I have a little story to tell; a moment that happened recently, in which I had somewhat of a “gaming revelation,” if you will. Not long ago I had a birthday shindig at our house. I love people, and simply being around them, so every year the only present I ask for is a shindig to be put on. So, a ton of our (my wife and I) friends came over….along with some we had never met before. I’m perfectly fine with any friends bringing someone that I may have never met before; I quite enjoy meeting new people!
Anyway, at the shindig, I made sure a lot was going on, so there was something for everyone to have a great time: fire pit, music, places of conversation, awesome BBQ. I also had my Wii U being played in the living room, with a steady stream of friends wanting to take a shot at Mariokart 8. Later on in the night, when some started taking off to head home, I made my way into the living room to play a little Wii U with a couple friends who were already racing around. After a few races, I looked back into the dining room and saw someone I had just met earlier in the evening: a young man hanging out by his wife while she chatted with a few other women about who knows what. I could clearly see he was looking for something to do.
I asked him from across the room, as I held up my controller, “Hey, you want in? It’s uber fun.”
He shook his head, and stated, “Nah, it’s ok. I’m good,” smiling awkwardly.
“You sure? Well, you can come hang with us in here if you like!”
Sure enough, he stood up and strolled over to the couch, sitting down and watching us play. I wanted to make sure he felt welcome, as he had never met anyone here before; he was the husband of a friend of a friend (complicated, right?) Anyway, I started asking him about himself. You know, questions like where he worked, how he met his wife, and so on. After about 5 minutes, he asked, in a really odd tone, “What is this? Is this the Wii U?” I told him “yes,” while I knocked one of my friends off the Cloudtop Cruise course, my friend yelling at me as I chuckled.
“What a piece of crap. Why can’t Nintendo bring their games to everyone?”
When the race finished, I handed off my controller to another person, eagerly waiting to play, and inquired into what he meant.
“I mean, why can’t I play this game on my tablet or phone? That would be so much better!”
I know I can be very opinionated, and my friends know this as well – luckily, they’re just as opinionated. But this wasn’t a long time friend, so I didn’t want to come off as a jerk, or being pushy, especially over something like video games. So, I inquired into what he meant by it being “better,” and made the comment that in order for their system to sell, and for them to stay in the gaming business, they have to make exclusive titles which bring gamers to their products. He then proceeded with an answer that was, honestly, quite laughable: “Nintendo is stupid. I want to play these games on my tablet or phone, and they would make so much more money! Plus, they wouldn’t be the laughing stock they are now. Other companies are doing it, like Sony; I mean, I can play a…a Final Fantasy game on my tablet right now. Or a Halo game, or whatever.”
What? Other companies were doing this? I decided to try and move on, without correcting him and coming off as a jerk, and ask why he hated the Wii U so much, and if he had ever played it.
“No, I’ve never played one. Why would I get one? I want the stuff on my tablet, for cheap. The Wii U is garbage, so why would I spend $400 on it? I would much rather go get a PS4. It has much more of a games library, and they’re better games. Not this kiddie stuff.”
I couldn’t keep my mouth shut anymore. $400; where did he get that number from? And, not knocking the PS4, but there are hardly any games out for it yet that are exclusively next-gen. And what exclusive games are the other consoles bringing to mobile gaming? Heck, what other games are being brought to mobile by the others?
I promptly corrected him by telling him Final Fantasy was not owned by Sony; that both Sony and Microsoft have exclusives on their consoles for the exact same reasons; that the Wii U was only about $320 after tax with Mariokart 8 (and a free downloadable game) and an extra controller; and asked him where he got his opinion from regarding the Wii U.
“I hear ******** always talk about how dumb it is, and people like Ubisoft and EA don’t support them anymore because it’s a piece of junk.” (note: I don’t want to bash other sites, hence why I blocked out the name of which publication he mentioned)
I pointed out that it was all negative spin, and asked if he had been able to keep up with any E3 news, and his final answer to the conversation, after I had corrected him with every argument he had, was shocking: “Eh, I don’t keep up with that stuff. I don’t need to, and don’t play that much.”
