Articles tagged with nintendo

Posted by Mark at 13:19
James has had a lot to say on the matter of Nintendo are handling their Amiibo range, and now it seems Nintendo have finally chimed in themselves.

Amidst endless reports of stock shortages- and the inevitable scalping such tends to attract- as well as rumours of reissued figures, Nintendo America have taken to Facebook to tell people more or less rock-all.

The post simply re-iterated the forthcoming Animal Crossing cards for the end of the year, the existence of Wii U game amiibo tap: Nintendo’s Greatest Bits- or amiibo Touch & Play to us filthy Europeans- and of course that Nintendo "are constantly looking for the opportunity to reissue amiibo and are already making plans to bring back some currently out-of-stock amiibo figures."

While this probably won't do much to assuage fears that Nintendo are creating artificial shortages of figures to drive demand, Beanie Babies-style, it does suggest that Nintendo are starting to feel the heat of the negative PR which has come from the matter.
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JM: *Clears Throat*:
Nintendo's Amiibo and
managing supply going forward
Apr 16
Posted by James at 11:53

If you've been following Nintendo lately then you probably already know that their Amiibo range of NFC-powered figures, a variant on the Toys to Life genre, have quickly proven themselves to be a viable new revenue stream.

Launching in late November last year, 5.7 million of the figures were shipped in the last two months of 2014 alone, with North American sales being enough to land Amiibo 36% market share at Best Buy, according to estimates from industry expert Bryan Cashman.

As such, Nintendo has comfortably been able to increase the average revenue per user for the games that complement the figures -- particularly Super Smash Bros. for Wii U -- and Amiibo fit the bill as a smart short-term strategy to keep the company in the black as it transitions to a new long-term platform.

It's safe to say that Nintendo has also begun to realise that Amiibo have been far successful than predicted. You could point to the last Nintendo Direct broadcast, where eagle-eyed viewers pointed out how it was keener to talk Amiibo than games. But the biggest news is that Nintendo is beginning to adapt the Amiibo line to changing circumstances.

At Nintendo's last investor meeting, CEO Satoru Iwata mentioned the following when speaking on the topic of Amiibo production costs:
I think you can easily tell just by looking at several Amiibo figures that production costs vary for each of them; some Amiibo have a more complex structure and a greater number of colours, which means they cost more to produce than others. Nevertheless, since setting different price points could be misinterpreted as the company valuing certain characters more than others, we came to the decision to set an MSRP (RRP) that would return a profit from the Amiibo platform as a whole.
Indeed, every Amiibo line to date has been sold in the ballpark of the same RRP: £10.99/€14.99 in the UK/Europe, $13.99 in North America and ~1300 yen in Japan. But Iwata's words also go some way towards explaining why Nintendo hasn't been so keen to supply more Amiibo despite the high demand.

Simply put, Nintendo shoulders a loss on some Amiibo figures, while making a tidy profit off others. Many scarce Amiibo happen to be of rarer, less popular characters, which also happen to hold more intricate figure designs. Just compare the difference in quality between the best-selling Amiibo to date, Link, and his urine-yellow" stand with Rosalina, an Amiibo in scarce supply.

Like any rational company, Nintendo is handling its Amiibo supply situation based on production costs and consumer demand. But it's regularly underestimating this demand and leaving money on the table. New Amiibo pre-orders are events which habitually bring down retailers' websites (think Black Friday on a smaller scale), with new stock regularly selling out within seconds at worst. Many fans feel excluded as a result.

This is a distinct problem, and the way Amiibo have been set up to work from a pricing and production angle has meant Nintendo hasn't been flexible enough in dealing with it.

Ramping up production of older, scarcer figures would be fine had their designs not been fixed in a way that means they aren't going to turn a profit. Nintendo, committed to keeping the price constant across the entire range in order to return an Amiibo profit overall, is now on the verge of angering fans. It faces a distinct trade-off between short term profits and retaining longer-term loyalty of its fan base.

Worse still, Amiibo are now beginning to unlock extras in supported games which are far from the throwaway goodies were once were associated with. Upcoming 'Splatoon' Amiibo unlock 45 challenge missions and 15 rare pieces of gear in the corresponding game, and they have already proven themselves difficult to find a month before the game even launches.

