Note: This was originally part of The Long Leash Part 2, but I decided to split the post to make it more context readable.
It appears that in the months since I wrote on cash cow franchising, the problem has only gotten worse, largely (and unfortunately) due to the Nintendo Wii.
Industry notables have recently noticed the trend (and if your a gamer, you might have noticed it as well) of large amounts of games appearing on Nintendo's juggernaut that quite simply, no one should really buy. Earlier this month, a synopsis of 2008's games was released by Gamerankings found that a startlingly large amount of Wii games are absolutely terrible when compared to the amount released on other consoles. Another report by EEDAR (Electronic Entertainment Design And Research) found that more then twice the amount of Wii games suffer early price drops compared to the other two consoles. (Click here to read the article) Even the President of 2K Games has released a public statement of his opinion of the Wii market agreeing that its being flooded with bad games.
I think the problem here is three fold, as well as some of it being intentional while some of it is not. First of all, the Wii will continue to have crappy games as long as those games sell. Second, the Wii is a market phenomenon, and that spells money to a lot of companies that otherwise would not be interested. Thirdly, (that's a word now) Nintendo needs to clean up issues with its "Seal of Quality". Lets take a deeper look at these three areas.
First, consumer purchasing. Lets be honest, there are a lot of Wii games out there and that makes it difficult for the consumer to decide, especially what I seem to notice is the average Wii consumer. Whenever I am in a store that sells games, the people I usually notice buying Wii games are parents at the urging of their children. The problem I notice here is that the parent does not know the difference between the games, or even anything about them. Often, the parent seems to determine the game by one of three areas:
A) Similarity of cover/back of box to another game their child likes
B) Voiced opinion of child based on television adds for said game
C) Price (I once saw a man buy his son a system and a game for the kids birthday. Unfortunately for that kid, his Dad bought the right game but the wrong system because the system he selected was cheaper. Despite the voiced outburst of the kids brother who obviously knew the problem, the parent did not relent, and the employee did nothing to stop it)
The problem with all of these systems is that none of them have basis of how good the game actually is, only how attractive it looks. The moral is obvious (beauty is only skin deep) but it seems most people assume that this law of life does not apply to video games. Trust us who've been buying game for a long time, that old adage holds deadly truth with games.
The solution of course, it to look at the games beforehand and decide what you want to buy. Don't walk in and make an "impulse buy" without some reasonable information first. Get online, and search for the name of the game plus the word "review" and read the reviews that show up to get a better idea of the game. If you're looking for a game similar to one that your children already have, simply browsing the Wii section on those review sites (such as ign or gamespot would help you find a decent game they may enjoy. And if they still complain that they want a terrible game based on their favorite TV show, say no and make them spend their money on it. Hard earned money.
This would also regulate the problem of numerous new companies jumping onto the bandwagon and producing games that could be a lot better. Some of this is inexperience on the part of companies, some of it is not. However, by no means should we consider this a bad trend, because if we keep our heads about us, this actually helps the Wii long term. How so? Well, if consumers are smart about the games they buy, the only ones that will survive in the long run on the Wii are the good games, while the dredges will die out. If consumers only buy the good games that result from the influx of games on the Wii, the result will be the continuation of those developers while the crud will not survive. Natural selection among games. (Hmmm...natural selection among games. Post your name for it and why in the comments)
The last problem is Nintendo's own. Their "seal of quality". Ideally, the "Seal of Quality", a symbol found on the game box of any game made for a Nintendo system, is supposed to tell the consumer that the game with this seal has met Nintendo's quality standards. But as the market has shown lately, these standards have slipped pretty far from the old days. This one is something we as gamers cannot change outside of voicing our comments to Nintendo (click here for contact info, scroll down to corporate) and hoping Nintendo reacts.
So, in conclusion, despite the large surplus of absolute crap evident on everyones favorite console, there are things each of us can do to avoid getting stuck with a sticker and even influence the industry for good! So do your part! Read the reviews, make and informed purchase, and help the Wii industries good side stay in the black while you get what you really wanted from your Wii in the first place: Fun.
Adios 'till next week!
Games I'm currently playing: Gears of War 2 (360), Earth 2160 (PC), Halo 3 (360), Simcity 4(PC), Donkey Kong Country 2(SNES)