We talk a lot of trash about the companies that make our games and our consoles. To be fair, though, we often do it while standing in line at GameStop with the latest console and digging around in our pockets for some change to pay for the cursed thing (usually after a five-hour wait in a cold, cold queue).
Why do we do it? It’s a natural defense. Our valuable leisure dollars go into console purchases, and the months building up to a console’s release are packed with news about the system’s game lineup, specs, and features. We like some of what we hear, but we certainly don’t like everything we hear. Then we factor in a company’s history, and multiply that by the times we’ve been burned. If you’re a core gamer with a Wii, you might feel under-supported. If you’re an Xbox 360 owner, chances are you shipped your console back to Microsoft in a cardboard coffin. If you’re a PlayStation 3 owner, you might have had to endure Sony’s merciless price tag.
Then we think to ourselves, “What if the Wii U screws over core gamers again? What if the Xbox Next catches on fire every time you turn it on? What if Sony expects me to take three jobs for the privilege of buying a PlayStation 4?”
And that’s when we hit the online communities, brimming with opinions that fire out of our fingertips. But how many of us hold on to our money on launch day, and how many of us run to the store?
Famous game designer Cliff “Cliffy B” Bleszinski knows all about the trash talk that flies around game-related message boards, and he shrugs it off. At E3, he told Industry Gamers that Nintendo’s critics will “talk shit [about the Wii U], but they’ll still buy it.”
No doubt the Wii U’s retail debut will be a feeding frenzy, but Cliffy B’s observation does give one pause. As far as the Wii U goes, where does the trash talk end and the real threats begin?
The Nintendo 3DS isn’t a crystal ball (it’s not even particularly round), but its launch and subsequent sluggish sales can help separate message board bluster from gamers’ serious apprehension to adopt another Nintendo system. Namely, cool system features alone won’t carry the Wii U. Unless Nintendo can combine affordability with a strong launch lineup, it’s not going to be easy to sell people on the system’s tablet technology alone. They’ll point to the Nintendo 3DS and say, “Nintendo tried to launch this system before it was ready. Why should I invest in the company’s new console?”
In other words, Cliffy B is right: Folks will talk crap about the Wii U, but they’ll end up buying it. The million dollar question is, how many people will buy it? Nintendo is certainly capable of giving people reasons to buy the system, but it’s going to be an uphill run. In this instance, much of the trash talk flying around message boards has a kernel of sincerity.