It's encouraging, then, that there are signs which indicate that Nintendo is beginning to loosen some of its rigid policies surrounding the figures, hopefully before it does more harm than good.

The latest line of Amiibo figures, made to complement upcoming Wii U exclusive Yoshi's Woolly World, aren't being priced at the typical Amiibo RRP. At the time of writing, retailers across the United Kingdom are charging above and beyond it, with GAME and ShopTo offering the knitted Yoshis for £20, nine pounds more expensive than regular Amiibo.

If this is indicative of a more flexible approach to Amiibo figure pricing, then it should be welcomed. Of course, the higher price reflects the fact that these Amiibo are made from wool and stitching, rather than painted plastic. But it also tells us that Nintendo is aiming to realign its goals as far as Amiibo production costs and supply go.

There are also Amiibo NFC Cards in the pipeline, the first of which unlock furniture and other trinkets in a downloadable Animal Crossing game. Their compact form also makes them cheaper to manufacture and ship en masse, so it'll certainly be intriguing to find out whether they fall under any supply constraints. Retailers should also be able to pack in more of these into a display unit. Being functional with just one title also makes quantifying their success an easier job.

A new form factor and more price points across Amiibo lines going forward will give Nintendo an extra degree of flexibility that they just didn't have with the Super Smash Bros. or Super Mario Bros. collections. Whether this will translate to more supply of perceivably less popular Amiibo is another story. If Nintendo is smart they'll ensure that money isn't being left on the table for eBay resellers and scalpers, otherwise they risk losing some of the goodwill they've built-up with their fan base.
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Posted by James at 11:07
Nintendo revealed today the full lineup of new courses to be bundled with Mario Kart 8's second batch of exceedingly generous DLC. But there was a well hidden surprise hidden between the announcements, one that shows off the astounding detail packed into each track.

The screenshots Nintendo shared -- likely taken from a Wii U dev kit -- proudly display the game's new courses at 2880p, also known as 5k resolution.

Despite being a game designed to be viewed at 720p, Mario Kart 8 holds up extremely well when rendered at sixteen(!) times the intended viewing resolution. Usually we'd expect the extra pixels to expose imperfect geometry and muddy textures, but here the majority of textures remain crisp and geometry curved -- just look at Wild Woods, Cheese Land and Ribbon Road.

It just goes to show how much work Nintendo put into making Mario Kart 8 look as good as possible, and not just from a technical perspective either. Ribbon Road looks Pixar-levels of magical, and Wild Woods has an earthy, organic feel to it. Scrumptious.

Click on the links below to view each course in its detailed glory. More can be found over here.

GBA Ribbon Road

GBA Cheese Land

Big Blue

3DS Koopa City

GC Baby Park

Super Bell Subway

Wild Woods

With thanks to Nintendaan.
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Posted by Ben at 13:57
NIS America have announced they will be bringing the very interesting looking Etrian Mystery Dungeon and anticipated sequel remake Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker to Europe, on 3DS, later this year

NISA have also announced they'll be releasing Dungeon Travelers 2 over here, which I'll confess to not knowing a huge amount about. There's no precise dates for any of the games yet, but it's nice to see some stuff confirmed for the end of the year
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Posted by Ben at 13:26
Pretty much everything you need to know is in the title, and I can confirm, Sonic 2 aside (maybe), I'll be buying them Day 1

If you've missed it, Sega have been releasing various classic 2D games on the 3DS, with a bit of work done so that they work with the 3D effect, and they've been fantastic

The best game ever made, Streets of Rage 2, will be releasing in July, the excellent Gunstar Heroes in August, and the classic Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in September

The games will be priced at $5.99/€4.99/£4.49, and follow Fantasy Zone II (this week, and Thunder Blade (May)

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JM: *Clears Throat*:
Posted by James at 10:16
DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu, in an interview with Reuters:
"We want to create games that will be played by hundreds of millions of people. We want to create multiple hit games rather than aiming to succeed with just one powerful IP element."

"We haven't talked to Nintendo about targets, but at DeNA, our best-selling game brought in 3 billion yen a month, and we want to surpass that."

This brings to light the differing interests both Nintendo and DeNA have as part of their recently formed alliance.

