Hello, this is Matt taking up the second article. Today I’m going to be taking a look at the importance of fanservice in the video game industry, and how developers should consider fanservice when creating games.
Fanservice is very, very important in the video game industry. Fanservice determines the support of a game, a developer, an entire console even. It is the driving force behind any E3, any major conference or press release really. And it is the biggest factor taken into consideration during the purchase of a product, whether it be game or console. “Have I wanted this game?” you might ask yourself. You might even preorder the game because you’ve waited a lifetime for it and want it so badly. It’s your dream game, your Half-Life 3, or Mother 3 translation, or Banjo-Threeie, Jak and Daxter, F-Zero, the list goes on and on...and this is EXTREMELY important. If the fans don’t get the games the want, then they simply won’t support the creators. No purchase. Whatever. I’m saving my money for that expensive Smash DLC, anyway.
The most relevant gaming event of the year, discussed previously very briefly, is E3, short for the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Every year, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo reveal and discuss upcoming titles during these three days in June, which should have been last week this year, if this article’s published by then. Several third-party companies also hold press conferences, such as Konami (not this year…), EA, Ubisoft, Square Enix and new this year, Bethesda. It’s almost like a mid-year “Gaming Christmas,” if you will, where there’s actually a chance of your dream game being revealed, or some new exclusive footage of a game that you want so badly to come out, that your mouth is watering. It’s this time of the year that hundreds of thousands of fans overflow Twitch and YouTube to see the conferences live, and it’s truly magical when everything does happen to work out.
This year, it was truly all about the games. Microsoft only spent two minutes on an Elite controller, Sony squandered no time on Playstation TV, and Nintendo...well, that’s a whole different ballpark (#transformation.) Out of the two prestigious gaming companies, Microsoft and Sony, the latter, in my opinion, won out in terms of games...I wonder why. For the first time in four years, The Last Guardian was finally shown off, fully running on the PS4 and scheduled for 2016. There was also the announcement of the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII remake, which was received with overwhelming praise and hype. Who could forget the excitement when Yu Suzuki, after years of uncertainty, at long last brought Shenmue III to the show floor with a Kickstarter waiting for the fans to pour their hype into? Oh, yeah. And Uncharted 4! So beautiful. So perfect. That conference has made me actually want to sell my 360 and get a PS4.
See, this is not only an example, but the defining drive behind the importance of fanservice in the gaming economy. If you, as a developer, give the gamer the games that they want, the gamer will want to invest in your product. As this desire grows, the consumer could back your Kickstarter and help you bring your project to life, or recommend their friends towards your game (which I certainly did with Yooka-Laylee), or even go so “far” as to buy a gaming console to play your game. This is how money is made in the gaming world. By supporting the fans. No one may want to play a game that they didn’t want. No matter how repetitive and stale a series like Call of Duty, or Assassin’s Creed, or FIFA, or even Pokemon might be, the fact is that fans expect a new title every year, they crave a new title every year. That is why these series are overly successful. No matter the innovation (or lack thereof) people always want the newest iteration in their hands, and so they sell like hotcakes.
But what if you don’t exactly fulfill fan demand? For that, we look to the confusion of Rare’s Sea of Thieves. The poor ratings of Call of Duty: Ghosts. The outrage caused by the Xbox One’s original DRM-based policies that to this day, have forever hurt the console. The petition, with over 20,000 signatures calling for the cancellation of the newly announced Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and a 90% dislike ratio on the game’s trailer on YouTube…
...actually, why don’t we just review Nintendo’s lackluster conference in general?
They promised transformation, but really, was this metamorphosis Nintendo transforming into a company that didn’t consider the games that the general fan base wanted? I understand that they really wanted to “modernize” some of their franchises and add in multiplayer aspects, but you simply cannot not forbid voice chat and online multiplayer in games anymore! It is a huge barrier that Microsoft and Sony have overcome long ago, and their networking services surpass Nintendo’s by a long shot as a result. I am happy that the 3DS actually has some support for the rest of the year at last, but what about the Wii U’s lineup? No matter how good Star Fox Zero may be, it will never sell like Smash did and continues to. They’re winding down on the Wii U, I can tell, because from the start, the system has been confused. And while there really are some great games out and incoming for the system, those and several price cuts have failed to support a system that is largely without the necessary third-party support. Overall, the Digital Event was disappointing. There were many games, obviously, but these were games no one was wishing for, or still want to this day. No one will buy a Wii U for Mario Tennis. No one will buy a 3DS for Blast Ball. And it’s the sad truth, because I really wanted more out of their Digital Event. I expected better from a company that claims that a piece of Mario is in all of us...but that piece is filled with disappointment right now.
Also, their decision not to tease Zelda Wii U...ARE YOU F--
Yes, I know, that was a little rantish (I warned you) but I speak not only for me, but for the majority of Ninty’s fanbase. We were disappointed because we wanted Animal Crossing U, but not an amiibo-based AC board game. We wanted a new Metroid, for either system really, but one that put the adventure, not the multiplayer at the forefront. We certainly didn’t want the Digital Event’s final ten minutes to be oversaturated with Super Mario Maker, but, I mean, things don’t always work out...and it damaged the fanbase. It turned at least 20,000 fans against Nintendo to petition the stopping of production of a game that Nintendo had poured money, time and love into, and at least 45,000 more to express their distaste in disliking the game’s trailer on YouTube. And while Federation Force will still be made, the game is poised to sell horribly, at this point. The “I don’t want this game, so I’m not supporting it” attitude would not be my preferred choice, but it is likely that Nintendo has lost over 100k sales for not revealing the Metroid Prime that people really want.
And you know what? It’s fine to innovate. You need to take risks in order to reach a profit. Look at the Wii, it won the 7th generation by a landslide. The problem this generation is that Nintendo’s grown too adamant and too safe. As child friendly as it may be to not have voice chat or a dedicated, unified networking system, there’s millions of elementary schoolers that curse over on Call of Duty and Minecraft servers anyway, so really, it’s not that big of a deal anyways. Nintendo’s safety? Their only new IP the ENTIRE life of the Wii U has been Splatoon. Meanwhile, the PS4’s new IPs have included Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Order: 1886, Bloodborne, The Last Guardian (sort of) and even the XB1 has expanded its lineup with some like Sunset Overdrive, Sea of Thieves (eh) and Recore. The least Nintendo could do is revive some of their older, still-beloved IPs too (I mean, we almost got F-Zero Wii U in 2011) and fans want that, but Nintendo isn’t listening. And their sales continue to suffer, so much so that they’re not competing with other companies anymore: they’re competing with themselves.
So yeah, fanservice is so very important, and it’s fine to reinvent as long as you don’t make it unrecognizable and change what makes the series fun. Have I made my point? I think I have.
(Check out Striker_Gaming on YouTube for some incoming summer content from me, including some LPs and if Nintendo’s up for it, a Direct Reaction!)