Do you even remember the last game you bought for your Wii? Exciting Wii releases, typically few and far between, have been virtually nonexistent as of late. The Wii has stagnated to the point that fans have taken matters into their own hands. A grassroots movement called Operation Rainfall have set out to do just that, campaigning to localize three Nintendo-published role-playing games.
Though not for a lack of trying, the efforts have yet to prove successful. Nintendo of America still refuses to localize the games. Despite critical acclaim and commercial success in Japan, it seems like Americans won’t get a chance to experience these titles. You just have to wonder why though. Have they forgotten their fans? Does Nintendo even care?
It’s incredible to think of how successful the Wii has been over the course of its lifecycle, how much Nintendo have turned their luck around over the past five years, only for it to end like this. The Nintendo Wii, one of the most successful videogame platforms of all time, will go out not with a bang, but a whimper. Now a dying console, the Wii is limping toward its final days.
Much of the blame for all of this could be passed off on third party publishers. Over the past year, one by one, third parties have discontinued their support for the system. Nintendo have been left alone to prop up the Wii, until the eventual release of its successor. Unfortunately, they can’t even do that. Nintendo’s attention is obviously torn in several directions and they’ve decided to let the system with the largest install base be the one that gets the short end of the stick.
Earlier this year Nintendo released a half-functional 3DS months ahead of development schedule to please investors. Only recently has the new portable begun to deliver on Nintendo’s promises, whether that is functionality such as the Nintendo eShop or an actual lineup of decent software offerings. Now, they have to worry about the impending release of their next home console, its software, and digital infrastructure. All the while the Wii sits forgotten.
Whether intentionally or not, Nintendo is telling consumers that if they want to play new games they need a 3DS. Nevermind the fact that Nintendo’s new portable’s embarrassingly meager launch offerings. Nevermind the fact that there will be a smaller, better version of the system out by next Christmas. Nevermind the fact that a lot of Wii owners will not even want a 3DS.
The other option is to wait an entire year for an expensive, new console that has yet to show us anything more than tech demos, much less do much to differentiate itself from an Xbox 360 or iPad. The more likely scenario is Wii owners flocking towards the competition, turning to Sony and Microsoft for new experiences. That, or they’ll mod their console and play the games anyway. Rather than willingly take money from their fans, Nintendo seems content to lose money to their competitors and piracy.
Nintendo shouldn’t give up on the Wii when there is the rest of 2011 and 2012 to play for. Not only shouldn’t they do that, but it’s just bad business to do so. Wii owners, even ones that are interested in a successor console, are going to have doubts about Nintendo after a year where the only compelling mainstream release is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. As excited as I’ve been to play a new Zelda title for the past half-decade, one game isn’t going to carry an entire calendar year. Wii owners that don’t own a second console should be absolutely livid, especially considering that Nintendo is holding out on them.
There are nearly a dozen other first party titles that the publisher could bring to North America. These games have already finished development and have been released in other territories. All of the hard work has already been done, Nintendo of Europe has even localized several of these into English, leaving Nintendo of America the comparatively easy task of printing off discs and supplying various retailers. At least that would remind consumers that the Wii exists.
The three titles under the umbrella of Operation Rainfall, Xenoblade, Pandora’s Tower and The Last Story, have already been released in Japan to both critical and commercial acclaim. These are great games that thousands of fans have rallied behind the effort to get these games localized. What could possibly be Nintendo’s rationale behind not bringing these games to America?
It doesn’t make financial sense. As can be seen above, Americans tend to purchase more units of similar releases than Europeans or Japanese. While certainly not Call of Duty numbers, even in these relatively small numbers publishers can turn a profit through limited releases. Several considerably smaller publishers do just that for their entire catalog. Yet, Nintendo of America, one of the largest publishers on the planet, can’t seem to take a gamble on a single one of these titles? What do they have to lose?
No, none of these games will sell anywhere near as well as Wii Fit. You won’t see The Last Story in every American household. However, Nintendo have a unique opportunity to please their fans. They have an opportunity to do something nice for the people that have supported them in the good times, and kept them in business through the bad.
Nintendo may not have a whole lot to gain from releasing a few role-playing games in the United States. They do however, have a great deal to lose. The success Nintendo saw with the Wii could very well come and go. Who knows if Nintendo will continue to have success pursuing the Blue Ocean. What Nintendo will always have is their loyal fanbase. That is, unless they do something to screw that up. I fear that this may very well be the last straw.