There it was; the heart of the situation. I didn’t realize its meaning until later, after hearing comments like, “I’m going to get an Xbox One because I had a 360 – I guess it’s a loyalty thing” and “Wii U? What’s that?” Most of the gaming world aren’t the people I chat with daily via Twitter, Facebook, or websites. The groups that I keep up with, both those that disagree or agree with me, the different gaming news publications that I enjoy following, advanced gamers, and those who simply love games; it appears we are in the minority.
I tell this story for a reason, and it relates to the very recent Ubisoft statements and lack of support for Nintendo. The gaming masses do not pay attention to the same information that advanced gamers do. Most don’t care to understand the concept of 3rd party developers, or care to try something out for the sake of gaming; most just see commercials of something familiar to what they currently have, and decided to get “the next one” in the series of game consoles. You might be asking, “Ok, so what in the world does this have to do with Ubisoft?”
Ubisoft has made it very clear they don’t want anything [seriously] to do with Nintendo, especially the Wii U. I would even go out on a limb to say it seems like they actually want the Wii U to fail. Many gamers who actually care about gaming experiences and products have been outraged by the increase in micro-transactions, yearly released IPs, and lack of ingenuity or quality in many “big” games. Wii U owners, including myself, are now somewhat angry at how Ubisoft is basically bullying their way around the industry, coming up with completely ridiculous PR statements almost weekly now. But I want to propose something other than previously used methods. We, as the gaming community (and more specifically, the Wii U owners) have tried video rants, blog posts, articles, and attempting to make our voices heard via social media. Now, I’m not saying any of those methods were necessarily wrong, and in fact, many had very good points which were extremely valid. My point is this: it is time for a different plan of attack, so to speak.
At the end of the day, these are just video games, and companies within the industry trying to make money. So, why care about this at all? I recognize entertainment through games isn’t as important as world events or living our lives with family and friends, but entertainment is a key part of any culture. For our culture, gaming has become a prominent source for entertainment, and there is a place for entertainment: it helps us to unwind and “escape” reality for a brief time, so we can be refreshed to take on our daily lives. This is why, as gamers, we take a stand against companies that have subtly begun to dictate what we want and what we should want. In addition, we don’t want our console to become obsolete; we want to enjoy it as much as we can.
I propose this: instead of bashing companies like Ubisoft or EA, how about we promote what we enjoy? I thoroughly enjoy my Wii U. I’m most likely in the minority here, but this is the most fun I’ve had with a system since my PS2. But here’s the thing: what if we, the gamers who keep up to date on news and various goings-on in the industry, simply promote what we love? Did you enjoy Mariokart 8? Share pictures and posts on social media, like Twitter. Excited for games like Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2, Sonic Boom, or Smash Bros? Buy the games, showing companies like Ubisoft we do want mature games, that we do want good 3rd party games, and that we will buy both 1st and 3rd party titles. In the past couple months, I’ve influenced friends to go out and buy a Wii U, while others are waiting for their next paycheck to get one. How did I do this? I didn’t bash the other companies; I simply had them play the Wii U and show them what I love about the system. Not everyone will find the games on Wii U appealing, but that is more than ok, because the gamer makes the decision, and chooses their system/games of choice.
Wii U owners: let’s use positivity to “inform” those who don’t keep up with or care about the latest gaming news. Let’s share the wonderful games we enjoy on our Wii U by simply having friends play it. Nintendo marketed Mariokart 8 tremendously, and continues to promote it very well, and the masses have responded well to it because they realized it was a new game for a next-gen Nintendo console. Those who are uninformed simply need to be told, and if a manufacturer – like Nintendo – wants to move their hardware/software, they have to sell it to the consumers; entice them to buy it. Case in point, Hyrule Warriors has been very popular in Japan after launch. Why? Because Nintendo sold it to the gaming masses by saturation of information and incredible promotion, which has helped it to do well even in a market that appears to be dominated by mobile gaming.
Whether you agree or disagree with me, I hope you take one thing away from this rambling of mine: the tactics for combating 3rd party developers and their influence needs to change. Previous methods have proven unfruitful, and I highly doubt that developers like Ubisoft listen to our complaints, rants, and posts, regardless if we make valid points. When we act in hostility towards them, it also has potential to scare away other developers who might’ve initially wanted to team up with Nintendo and make games for the Wii U. Let’s take pride in the games we love, and simply enjoy them, and perhaps others will take notice and do the same.