Articles tagged with nintendo

Posted by James at 14:37
After just 18 weeks on sale in Japan, sales for Nintendo’s Splatoon – a new IP on the Wii U – have overtaken those of its own Mario Kart 8 at the same point in the two games' lifecycles.

As of September 27, 2015, sales for boxed copies of Splatoon now stand at 682,000 units, with Mario Kart 8 at 678,000 units. This stands in stark contrast to the two Wii U games’ launches, where Mario Kart 8 shifted 326,000 units in the week ending June 1 2014, compared with Splatoon's 145,000 during the week ending May 31 2015.

How did lifetime sales for a brand new IP in an unestablished genre eventually trend ahead of a game in one of the biggest and most established franchises on console – a situation many of us, even Nintendo, didn’t foresee?

While Mario Kart 8 was off to a much faster start, shifting 125% more copies than Splatoon in its launch week – Splatoon also managed a strong Japanese launch given its roots in the unproven third person shooter genre and similar-sized marketing budget – the difference is that Mario Kart 8’s sales tailed off at a greater rate.

Indeed, Mario Kart 8 shifted a greater number of copies at first, including 73,000 during its second week compared with 69,000 copies for Splatoon. But Nintendo's new IP sold a greater number of units than Mario Kart in every following week -- the 185,000 unit lead Mario Kart 8 held over Splatoon diminished within four months.

The absolute sales difference between the two games during weeks 3-18 of their respective retail cycles was as high as 16,000 copies (in week 4), and as low as 6,100 units (week 9). In 14 of the 18 weeks Splatoon shifted over 10,000 more copies at retail than Mario Kart 8.

A closer examination of the relative difference between sales of the two games shows us how Mario Kart 8’s lifetime sales lead diminished so quickly. Splatoon shifted over twice as many units as Mario Kart 8 managed during the tail-end of the 18-week period (weeks 14-18). This difference peaked last week where Splatoon sold two-and-a-half times (250%) more copies than Mario Kart 8.

It’s this consistent, relative difference over the last six weeks – where Mario Kart 8 sales never recover from a sub-10,000 unit slump – which saw Splatoon overtake Mario Kart 8 by the end of week 18. The game continues to sell in the region of 20,000 units every week, and it’ll likely continue to do so in week 19 when Media Create releases new figures for the week ending October 4 2015.

If both Splatoon and Mario Kart 8 had large opening weeks given their respective platform’s small install base (Wii U is currently trending behind Wii, and far behind 3DS in Japan), why did Mario Kart 8’s sales decline so quickly when Splatoon’s didn’t?

One reason is that Mario Kart 8 just isn’t different enough for Nintendo to have been able to differentiate it to the mass market, especially so when the Wii U install base remained relatively small at the time in Japan. The Nintendo 3DS is the most popular dedicated videogames platform in the region by a long shot, and Nintendo had already released Mario Kart 7 on that system at the end of 2011.

While the Wii U’s Mario Kart is a vastly more advanced game, it’s difficult to communicate that across to the unconverted in order to create perceived value, so it’s likely that Mario Kart 8 reached a near-sales saturation given the Wii U install base over those first 18 weeks on sale.

This is best shown by the effect Mario Kart 8 had on Wii U sales in its launch week – Nintendo’s home console only shifted 19,000 units, less than what 3DS even managed (24,000 units) to shift despite having no big releases that week. It’s this cannibalisation between Nintendo’s two different platforms, both in hardware and software with similar IP, which is leading Nintendo to rethink its strategy for its next video games platform, code named NX. You can read more about Nintendo's core strategy in detail over here.

By comparison, Nintendo managed to retain Splatoon’s sales performance. There are two likely reasons why Splatoon’s long tail of sales have been more sustainable.

Firstly, Splatoon is fresh; it’s a big new IP from Nintendo in a genre they have never attempted before (the online-focused multiplayer shooter), but with their own unique twist added (players paint the map with their weapon in order to capture the most turf). Nintendo’s slant on the genre is also one that is also incredibly easy to understand and therefore communicate to players in marketing, so there’s broad appeal to consumers right down to the game’s distinctive and confident art direction.

