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Has Nintendo given up on AAA gaming?

Evil Calvin

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Aug 23, 2017
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I am going to put this in the most delicate manner possible so as to not turn this into a console war. Does Nintendo really care about AAA gaming like Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Take Two, and EA do?

I watched this Direct today and I was quite frankly blown away by almost a complete lack of new AAA games. I think I saw a Monster Hunter spin off, but that was it. Zelda is still not ready, Metroid is still not ready. It's been four years for teasing, and quite frankly if they had anything else during this period, the wait for BOTW 2 wouldnt have been so agonizing.

The Switch will be entering its 5th year next month. If we dont count cross gen games like Zelda, I am struggling to see what other AAA games they have released since. Animal Crossing, Smash, Mario Odyssey? I dont even want to go into a debate about whether or not they are AAA, but surely this is simply not good enough for fans who want to have AAA games with that Nintendo magic.

Both Microsoft and Sony are bending over backwards buying studios if not entire publishing companies, signing developers for exclusives, putting millions into bigger AAA first party games, and here we have Nintendo just sitting there making Mario Golf, Splatoon 3, and pretending that it's enough. Looking at sales, it maybe is, but as a gamer I feel like Nintendo has simply given up. They have found their market and that market is making them billions, but that market isnt your average hardcore gamer who visits gaf and plays AAA games.
Every big AAA game is/has been a spin off or sequel. I think the only 'big' games that weren't a sequel or spin-off was niche games like Ring Fit or Labo. Arms was a new IP but that was a few years ago and didn't set the world on fire.

Lots of remakes, reboot, sequels and spin-offs. In fact 48 of the 58 released games so far fall into this category. Not good!



���
Pokkén Tournament DXhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nintendo_products#cite_note-outside_Japan-187
JapanNorth AmericaEurope
TitleDeveloper(s)Release dateRef.
Untitled The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildNintendo EPDMarch 3, 2017March 3, 2017March 3, 2017[101]
1-2-SwitchNintendo EPDMarch 3, 2017March 3, 2017March 3, 2017[101]
Mario Kart 8 DeluxeNintendo EPDApril 28, 2017April 28, 2017April 28, 2017[121]
ArmsNintendo EPDJune 16, 2017June 16, 2017June 16, 2017[121]
Splatoon 2Nintendo EPDJuly 21, 2017July 21, 2017July 21, 2017[121]
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle[A]January 18, 2018August 29, 2017August 29, 2017[122]

The rest of the list didn't format wekk but here is the list:

 
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Termite

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I agree that it feels that way and there's two parts to it, imo:

Firstly, I feel like Nintendo's natural state is to make as much money as possible with as little expenditure as possible (obviously), erring on the side of spending less even if it means they'll make less - they've always been conservative financially this way. They don't take big-money risks, not on software.

So when their consoles are flying out the gate and software attach rates even for ports are crazy high - why try harder? Just keep releasing ports and low-effort stuff. Keeps your risk low and profit sky-high.

On the other hand, when they were fucked in the Wii U era, that's when you saw their teams go max effort and create half the games that Switch owners love today - from Mario Kart 8 to Tropical Freeze to Pikmin 3 to 3D World to Splatoon to even, yes, BotW (it was always a Wii U game damn it) - many of Nintendo's best games that set them up for this era of success were made in that time of gloom, because their only way to survive was to please their discerning core fan that had stuck with them and ALL their development resources went towards doing just that. When the audience isn't discerning regarding quality, you get the opposite, as we have seen for years with Pokemon.

Secondly, their hardware is so underpowered compared to the main home consoles that there's just no point competing in that AAA space. The further away they are from those comparisons the better it is for them. As the generations progress this gap should grow smaller and smaller, which is a positive at least.

Finally, I do have a feeling that they saw how huge it was for the Switch to have a slate of AAA games for the core Nintendo fan to drive excitement about the Switch at launch and they're holding back games for the Switch Pro / Switch 2 to use the same strategy. When we see that new machine is when we'll see BotW2, new 3d Mario, Metroid Prime 4 and maybe Pikmin 4.

