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The Struggles of Marketing GameCube (NotEnoughShaders)

javac

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Oct 25, 2012
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During the GameCube era, Nintendo of Japan became confused by North America’s obsession with violence, epic cinematic stories, and photo realistic graphics. Games such as “Halo 2″ (sold 8 million units) and “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” (sold 17.33 million units) were stealing attention away from Nintendo’s first party GameCube software.

“In meetings it was clear [Nintendo of Japan] could not understand why the brand had fallen so far here in North America or comprehend why the mature titles, and more powerful consoles, were so successful. Nintendo represented fun, in the purest sense of the word, they always have. When you play Nintendo games you laugh, you yell, you smile, and you jump around. You have FUN. Someone, sadly I forget who, would later quote in one of those meetings that “Consumers don’t want fun anymore; they just want to kill people… in HD.” It was actually kind of true, and with the cultural differences between Japan and the US, it was easy to understand the confusion,” said Mercury in 2011.

Mercury says Nintendo of America wasn’t confused by the cultural differences like Nintendo of Japan was.

“The problem, though, was that Nintendo of America wasn’t confused by the situation at all, they understood those cultural differences quite well, but even if they could defy the marching orders from Nintendo of Japan, I’m not sure they even would have. Gaming was growing up. This is when things started to get real ugly for a while inside those hallowed walls,” he says. “Nintendo of America [NoA] is not, by any means or methods, Nintendo of Japan [NoJ]. NoA is like the misfit child send off to the strange land full of strange people. Well, at least it was back then, I’m not sure if things have changed now.”

“No one I talked to at Nintendo could understand why the company was struggling, why the whole brand was in danger of collapsing much like Sega before them. “But we’re Nintendo.” I can’t even recall how many times I heard that as a catch-all excuse.” says Mercury. ” No one, not a single soul, could believe that Nintendo was capable of being unseated as Number 1, even while it was happening right in front of them.”

By this point, there was no love for the Nintendo faithful or even gamers in general. They were regarded as spoiled, fickle, rebellious, nerds. They would be told what was cool and like it. I got to hear about how Geist was going to be the next “Halo Killer”.

At the time, Nintendo believed “Geist” — a first person shooter published by Nintendo — would be GameCube’s “Halo Killer”. And everyone inside the meeting reassured Reggie that “Geist” would become a huge hit with the older hardcore gamers who loved “Halo”.

“And then at the end [of the presentation], Reggie looked around the table and basically said “Look, don’t bullshit me. How do you guys really think this thing is going to hold up?” No one said a word for a minute

Mercury then made another recommendation to Fils-Aime: “The other game we should really be focusing on is Resident Evil 4. This game is going to sell consoles. Period.”

Reggie was surprised at the idea of giving a bigger push to a third party title.

“Pride turned to arrogance. Ugly arrogance. Nintendo started to develop contempt for the gaming community. They felt as if they were being betrayed by the gamers they created. The marketing teams started to look at gamer focused strategies with ire and spite.” says Mercury. “The “hardcore” Nintendo audience was equally cast aside. “Why bother? They’re going to buy anything we put out anyway.”

Source:Not Enough Shaders

A really cool piece written by Emily Rogers for Not Enough Shaders, I copied a lot of quotes so I'm sorry but there is a lot more at the link including a one to one interview at the end.

A good look at Nintendo back during the GameCube era. I guess its nice to look back on history and see what went wrong. I guess we could also draw parallels to Nintendo of today with the Wii U.

I hope the thread is kept clean and everyone has fun discussing this topic!
 

darkside31337

Tomodachi wa Mahou
May 31, 2011
34,803
1
645
The Geist bit is pretty funny when you think about the fact that Reggie was talking up Conduit as a Halo killer just a few years later.
 

Hiccup

Banned
Jun 7, 2013
826
0
0
You would think after Goldeneye 007 becoming a juggernaut on the N64 and completely dominating the market with FPS; Nintendo should have learned. Instead they sold Rare and the rest is history.
 

borghe

Loves the Greater Toronto Area
Jun 18, 2004
23,394
3
1,575
www.borgh.us
meh, I actually think Nintendo is/was right in a lot of ways. It's a shame where AAA development has sunk to. Only shining light in gaming right now are indies for the most part. :(

gaming used to be about variety. Now it's about chasing the dudebro's dollars.
 

Mael

Member
Oct 23, 2009
23,428
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France
This actually shed light as to how and why Reggie would push for Blue Ocean strategy in the end.
 
Jan 17, 2011
3,532
0
0
What a mess. The attitude towards their loyal customers is very off putting. People who don't like video games running NoA...at the time anyways. I wonder how much different it is over there now.
 