This also helped Nintendo avoid any issues with Splatoon being cannibalised by games on its other platform, the 3DS. Splatoon isn’t a close substitute to anything right now – the expanded audience can’t stick with “Splatoon 3DS” and be done with it, and core players aren’t going to go into Splatoon with any negative preconceptions like some did with 2K Games’ Evolve, another multiplayer new IP which launched this year but failed to retain its players (Splatoon has even outsold Evolve worldwide).

More importantly, in a new approach for Nintendo Splatoon is operated like a service, with regular content updates that regularly unlock over time – initially off the disc and now through online updates – based on player metrics and feedback. This is augmented by server-based map and mode rotations, timely social media updates that tie into the game and its world, and fortnightly events called Splatfests.

While this was a conscious design decision in the interest of keeping a healthy player-base (see how 2K Games’ Evolve has fared by comparison), it’s likely to have had a knock-on effect on sales, as new content keeps people playing and discussing the game on social media. Nintendo itself has handled the game’s presence on social media well, with regular, fun updates across Twitter, which has a seemingly strong presence in Japan compared with other social networks.

The impact this has on sales best demonstrated by the game’s major update (version 2.00), which launched in tandem with a new marketing campaign in early August. In week 11 when the update landed, Splatoon sales rose by 26% week-on-week, to 36,000 units from 28,000 units.

In the same point of the game’s lifespan, Mario Kart 8 did not receive a large bump from the week prior, though both games did receive a sales boost in week 12, which would have been due to the long Obon festival weekend in mid-August the week prior; Mario Kart 8 sales rose 35% to 28,000 units, while Splatoon retained its sales bump, shifting 41,000 units, a 16% rise on the previous sales boost from the update and new marketing push. Since then, Splatoon’s sales have hovered at around 20,000 units every week.

Last but not least, Splatoon has been growing the Wii U install base in Japan, as indicated by sales of Mario Kart 8 also seeing a short-lived bump back to around 10,000 units following Splatoon’s launch. While it isn’t going to save the system this late into its lifespan, the hardware sales bump is on track to amounting to at least a 100,000 units across the entire year.

With Splatoon’s worldwide sales approaching 2 million units, Nintendo has managed to release a big hitter by Wii U standards in a year which saw two tent-pole releases slip to 2016. With Super Mario Maker out the gate, the remaining first party Wii U games releasing this year aren't really massmarket material, and Amiibo seem to have sold to Nintendo's biggest and most invested fans rather than the expanded audience. Splatoon is quite the standout success.

It’ll be interesting to see how Splatoon continues to perform in Japan in the long run. For now, Splatoon gives us confidence in Nintendo's ability to run a game as a service, both from a creative standpoint and a business one, and puts the company in good standing to tackle future endeavors of this ilk.

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Posted by Ben at 02:34
Not as you mighexpect some sort of remastering of Shin Megami Tensei 4, Final is a new game set in the world of Shin Megami Tensei 4.

It's maybe easy to look at this cynically, a chance for Atlus to reuse assets and mechanics, but I'm not sure Shin Megami Tensei fans are hugely bothered about that sort of thing.

Shin Megami Tensei 4 Final us heading to Japanese 3ds' in February next year. Who knows about a EU release, this late in to the 3ds' life there's certainly some doubt
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Posted by Ben at 16:19
I think the release date of 30th October for WiiU horror game Project Zero Maiden of Black Water might be old news, but it's also been given a demo on the eshop

The Demo lands on the 30th too, just in time for Halloween, as you'd expect. Judging entirely on the trailer below, Project Zero Maiden of Black water looks to tread the same kind of ground as Ring, or Ringu just so you don't think I'm referring to the American version

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Posted by Ben at 16:42
I never quite got around to Project X Zone, but I did hear some good things. After the likes of Namco X Capcom and Cross Edge I'd learnt that, despite my best intentions, I never get close to the end of these games

Project X Zone 2 has some new ways to tempt people in though, added to their menagerie of a roster are character from Fire Emblem and Xenoblade Chronicles

I loved Fire Emblem Awakening, so seeing Chrom and Lucina make an appearance is good news, and joining them is Fiora from Xenoblade Chronicles.

