Just when you think that Nintendo may have finally figured out this whole "next-gen" thing, the company has managed to shoot itself in the foot again. The current topic at hand: live-streaming gameplay. Y'know, like, the services provided by Twitch which was y'know, like, the instigator of the global phenomenon that enveloped the gaming community earlier this year.
For gamers, Twitch is a standard feature in the landscape of eighth-generation of console gaming. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been smart enough to swear by it, delivering a whole new method of sharing to their respective fanbases via the popular streaming service. For some it may not seem like the most instinctive path for delivering quality content. After all, not everyone wants to sit around on their computer or console and watch another person play a video game, even if there is an active and engaged comment community attached to it.
However, the service has been popular, and given that Twitch's most widely-known event involved Nintendo's exclusive content, it would seem like a lucrative partnership between the two is inevitable. In some ways, this is already true. Nintendo has been using Twitch to stream their Nintendo Treehouse Live coverage during E3, and according to Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime this presentation "is doing fantastic numbers."
Despite these successes Fils-Aime remained ambivalent about Twitch's larger applications when discussing them with Polygon. The Nintendo executive said that the company doesn't think "streaming 30 minutes of gameplay by itself is a lot of fun." He also added that Nintendo is indebted to their fanbase when deciding on issues like these, and must ask, "from a consumer standpoint, what's fun about it?"
Of course, Fils-Aime isn't completely unaware as to the benefits of live-streaming. He discussed the popularity that Mario Kart TV has enjoyed with Mario Kart 8:
"Kart is fun because its a highlight of the race. You can make some choices as to what parts are going to be shared. We think that makes it interesting, and obviously the meme of the Luigi death stare is wonderful when that comes out of that type of experience. But in the end we've got to make sure that it's fun."
Fils-Aime also noted that the recent Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U invitational performed well when it was live-streamed to audiences around the world:
...we loved that streamed because that's where you are able to see how these players perform, the moves they make, you can learn something. That has value to us. And you can expect us to do more of that type of activity, highlighting our games and providing a forum for players to learn how to play better.
However, Fils-Aime also tempered his enthusiasm by saying that Nintendo's usage of Twitch is "different than watching Joe Blow's 30 minute stream, which may or may not have something that's all that interesting."
Fils-Aime's concerns are valid, but remain frustrating for those who may want to see Nintendo loosen up with their exclusive content. No one is denying that having a Twitch event directed by Nintendo is a quality product to deliver to their consumers. Still, however, the company's resistance toward giving this power to their users is both patronizing and out-of-touch. Services like Twitch are designed to allow DIY content creation. Their ease and efficiency stems precisely from the fact that any "Joe Blow" is able to make a video of what he or she is playing. Is it always interesting? Of course not. But as we all know, Nintendo doesn't always hit a home run either.
Essentially, Nintendo needs to learn to trust its community more and to embolden them with the same power that companies like Microsoft and Sony are currently giving away. The forced hand-holding that the Nintendo is currently insisting upon is yet another example of the company standing in the way of its own continued success.