Posted on May 08 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
You know, I’ve been as giddy as a school girl over everything I have heard about Project Cafe. Imaging the possibilities with my favorite Nintendo franchises being in HD alone was enough to get my heart pumping. Then you throw on the fact that touch could be coming to a console near you in 2012 as well as the possibility to stream the game from my living room to my bedroom and I become speechless. More powerful than the PS3? Awesome, I’ll take it.
Then I think back on the Nintendo 3DS. More power? Love it. 3D no glasses? Revolutionary. While the 3DS is bound to go on to at least half of the success of the original DS (if not become a 100 million seller by it’s life’s end), Project Cafe may not actually be the right move for Nintendo. No, it’s not the HD that is the problem, nor is the fact Nintendo may be seeking an outside source to correctly keep their future online network going. It’s just… Nintendo has been here before… and they couldn’t get the job done.
There was a time when Nintendo was king of the land. Even with Sega running around with their relatively successful systems, Nintendo is where a lot of the real memorable titles came from. Not that Sonic and games like Rampart didn’t have their role (hey, I loved Sega back then), but most people remember games on Nintendo systems growing up. Nintendo had great first party support, and a ton of the third party support. Even when the N64 came out and some support eventually shifted to the Playstation (the biggest mover at the time was Final Fantasy), Nintendo still carried a strong arm in terms of gathering outside support for the console.
Then, Nintendo continued the trend. They moved to minidiscs and offered what was at the time the most powerful console on the market. The Gamecube may have looked like a lunch box, but it packed quite the punch. It also marked the begining of the end for tripple A third party support. I mean, it still was there sparingly (Resident Evil 4, Eternal Darkness), but it became quickly in bigger abundance for the Playstation 2… and then eventually the Xbox which simply stormed onto the scene and forced it’s way in. Oh, it also introduced Xbox Live. Something tells me that was a smart decision.
The reasons for Nintendo losing the support may be numerous, but the bottom line to me is that Nintendo simply never catered to third parties. They were left standing alone, and Sony and Microsoft opened their arms and offered any help needed to make their game work on their console. Maybe Nintendo realized this themselves, which is why the decided an underpowered cheap box with a great innovation was good enough. Introduce the Wii.
No true online support despite the competition having it. A box that wasn’t as powerful as most people’s laptops at the time. Oh it had Motion Controls… a nice feature that lead to the tune of 86 million console sales. It also featured Nintendo own cast of games, of which still stand among the best in the business. As a pure software developer, Nintendo is arguably the best company in the world. Better than Activision, EA, and pretty much anyone else you can think of. Still, none of that is appealing to 3rd parties. Nintendo makes consoles to sell Nintendo made games. This has been the montra for a decade among analysts.
All of this prefaces the Project Cafe ideal because it completely goes against everything Nintendo does. They established an amazing Market with the Wii. Everyone has heard of it, including non gamers. Nintendo recently has been touting how they regret not working with 3rd parties more, and how they know they made a mistake with the Wii’s online capabilities. Hey, I applaud Nintendo for recognizing they made some mistakes.
Project Cafe just seems too much like a jump back to the GCN era though, doesn’t it? Nintendo doesn’t really “have” third party support outside of a few small time developers, and naturally Capcom. Sure, Cafe is going to get ports, but who is buying cafe to play games they can already play? I did say exclusive 3rd party titles would be key to success, but the better question is why Nintendo is going this route?
The answer may simply be “they aren’t”. Nintendo may be upgrading and creating something that hardcore gamers want, but is it really made for them? It may be more powerful than a PS3. It may have Blu-Ray and an extensive online network. Nintendo still wants it to be affordable though, right? They have to, or they will lose a lot of the market they already have. That, or they try to run two consoles like Sony does. Just doesn’t seem Nintendo’s style.
Of course, there are ways Nintendo can cut costs. Rumors swirled about 8 GB flash memory instead of a Hard drive. That can easily knock 100$ off the pricetag. In the end though, it’s not really the cost that is the issue more than the basic principle. Everything we have heard about this console is to please third parties and thus, “get the hardcore gamers back on Nintendo’s platform, and give the present Nintendo gamers more options for AAA quality.”.
This is what I want, but is that what will sell?