Nintendo sees the partnership as a long-term opportunity to utilise smart devices and engage a wider audience with bespoke content made for the platform. The endgame? To tempt them towards Nintendo's dedicated hardware business (or back, if you consider where Wii's audience went). Indeed, if you pore over what Satoru Iwata has had to say on the matter (1, 2), the company couldn't be more cautious.

DeNA, meanwhile, is focused on expanding its global reach, after a previous alliance with Bandai Namco proved to be unfruitful. Expansion in mobile, however, tends to be correlated with an ability to consistently publish big hits.

Mr. Moriyasu's hopes -- that the Nintendo-DeNA alliance will lead to games that bring in over £17m a month -- seem to reflect this. With DeNA playing the role of 'platform holder' in this relationship, they could be bringing in a fair chunk (30-40%, by some analysts' estimates) of all income from Nintendo-DeNA published titles, in addition to that from the rest of their portfolio.

And that's where it all becomes a bit muddied. Nintendo doesn't need games that bring in record-breaking amounts of income in order to achieve its goals, it just needs to engage users with its upcoming all-encompassing online platform. DeNA's objectives, while perfectly justifiable, go a long way towards explaining why it formed the alliance in the first place.

The emerging concern is simple: Will Nintendo and DeNA both be able to handle things in a way that satisfies both companies' long-term objectives?
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Apr 01
Posted by James at 06:27

Please note: For all intents and purposes, this is a repost of our Hakoboi! review, unedited in all but name. Yes, BOXBOY! is still a masterclass in minimalist game design.

Qbby is a box with legs. He can jump about, extending his two legs. He can retract them and, erm, literally become a box. Or several boxes - from himself he can spawn a chain of them in different directions. Oh, and his game is the latest from HAL Laboratory, creators of Kirby.

Soon after Nintendo's own Captain Toad marked the return of the bigger budget puzzle game, BoxBoy! stands at the opposite end of the spectrum. It's as minimalist as they come, sporting a charming yet basic monochrome look which is made up almost entirely of angular shapes. Its ability to entertain therefore lies almost solely in how well designed its levels and various features are.

There's an incredibly compelling puzzle platformer in BoxBoy! which extends around Qbby's strong yet slim moveset. In finding the exit door to each stage, you're frequently encouraged to find news ways to utilise those moves to solve a variety of puzzles.

To begin with you'll be creating boxes to throw into spike pits and safely jump across, or using those boxes to build bridges. So far, so straightforward. But give it a few worlds and you'll discover neat tricks within the world's rules. One favourite is being able to reverse-retract your Tetris-shaped box extension if it hooks itself onto a ledge, thereby transporting Qbby to new places.

These 'Eureka' moments of discovery make you see the game in completely different ways. Going back to the previous example, you'll need to do some jumping to 'hook' your box extension onto ledges, and the box shapes you create need to take this into account.

Each new world introduces increasingly inventive gizmos, objects and traps, further eking more smart ideas out of what Qbby can do. Conveyer belts and Star Blocks encourage you to solve a solution in reverse. Cranes make you quickly realise that you can manipulate Qbby's location based on nearby walls and his ability to create new boxes as an extension of himself.

BoxBoy! does the near-impossible and makes the most of each world's central mechanic in just seven levels. Its puzzles are focused and least retrospectively speaking. You'll frequently have to think hard and experiment, but there really is nothing better than spending a while on a particular solution only to realise the pure simplicity and genius of it all. It therefore avoids long, drawn out solutions without feeling overly easy - things sail along, and before you know it that quick five minute session to tackle the next level just became an engrossing two hours.

To cement the challenge, crowns (which grant you credits to spend on goodies) have been placed in some devious places, stretching your thinking further. They'll also only appear if you've been economical in creating boxes, encouraging you to find the optimal solution each time. And levels containing an even bigger, smarter, meatier challenge await after the credits roll.

It's all a sound proof of concept for Nintendo Web Framework, a WebKit-based development environment. The constraints of making a game using web technologies like HTML5 and Javascript have allowed even a big developer like HAL Laboratory to focus on crafting a compelling videogame above anything else.

