Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Editorial: The Fans of a Dying Platform

Nintendo recently announced that the Zelda Wii-U game that they kept promising would be Wii-U exclusive that was still coming... is now going to be cross platform. This essentially means we're going to get a Twilight Princess situation where the NX version isn't as good as it could be and the Wii-U version is going to be missing whatever gimmick the NX version has.

I have a Wii-U and a Vita. Both are probably the most depressed of fan bases in the mid-2010s. It's interesting to see how each handles it. 


The Vita fanbase started getting really salty the first E3 that Sony didn't mention the Vita. I can't remember the exact year, but I think it was 2014. 

I think Sony's marketing has long been the issue with the fans of the Vita. 

The PSP fans were generally people that liked weird or Japanese games, were into home brewed systems, or wanted console experiences on a handheld. All three of these groups were very happy with what they got. 

Well, Sony said the Vita would be almost as powerful as the PS3 and promised AAA console games on the run. Their first big marketing campaign backed Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified. The commercial had a bunch of teenager / 20 somethings dudes jumping around and fighting. 

Generally the more sub-titles in a game title, the larger the dumpster fire it will be. And it was. This game was critically and commercially panned. 

Another AAA third party title came in Assassin's Creed, but it was an incredibly boring adventure. They took the worst parts of Assassin's Creed, slowed the combat down a ton, and soon people weren't sure they ever wanted these games in the first place.

Well, it was too late to pull the plug. Killzone and Uncharted were already coming, so Sony doubled down on the "this is a console in your hands." 

And a significant percentage of Vita owners bought the handheld on the promise that we would be seeing Drake's adventures, Helghast being assassinated, perhaps even a new Infamous or Grand Turismo. 

Well, things went from bad to worse. We learned that Bioshock Vita was never going to happen. There wouldn't be a new Infamous. Hell, there wouldn't even be a second Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed.

Soon indie developers were put to the forefront of the Vita marketing. Some Japanese games like Freedom Wars filled AAA gaps. But the one thing we weren't getting was the AAA console games we dreamed of. 

It was impossible to go to the internet forums and not see people throwing so much hate toward Sony. They felt abandoned, ripped off, swindled. 

These are the same people however that spoke of how they put 100 hours into Persona 4, played through Uncharted 2-3 times, loved Gravity Rush, could not wait for Tearaway to be another bullet point on why the Vita is so great. 

But they hated Sony. 

I feel like an outlier. Maybe I'm just part of the silent and happy. Until I got my Wii-U, I sat on the couch almost nightly embraced by the warm glow of my Vita. I'd play through PS1 JRPGS while watching TV. I spent several hospital stays with Uncharted, Killzone, and Persona 4. I was happy with what I got out of my Vita. 

I wish the handheld wasn't dying because it truly is one of the greatest devices I've ever used, but sometimes you have to let things go. 

Sony made several missteps. The marketing being the obvious one, but they created what was supposed to be a "console" experience with two touch screens but no bottom triggers. This has recently filled the Vita releases with phone ports. And don't even get me started on the memory cards. 


The Wii-U crowd reacted a little differently. 

I think because they were one of the "three major consoles" this generation, they've been beat down by every non-Wii-U user for years telling them how much their console is inferior and how it's sales are the worst. 

People that bought a Wii-U after launch knew that they would have to stay out of general gaming forums because it would just be punishment. 

But the other thing Wii-U owners felt was that Nintendo would never abandon them. Until the news of Zelda being ported to the NX, the forums were still filled with people saying, "Nintendo promised us that if we just waited this would be a Wii-U only Zelda." Fans took the countless delays with grace.

And now they feel hurt. It's much less anger. Much more depression. It's like when dad goes out on a cigarette run and never comes home.

If you look at the Wii-U library, there are some insanely good games. New Mario Wii-U, Super Mario Maker, Splatoon, Zombie-U, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze... but half the library is filled with ports of Nintendo's Gamecube games.

I've killed the battery on the gamepad a dozen times playing Twilight Princess, Mario World, and Mario Maker on the couch.

I do wish the console had another year of life. I felt like I was just hitting a great stride, but at the same time, I've gotten many hours out of the Wii-U and I haven't touched large portions of the library like Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, New Mario Wii-U, Wonderful 101, and Smash Brothers.

There's a part of me that wishes the internet was more widely used in the 90s. I'd love to see how the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast fans dealt with the quick death of their consoles. Or the couple hundred people that bought into the Virtual Boy learning that they would never see more than the 30 or so games they got.

It's a weird situation we have nowadays. We're more than happy to shell out more than a console for a new phone every two years, a tablet, a TV. But we have this expectation that our game consoles should be around for 7-8 years. Do we need to shift expectations or is the list of traditional consoles so close to be over that we just complain for the next couple years and get on with our lives?

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