After a fortnight of 'How To Fix Nintendo' articles and speculation about Nintendo 'going mobile', EA has just reported a net income loss of $308 million for the quarter ending December 31. Does that mean we can expect a spate of 'How To Fix EA' articles over the coming weeks?
I wouldn't hold my breath.
Over the last 14 days we've had to read, listen and endure a host of articles regarding Nintendo's future. Most of these solutions will be familiar to you: Nintendo must embrace free-to-play, Nintendo must take their brands to the mobile market, Nintendo must go third party.
But hold on a minute: EA has embraced the free-to-play model. EA has taken its brands to the mobile market. EA is a thirdy party publisher. Pray tell clever clogs — if this is how you plan to save Nintendo, how will you save EA?
Of course it's a silly discussion. Of course the circumstances are different: these are two different companies with different values, different models, different brands, different everything, but the comparison is startling: here is a company that is doing precisely what journalists/analysts/gamers suggest Nintendo should be doing, but is losing more money at a faster rate.
Can you hear anyone suggest that EA should completely change its business model? Is anyone demanding that EA become precisely like Nintendo, or any other company for that matter? Nope. The silence is deafening. Everyone expects a company like EA to lose money. Business as usual.
It's madness. And it leads to another question: why do we care so much about what Nintendo does and so little about EA should or shouldn't be doing. Why is that?
Is it because Nintendo is constantly attempting to subvert and disrupt the video games market we've learned to love? Maybe. Is it tall poppy syndrome? Do consumers want Nintendo to fail. Is there resentment at its attempts to bring gaming to a broader market. It's hard to tell. In a couple of weeks time we'll have forgotten about EA's losses but we'll continue to debate and discuss Nintendo obsessively. We'll get angry at them for being stubborn, for refusing to move with the times, for refusing to become more like EA.
It's weird, people engaged with video game culture have such a strange relationship with Nintendo. We think we know better when it fails, but don't necessarily celebrate when it finds success. We react with glee when it stumbles, or become genuinely upset. For some reason, whether we love or hate them, we can't stop talking about Nintendo.
Perhaps it's because Nintendo made the consoles that sat underneath our televisions as we grew up. Maybe it's because we grew up with its controllers wedged in our hands. Maybe it's that physical, actual connection. EA just made the games, but Nintendo is a brand intertwined with our childhood: the connection is just too strong to break.
Again the word is 'weird'. We have such a weird relationship with Nintendo. It's like the obsession we can't shake. The posters hanging on a bedroom wall we just can't take down. We want to move on but we can't, because Nintendo represents something deeper in most of us. We want Nintendo to grow with us as adults, but it remains static. Because it can. Because it's a company that sells video games and nothing more. We find that difficult to accept. That can make us angry. Or it can make us passionate about Nintendo and its philosophy — either way it's an emotional reaction with next-to-no basis in the actual facts of the situation.
No-one will try and fix EA. But for some reason we'll never stop trying to fix Nintendo. I guess people just care a little too much.