But we're a long way from the Gamecube era when Nintendo was churning out great games that were equal in effort and visuals to what the other consoles offered. I don't expect those times to ever return.
 
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Woo-Fu

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Whatever they have or have not given up on it seems to have been the correct decision.
 

SlimySnake

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It's frustrating as a fan because on one hand they are doing a lot of wii u ports but there are so many GameCube and other games they could also be releasing. The lack of a proper online store with games from all gens is disappointing
I have a six year old who loves playing these ports. hes dying to play Skyward Sword even though he struggles with 3d Zelda games in general. I sold my Wii U so I really appreciate Nintendo bringing back these games.

But when I look at their Gamecube and N64 lineup, I see several a Nintendo that still believed in those big blockbuster games. MGS remake, RE0, REMAKE and RE4, Perfect Dark, Golden Eye, Star Wars Rouge Leader which back then had the most amazing photorealistic environments at the time, the Metroid Prime series , even Eternal Darkness which wasnt well received had a cult following because it was Nintendo who realized they should be investing in AAA titles from talented third parties. I would love to just see that Nintendo back.
 
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Zog

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It's becoming more and more noticeable as times goes on isn't it.

This is why the constant threads about Switch sales pisses me off. Who cares?

Praising Nintendo on how much Switches they sold seem to be thrown in people's faces like some sort of validation for their fans who by the same token are been starved of NEW games for the system that's still outselling ps5 and Xbox series X as well as the PS4 and Xbox one. How is this happening?

When Nintendo become this successful.. they kinda just stop trying.

They haven't forgotten about AAA gaming, they're holding them back until the launch of their Switch 2 which will have 2 years of top tier games and then the Mario Sports titles, gimmicky Yoshi's games and basically the C-tier games for the rest of its life.
Also, it's funny how people say that you can't compare Switch to the PS5 and XSX because the Switch is a handheld but they will compare sales numbers all damn day.
 

Karonoth

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Their business model is more sustainable that the others and they make a ton of money still. Why should they change?
 

iHaunter

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They never really need many AAA games in general. They're low effort high-income type of company.

BOTW in some respects can be considered to be AA because of how short it is. But I would say, at least for the Switch, AAA and maybe Chronicles 2 are the only games I would consider AAA.
 

Dr. Suchong

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Aug 17, 2020
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I buy Nintendo consoles for Nintendo games.
I'm sure that's a sentiment echoed on here.
I don't mind the WiiU ports, as I think they deserve another shot because of the lack of exposure on the ailing WiiU.
Definitely agree with Op though. Aside from the latest Fire emblem, there's nothing much else lately that has my pulse racing on Switch.
 

MagnesG

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Guys, remember the classic "since they just have one device now, nintendo's output will certainly improve"... ohh boy.
It's increasing, just not on the scale off AAA galore every 6 months like y'all have been "disappointed" about apparently.
 

sunnysideup

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I think a lot of oldschool nintendo fans are disappointed that nintendo of old that gave us games like mario 3, mario 64, super metroid essentially have turned into a toy company that sells nostaliga to the parents and rehashed games to the kids. Kinda like lego. You have to remember where nintendo comes from. Nintendo used to be the best gaming company in the world. With games that where beyond AAA quality, absolute top tier stuff. Now we get the same games over and over again. The type of quality that nintendo used to be all about simply is not there anymore or very rarely. Naturally people are disappointed.

Now this might not matter to nintendo. Kids love the games, and many parents feel nostalgic towards nintendo. So they sell well. Nintendo has really cultivated its brand. Nintendo is not going to offend anyone. If your kids are going to play games you want them to play nintendo. Hell I want my kids to play nintendo over any other game company.

But nintendo does not mean great games anymore.
 
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MagnesG

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Arms was a new IP but that was a few years ago and didn't set the world on fire.
It did set the fighting game world on fire. 2.38 mil as of 2019. Tell me a newcomer fighting game who does that numbers.