It's a smart move by Nintendo, allowing their characters to be used like this (and not just in Project X Zone), with their new consoles still a while out, drawing attention and focus to games on their platforms, even if they're 3rd party games, is a cost free way of keeping some sort of mind share

That's as nobby a sentence as I've written today, but it's done now, take a look at the screen shots posted below, and Project X Zone 2 comes out for the 3DS on the 19th February

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Posted by Mark at 18:07
As announced on the tour's Twitter, the orchestral re-imagining of tunes from the Pokémon series is finally playing the UK!

Unfortunately, as we lamented just over a week ago, like many other games concerts, it's only doing the one show, and it's only doing it in That London.

Anyway, it's going to be on Sunday 20th December, at the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo.
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Posted by Mark at 18:00
Not a clickbaity headline at all, oh no.

Today's Big Story across the internet has been that after years of demand, Facebook have buckled and finally created a 'Dislike' button for posts on the service.

The principle is that, rather than being a method of auto-downvoting the latest video from that pop act The Internet has chosen to hate, that it replaces the 'Like' functionality for statuses that aren't that positive, saving people the inappropriateness of Like-ing that somebody's dog's died. Zuckerberg has repeatedly referred to it as an 'empathy' button.

But this seems all a bit familiar.

Nintendo's Miiverse has always let you select one of six emotions for each post which affects the 'Yeah'- functionally identical to the 'Like'- underneath the post, so you can be excitable, and it'll get an exclamation mark:

Or express bemusement with a "Yeah?!":

And even lament with a "Yeah...", which just needs a sigh in front of it to complete it:

Interestingly, one of the first things that drove design of Miiverse was the notion of an 'empathy network'. Zelda Informer picked up an interview a few years ago that NeoGAF translated from Nikkei, where the late Mr. Iwata explains:
Mr. Miyamoto likes making you feel that, and giving you the ability to feel that. It was at a time thinking about that that we received the original idea for Miiverse. Like 'Ah, this is an empathy network.'

While perhaps the Miiverse emotions are a little heavy-handed, it's certainly an insight as to how Facebook's 'Dislike' could work.
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Posted by James at 11:31
In an unexpected move, Nintendo of Europe is publishing Story of Seasons in Europe, with an expected release date of early 2016.

Story of Seasons, for the uninitiated, is the latest game in the 'Harvest Moon' canon of pseudo life-sim games, where you own and develop your own plot of farm land and interact with the local area.

Nintendo of Europe securing publishing rights from Marvelous in Japan, XSEED (Marvelous USA) and Marvelous Europe ultimately makes a lot of sense: Story of Seasons is possibly Marvelous' biggest and most far-reaching IP in the west, and Nintendo has the resources to ensure that the game receives the marketing budget it deserves and a five-language localisation for the region.

Marvelous Europe are still a relatively small company as far as things go -- spending a whole chunk on marketing and publishing Story of Seasons at retail is probably too much of a task or a risk for them to pull off. For now it appears their focus is on games which find their own small markets, like Lord of Magna and Senran Kagura 2.

Marvelous Europe's last Harvest Moon-esque game, Rune Factory 4, released with the bare minimum of acknowledgement from Nintendo of Europe; expect Story of Seasons to be pushed more than the average third party game on the platform. We'll probably see first signs of such a push when the next European Nintendo Direct rolls around.
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Posted by James at 12:02
In a statement released today, Nintendo has named Tatsumi Kimishima as its new president, who will replace acting directors Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda.

