Sunday, December 14, 2008

Where the hell is Reggie?

A few years back Nintendo retook center stage through the act of simply updating their executive roster. In May 2004 the iconic Reggie Fils-Aime blew the doors off the quiet Japanese company with a decidedly new face with a legendary introduction. "My name is Reggie. I'm about kickin' ass, I'm about takin' names, and we're about makin' games." It was simple, succinct, direct, and effected an aggressive attitude not seen since "Sega does with Ninten DON'T" was around.

Nintendo did become aggressive, and very quickly - the Wii was born, and Reggie was all over the networks, providing a distinctive face and manner that made any viewer instantly comfortable and more importantly, interested in his products. Reggie also appeared at many trade shows and events to keep shareholders and interested parties informed and excited about Nintendo and where it was headed. But most importantly, he made us all confident in the company's success by simply saying it would happen in a believable way. Success came and the Wii is still a hard to find Christmas item three years later.

But there's one problem.

The cornucopia of Nintendo prosperity and goodness is suddenly AWOL. For the first time in years, Nintendo does not have any A-List titles hitting the market while companies like Sony and Microsoft are raking in the dollars with huge releases like Little Big Planet and Gears of War 2. Where's a Mario, Star Fox, Fire Emblem, or Zelda release for the holiday rush? Common shares of Mario's company are trading at near half the value of their peak about 18 months ago (still up from the pre-Reggie days), reflecting a lack of investor confidence amidst a global economic downturn. And a downturn in confidence is an accurate position to be of when considering The Big N. Instead of launching a new franchise to a wider install base demographic, such as Mother or Stafy, Nintendo has kept silence on any plans.

This silence is detrimental to Nintendo's image in the quickly collapsing casual market. Beyond the fact a "casual" gamer plays different titles when compared to a "hardcore" gamer, Nintendo has put their eggs in a basket that isn't dedicated to their console - "casual" gamers. Nintendo is slated to be victims by the very nature of the demographic they tried to hard to capitalize on. It really just feels like someone's going to walk into my church and invite people to the new mega-church down the street (and be quite successful because they're "casually" interested in the subject at hand). "Hardcore" gamers are what may likely carry a company in this hard economy and Nintendo is nowhere near satisfying the demographic currently more likely to fill their coffers. This brings us to our point: all these new gamers have bought their consoles and want more to do, the dedicated fans have nothing, and Reggie is nowhere to be seen. Where the hell is Reggie?

Reggie has not been out in the public spotlight for quite some time and the public interest/confidence level is starting to drift. Instead, Ye Olde Hanafunda is advertising this holiday for the DS...headlining with titles that are at least a year old. This simply does not jive with the image Nintendo has tried so hard to build over the last year. Reggie needs to get back out in the spotlight, announce some major titles, and restore confidence in both shareholders and gamers alike. In an economy where perceived value of a product is carefully scrutinized, silence simply will not make a consumer feel their investment is worthwhile and this is no time for that high pitched Italian plumber to silence his whoops and hollers.

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