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Malik (9/12/11)

Football is crazy this year. I mean the unexpected was accepted as a possibility to begin with after the shortened pre-season and no real training camps. Still, some things this weekend went beyond what anyone would expect.

With the shorter kickoff space, it was expected to see a lot more touchbacks. Not the case from what I've seen. There were at least three kickoffs I know of that were returned for touchdowns, including one at the starting kickoff in the Vikings game yesterday, one in the Packers defeat of the Saints, and one devastating one to start the defeat of the Seahawks. I don't think the rule change will get rid of touchdowns and attempts to return a kick for extra yards. In fact, three touchdowns in the opening week of play says quite the opposite. I don't think this is an effect of the rule change as much as a consequence of the rule making returners feel like they need to prove their worth under the new rule set.

It was also interesting to see that some of the winners yesterday went well beyond expectations. The Bills looked amazing when they beat the Chiefs by a few dozen points. The Bears beat the living hell out of the Falcons despite the Falcons looking like a far better team and the Bears looking mediocre on paper. The Bengals looked pretty solid (true, they did play the Browns) for being the supposed worst team in some analyst's minds. The Steelers were flat-out horrible with more than a half dozen turnovers, including three picks off of Big Ben (which looks good since the Seahawks go to Pittsburgh next week). The only powerhouse to fail that was expected was the Colts since the Colts are Peyton Manning, and without Manning this is not a team to put your money on.

In the end, all that really mattered to me was the Seattle game. Despite knowing this will be an ugly season (with T-Jack at the helm, can it be any different?), I am going to watch each game until the end. I have to say, despite thinking he could still do better than T-Jack, I am glad Hasselbeck is not behind the Seattle O-line this year. With how fragile the Seahawks were at defending T-Jack, I know Hasselbeck would have been hauled off on a stretcher in the opening half. Despite all the talk of making a better O-line for the last two years, the line is no better (one might say it's worse) than it has been before the Pete Carroll era began. You can argue that with Gallery injured that the line will get better...but one man cannot make that big of a difference when the entire line crumbled like a stale cookie each and every down.

I see this continuing for the entire season. It would be great to see Whitehurst get a chance (never would have thought I'd say that last year), and it will happen. However, Whitehurst will not come in until T-Jack is injured...which is an eventual outcome when the O-line cannot keep him protected for even two seconds. It also is an eventual reality when T-Jack cannot understand that you don't get ten seconds to wait for a receiver to open to throw to. You throw the ball or you get the play over in some other way. You cannot just hold the ball and wait for a sack or a fumble to happen. Also, despite what Carroll and T-Jack may think, T-Jack is not agile enough to be a running QB...and the NFL is no place for it anyway.

The only thing I can say positive about the Seahawks after yesterday is that Earl Thomas is still a beast and is, without a doubt, the best player Seattle has on the field. Too bad we can't clone him and make an entire defense out of one man...since the rest of the team, be it offense, defense, or special teams, all looks like a middle tier college team.


Malik (9/14/11)

Here it is again...more talk about how the 3DS is in big trouble. It's almost like the worst situation has occurred from a few variables. You have a business news world with no good news to report, who are hoping to at least have mild good news in the paper to offset the complete economical doom and gloom crap that we have been seeing non-stop since three years ago. You also have a Nintendo item, which can normally be count on to be a bright spot in the economics world, looking weak out of the gate. Lastly, you have a nice blending of short sighted opinions stated as facts and some blatantly ignorant stereotypes.

Anyway, Nintendo will be seeing a lot more 3DS sales in the near future. The price cut in August will help, but the true marker of what will sell the 3DS is coming in about three months; some top tier games and the holiday season colliding into a perfect no-lose situation for Nintendo.

Anyway, if Nintendo wants to boost sales, and I'm pretty sure they do (I say entirely dead-pan), they just need a holiday season. It applies to all game consoles. Any system launched off-season (especially outside September through January) will look bad for it's first quarter or two of sales. It also always helps that the best titles are launched in time for the holiday season. I mean the 3DS is without top class games and has been available only from February (in Japan) through now. The best game on the system is a polished port of a game that has already been seen on the N64, GCN, and Wii in various formats. I'm talking about a Zelda that is about four games out of the current world in terms of Zelda games...not counting portable Zelda titles.

