As many have noted, including us on the Nintendo Entertainment Podcast, Nintendo has always been a company that innovates in certain areas…but falters in others. They’ll push boundaries and perceptions in terms of what we can do as a gaming culture, but then, they’ll not do something that seems very obvious. And for many, for now three generations, one of the biggest things that Nintendo has fumbled is that of their online play. Which even Reggie Fils-Aime notes was something that he and others tried to get the heads of Nintendo over in Japan to understand.
In an interview with GeekWire podcast, he talked about why this was, including how Nintendo went from the “couch gameplay” that they boomed in, versus the online gameplay element which is still taking its time for them to perfect:
“In order to do online multiplayer, the company really needed to think about what’s the new type of game, what are the different types of experiences that we’re gonna need to create in order to now excel in that form of play. And candidly, it took the company a while to think that through, to come up with something that they believed would be fundamentally different and add value in a new way.”
He also noted that in the eyes of Nintendo of Japan, they didn’t see the “value” in this at first:
“Culturally, the company didn’t see a huge opportunity in online. It was an area that the Americas and Europe constantly was trying to educate the company in Japan about the value of online play, investing in the online infrastructure which needed to be done in order for the experience to be a positive one. You’re absolutely right that of the three main hardware competitors in the video game space, this is where Microsoft invested so significantly, and it became their competitive advantage – it still is today I would argue in terms of their connected gameplay. It was a constant area of push by the western parts of the company to encourage the development and the investment in the infrastructure, and I’m sure that conversation continues today.”
This is a fair breakdown by Reggie Fils-Aime, and yet, many would argue that while the Big N has improved, it hasn’t improved enough, even with the boon of the Switch. We’ll just have to see how it all plays out in the future with their next system.