They never really need many AAA games in general. They're low effort high-income type of company.
Low effort doesn't mean low budgets.

And we have lots examples where high budgets doesn't mean shit. If anything, fitting the appropriate budget range for that particular game is actually a good practice in the long run, sustainable and stable.
 

Sander Cohen

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They don't care about graphics or sound as much as gameplay - the mark of a hardcore gamer. And it is funny to me how long Nintendo games with their graphics and sound remain playable for decades, and PS3 games are nearly unplayable at times because of how dated photorealism always ends up looking.

All you're doing is insulting people. I'm guessing it's because you're poor, and can't afford multiple systems or Nintendo games that don't go on sale. Most people I know own both a Switch as well as another system, so they don't think about gaming along console warrior lines like you're framing here. A+ for trolling with that Biden reference though.
Who am I insulting? I know Nintendo’s demographic, everyone knows it, why some of you feel sensitive about it? Is it because there are some of you older guys who still play NN games? I’m not judging, you do you.

So gameplay. I never played Mario Kart in my life but I sincerely doubt Crash Team Racing lags at all in terms of gameplay, it’s probably a better game but who knows. Fact is, Mario Kart sells 30M, CTR sells what, 5M at best? It’s a demographics thing, Playstation attracts different kind of crowd and Mario is unshakable titan of a brand. Not because oh, nobody can reproduce NIntendo’s gameplay quality level. Give me a break.

And yeah, I don’t revisit games that are 10+ old, why would I do that, I already played them back at the time. Of course they’ll look worse. Gaming should move forward with graphics and everything else, not be in stagnation like if it was up to Nintendo. I enjoy games at the moment they are actual, memory of that experience gets implanted in my brain and I move on. You know, like most people do.
 
Jan 16, 2020
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It did set the fighting game world on fire. 2.38 mil as of 2019. Tell me a newcomer fighting game who does that numbers.


Low effort doesn't mean low budgets.

And we have lots examples where high budgets doesn't mean shit. If anything, fitting the appropriate budget range for that particular game is actually a good practice in the long run, sustainable and stable.

2.38 isn't setting the world on fire

Especially when a year prior it was at 2.1 million.
 
Sep 19, 2017
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well seeing as how the Switch is basically equivalent to a PS3, they are now two gens behind.


I think this is the biggest problem they have. They just forgot to invest in their first party studios. They had no new acquisitions which is fine, but it feels like they haven't increased their team sizes to adapt to making AAA games even by the PS360 era standards. I remember ND used to be 75 people when they launched UDF, but then had to double the team to 150 people just to ship U2 with multiplayer. By the time TLOU2 came out they were over 200 people. Now they are around 500 people with a thousand more doing outsourced work. Same thing with GG and Santa Monica. Sony Bend is only 100 people and it took them 7 years to ship Days Gone. I feel like the zelda team is really that small.

Nintendo needs to take those billions they make in profit every year and invest into their own studios. Japanese studios dont even cost as much as LA studios like Infinity Ward, Crystal Dynamics, SSM, Insomniacs and ND. A few hundred million would buy them 500-1000 people for the entire gen.
Those are parts of the reasons that, after the WiiU, I will never go back to Nintendo. The Switch is the 1st Nintendo console I won't buy.

Quality of their games is now a major concern and claiming art over tech when games with art are poisoned with tech problems is where we are (Zelda GameBoy remake is what I want, despite its art, but it's not running well at all. Witcher 3 on the go yeah, but on the Switch no).

No big studios inside Nintendo means no great tech, both go together. Bigger studios would mean a better tech. This choice has been made and we have the library that comes with it. Prepare yourself for a disappointment with the next thing after the Switch since they are not going for a better tech.

I would love to see Apple coming with a M1 Switch like console to kick their ass. It would be so fun to watch.
 

Fbh

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This one direct defines what Nintendo's overall trajectory is?

Am i taking crazy pills here or am i surrounded by younger folks?

Mainline mario/zelda/metroid always took 4/5/6 or more years saved for rare exceptions, we are seeing the exact same thing now.

