Nintendo Direct: IP Parading And IP Neglect

Nintendo’s November 2014 Direct told me one thing above all else: it’s trying to prop up the value its franchises as much as possible. All of them. I can understand why, I just wish it would translate into more full games for certain franchises.

One of the most oft-cited complaints against Nintendo is how seldom they’ve brought out new intellectual properties since probably the late 90’s. I personally feel that’s not quite justified. Since then we’ve had IPs like Animal Crossing, the Wii brand, Pikmin, WarioWare, Rhythm Heaven, Pushmo, and Xenoblade along with Nintendo finally bringing Advance Wars and Fire Emblem to the west. The current hardware cycle however has seen Nintendo relying on its old stable of big hits more visibly than ever.

NintendoLand was the first big indication — Nintendo openly stated the purpose of the game was to get more consumers familiar with Nintendo franchises that aren’t Mario or PokemonSuper Smash Bros. is of course a celebration of Nintendo’s IPs. But now the latest Direct shows us Mario Kart 8 basically turning into “Nintendo Kart” with DLC from games like ZeldaExcitebike, and F-Zero.

This brings me to what’s disappointed me about Nintendo’s push with all its franchises. That F-Zero content seems to be the closest we’ll get to an actual new F-Zero game for the foreseeable future. Of all Nintendo’s franchises, F-ZeroStar Fox, and Metroid seem to be the redheaded stepchildren right now. Okay, Miyamoto claims to be working on Star Fox, but the other two are in serious limbo right now. I know a lot of people care about F-Zero. People consider F-Zero GX one of the best racing games ever made. And a new Metroid Prime is one of the things that would about instantly sell me on a Wii U. Oh, and we haven’t had an actual 2D Metroid for a handheld or anything in over a decade.

I get that the main driving force behind all this for Nintendo is the economic viability of the franchises. If you don’t understand why Nintendo has brought out Mario and Mario Kart games so frequently as of late, just check their sales. Mario Kart Wii is the top selling racing game of all time by a good margin. The first couple New Super Mario Bros. games basically sold Call of Duty numbers. The Wii brand games did even more during the original Wii’s time. It’s no surprise those franchises get more releases than F-Zero.

Nintendo is probably putting all this other stuff into Mario Kart because it’s hoping that will sell a lot of copies and thus get a lot of people to see those non-Mario characters. Nintendo probably wants kids to eventually look at the box of a game from one of its less successful franchises and say “that’s that guy from Mario Kart! Or Smash Bros.” or “That’s one of the amiibos I have!” We have no idea if that will actually work so far.

Though Nintendo may finally be trying to follow through with this plan with some of its 2015 releases. They actually are bringing us a new Kirby game and a new Yoshi game. Even Toad is getting his own game. I guess the new Star Fox is supposed to be a part of this. I’m just disappointed because I care more about Metroid than probably any of those games (don’t get me wrong, that Kirby Canvas Curse sequel looks great), and I know some people care about F-Zero just as much.

Did Metroid: Other M damage the franchise that much? Did GX sell that poorly? The only source on GX sales I could find was VGcharts which I don’t like relying on, but according to them the game sold like 650k worldwide. I’m not gonna track down lifetime sales for all Nintendo’s IPs, but that number is pretty bad I guess. I’m just waiting for when Nintendo decides to cash in the brand-awareness for the franchise it seems to be sliding into its other games.

Finally, let’s not forget the real reason Nintendo’s doing all this — it’s gotta have something to sell on its console. Third party games have basically vanished from the Wii U. That’s probably we’re getting so many first party games from Nintendo’s second and third-string franchises.


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One thought on “Nintendo Direct: IP Parading And IP Neglect

  1. I’d love to see a new Cruis’n game, but that’s just me. I mean, Killer Instinct is back, so why not the other Ultra 64 preview game?

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