Dance Inferno

Unconfirmed Member
Dec 30, 2008
11,555
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0
www.neogaf.com
I think it's interesting that most large companies don't think they can ever be unseated, even while they can see the signs in front of them. Thanks for the link, I'm going to dig into this article.
 

javac

Member
Oct 25, 2012
15,368
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Another bit that stuck out from the interview (which you should all check out! It expands on the article a lot!) in regards to Smash and Evo.

From a Marketing perspective, Smash is dangerous because of the content/playstyle of the game. Iconic Nintendo mascots beating the hell out of each other is an awesome gameplay experience, no one will challenge that fact, but from an overall Marketing view it’s, well, dangerous. The popular image of Mario, the widely publicly recognized one, can never be of him beating the hell out of Princess Peach or, say, of Link tossing Zelda into the fires of Brinstar, Pikachu hitting Jigglypuff with a baseball bat, so on, so forth. Unlike most other fighting game characters, the Nintendo mascots have far-reaching brands and franchises unto themselves that have to be considered and protected in a bigger picture view. EVO would have taken the character representations out of the hands of Nintendo’s control, boiled them down to pure violence, and broadcast it directly to 125,000 people. It’s not hard to see why Nintendo would be a little gun-shy.
 

Version 3.0

Member
Jun 18, 2005
12,706
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Reggie was at NoA when Geist was in development?


...anyway, aside from that, I agreed then and agree now that the market is too murder-centric. But that was only one facet of Nintendo's problems with the Gamecube. It's no excuse to not only shun, but actively bash online. It's no reason to make your biggest semi-"mature" mascot (Link) into a toddler, or to market Sunshine as they did. Not buying into the murder spree isn't the same thing as going overkill on the "kiddie" image. It's no reason to fight the idea of game consoles with additional functionality, particularly DVD playback at the time. And it arguably has little bearing on their poor 3rd party relations.
 

Kastrioti

Persecution Complex
Mar 5, 2006
14,625
0
0
Southern California
Fantastic article. Loved the part about how Reggie knew Geist had no chance in the world of competing against Halo for "mature" marketshare.

I think with the huge success of the Wii a lot of that arrogance crept back in with the Wii U and I think Nintendo remains stubborn and backwards on how they push the console. Exhibit A.) Would be Nintendo not even considering a price drop for the console as of right now.
 
Sep 19, 2005
3,626
0
0
Seattle, WA
“Consumers don’t want fun anymore; they just want to kill people… in HD.”

Yeah, kinda. I know it's the bitter, jaded part of me saying that. I know it's not totally true, but as someone who grew up in the 8 and 16 bit eras it really does seem like that's all that matters to the mass market.
 

metalslimer

Member
Jun 9, 2012
26,527
0
0
Sounds like some real egocentrism going on in those meetings. And honestly they are right back where they started except without the 3rd party games to even consider promoting.
 

BY2K

Membero Americo
Sep 12, 2010
37,300
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0
31
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“And then at the end [of the presentation], Reggie looked around the table and basically said “Look, don’t bullshit me. How do you guys really think this thing is going to hold up?” No one said a word for a minute

Damn.
 

captmcblack

Member
Oct 4, 2004
18,186
0
1,470
I'm not surprised. If I was Nintendo, I'd have felt betrayed by gamers too. When Nintendo was coming up in the 80s, they essentially created the marketplace anew. Nobody ever chastised them for being kiddy, Nobody ever described their input devices or whatever as "gimmicks". People just wanted to play games. Once Sega came in, and Sony, and MS, the perspective changed - even if Nintendo's output or quality hadn't changed much.

Once it stopped being "cool" to play Nintendo, gamers started turning their backs, or considering Nintendo a thing to have in conjunction with those other types of experiences. I wish Nintendo wasn't so arrogant to believe that gamers can't have other tastes...and I wish gamers didn't decide they were too cool to simply enjoy a game in any context. Like, I don't get how Wii Sports and Mario are childish, but the cartoonish ultradude violence of Call of Duty or Gears of War or something is just cool and mature.
 

TEJ

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Jan 22, 2007
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Yeah, kinda. I know it's the bitter, jaded part of me saying that. I know it's not totally true, but as someone who grew up in the 8 and 16 bit eras it really does seem like that's all that matters to the mass market.

Killing things was a big part of the 8-bit era, it's just that instead of things exploding when ryu hayabusa kills them now their limbs pop off.
 
Sep 19, 2005
3,626
0
0
Seattle, WA
I'm having more fun than ever on PC, PS3, Vita, and 360. Games are still fun.

