As I’m sure we’re all aware, a lot of people just plain aren’t excited about the Wii U as a console. Even with all the game announcements last week, a lot of people are hesitant to fork over the money for a Wii U and are instead content with sticking by their XBox 360 or PlayStation 3 systems for all their gaming needs. To make things worse for Nintendo, there is also the very real possibility that new consoles are just around the corner and that will make the Wii U not the only new kid on the block.
With the Wii U, Nintendo’s home console is finally on par with the competition’s offerings, so it is easy to see the writing on the wall that more new consoles may make Nintendo fall behind again on the technical level. All of this hardware talk aside, Nintendo is doing a few things that, in my opinion, are ahead of both Sony and Microsoft.
The first thing I want to mention is Nintendo Direct conferences. Why share the spotlight of E3 or any other big event with all your competition? Announcing games at your own special press conference that anyone can watch online at a time of your choosing ensures that you get the attention you deserve and that you don’t get overlooked. This idea is so simple and effective that it is amazing it took this long for a video game company to really take advantage of it.
This year’s Nintendo Directs have without a doubt proven their effectiveness. Gaming news websites went crazy with the announcement of the new Pokemon games a few weeks ago and last week with the announcement of Wind Waker HD and all the other Wii U goodness. This is a stark contrast to what could have happened if these announcements were saved for something like E3.
Imagine if all of these game announcements were saved for E3 and shown on the same day the new PlayStation or Xbox were revealed. There is a good chance the Nintendo stuff would take a back seat in not just the minds of many gamers but also the front pages of gaming websites. Instead, by having a big Wii U Nintendo Direct last week, it got all of the attention and was almost the only thing to talk about for a while.
The second thing Nintendo is doing that I want to quickly touch on is true Day 1 digital downloads. Without a doubt one of the biggest changes of this current console generation is the idea of digital games. Whether you think digital is awesome for its convenience or still prefer the physical copies so you have something either to collect or resell, you have to admit that digital has come a long way in the past few years.
Where Nintendo has helped push forward is with its Day 1 downloads. For anybody who doesn’t know what this is, any game that is a Day 1 download you will be able to download from the eShop on the day it is released. For somebody who just doesn’t want to buy more physical games to take up space in their house, this is understandably huge. Nintendo was the first of the big three to have a Day 1 digital game with New Super Mario Bros 2 last August and continues to do this with big 3DS and Wii U games. Although at this time not all games are day 1 digital, it is a big first step forward into the digital frontier that Sony and Microsoft haven’t caught up to.
Before the hate comments start to come in I want to explain why Nintendo’s digital releases are ahead of Sony’s. A select few PlayStation 3 games and all Vita games are available to download on the first day. But the difference between the two services is that Nintendo has them ready to go at midnight and the PlayStation Store usually doesn’t update until sometime in the afternoon. So many people almost lose a day with how Sony does it.
For example, let’s say you play an hour of portable games on the train on your way to school/work in the morning. On the day New Super Mario Brothers 2 came out, you could get it downloading when you wake up and have it good to go before you leave. On the other hand, if you wanted to play a Vita game on the morning it was released, you simply wouldn’t be able to because the PlayStation Store won’t be updated until long after you’re gone. In my mind, if there is a period where I can walk into a brick and mortar store and buy something but it isn’t available for download, it shouldn’t count as day 1 digital. This is also why I said Nintendo did it first. While Vita games technically did do Sony’s version first, in my opinion it just isn’t up to snuff yet.
There is a very real possibility that when new consoles come out, Nintendo will be outdone on the technical level. But if Nintendo continues to do things the other companies just simply aren’t, I’m sure we’ll have a cozy little console for our Marios and Zeldas for a long time to come.