NintenRants V – Nintendo and the European Problem


After a short break, the NintenRants are back and with a little more ferocity. The last one tackled the difficult issue of why I think Super Mario Galaxy 3 should never be made (which you can find here). So, let’s get down to this!

Europe doesn’t really matter to Nintendo. That may sound like a harsh statement and a heavy accusation to make against the Big N, but hear me out. What’s more, I’m going to try to rationalise a reason as to why I think this is, and give ways it could be rectified for the future. Before I continue, I’d like to state that this is my opinion, so others may disagree (and feel free to do so in the comments).

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Right, first, their approach to commerciality is my target. This has been an issue with Nintendo since the very beginning; they just cannot seem to target advertising for the European market. Whereas Japanese and American adverts for Nintendo arguably hit the mark of the potential consumer base, the European region often have adverts that are either copies of the American region, or lazy attempts with merely a touch of game footage and an often excessively overdone voice over. Now, this isn’t to say that Nintendo haven’t sometimes nailed both EU and NA regions with the same advert (for instance, the live-action Pokemon adverts of late) but most of the time we are just forgotten about. Oh, and don’t even get me started on those “celebrity” adverts for the Nintendo DS/Wii as I haven’t quite forgiven Nintendo for those horrific Jedward Dragon Quest IX adverts (if you don’t believe me, look it up, but you have been warned).

Now, I don’t know why this is exactly, but I can hazard an educated guess. My proposal is that Nintendo of Europe (NOE) has limited powers and that the advertising for Nintendo-related products in the West is fundamentally dealt with by Nintendo of America (NOA). Now, I’m sure that I don’t need to explain why this would be a tremendous oversight, but it can’t be simply explained by saying that the EU region and its consumers are not the same as NA. I understand, of course, that in the EU we have a myriad of different cultures but dealing with this by simply palming the same campaigns as America onto us is just one piece of evidence that Nintendo is knowingly choosing not to engage with (and to an extent care about) Europe as a separate market.

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Secondly, it’s hard to miss this one, Nintendo’s European pricing strategy. In Japan and America, Nintendo set the RRP (recommended retail price) of their products, meaning that companies cannot really exceed this. However, in Europe (and despite there only being two currencies in the whole region), the retailers are allowed to charge whatever they want for items. This is why, for instance, the price disparity for Amiibo between different places (including the Official Store) is so large. If Nintendo were to set the price structures in Europe, it would benefit both them and the consumers as a stronger relationship would be forged between the two. I understand, I’ll admit, that Nintendo did have a reason for this back when the Euro didn’t exist as a unified currency, but there is simply no excuse now.

Thirdly, and this one is very important, events and publicity. I covered this more in depth in a previous NintenRant article (see here) but the Nintendo World Championships 2015 at E3 this year was hilariously misnamed. I’m aware that it was to maintain the tradition from the last time the event occurred, but we didn’t have the internet in the same way then as we do now and there was simply no reason why Nintendo could not have made it a worldwide event, including Europe. There is also the fact that Japan also has various Nintendo related events throughout the year organised by Nintendo Japan, and that the Tokyo Games Show (TGS) is a great place to see new games and ideas as they start to emerge. If you compare this to Gamescom this year, of which NOE attended, and the only announcements we had from it were release dates and special editions of games we already knew. They could have used this platform to show something new and exciting, instead of prioritising E3 and TGS, but they didn’t.

Nintendo's booth at the Gamescom 2009

Finally, is a problem that I know many fans have, Nintendo’s poor localisation track record. Now, I get it that this sometimes changes, but releases of new games by region often follows the same pattern, Japan -> American -> Europe. This has been the way it has almost always been, but it no longer needs to be this way. Many games companies now manage simultaneous worldwide releases of all of their games, or at least within a couple of week frame, but Nintendo do not. It wouldn’t be as frustrating, but Nintendo have already proved that they can do it with the simultaneous worldwide release of Pokemon X/Y, so why are we now waiting six months for games such as Fire Emblem Fates or Xenoblade Chronicles X? You could argue that the amount of dialogue involved in such games is staggering, but this simply isn’t a good enough reason. Pokemon has a large amount of dialogue and not only that as all of the names of Pokemon are puns or plays on words, to translate these names into several languages is a greater challenge than simply translating dialogue AND they did it for all regions for the same release window.

To summarise, Nintendo is a fantastic company, but I believe that they are slightly out of touch with a large portion of their consumer / fan base. It would only involve subtle changes, but the result would be overwhelmingly positive. So, Nintendo, all you really need to do at first is as follows:

  1. Actually look into the EU market and target the advertising of your products better; we, as a region spend a lot of money on video games (roughly 1.28bn in 2014), make sure you’re getting your rightful share.
  2. Set the pricing for the region, you do it on your eShop and Official Stores; just that little bit more for the EU.
  3. At least try to treat Gamescom with the same respect you do E3 and TGS.
  4. Push for quicker localisation. The time for long waits for games should be long over by now because of the Internet.

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I know this article seems overly negative; but it simply becomes harder and harder to defend Nintendo, despite how much I love it, when they do nothing to help themselves. Anyway, what do you all think? Do you agree with me or disagree? Or, was there anything I might have missed? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@reuthegamer).

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