Me too! It's just sad to see so much money poured into COD and the like. I love what's happened with the indie and download / arcade stuff I just wish that occasionally a larger company would take a big chance on something that isn't an FPS or Uncharted like game.

Killing things was a big part of the 8-bit era, it's just that instead of things exploding when ryu hayabusa kills them their limbs pop off.

Yeah... I mainly mean shooters. I can slice people up in action games all day long as long as they don't beg for their lives.
 

foxtrot3d

Banned
Mar 28, 2013
9,210
2
0
“And then at the end [of the presentation], Reggie looked around the table and basically said “Look, don’t bullshit me. How do you guys really think this thing is going to hold up?” No one said a word for a minute

Ha! Go Reggie.
 

javac

Member
Oct 25, 2012
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NoA did fine with what they had to work with, more than half of all Gamecubes sold were sold here.

I guess it's more about perspective from a guy who was spearheading the marketing. Nintendo survived and even on NeoGAF itself, a lot of vocal Nintendo fans talk in admiration of the NGC software titles. It was a great system that was in a time where a company that was at the top had to settle for second best. A time when the industry was changing rapidly. Seems more apt in light of the Wii U and fun to look back on. How Reggie is really like backstage etc.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
17,232
4
0
Emily clearly has a passion for this stuff and her heart is in the right place. It's very interesting to read an interview with someone who worked for NOA, which in and of itself is a very rare thing.

That being said, the guy's narrative has him in a room full of obvious idiots, the lone voice standing up for what is clearly true--and then he follows it up with a second stroke of genius. Especially with the lurid detail on Reggie's expressions. It's the kind of blustery story that someone tells. I have no doubt that this guy had a role to play in Nintendo, and quite possibly that he made those suggestions to Reggie. And certainly the allegations of myopia and blindness register true based on the external evidence we have. But the story reads like one guy's boasting.

Like when the junior staffer of the political campaign quits and writes a book about how close he was and all the meetings he was in on and all the great ideas he has and then the candidate and the actual inner circle say "Who? Oh yeah, that guy. He seemed okay, I guess?". I'm not saying that these events did not occur... it's possible they occurred exactly how he said them... but typically when presenting one person's personal narrative, especially one that self-elevates, it's important to be critical and skeptical of it. Maybe there were multiple meetings. Maybe the marketing idiots weren't quite so uniform as they expected. Maybe multiple people had suggestions.

That's also why journalists typically don't run single-source interviews as history or descriptive pieces. If you keep it in interview format, you're saying "that is what he said". If you make it the basis for your story--which this clearly is, given that it has a history piece preceding it--you're endorsing it. Obviously it is labeled as an interview, so there is that, but still I think distance is a good thing. Typically a journalist gets a second source to confirm, corroborate, extend, or refute the first source in order to construct a more holistic picture. I'm sure any of the journalists on GAF would be happy to tell what industry best practices are for handling single-source information like this.

And basically everything post-his departure is just "asking a guy what he thinks". Which is common for interviews, but not super productive. There are a lot more people who want to play inside baseball than those who are actually on the inside ;)
 

OldAsUrSock

Banned
Apr 1, 2012
5,457
0
0
Awesomeville
“Pride turned to arrogance. Ugly arrogance. Nintendo started to develop contempt for the gaming community. They felt as if they were being betrayed by the gamers they created. The marketing teams started to look at gamer focused strategies with ire and spite.” says Mercury. “The “hardcore” Nintendo audience was equally cast aside. “Why bother? They’re going to buy anything we put out anyway.”

LOL Nintendo is correct. The hardcore Nintendo audience buys anything with "Nintendo" on it anyways.
 
Jun 21, 2013
7,067
1
435
Virginia, United States
So in other words, hardcore gamers are the ones that killed Nintendo, not the other way around? Got it.

I don't see how Nintendo didn't see the rise of the "new hardcore" in games like RE and MGS that were popping up on PlayStation, replacing the old hardcore that was so prolific on their and Sega's systems. I mean, they were right there seeing it with their own eyes, how could they've missed it?

Always love my Nintendo games tho; they have a touch to them that can't be replicated. Let's hope this sloth of the WiiU doesn't permanently damage their console business (or lord forbid, force them to go 3rd party).

Btw, Nintendo was "dethroned" as far back as the early 90s, at least in America, 'cuz Genesis baby!
 

SolidSnakex

Member
Jun 7, 2004
85,483
4
0
Consumers don’t want fun anymore; they just want to kill people… in HD.

Did Nintendo forget how much they benefited from Goldeneye in the N64 days? And that game wasn't popular because it allowed you to kill people, it was popular because it was a lot of fun to play (i'm not sure why they think it's one or the other). Just like CoD, GTA, Uncharted, HALO etc.
 