We got Luigi's mansion 3 and fire emblem in 2019, paper mario and ac in 2020. Again, not sure what are we talking about here, especially if botw2 comes out this year.

It doesn't define their overall trajectory but it's disappointing for the first proper direct in over a year.
Again, you are criticizing Ubisoft for Sequels but the first proper direct in a over a year has another Mario Golf and a $60 Zelda port as highlights. But it's ok because they released Fire Emblem 16 in 2019 and Paper Mario 6 and Animal Crossing 5 in 2020.

Also I'm not saying I want Mario/Zelda to release more frequently. But games with that level of production values and ambition.

Here's Nintendo exclusive Fire Emblem 16 released in 2019


And 2019 Pokemon 9...10? Part of the biggest Media franchise in the world and guaranteed 15+ million units seller.


Here's Mid budget JRPG Ni No Kuni released in 2011 on weaker Hardware:


Or an Upres of Tales of Vesperia from 2008, also made for and originally released on weaker hardware:




Out of the stuff they've released in the Past 2 years only Luigis Mansion 3 felt like it had that level of production values I'd like to see them display more often.
 
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Jan 16, 2020
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Then no amount fighting games would set the world on fire.


Nintendo did underperform on that aspect, they're still slow to adapt.

I'm pretty sure every other recognised fighting game did multitudes better than arms

I guess if you compare it to niche shit like King of Fighters it set the world on fire
 
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gradient

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"AAA" is just a worthless and misleading marketing term. It means absolutely nothing and was coined to imply that games released by big publishers and made with a large budged guaranteed some level of quality and assurance of worth.

Games labelled "AAA" offer no greater guarantee of quality or value then games not labelled as such. Slapping "AAA" onto something does not signify that it's budget, graphics or development time will have any greater return than a game not labelled as "AAA".

It's a means of big publishers conning consumers into thinking that games released by them will offer a level of entertainment and value above that of games released by smaller publishers simply on the basis that they've spent a lot of money on it or even just because it comes from a big business. Nothing about that "AAA" denotes quality or guaratees a gaming experience that is even good, let alone better than other games. It's neither a measure of quality nor a meaningful descriptor - it's just marketing bollocks.
 

NoobleBear

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Oct 26, 2017
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I was frustrated after watching the direct. I realized that Nintendo really has nothing for me, I keep buying their consoles every release out of nostalgia and genuinely enjoy their first party releases. Unfortunately, they're so sporadic that it makes more sense to wait till the end of the generation and just buy the console and handful of top-tier first party titles they'll release over the consoles lifespan in one swoop. That direct was a piece of shit and I've felt like that for the past couple years they've had them.
 
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Punished Miku

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It doesn't define their overall trajectory but it's disappointing for the first proper direct in over a year.
Again, you are criticizing Ubisoft for Sequels but the first proper direct in a over a year has another Mario Golf and a $60 Zelda port as highlights. But it's ok because they released Fire Emblem 16 in 2019 and Paper Mario 6 and Animal Crossing 5 in 2020.

Also I'm not saying I want Mario/Zelda to release more frequently. But games with that level of production values and ambition.

Here's Nintendo exclusive Fire Emblem 16 released in 2019


And 2019 Pokemon 9...10? Part of the biggest Media franchise in the world and guaranteed 15+ million units seller.


Here's Mid budget JRPG Ni No Kuni released in 2011 on weaker Hardware:


Or an Upres of Tales of Vesperia from 2008, also made for and originally released on weaker hardware:




Out of the stuff they've released in the Past 2 years only Luigis Mansion 3 felt like it had that level of production values I'd like to see them display more often.
The way to think about Nintendo teams is to think of each one individually. They have wildly different skill sets. Intelligent Designs has made a ton of 3DS games, small puzzle games, and typically 1 FE game for home consoles each, all of which didn' t look that impressive. Paper Mario had extremely impressive graphics, but mostly fixed camera, and art style over tech. Alpha Dream in interviews before they closed stated that they barely even had people working there that could 3D model, but were all specialists in sprite work. Monolift Soft makes games that are 4x larger than Fallout 4, with almost no load times every couple years, while also helping provide tech and development assistance for open world Zelda. The Mario Kart team can make whatever they want at AAA level, along with Next Level Games. EAD can as well. HAL is always going to be AA, except for Smash Bros, which gets development assistance from Namco and Tecmo. Metroid has no team, and was farmed out to Tecmo and Mercury Steam. Retro can do AAA, but they've clearly had some cancelled projects or development issues lately.

