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Nintendon't (Again!), Part 2 (The Saga Continues)
So, it looks like Nintendo doesn't want you to pre-book an X-Box because they want you to buy either a N64 or a Game Boy Color (or both). That's the gist of a memo sent to some retailers earlier this year by Nintendo. How funny is that, in a market that absolutely thrives on mocked-up screenshots of games that aren't complete, pages upon pages of useless technical specs, and the eternal question "How many bits is it?" Maybe I should apply for a job at Nintendo, if there's a position open for Associate of Common Sense Thinking. First of all, this makes Nintendo look like it's scared of Microsoft being successful with its console, and that the Game Cube isn't either going to be all that or won't ship on time. Let the pre-books happen- if Microsoft can't meet demand, and the Game Cube happens to come out in time to end up in home entertainment centers instead, isn't that what you guys want anyway? Don't give me that "all's fair in the console wars" pap either. We all know that given the chance to make money (the bottom line), it's much more fun to make it on other's miscues. ALL YOUR CASH ARE BELONG TO US, to paraphrase the great space pirate, Cats… Although, according to reports, Microsoft is actually working with some of the major retailers to make sure that they get what's coming to them (heh)- unlike Sony, who waited until things got out of hand with pre-orders until they tried to put a stop to the madness.

Secondly, who's going to support a system with no new games coming out, and one that has some games that are hard to find? There are, what, 6 new games on the way for the N64, and any other new stuff seems to only show up at Blockbuster as rental only exclusives. I'm in the minority of those who don't like renting games- I generally know what titles I want to buy, and if I happen to pick up a bad game now and then, I won't get suicidal. Anyway, I wanted the new Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine game for my collection, but none of the Blockbuster shops I visited had any for sale- only a few rental copies with no instructions. Wouldn't it make sense to also offer these exclusives for sale (new, of course) if you're the only shop that has them? It's far easier for me to walk into a store and buy a game I'm looking forward to than to go online and pay, then wait for it to be shipped, and have to go pick it up at the post office because I work during the day! When you inconvenience a customer, they're going to either get their product elsewhere, or buy something else.

Finally, the whole point of the memo is absolutely ridiculous if you consider that Nintendo's own Game Boy Advance is scheduled to ship soon, and since it's not in stores yet, it's definitely NOT part of "current and continuing impulse sales" (as it says in the memo). Even though Nintendo has "48% of the market", N64 software is an ever-dwindling percentage of that, Pokemon fever seems to be leveling off in some areas, and without the Game Boy Color, you'd barely notice much of a market presence in some stores. As I've said before, Nintendo is doing almost the same thing Sega did when it dropped the Saturn, and we all know what happened then… If anything, Nintendo needs to work more on making both retailers AND consumers happy if they really want to gain any momentum for any of their new products, rather than trying to make people feel like they shouldn't buy any other product but theirs. The best way to sell a system is with software people want to buy, not vaporware or endless delays. At this stage in the game, I'm not at all interested in ANY new system at all until I see some games, and great ones at that.

Greg Wilcox

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