Does Nintendo have a plan for curbing developer laziness?


Lately, there has been a lot of speculation about Nintendo’s NX console. This reminds me of the speculation that surrounded one of their previous projects, code-named Revolution, which turned out to be the Wii.

In both instances, Nintendo was having a weak console generation, and there has been speculation as to what kind of innovation they’d come up with next. In Wii’s case, the system didn’t disappoint, except in several notable areas:

  • The processor on the thing didn’t come close to the kind seen in Xbox 360 or PS3, though that didn’t prevent games like Metroid Prime 3 from running well on it,
  • Some people didn’t like the name Wii, and
  • Game developers largely treated the system as a dumping ground for miscellaneous shovelware and shallow, gimmicky experiences.

Recently, SquareEnix suggested possible support for the NX, which might even manifest in the form of a couple entries in the Dragon Quest series. There would be very little to worry about when it comes to SquareEnix. However, not every video game company out there is as committed to producing quality products.

In fact, the epidemic of low-quality shovelware is something that’s pretty widespread across various platforms, PC included. There have been botched releases that should have been relatively straight forward, such as a recent port of a Batman game to PC, or various broken games that game developers aren’t fixing because they already have gamers’ money.

There was a similar situation in the ’80s, just prior to the gaming crash of that time. Game makers were rushing low-quality, licensed products to consumers eager to buy them. One of the most famous of these was E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, famous for having so many unsold copies, that they were buried in huge quantities in a landfill in Arizona. Why were so many licensed games winding up in landfills? Because gamers were becoming jaded with the steady stream of over-hyped, low-quality products.

This is why, in the ’80s and early ’90s, the Nintendo Seal of Quality was such a big deal. That seal was Nintendo’s way of saying “We’ve reviewed this product and determined that it is a functional and enjoyable product that’s worth your money.” In some cases, one might wonder how a game managed to get Nintendo’s Seal of Quality. However, by encouraging game makers to strive to attain this seal on their products, Nintendo encouraged a level of quality in games that, otherwise, gamers had little guarantee of. There were no review sites such as MetaCritic or even GameFAQs back in the ’80s. That assurance of quality meant something to gamers.

Nintendo’s NX console is coming up, and there are probably many shovelware developers out there eagerly waiting to pile on their underwhelming digital refuse. Perhaps something like the Nintendo Seal of Quality would be an effective measure to protect gamers from wasting their hard-earned money on games that hardly work.

For such a thing to be effective, Nintendo would have to be discerning concerning what games are made for their system. They would have to be more stern than just being glad that some third party developer is making games for their system. They’d have to have what it takes to say “No, this product isn’t finished yet. Continue to work on it, and maybe we’ll review it again.” If Nintendo themselves were to once again take a stand to encourage quality in games, gamers would regain respect for Nintendo in a hurry. Because gamers do see that there are a few things wrong in the gaming industry.

Does the gaming industry have issues? Yeah, there are a few:

  • Rushing products to market for the gamers eager to buy it, ready or not,
  • Abusing DLC, in some cases charging money for content already on the game disk,
  • Games that can only be played online,
  • Not repairing buggy and broken games, even with simple updates.

There are more. It seems like some game makers are pushing the limits of what they can get away with. But if they keep it up, gamers might end up becoming much more cynical about something that should be about having fun. Yeah, fun. Did we forget that that’s what playing video games is about?

Would Nintendo stand up for gamers by encouraging quality games from game developers? It wouldn’t be the first time that they did. But it’s certain that they continue to encourage sales of their own game systems by making quality games, themselves. That makes it very easy to be a Nintendo fan. That alone might be the strongest case for buying an NX. Whether third parties put much effort forward on NX games remains to be seen.

There’s a reason why Nintendo has as much respect as they do. They put a lot of effort forward. Satisfied customers tend to become return customers. If another gaming crash occurs, Nintendo would be very likely to survive it, because many gamers trust them.

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