Tag Archives: controllers

Nintendo Knew How

Shahid Kamal Ahmad on the Remaster Podcast, looking back on Reggie Fils-Aimé‘s legacy:

This is a real problem with video games, right. You go into video games as a new person who hasn’t played video games. You play a modern AAA game, and first of all, you have tutorials that are extremely patronizing for the really experienced player. But still bewildering for new players. How do you get those players in? Nintendo knew how.

Nintendo knew that they had to make the controls more accessible, and Reggie knew [those controls] were coming with the Wii. He knew that would be suitable for people who were intimidated by the controller. Personally, I thought that was an absolute genius move.

I’ve had issues with controllers for a long time. Not personally, but in terms of accessibility. There’s been this steady increase in the complexity of a controller. It hasn’t become easier to use; it’s become more complicated to use. Yes, it’s got more features — now you have touchpads; now you have analog buttons; now you have analog sticks; now you have two or three or four more buttons on the thing; now you have pro controllers and elite controllers, £120 controllers. What Nintendo recognized was, “oh, we can do something that does away with all of that and introduce an entirely different type of technology that ‘hey! It’s actually not that expensive to manufacture.’” It was utter genius.

Keying in on the phrase, “I’ve had issues with controllers for a long time”: You and me both, Shahid. You and me both.

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Ben Thompson: “What Nintendo is doubling down on is controllers”

Ben Thompson, in his latest weekly free Stratechery piece, “Surface Studio, Nintendo Switch, and Niche Strategies”:

What Nintendo is doubling down on is controllers, another smart move. I argued in 2014 that controllers are so important to the user experience of consoles that they will hold off general purpose devices like Apple TVs when it comes to living room gaming; Nintendo’s bet is that they can attract gamers who want mobility by offering high fidelity control that smartphones can not4.

First and foremost, you should subscribe to Ben’s Daily Update. $10 per month gets you the best business/technology analysis out there.

Second, Ben’s observation is something I should have realized and mentioned in my “Nintendo Switch and Parents” piece. As a reminder, I wrote the following, emphasis just now added:

Enter the Nintendo Switch. A dedicated seemingly state-of-the-art-ish portable/home console multiplayer-ready uncompromised gaming device, surely ready for YouTube when on wifi (an optional data plan would be even better), by the greatest game designers on the planet, Nintendo.

By uncompromised, I was eluding to those features we consider critical to console gaming: power, fidelity, and breadth. One item that skipped my thought was physical controllers. Because physical controllers have been a staple of console gaming since the beginning, it was easy to overlook. But the importance of Nintendo doubling-down on physical controllers for the Switch, seemingly ignoring touchscreen capabilities based on the Switch trailer (however, patents may reveal otherwise), cements the vision, nay dream of portable console-level gaming.

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