BoxBoy! is a triumph. Not because it remains vastly interesting across its 160 or so levels, but in how it goes about achieving this. It'll make you feel like a genius with surprising regularity, and it does more with the few levels containing each world's standout features than you thought possible. It's a masterclass in minimalist game design, and never less than a delight to play.
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Posted by James at 09:12
Nintendo CEO, Satoru Iwata, speaking at a Q&A Session on the topic of the recently announced Nintendo-DeNA partnership:

Of course, we have created this alliance with the belief that it will go well. On the other hand, nobody can guarantee that any collaboration like this will result in a win-win situation for both companies. So, we naturally cannot say we will continue doing business this way forever.
This is perhaps obvious, being a response to a question concerning Nintendo's commitment to its alliance and whether it is open to working with other partners in crafting experiences made for smart devices.

However, it further indicates the caution that Iwata is taking with his company's move in utilising Nintendo IP on smart devices. While the alliance between Nintendo and DeNA has the long-term interests of both companies at heart, Iwata doesn't necessarily see the partnership as long-term if things fail to work out as intended.

Indeed, if ties had to be severed it wouldn't be DeNA's first time in a high-profile venture. Their partnership in 2011 with Bandai Namco -- important enough to have the company rebrand itself to "BNDeNA" -- was dissolved last year.

There are a few notable differences, however. Bandai Namco already specialised in developing successful smartphone titles when it formed its partnership with DeNA, indeed, Bandai Namco's stock price rose during the alliance, while DeNA's declined.

In contrast, Nintendo is partnering with DeNA because it understands that DeNA specialises in areas it does not: Things like player analysis, data-driven metrics and expertise in running a smartphone distribution platform. Nintendo, of course, specialises in crafting amazing games loved around the world, having also pioneered and popularised the use of the touchscreen to create new videogame experiences with the Nintendo DS.

Crafting specific touch-based games on smartphones could be seen as coming home for them, with the 'Blue Ocean' audience they once chased migrating to those devices. Nintendo has also been getting to grips with the Free-to-Play business model in interesting ways.

There is also this particular line from the Q&A:
We have just announced this alliance, so we would not consider jointly releasing the first Nintendo smart device game with any other company.

Iwata's careful use of "first" is notable, as it implies Nintendo would be open for other collaborations in the future. Perhaps not with DeNA's fiercest rival GREE, though -- speculated to be one of the factors behind the breakup between Bandai Namco and DeNA.
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Posted by James at 11:34
The markets continue to be delighted by Nintendo's decision to expand their business and make games for smartphones.

At the time of writing, Nintendo's share price is now trading at $23.35, up by just over 25% on yesterday's closing price of $18.22, which itself was just over 25% higher than the previous closing price. Click here for a more detailed look from Yahoo Finance.

That makes for a stock price which is currently at its highest in the last four years of the company's history.

This market behaviour likely owes itself to Jefferies (an investment bank) revising its Nintendo stock rating to "buy". You have to wonder, however, whether some investors are unknowingly holding onto false hope -- false hope that Nintendo and DeNA seek to reap potential short-term gains and profits usually associated with successful Free-to-Play games, when the truth will be quite different.
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Posted by James at 10:47
Satoru Iwata, speaking last month with Japan's Nikkei Business Daily on possible plans to develop smartphone applications:

Some Nintendo game consoles incorporate Mii, which creates a digital avatar to represent players. It would be fun for players to use their Mii characters as icons on social media. We are currently developing an application that will allow users to do that. The app will be announced around the time our full-year results are released.

Many of us scoffed, given the somewhat aimless purpose of such an app, in addition to the fact that the company's previous smartphone apps (for Miiverse and Mario Kart 8) turned out to be mobile-friendly websites, not software published on Google Play and the iOS App Store. Nintendo didn't seem to be seriously engaging smartphone users with their content.

But it all makes sense now. With yesterday's announcements signalling a revamped, all-encompassing Nintendo Network as part of the company's efforts to expand its presence to smartphones and PCs, Nintendo has no choice but to offer the ability to create Miis independently from a Wii U or 3DS.

This was one of many hints that have been dropped by the company. Collectible Badge Center is another. It's a well-tuned Free-to-Play (F2P) game which also operates like a modern smartphone app, fetching new online data daily and serving up seasonal events to its users.

Mr. Iwata also confirmed yesterday that Nintendo will handle the planning processes behind Nintendo-DeNA smartphone output, so it's been preparing behind the scenes to do just that, especially with the alliance's first smartphone games launching as early as this year.
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