time I'm pretty sure. He claims to still play a lot of the major games that come out on all three systems. I remember him talking about playing Modern Warfare 2 right when it came out. He loves Golden Sun as well.
Posted: 08/25/10, 20:11:49
@Simbabbad
Well, if you enjoy the products of most major third-parties, you'd have to go HD eventually. I love Nintendo, but there are certain areas that they don't really cover with their own products.

I have to say, I'm surprised that you don't think those wars would have happened without religion. It seems to me like religion was just a convenient, flimsy shroud for imperialism. And some other word that I can't think of. The racial/national superiority one.

And I admit that my 'found another reason' line could be seen as paranoid, but I think it's quite a rational motivation, from their perspective. Publishers and developers bet heavily on the HD consoles. Like, really heavily. And those projects had enormous budgets. If the Wii had succeeded in becoming the 'PS2' of this gen, with the majority of almost every audience group, it could have crushed those third-parties. Especially Western ones. 'Hardcore' gamers usually pick a system and defend it to the death. They obviously wanted the HD platforms to become the standard, rather than the underpowered one. And what are most of the media, but fanboys who get paid for their message board posts (and who are also intrinsically (financially) tied to the fate of those same Western publishers)? I don't think it's really far-fetched to imagine a bit of a conspiracy there. Unqualified success for Nintendo would have meant failure for almost every other entity in the gaming landscape.

Sometimes, they really are all out to get you.

@bpumpkin777
Yeah, I've heard him talk about that stuff. I'm not sure I believe him. Unlike Miyamoto and Iwata, he doesn't strike me as someone who genuinely appreciates games. He might have played LttP, but I wonder if it was really a defining experience for him. Maybe he just knows it's the right answer to give.

@GameDadGrant
Dinosaurs!
Posted: 08/25/10, 21:36:51  - Edited by 
 on: 08/25/10, 21:37:57
@anandxxx
Actually, Miyamoto is the one who never plays games. He gets his game ideas from his other hobbies that have nothing to do with gaming. Yamauchi never played games either. I always took Reggie at his word about that stuff. He doesn't trumpet it around like he's trying to convince people he's a legit gamer, but when the subject comes up, he has his own anecdotes to tell about his own gaming experiences from the past that I've read.
Posted: 08/25/10, 22:04:06
bpumpkin777 said:

@Zero
NOA releases an ass-ton of crappy games? Like what? Yeah Barrel Blast sucked but that game came out forever ago.

Maybe crappy games was a poor choice of word, but I meant a lot of games at or below the level of the games that have been withheld. If we're just talking pure quality I'll take Disaster, Fatal Frame 4, Another Code R and Xenoblade over Link's Crossbow Training, Wii Music, Pokemon Battle Revolution and Donkey Kong Barrel Blast any day.
Posted: 08/25/10, 22:49:33
@Zero

I'd take those games any day, too.

But Nintendo knows which games will sell and which ones won't. Thus, we got what we got.
Posted: 08/25/10, 22:54:01
@Simbabbad Well... my understanding of pre rise to power Hitler Germany is that the people felt so beaten down they would have followed pretty much anyone at that point. Hitler stepped up to fill this massive void, but if it weren't him it very well could have been someone else.

Plus Hitler didn't even push the religious angle that much, and Stalin was very anti-religion, so I guess it goes to show that when religion stopped becoming as big of a dominant force in the Western world (and Russia) as it did when scientific humanism arose, warmongers found other ways to get people to follow them.
Posted: 08/25/10, 22:57:07
@Simbabbad
I don't want to make any sweeping generalizations, because I've forgotten everything I ever learned about history, and the only example that I can think of is the Crusades. And whatever they called Muslim Imperialism. You'll have to give me some examples of wars or conflicts that escape any other explanation.

But, in general, I find it hard to believe that these religious conflicts were genuinely motivated by matters of faith. Even if the religion encourages conversion with some tenet or clause.

I mean, history is never going to be exactly the same if you change something important. Everything affects everything else. I'm not going to pretend that I know history very well, but I have heard quite a few people conjecture that WWII would have happened without Hitler.