It's all over the map. For Fire Emblem, I just see a studio used to doing 3DS games.
 

MagnesG

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I'm pretty sure every other recognised fighting game did multitudes better than arms

I guess if you compare it to niche shit like King of Fighters it set the world on fire
It's a debut of a new unrecognized fighting series when the install base is small.

Pretty impressive I think.
 

SlimySnake

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Those are parts of the reasons that, after the WiiU, I will never go back to Nintendo. The Switch is the 1st Nintendo console I won't buy.

Quality of their games is now a major concern and claiming art over tech when games with art are poisoned with tech problems is where we are (Zelda GameBoy remake is what I want, despite its art, but it's not running well at all. Witcher 3 on the go yeah, but on the Switch no).

No big studios inside Nintendo means no great tech, both go together. Bigger studios would mean a better tech. This choice has been made and we have the library that comes with it. Prepare yourself for a disappointment with the next thing after the Switch since they are not going for a better tech.

I would love to see Apple coming with a M1 Switch like console to kick their ass. It would be so fun to watch.
I couldnt believe that even after a year and a half Zelda Links Awakening had the same stuttering issues when traversing the open world. I purposefully waited a year to pick it up and those stutters gave me a massive headache.

And yeah, it seems Nintendo has turned into a handheld company. They are no longer in the console business and they have tied their amazing first party studios to this outdated and limited tech that has a hard limit of 15 watts. The PS5 and xsx for example are hitting 210 watts on cross gen games already. No matter how talented the Zelda team is, they will always be developing games on a handheld thats two gens behind.
 

Rudius

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And yet for millions of people that bought the game and showered it with praise BotW plays way better than RDR2. Which is what you care about if you want to play "games" and not "interactive movies".
I'm not disputing the general quality of the games, but only the technology aspect. I was a playstation kid and could not afford two systems, but when I saw Ocarina of Time I thought "man, that's amazing!", I didn't say "it seems fun, despite looking outdated", because it was actually more impressive than the PS games I was playing; nothing came close to that openness. The same thing happened when I saw Wind Waker for the first time, with that ocean and interactive grass. I never understood the "controversy" regarding it's visuals.
 
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devilNprada

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Nintendo appeals to the traditional video game market.. Kids and Parents...
Xbox and PS have lost that, and that is why Nintendo does so well.

They don't need AAA games geared to mature adults to sell, they have proven that.
 

Rudius

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But we're a long way from the Gamecube era when Nintendo was churning out great games that were equal in effort and visuals to what the other consoles offered. I don't expect those times to ever return.
The gaming world was not fair to GameCube...
 

Ikutachi

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But we're a long way from the Gamecube era when Nintendo was churning out great games that were equal in effort and visuals to what the other consoles offered. I don't expect those times to ever return.
N64 era.
 

carlosrox

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There is seriously more than enough games for any body to play on any ONE system. Now imagine if you have more than ONE, you're set.

People whining about remasters and remakes can get pretty annoying.

Unless you're one of those people who rushes through games in a weekend only to forget about them forever after that then this shouldn't affect most people.

I got 3D World over a week ago and played the shit out of the game on Wii U and I'm STILL taking my sweet time with it. I'm still only in the second world and maybe a quarter of the way through Bowser's Fury. That's just ONE game. I have numerous other Switch games I could go back to as I've been taking my time with all of them. Then I have my PC, a Series X, and a PS5.

Quit bitching about "not enough games". There are more than enough games for you to play out there.