ImaJAN Media Network
MeltedJoystick Home
   Games  Members
Search +
Searching... Close  
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
  Login Using Facebook

Console Gaming is Dead: It Just Doesn't Know It Yet

View Nelson Schneider's Profile

By Nelson Schneider - 07/23/17 at 04:39 PM CT

For years, we heard the cries of those in the know: “PC gaming is dead! Rampant piracy, nobody is buying new PCs, and the market is stagnant! DOOOOOOOOOOM!” But now the tables have turned, leaving the future of console gaming a big, empty void filled with more questions and uncertainty than hope and excitement.

It all started when Microsoft tried to do a console and couldn’t get their heads truly into the console space. They ended up creating a horrific chimera that bolted a lot of negative PC gaming aspects from the 90s and 00s onto a unified, console-style hardware target.

Sony followed suit with their disastrous PlayStation 3, and transformed the appliance-like simplicity of the PlayStation brand into a knock-off PC that could even run Linux at one point in time. I have called this elision of PC gaming and console gaming a “singularity” moment, but it has ultimately proven to be better for one side than the other.

Nintendo, however, has proven that there is still a market for dedicated, appliance-like game consoles… or at least, they’ve proven that there’s still a market for old NES games. Right before the company launched their new Switch handheld/console hybrid, they also released a limited run of a microconsole called the NES Classic, which contained 30 pre-installed ROMs. The NES Classic sold out in record time, and despite the visible, overwhelming demand, Nintendo has refused to make any more of them, instead moving on to the next stop on their trip down Memory Lane, the SNES Classic, which will likely suffer from the same supply problems and become an even more tantalizing piece of bait for scalpers this Fall.

Nintendo’s problem here is that they are being profoundly stupid. The company has always had difficulty determining the value of its old games, selling heavily DRMed ROMs of NES games for $5 a piece on the Wii’s Virtual Console, while also charging Wii owners who purchased a WiiU an extra dollar per game they wished to transfer to their new device. The NES Classic, with its $60 MSRP for the hardware, a retro controller, and 30 games was just too good of a deal for the consumer, it seems.

Nintendo’s cleaving to true console-like simplicity didn’t win them any love from gamers at large, and it won them even less love from Western third-party developers who incessantly complain about patch limits and approval processes that are more stringent than on other platforms. Nintendo, as a former toy company, has been trying to hang onto the simplicity of true consoles in a market that simply has no more room for it. The company’s president has even gone on record claiming that the integrated hardware/software business is where the company can provide the best experience for gamers, while simultaneously dallying in micromacrotransaction-laden mobile games like “Super Mario Run,” “Fire Emblem Heroes,” and “Pokemon GO.” Nintendo seems somewhat more willing to address the mobile issue due to the overwhelming presence of the platform in Japan than they do to address the biggest, hairiest, mammoth-like elephant in the room.

I have said before that Nintendo shouldn’t do like Sega. The changing gaming ecosystem since I wrote that has caused me to change my mind somewhat. Sega, you see, sells a big bundle of DRM-free ROMs with an emulator on Steam (so does Atari (delenda est) for that matter). This is the type of classic game distribution system I’ve been advocating for years (and I would have bought Sega’s bundle during the last Summer Sale if I didn’t already own all of those games in “Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection”). But Nintendo lives in a world of 20 years ago where artificial scarcity can be controlled by a rightsholder (like Disney, with the Disney Vault), driving-up demand and, therefore, simultaneously driving-up the prices the market will bear.

Nintendo shouldn’t bow-out of creating consoles or handhelds immediately or all at once. Instead, Nintendo should take this golden opportunity to perform an honest to goodness scientific study. Sell classic games on Steam. Sell classic games on the Nintendo Network. See which brings in more revenue. Build a Nintendo Network runtime emulator for Windows. Provide it, and official JoyCon drivers, for free. Compare game sales between the Nintendo Network running on Nintendo hardware vs. anyone’s hardware. The investment required to add PC as a platform nowadays is minimal, hence why all of the third-parties are rolling their own clients. Nintendo wouldn’t be giving up any significant control by rolling their own client as well, and they would even be able to provide the same great “surprises and gameplay experiences” of integrated hardware/software by simply providing the user interface device (read: controller) instead of the entire box. The amount of money to be saved by eliminating the hardware production pipeline would be tremendous, and the experience ultimately wouldn’t change. Hell, Nintendo could (read: should) port this theoretical software platform to mobile devices that run iOS and Android. Nintendo fans could take their official Nintendo controllers to any platform and have an authentic Nintendo gaming experience.

Mayflash, a Chinese peripheral company, has already plotted-out a roadmap for Nintendo to follow with their future hardware endeavors. Mayflash sells adapters for all sorts of videogame controllers – with a significant portion of their catalog devoted to Nintendo products – that allow them to be used on other devices. Even if Nintendo holds an uncontrollable paranoia about what customers might do with unfettered access to the operating system underlying their hardware peripherals, they need only look at the hacking of the original Wii to see the results. A tiny portion of the Wii’s ownership ever bothered to hack the thing. Hardware still sold well, because it’s impossible to download a Wiimote, while (first-party) software still sold well to the overwhelming majority of the userbase that didn’t bother with hacking or piracy. That’s the way it works on PC, too.

The console space is now dominated by mid-generation hardware refreshes, selling at a loss, mandatory subscriptions, and rampant multi-platforming that makes every device’s library look the same as every other device’s. Microsoft is wavering, and the future of Xbox seems like it will be synonymous with the future of Windows. Sony is riding high right now, but as we saw last-gen, their hubris will bring them crashing back down before too long. Who knows what they will do? Nintendo, being the last-place, last bastion of true console-style simplicity, needs to realize that the writing is on the wall, and that the type of experience they want to offer would be best done in new ways.

MeltedJoystick Gaming Blog RSS Feed

Avoid spam Captcha: Sign Up + or Log In +   



Previous Blog Posts


All Posts

April 2024

March 2024

February 2024

January 2024

December 2023

November 2023

October 2023

September 2023

August 2023

July 2023

June 2023

May 2023

April 2023

March 2023

February 2023

January 2023

December 2022

November 2022

October 2022

September 2022

August 2022

July 2022

June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022

December 2021

November 2021

October 2021

September 2021

August 2021

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

December 2020

November 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

December 2016

November 2016

October 2016

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

Log In
For members wanting to use FB to login, click here
remember me

What Members Are Doing

Comments about...

New Game Reviews

Pikmin 4 game review by Nelson Schneider
A Hat in Time game review by Chris Kavan
No Man's Sky game review by Nelson Schneider
Sonic Colors game review by Megadrive
Dragon Quest Monsters: The... game review by Nelson Schneider
Sunset Overdrive game review by Chris Kavan
The Vagrant game review by Chris Kavan
Cthulhu Saves Christmas game review by Nick

New Game Lists

Backlog by Nelson Schneider
Top PlayStation 2 Games by Megadrive
My Backlog by Chris Kavan
Games I Own: Switch Digital by dbarry_22
Top Nintendo (NES) Games by Nick
Backlog by Matt
Top Game List by SIngli6
Top Game List by Jonzor




Contact Us Public Relations MeltedJoystick Friends    

Advertise and Business

Contacts Us


About us



Support Us

FAQ and Help

News and Press

Terms of Use


Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Are you sure you want to delete this blog?