LiquidMetal14

hide your water-based mammals
Jan 18, 2007
46,907
387
1,580
The Confederate United States of America
Me too! It's just sad to see so much money poured into COD and the like. I love what's happened with the indie and download / arcade stuff I just wish that occasionally a larger company would take a big chance on something that isn't an FPS or Uncharted like game.



Yeah... I mainly mean shooters. I can slice people up in action games all day long as long as they don't beg for their lives.

I tend to ignore or not over saturate myself with too many of one type. On PC, he backlog is there permanently but on consoles/handhelds, I choose carefully.
 

The Boat

Member
Sep 22, 2010
9,850
2
615
Emily clearly has a passion for this stuff and her heart is in the right place. It's very interesting to read an interview with someone who worked for NOA, which in and of itself is a very rare thing.

That being said, the guy's narrative has him in a room full of obvious idiots, the lone voice standing up for what is clearly true--and then he follows it up with a second stroke of genius. Especially with the lurid detail on Reggie's expressions. It's the kind of blustery story that someone tells. I have no doubt that this guy had a role to play in Nintendo, and quite possibly that he made those suggestions to Reggie. And certainly the allegations of myopia and blindness register true based on the external evidence we have. But the story reads like one guy's boasting.

Like when the junior staffer of the political campaign quits and writes a book about how close he was and all the meetings he was in on and all the great ideas he has and then the candidate and the actual inner circle say "Who? Oh yeah, that guy. He seemed okay, I guess?". I'm not saying that these events did not occur... it's possible they occurred exactly how he said them... but typically when presenting one person's personal narrative, especially one that self-elevates, it's important to be critical and skeptical of it. Maybe there were multiple meetings. Maybe the marketing idiots weren't quite so uniform as they expected. Maybe multiple people had suggestions.

That's also why journalists typically don't run single-source interviews as history or descriptive pieces. If you keep it in interview format, you're saying "that is what he said". If you make it the basis for your story--which this clearly is, given that it has a history piece preceding it--you're endorsing it. Obviously it is labeled as an interview, so there is that, but still I think distance is a good thing. Typically a journalist gets a second source to confirm, corroborate, extend, or refute the first source in order to construct a more holistic picture. I'm sure any of the journalists on GAF would be happy to tell what industry best practices are for handling single-source information like this.

And basically everything post-his departure is just "asking a guy what he thinks". Which is common for interviews, but not super productive. There are a lot more people who want to play inside baseball than those who are actually on the inside ;)
Well put, this was the impression the article left me with too.
 

Frankenstein

Banned
Feb 25, 2013
241
0
0
Large parts of the article make absolutely no sense at all:

In meetings it was clear [Nintendo of Japan] could not understand why the brand had fallen so far here in North America or comprehend why the mature titles, and more powerful consoles, were so successful.

The most successful console aka the Playstation 2 was less powerful than the Gamecube.

Someone, sadly I forget who, would later quote in one of those meetings that “Consumers don’t want fun anymore; they just want to kill people… in HD.

What games exactly did run in HD during the Gamecube era?

No one, not a single soul, could believe that Nintendo was capable of being unseated as Number 1, even while it was happening right in front of them.

They couldn´t believe what already happened years before the Gamecube was even released?
 

Htown

STOP SHITTING ON MY MOTHER'S HEADSTONE
Feb 19, 2008
44,007
7
0
Another bit that stuck out from the interview (which you should all check out! It expands on the article a lot!) in regards to Smash and Evo.

I was gonna quote that part too.

Ridiculous.

Emily clearly has a passion for this stuff and her heart is in the right place. It's very interesting to read an interview with someone who worked for NOA, which in and of itself is a very rare thing.

That being said, the guy's narrative has him in a room full of obvious idiots, the lone voice standing up for what is clearly true--and then he follows it up with a second stroke of genius. Especially with the lurid detail on Reggie's expressions. It's the kind of blustery story that someone tells. I have no doubt that this guy had a role to play in Nintendo, and quite possibly that he made those suggestions to Reggie. And certainly the allegations of myopia and blindness register true based on the external evidence we have. But the story reads like one guy's boasting.

Like when the junior staffer of the political campaign quits and writes a book about how close he was and all the meetings he was in on and all the great ideas he has and then the candidate and the actual inner circle say "Who? Oh yeah, that guy. He seemed okay, I guess?". I'm not saying that these events did not occur... it's possible they occurred exactly how he said them... but typically when presenting one person's personal narrative, especially one that self-elevates, it's important to be critical and skeptical of it. Maybe there were multiple meetings. Maybe the marketing idiots weren't quite so uniform as they expected. Maybe multiple people had suggestions.

