What Nintendo needs to do with their next console

Speculation is wild regarding the next Nintendo console, which as confirmed to be an HD console. For some fans, simply having a Wii that’s capable of 1080 resolutions. For most, however, Nintendo is in need of some reparations in order to get the hardcore to embrace their next offering. I’ve done some digging around into the rumors, have touched base with some developers I know and some PR people and they seem to think Nintendo is sincere in their desire to regain popularity with hardcore gamers and it’s not just lip service to ensure a strong launch support. So what does Nintendo do to get back in the good graces of the hardcore audience?

Better Online Support

One of the most important areas in which Nintendo needs to improve is in their online offerings. The Wii is online-enabled, but it’s pretty horrible overall in regards to the experience you get with online play. Nintendo needs to make friends list management easier, communication a focal point in gameplay, and a better solution for downloading games, content, and updates/fixes. To accomplish this, Nintendo is going to have to back off of their nanny tendencies and trust in parental supervision a bit more. It’s unlike Nintendo to open up the gates to wider communication via their platforms, but the time is now if they want to seriously contend in the online realm.

And for the love of all that is good and holy, Nintendo, make the Virtual Console service better!

A Standard Control Scheme out of the Box

Using a Classic Controller or a GameCube controller is a decent way to play games in a more standard manner on the Wii, but since neither controller came with the console, the inclusion of standard control schemes in games was an option that was typically an afterthought for many developers. With rumors swirling of a screen embedded into the controller, it’s nice to hear just as many rumors saying that the controller has a dual analog setup. How’s this for crazy? Nintendo has NEVER had a console with a dual analog controller unless it was an optional accessory. It’s time to get on the dual analog train, Nintendo.

Standard Media

While just about everybody has more DVD players than TV sets these days, it can’t hurt for Nintendo to finally support a common disc format that allows the system to play media other than video games. A blu-ray player would be nice, but if they don’t opt for blu-ray, DVD has to be the choice, despite its limited storage capacity. Swapping discs from time to time is preferable to an oddball format that doesn’t allow for any other uses.

Actual 3rd Party Support!

Nintendo has always raked in huge profits thanks to their high selling 1st party games, but no console in history has ever won the console war on the strength of their 1st party library alone. It’s time that Nintendo opens its doors more widely to 3rd parties and provides them with better tools, licensing agreements, and does a better job promoting 3rd party offerings. Many times Microsoft or Sony will help 3rd parties advertise their games and it always helps push more units through the sales channel. Nintendo needs to do the same.

Bring Back Core Titles Development

Miis are everywhere these days, and when used properly they’re great. However, aside from a handful of Zelda and Metroid titles, Nintendo has been far too casual with their offerings to appease the hardcore crowd. Not since Perfect Dark has Nintendo had a strong FPS offering (no, Geist doesn’t count) come from one of their own studios. That’s far too long. Keep up with the Marios and Zeldas, but explore some deeper content as well. While 3rd parties could carry the majority of this burden, it’s the 1st parties that generally need to provide the exclusives.

Make the Gimmicks Count and Support Them

Nintendo loves to engage in quirky behavior with their hardware. Sometimes the quirks turn into significant contributions to the industry (trigger buttons, rumble, d-pad, etc.), and other times those quirks fizzle and are left in the past (bongos, GBA link, Wii Speak, etc.) to fill closet space. While I don’t want Nintendo to stop pushing out their quirky accessories, they need to do a better job at supporting them once they’re out. The Wii Balance Board had some potential that was definitely left untapped. It’s fine to experiment, but don’t leave the buyers out in the cold once they gamble on new concepts.

It’s a long list of things that Nintendo needs to do, but I think that’s pretty indicative of where they stand with the hardcore crowd. Nostalgia always propels Nintendo’s efforts with the older crowd, but that effect seems to be losing its potency as each year goes by. If Nintendo is truly serious about becoming a mainstay in the hardcore gaming circles again, they better come to the next generation with a new attitude and a broader vision. We’ll find out more at E3 2011 this June.

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Hi John,I realise this is an old post and you may not read this coenmmt, but I am glad I came across your post.The idea of using virtual worlds (I teach in Second Life) to build communities and activities that can take video and online games beyond the office, bedroom or lounge and engage us in activities that are not only mentally good for us but physically good for us too has fascinated me for some time.While probably not new, my 11 year old daughter came up with the idea of using our treadmill together with the Wii fit jogging programs/games (the short and long distances ones). I love the idea of combining this kind of Wii activity with something that genuinely does have health benefits like walking on the treadmill. The virtual environments that the Wii provides for you to walk and jog in, while not brilliant, are okay and do give you a sense of being outside in a nice environment. By watching the terrain closely and ajusting the angle of the treadmill to suit uphill or flat ground you actually not only have a good workout, but you also have a sense of real topography. If more diverse environments could be built for the same activity you could go to a different place each time. If there was a way to use the Wii remote or some other similar motion capture device to animate an avatar in a 3D virtual world like Second Life, you could have a huge range of environments built for relatively little cost that would provide an interesting background for the jogging. In the middle of the freezing North American, with the ground covered in several feet of snow outside, how nice would it be to go to a tropical island for a jog?What is missing is the social/community aspect of this kind of activity. What if I could Skype a friend in another part of town, another city, another country and agree to meet him/her in a particular place’ for a nice social jog together? With the VOIP voice communication setup in SL, you could jog and chat at the same time. You could also watch (dare I say compete) with other joggers too. How much fun and more motivating would that be? So, Internet connectivity would bring a whole new dimension to the activity of jogging in a virtual environment.Why I would prefer environments like SL to the one provided by Wii is that SL is an open environment where you can pretty much walk anywhere, unlike Wii where you have to stay on a pre-programmed track. You could imagine taking the social aspect of such an activity even further by, at the end of the jog popping into a virtual sports clothing shop to check out the latest fashion clothing for your avatar, or even sit in a virtual cafe and chat till you recover (byo coffee of course!).This will all come, I believe. I for one can’t wait till it’s here.Cheers,Scott

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