Kimishima may well be a good choice for the next president, even if it’s an interim role. While Satoru Iwata followed a rare path from creative to management, Kimishima has his roots in business, finance and management, where he worked at The Sanwa Bank for 27 years before joining Nintendo.

Sure, that makes him a lot more boring as an outfacing figure for the company – indeed, today may be the first time anyone has even heard of him despite his tenure as CEO of Nintendo of America – but he has certainly proven himself from a business standpoint.

For instance, Kimishima’s time at Nintendo began in 2000 as CFO for The Pokemon Company. Shortly after, he ran Pokemon USA. In other words, he oversaw Pokemon’s successful expansion to western markets. In addition to this, he oversaw Nintendo’s North American operations, starting out as president in 2002, then moving on to become CEO of Nintendo of America in 2006.

Nintendo is undergoing a transitional period as they move away from an older, traditional way of offering several, separate pieces of hardware towards a single platform that will include a plethora of devices and services. For example, Nintendo partnered with online services specialist DeNA to utilise their expertise in developing a unified online platform and loyalty system that incorporates all manner of devices, from smartphones to upcoming dedicated hardware and (likely) its cloud-based Quality of Life service.

The late president Satoru Iwata has been reorganising Nintendo to best suit these needs, and while Kimishima is completing this work (which makes sense, as he was most recently in charge of Nintendo’s human resources division) it’s clear that his business acumen and knowledge of western markets are going to come in handy when it comes to the sort of decisions he may have to make – decisions for things not already set in stone by Satoru Iwata.

Indeed, while the Nikkei reports that Kimishima will be continuing Satoru Iwata’s work, Nintendo needs someone level-headed at the helm in order to ensure it stays in the black during such a transitionary period. Western territories have been an area of weakness this generation, too, so Kimishima seems well positioned to make the right judgements. Nintendo’s second quarter earnings release is scheduled for October 28, so expect more information on its short- and long-term plans late next month.
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Posted by James at 07:47
A recent jobs listing over at Nintendo of America's jobs website suggests that Nintendo Software Technology (NST) may be working on mobile games and apps in the future.

While we already know quite a lot about Nintendo's partnership with Japanese services company DeNA and their long-term objective behind it, we're still only beginning to see all the relevant pieces fall into place.

So far, we know that Hideki Konno will be heading up Nintendo's mobile game development, which likely refers to the five games launching by the end of March 2017. We also know that Nintendo is not interested in chasing 'whales' as far as monetising these games goes.

It now seems like NST will be playing a part, as this new job listing, for a "Software Engineer -- Mobile Game Developer", suggests that the successful individual will "play a key role in helping Nintendo build fun and engaging mobile applications and games as a member of NST’s game team." They must also possess "working knowledge of iOS and/or Android SDK's."

Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean they will be involved with Nintendo's five core mobile titles set to launch by March 2017, but they will almost certainly be focusing on mobile software that will fall into place as part of Nintendo's vision for the future -- an interconnected online system to act as a bridge between mobile devices and dedicated hardware.

DeNA's expertise in services is a big part of this (expect Nintendo to utilise "big data" for its upcoming loyalty system), and indicates a need for Nintendo to provide mobile-like software for the aforementioned devices that span Nintendo's new online platform.

For instance, the late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata hinted at a Mii Maker application for smart devices before Nintendo's mobile plans were even made public, and NST already have experience making cross-platform HTML5 apps with Wii Street U and Mario Vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. You could make a solid case that NST are one of the best set-up in-house studios under Nintendo's belt to transition into mobile game and application development.
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Gunman Clive HD
Gameplay Video
Sep 02
Posted by Ben at 17:49

Gunman Clive HD hits the WiiU tomorrow, and we've been sent some review code for the game. No review yet, but there is a gameplay video of the WiiU version below

We reviewed both Gunman Clive and Gunman Clive 2 on the 3DS, and really liked both. The WiiU version includes both games, and is well worth a look, especially as it's so cheap

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