And political parties are a bit different than religion, anyway. A bit. Even then, the example that immediately spring to mind are of the US using the 'spread of democracy' to rationalize all sorts of unrelated shit.

As far as the Wii Fit era, did that stuff change Nintendo's image, or has that been their image since the beginning of this generation? I remember Wii Fit actually not being as divisive as Wii Sports (once it came out). The drought certainly didn't help matters, but that almost seems like a traditional Nintendo thing, as well. Nintendo has often denied the rest of the world fantastic games (not so much with the GCN, oddly). Maybe Fatal Frame and Disaster were the tipping point, since they were publicized (during a drought), but I can think of much more egregious examples, personally.

@Zero
Yeah, the only potentially strange localization decision was Barrel Blast. The rest of the stuff they localized is pretty logical.

@bpumpkin777
I think Miyamoto does appreciate gaming, though. I mean, he's been directly involved with its creation for so long. He just doesn't during all of his free time, which is understandable. It's not really a hobby for him. It's his job.
Posted: 08/25/10, 23:19:23  - Edited by 
 on: 08/25/10, 23:24:21
Well, yeah, but it's not like the choices of whom to follow are random. It's usually exploiters who rush in to fill these gaps. I mean, in some ways you almost have to be an aggressive asshole to garner a major following, especially when you're trying to create a following from people who feel beaten down. We'll probably never see a world with a bunch of leaders dedicated to peace.

I don't know about anywhere else, but the Catholic/Protestant thing happened in North Ireland because England tried to take over a huge part of Ireland.

No doubt a lot of the internal flames wouldn't be as fiery if religion weren't an issue, but the exploitative leaders just find other things to use. Race is a big one. "Nationalism", non-religious ideologies. Fear. There are plenty of tools to get otherwise non-violent people whipped up into a frenzy.

@anandxxx Yeah I know they were logical, I'm just saying that IF it were true that Reggie is rejecting these games for "quality" purposes that doesn't make much sense. Pretty much all of them have gotten at least "decent" word of mouth from those who played them. None of these games are actually terrible games.
Posted: 08/25/10, 23:54:05  - Edited by 
 on: 08/25/10, 23:55:38
I'm not saying we wouldn't have been spared specific instances of violence, I just kind of feel that "overall" even if religion didn't exist the history of mankind would still be bloody war after bloody war. It's usually just a couple of assholes at top making the decision to get into the wars, and most of them don't really give two flying fucks about being a good religious person. In the end a lot of it comes down to power and financial gain, and if they can't use religion as a scapegoat they will find other things.

But it's tough to actually imagine a world without religion, so it's sort of a moot point.

Simbabbad said:
At least Microsoft can brag about Viva Pińata and Nuts & Bolts.

I guess, but I don't imagine their situation would be much different if they completely ignored that market instead of throwing a token game or two at it.
Posted: 08/26/10, 00:37:30  - Edited by 
 on: 08/26/10, 00:39:55
@anandxxx
I definitely agree with that. You could even argue that Miyamoto appreciates and sees more potential in gaming than anyone on the planet.
Posted: 08/26/10, 01:52:58  - Edited by 
 on: 08/26/10, 02:16:48
@Simbabbad
The 3DS was an insta-win, but I don't really think Nintendo's 2010 E3 WAS better (or markedly different) than 2009, in terms of 'games for the hardcore', or whatever, for the Wii. I just think everyone is crazy. That, plus the landscape shifted around Nintendo. Sony and MS pushed the expanded stuff so hard, while continuing to deliver the brown and gray and shooty, and Nintendo backed off of the expanded stuff a bit (for the E3 presentation - I'm sure that Wii Party will still be a huge focus) and kept delivering the same types of colorful, vibrant games they always do, and suddenly it's a brand-new direction. I feel like 'winning E3' is kind of an illusion, anyway. I'm not sure how much effect it has on or correlation it has with a system's prospects (unless it's pre-launch).
Posted: 08/26/10, 02:17:23  - Edited by 
 on: 08/26/10, 02:19:51
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