Home / Gaming / Nostalgia still marks the way forward for Nintendo

Nostalgia still marks the way forward for Nintendo

Nostalgia sells. No one knows that better than Nintendo. Much of the company’s intellectual property is well past the 30 year mark at this point, and yet it manages to find new scenarios for its most popular franchises year in and year out, reinventing its stable of characters for each subsequent platform.

This year’s E3 was another perfect example. There was no new hardware for the show and a number of the company’s biggest games were previously announced. Nintendo’s online presser rolled out trailer after trailer of familiar faces, and yet the showing was widely regarded as a triumph for the gaming giant by the online community and many in the press. The big takeaway? Give the people what they want.

Well, to a point, at least. Nintendo has remained staunchly and often defiantly independent for most of its existence, to both its credit and sometime detriment. When TechCrunch’s own Jordan Crook attempted to draw a parallel with Apple during an interview on the show floor of E3 this week, Sales and Marketing head Doug Bowser (real last name), batted down the comparison, insisting, “Nintendo likes to take the Nintendo approach.”

Fair enough, I guess. When you’ve been doing this thing for as long as Nintendo has, you’re entitled to define things on your own terms. The company hasn’t often kowtowed to larger industry trends. As its chief competitors Sony and Microsoft have engaged in a decade and a half long arms race, Nintendo has just been Nintendo. The company hasn’t spent much time focused on graphics or processing power, instead looking for unique ways to reinvent its own gaming experience, from the motion controlled Wii to last year’s Switch, which straddles the line between a living room and portable experience.

From the outside, Nintendo’s decision making process can sometimes be down right baffling. That undoubtedly applies to the NES Classic Edition, the set-top gaming emulator the company killed in spite of unprecedented demand. Asked why the company pulled the product at the height of its powers, Bowser explains that the product was an opportunity to relearn what seems to be a fairly obvious lesson in Nintendoland. “We’ve learned a lot from the NES Classic,” he explains. “We’ve learned there’s a real passion for retro gaming.”

So why wasn’t passion enough to keep the product on the market until demand died down? Apparently the company thought its attention was better spent elsewhere. “The NES Classic was originally intended to be a holiday item,” he continues. “And obviously there was high demand. So we doubled down and continued to produce it as we went into the next quarter. But we decided we wanted to focus on other areas. So we’re not producing any more at this point. But we’ve learned a lot.”