Nintendo Should Not Squander Their VGX Opportunity By Showing Donkey Kong

With the VGX awards just around the corner many already know what to expect and what not to expect come tonight’s event. While that’s obviously not all that will come out of the awards show, one person set to appear has been conspicuously tight lipped about their appearance at the show and just what announcement that entails: Reggie Fils-Aime. This of course has sparked speculation over just what could draw Reggie out of his “swag” filled office.

With the verbiage in the official announcement “a new look at an upcoming Wii U game” suggested that it would be something everyone has already seen, host Geoff Keighley stated that it would be a “world premiere,” suggesting largely the opposite. Now there has been a clarification that it will be indeed an already announced game and not a new unknown entity. Many observers are placing the upcoming Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze high on the list of what might be revealed but that would be not just a step, but a giant leap, in the wrong direction; and that’s putting it lightly.

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It should come as no surprise that the VGX awards will be comprised of an audience that falls largely outside of Nintendo’s comfort zone. They already know the Wii U and what it has to offer, showing them more of the same will only stand to preserve the stereotype surrounding Nintendo, and truly demonstrate just how tone deaf Nintendo can be when it comes to interfacing with gamers outside of their “core” audience. Which means Nintendo better have something good up their sleeve and by good not just an AAA production level announcement, but something that will resonate with the audience at hand.  If ever there was a time to announce a new IP it was certainly now, but that ship seems to have sailed.

The problem Nintendo seems to have is their impression that if they attempt to cater to the market that Sony and Microsoft are serving so well they are “doing what the other guy is doing”  and that means that they can’t insert their own creativity, do it their own way, and innovate in the process.  Nobody doubts that they can do this. Just look at what they’ve done with Mario over the years. The idea that Nintendo could look at Fallout, Infamous Second Son, Battlefield and Assassin’s Creed (as just a small sample) and then turn around and say “nope, we got nothing” is a little ridiculous. They also shouldn’t crutch themselves by relying on a time tested IP. We all love Link and Samus, but those are too expected by this audience and are probably firmly planted in the “yeah so what” reactionary part of their brain. Would a new Zelda trailer be a horrible thing? No, and hopefully that’s what they have planned, but this is largely their last chance to make a legitimate grab at the “core” gamer market this generation and Nintendo needs to leave a lasting impression, so if they do go that route it needs to absolutely blow people away.

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Would this explode sales for the Wii U right away? Anything is possible, but most likely not. That’s not the point, however. The important part is that they will have people’s attention and it will be heavily incumbent upon them to make the most of having that attention. With sales on the uptick in Japan, and the holiday season shopping helping to boost numbers in the US, the right announcement at VGX could help spur some momentum through the new year where Mario Kart can pick up from there; things could start to look up for the big N. The wrong announcement will certainly be a… hindrance, to put it nicely.