That's also why journalists typically don't run single-source interviews as history or descriptive pieces. If you keep it in interview format, you're saying "that is what he said". If you make it the basis for your story--which this clearly is, given that it has a history piece preceding it--you're endorsing it. Obviously it is labeled as an interview, so there is that, but still I think distance is a good thing. Typically a journalist gets a second source to confirm, corroborate, extend, or refute the first source in order to construct a more holistic picture. I'm sure any of the journalists on GAF would be happy to tell what industry best practices are for handling single-source information like this.

And basically everything post-his departure is just "asking a guy what he thinks". Which is common for interviews, but not super productive. There are a lot more people who want to play inside baseball than those who are actually on the inside ;)
also this
 

metalslimer

Member
Jun 9, 2012
26,527
0
0
Emily clearly has a passion for this stuff and her heart is in the right place. It's very interesting to read an interview with someone who worked for NOA, which in and of itself is a very rare thing.

That being said, the guy's narrative has him in a room full of obvious idiots, the lone voice standing up for what is clearly true--and then he follows it up with a second stroke of genius. Especially with the lurid detail on Reggie's expressions. It's the kind of blustery story that someone tells. I have no doubt that this guy had a role to play in Nintendo, and quite possibly that he made those suggestions to Reggie. And certainly the allegations of myopia and blindness register true based on the external evidence we have. But the story reads like one guy's boasting.

Like when the junior staffer of the political campaign quits and writes a book about how close he was and all the meetings he was in on and all the great ideas he has and then the candidate and the actual inner circle say "Who? Oh yeah, that guy. He seemed okay, I guess?". I'm not saying that these events did not occur... it's possible they occurred exactly how he said them... but typically when presenting one person's personal narrative, especially one that self-elevates, it's important to be critical and skeptical of it. Maybe there were multiple meetings. Maybe the marketing idiots weren't quite so uniform as they expected. Maybe multiple people had suggestions.

That's also why journalists typically don't run single-source interviews as history or descriptive pieces. If you keep it in interview format, you're saying "that is what he said". If you make it the basis for your story--which this clearly is, given that it has a history piece preceding it--you're endorsing it. Obviously it is labeled as an interview, so there is that, but still I think distance is a good thing. Typically a journalist gets a second source to confirm, corroborate, extend, or refute the first source in order to construct a more holistic picture. I'm sure any of the journalists on GAF would be happy to tell what industry best practices are for handling single-source information like this.

And basically everything post-his departure is just "asking a guy what he thinks". Which is common for interviews, but not super productive. There are a lot more people who want to play inside baseball than those who are actually on the inside ;)

Also a good point.Although i still think that there are trinkets to be gained from this. Maybe not in the overly dramatic meetings part but nintendo's strategy at the time.
 

captmcblack

Member
Oct 4, 2004
18,186
0
1,470
Another bit that stuck out from the interview (which you should all check out! It expands on the article a lot!) in regards to Smash and Evo.

So dumb, this.

One of Nintendo's most memorable ad campaigns was the Smash commercial series that was literally classic Nintendo characters frolicking and then beating each other up. I'm glad they at least "relented" and came to their senses re: Evo.
 

javac

Member
Oct 25, 2012
15,368
1
0
UK
Emily clearly has a passion for this stuff and her heart is in the right place. It's very interesting to read an interview with someone who worked for NOA, which in and of itself is a very rare thing.

That being said, ...

Yeah I think its just interesting to get a perspective of the atmosphere and situation. Even if its over the top or altered history I guess it'll always be like that because everyone will see things from a different angle. This is the perspective of the situation from this one man. Maybe one day when somebody like Reggie retires he'd give off a more earnest and different perspective of the story. It's very interesting to read I guess :D

A bit nostalgic too :)
 

Mr-Joker

Banned
Mar 7, 2013
14,980
2
0
In space
You would think after Goldeneye 007 becoming a juggernaut on the N64 and completely dominating the market with FPS; Nintendo should have learned. Instead they sold Rare and the rest is history.

Rare wasn't laying any more golden eggs, all Nintendo did was sell them to Microsoft who then kill them.

Is it just me who would love to see Hiroshi Yamauchi come back?

What the guy who basically told Square, one of their biggest third party supporter to buzz off and take their biggest IP with them and release it on their competitor system? Yamauchi wasn't any better.
 

Nekofrog

Banned
Nov 3, 2007
13,583
1
0
And here we observe the wonderous ostrich, who in times of danger and confusion, sticks its head in the sand in a futile attempt to ignore its surroundings.