Admit it, if you’re an ultra-core gamer who eats Mario for breakfast and gets giddy by the mere thought of speed-running Metroid for fun, there has probably been some point where you complained about “that casual crowd ruining Nintendo.” It’s kind of to be expected. Nintendo went from the King of Consoles to the Champion of the Soccer Mom in only three generations. Growing up playing NES, SNES and Nintendo 64 led you to believe that Nintendo would always be there for you. Even during the rough time of the GameCube when you might have almost considered getting a PlayStation 2, you believed that if you stuck with Nintendo there’d be a grand renaissance the likes of which hadn’t been seen since “the good ol’ days” of the SNES. Then Nintendo started talking about their “blue ocean strategy.”
Well, there was a sort of renaissance, but to your horror, instead of the ultra-hardcore game route, Nintendo turned its back on you and instead focused on the sorts of gamers you’d be ashamed to be seen with: Grandparents, Soccer Moms, Little Kids, and dare I say it… The Popular Crowd. In horror you did something you never would have considered just ten years ago. You bought a PS3/Xbox 360. Oh, you might still have your Wii around, gathering dust and occasionally giving you some brief entertainment from Madworld, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Super Smash Bros. Brawl or Super Mario Galaxy. However, Nintendo is dead to you now. They gave up on you so you’ve given up on them. I have just one word for you. SHAME!
Let me combat your biggest claim, that Nintendo is fundamentally different in some way, that they have changed. That’s simply not true. In the 1980s when the NES hit it big in the states, Nintendo was seeking a market that was completely untapped. Atari had been a catalyst of a huge crash, and gaming had been declared a fad. Over and done with. Did Nintendo swoop in and offer the next big thing in gaming? No, they sold a Nintendo Entertainment System with a Robot Operating Buddy. Retailers refused to stock a video game system, even though a few of the test runs Nintendo did were successful. Nintendo instead strove for a bluer ocean, one that hadn’t been tapped. Retailers who shunned the very idea of selling a game console were willing to sell the R.O.B.-NES combo because it was a toy made to appeal to the mass market. Later, once Nintendo had its foot in the door it transitioned to gaming and those self-same retailers were more than happy to buy up NES Action Packs. Nintendo knew that the NES wouldn’t be accepted as a gaming system, so it sought to appeal to a mass market instead of a niche. Sound familiar?
Hundreds of thousands of gamers got their start with gaming thanks to the fact that their parents bought them a R.O.B. Now, I’m sure you’ll point out that R.O.B. wasn’t the selling point of the NES through its entire lifecycle. I agree with you. Nintendo did adapt its marketing because, at it’s heart the NES was a video game console. But I bring up this example to show that even with its first console, Nintendo was about the casual crowd. Who knows, you might be a hardcore gamer today because your parents casually gamed back when game systems “weren’t so complicated.”
It’s easy to point the finger at the casual game revolution and say that grandma is ruining games for everyone, but I suggest a different tact. Maybe Nintendo isn’t appealing to you anymore. That’s understandable and I hope you have fun on your PS3 or Xbox 360. But don’t dare to claim that Nintendo is killing gaming with its focus on the casual crowd. if anything they’re helping gaming along. Because eventually hardcore gamers can die out. If enough parents don’t buy their kids a gaming system, gaming could crash again just like in the ’80s. But Nintendo’s constant rejuvenation of the market by bringing in new gamers will keep things healthy for a long time. Really, that’s something that you as a hardcore gamer should be thanking Nintendo for. Don’t hate the casual, because today’s casual gamer is tomorrow’s hardcore, and that’s something to foster the growth of, not to shun.