I know I've repeated this many times in the past, but I am a huge fan of Nintendo and extremely loyal to their brand. I always buy Nintendo products first before I even think about getting anything from their competitors. I am also fully aware that Nintendo has lost much of their core audience for one reason or another, and most of this was unfortunately because of some poor planning and lackluster advertisement on their part. If Nintendo is to get back into the swing of things, I propose the following ten things they could do to supposedly step up their game and get their lost audience back.
#1: Add Optional Premium and/or Paid Accounts
Microsoft's XBox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 both have one thing in common that seem to keep drawing in more consumers, and that is XBox Live's Silver and Gold Memberships and PlayStation Network's PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now accounts. They are paid subscription accounts that have special features available only to those that have them. This usually includes improved internet stability and security, cloud service, special discounts for certain games, and early access for some games still in BETA, and with PlayStation Now, streaming games from earlier systems at no extra charge. If Nintendo did something similar with their Nintendo Network, they could add something like a "Nintendo Network Premium Account" that have features similar to this.
#2: Unlock the Region Lock
There are many gamers (like myself) that like to import games from other countries. This could be because some games aren't available in the country where you live, or certain games are heavily censored when they were localized for your country of residence. This however can be an inconvenient problem if the console isn't region free. Ever since Nintendo had started making games, they have always tried to implement a form of region locking on all of their home consoles, and now it has spread to their portable systems starting with the 3DS. This makes it expensive if you want to import games because it now requires you to buy a system that matches the region the game is in as well. Now, we have seen hackers exploit the 3DS to make it region free before, so I propose that Nintendo can do either one of two options with this one. Either A: Make their next set of systems region free from the start; or B: Offer a paid digital "Passport" on the eShops that unlocks the system for use with imported games. If Microsoft can do it with an update to their XBox One, Nintendo should have no excuse to not do it to the Wii U, 3DS or the yet to be released NX.
#3: Match their Competitors' Specs
While Nintendo has been absolutely fantastic when it comes to gameplay, they have been shown to sometimes be "behind the times" with their system's tech. This has spawned some issues that could be the cause to why so many games haven't been ported to their systems. It's probably also the reason why so many of Nintendo's old 3rd Party stand-by games went to PlayStation when Nintendo showed that they would continue to use cartridges. If Nintendo is to step up their game and give players a reason to pick them over their competitors, they need to either match, or surpass the graphical and computing power of their rivals if they are to get more games ported to their systems. This can be a challenge however as Nintendo usually goes lower to save on money and to make their systems for affordable, but I'm sure that if they tried, then they can pull it off.
#4: Make More amiibo Compatible Games
Thanks to Skylanders and Disney Infinity, amiibo has grown to be quite the phenomenon with collectors, and for good reason. They are really well designed, sturdy, fairly priced, and can do a variety of things in games that support their use, that is if you can find a game that uses them well. So far Splatoon, Super Smash Bros 4 and Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash are the only games I've seen that use the amiibo well enough to warrant a purchase of one, assuming you aren't a collector. As such, Nintendo needs to make more games in which amiibo have more compelling uses and more free titles that can only be played with amiibo. Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival is a good start, but it isn't good enough. We need a Skylanders styled game that use these things, or some kind of digital trophy case app that gives a little bit of flavor text and a small mini game specifically for that amiibo when it is scanned.
#5: Make a New Loyalty Program
When it was still active, Club Nintendo was great. I ended up getting a lot of really cool stuff from there and it is partially the reason why I started pre-ordering my games instead of getting them a few weeks after they came out (registering games early netted you more spendable points). This was an ingenious way to get people to buy their games early, and it was also a great way to get exclusive rewards that you wouldn't be able to buy normally like a special Mario cap or a re-issued Ball Game & Watch. However, it kinda fell to the wayside when the rewards started to become a little...lackluster, and as such the program was canned. I thought the idea of cool exclusive rewards should be brought back in some way with a new loyalty program, but since physical rewards are expensive to produce (and probably the reason why Club Nintendo stopped offering them), I propose a digital program that can offer exclusive digital themes, games, and gift cards to loyal buyers.
#6 More Physical Pre-Order Bonuses
If there is one thing I know about pre-ordering games, it is special bonuses make sells happen. Every time I've tried to pre-order a game in the Zero Escape series so I can get the special bonus watch that came with it, I was always too late and never managed to get one. Nintendo needs to do this more, especially in North America because I keep hearing that UK stores like GAME offer a ton of physical pre-order bonuses for the games that they sell while we only really get digital ones like exclusive DLC or a digital soundtrack or art book. I feel that this is incredibly unfair to American, Canadian, and Latin American consumers as they are missing out on some really cool stuff and it would get Nintendo the sales that they desperately need to survive in the gaming market.
#7: STOP WITH THE YOUTUBE COPYRIGHT CLAIMS!
Even though Nintendo has been pretty good on what they've put on their YouTube channel (specifically with their Nintendo Directs), this has caused nothing but trouble with Let's Players, Reviewers, and News channels on that site. Nintendo, for some reason, has been issuing copyright claims left and right for videos containing gameplay of games they've created and/or produced even though most of those videos technically count as free advertisement. From my experience, gameplay footage =/= playing the game first hand. I have actually ended up buying MORE games because of some Let's Plays I've seen on YouTube. Come on Nintendo, even though you are well within your legal rights, please just let your fans make their videos in peace. And while you're at it, you should drop the whole Nintendo Creators Program as well. That just spells nothing but trouble.
#8: Make ALL Virtual Console Games Cross-Buy
If you happen to own two or more game systems by the same company, you should expect to be able to buy the game once on your account and be able to use it across all platforms, right? Sony does this with their PS1 classics and Xbox with their XBox Live Arcade titles and they have had few complaints among their consumers, but Nintendo doesn't seem to grasp this very well. Nintendo has hundreds of games that would benefit greatly from being playable on all systems, but the thought of buying the same game again just to play it on another system is very deterring, especially when some of the games are exclusive to a certain platform. Make them work with all systems, including the N64 games, and I'm sure that would make a lot of consumers happy.
#9: More Cross Compatible and Cross Platform Games
I don't really know how to word what it is called exactly, but what I'm referring to are entirely different games that have the ability to unlock features in each other, and games that allow for multiplayer across different platforms. I remember when Metroid Prime had the ability to have special unlockables when it connected to the Game Boy Advance game Metroid Fusion. It gave a reason to buy and play through both games and it gave them reason to be replayed. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Animal Crossing both did something similar where if you connected a Game Boy Advance (without a game) to the console, it could download special extras to the handheld that added to the experience. Now for cross platform multiplayer games, I have only really seen two games that offer this on the Wii U and one of them has kind of an odd way of doing it. Let's just hope Nintendo gets better at this in the future.
#10: Universal Accounts
Now I'm sure this has irritated a lot of fans, but the Wii U and 3DS have a rather annoying form of linked accounts: Only one Wii U and one 3DS can be linked to a single Nintendo Network account at a time and you'll have to transfer all of the content on the system if you want to upgrade. Microsoft and Sony have a universal account system that works for all of their platforms and it allows them to re-download any and all compatible games and software onto a newer system at no additional cost. This is an excellent way to keep consumers and fans as long as possible and it helps buyers to save as much as possible while still enjoying their hobby.
If Nintendo does these things, I'm sure it can bring them back into relevance with their old consumers. If not, well at least they would be on equal footing with their competitors. But until then, I'll be seeing you.