The big shift in sales will come when we see the next Super Mario game (this fall), a new Mario Kart (this fall), a solid multiplayer game (Star Fox 64...this month), and some fun games that don't make for a stressful experience (Animal Crossing...and that one needs a solid release date since it will sell the 3DS to casual gamers).

You also need for some games that truly show that the 3D on the 3DS is optional and can be turned off to play any of the titles, since many people have reservations on 3D (hopefully in a sign that this trend will die soon, much like 3D died off a few different times over the more than a century of TV and movies that the world has been through). While I, as a 3DS owner, have seen both the charm of 3D and how well a 3DS game can play without the 3D slider turned on, Nintendo needs to better advertise this option...and the best way would be for Nintendo to release a top tier game without any 3D programmed on the game. Nintendo has already said that 3D has to be optional (cannot be required for a game to be licensed to the 3DS), but has also said that they would have no problem making a game that didn't have any 3D. Why not show it in a hurry to help lay the fears of 3D avoiders to rest?

On a final 3DS thought...I love how Nintendo still thinks sales can be achieved through different colors. Really, a pink 3DS to entice women? The new red 3DS to show that the 3DS is exciting and young? If only Nintendo would spend as much time and effort on their games as they do looking at color swatches, we may see more than one and a half new Zelda games per console generation.

Anyway, mark my words. Come the end of the holiday season and we will see Nintendo with solid sales on the 3DS. At the same time, if the Sony Vita comes along around the first half of 2012, like it is looking, we'll see the same stagnant sales for the Vita that we've supposedly have seen for the 3DS. Off-season console launches are the best way to frighten business analysts and investors in the game industry. Then, after many months of talk about the Vita being a failure, Sony will probably make a minor concession (a small price cut, or more likely a bundled in game) in time for the holiday season, see better sales, and call that non-fix the solution to their sales problems.


Malik (9/15/11)

Forget it! I think I was an extent, at least. When I've said repeatedly that the 3DS will do fine, I may have spoken too soon...or Nintendo spoke too many times. I still feel the main problems for the 3DS came down to no solid top tier games (but that will be solved in the next few months as the holidays approach), and being released at the exact wrong time of year in a bad world economy (about to be partially rectified by the arrival of the holiday season). This still stands true. Also, Nintendo needs to make it more evident to 3D haters that the gimmick is just that...a nice little added gimmick but not a requirement for the 3DS.

However, Nintendo seems to be heading towards crazy town about right now. I'm talking about their pre-TGS press conference (scroll down the link a bit to find the Nintendo stuff). Nintendo is no longer saying, or even implying, that the 3DS is a good machine but it launched at the wrong time, with the wrong games, and with the wrong price (honestly, the price was never as bad as they made it seem with the drastic price drop in August). Now they are implying that the 3DS is just flat out wrong.

How else can one take that ridiculous looking extra analogue stick/nub accessory? It looks bad. It will add cost to play some 3DS titles (if any require it). It makes the 3DS bulkier for a potentially uncomfortable shape in one's hands to use both analogue nubs and the face buttons. It also says, without a doubt, that Nintendo is not happy with how they designed the 3DS since it now, apparently in Nintendo's mind, has too few input (controller/button) options.

I think Nintendo has forgotten a few lessons on PR. If you want your company to do good, never let your customers (or potential customers) see you sweating. Never let them think you're uncertain about a product that you are asking your target demographic to invest a large amount of money in. Nintendo has gone against this simple PR rule a few too many times in the last couple of months. First you said that the 3DS would launch with the eStore and a web browser, but failed to release these interfaces until a few months after the launch. Then you said it was launched with a bad selection of games. Then you said the price was wrong. Then you said that you can get a stronger female audience with a pink 3DS (which, as a man, makes me wonder if I'm out of touch or if this is sexism...seems like sexism to me..."girls love pink things!"...). Now you seem to say that the controller is not good enough and your audience should shell out more money for an added analogue nub.

My free advice to Nintendo; stop it! Just stop with this crap right now. You are in business to make money and earn customer loyalty. You are not doing so when you seem to imply every part of this product release was done incorrectly. Just quit trying to improve how you look through words, and instead take a good strong action. In this case, release your new Mario game, the Mario Kart game, get Animal Crossing out there before Christmas. Make sure a new Zelda is coming along for the 3DS. Lastly, offer flash of some sort on the web browser or get a Youtube app of some sort to make the web browser seem less antiquated.

Simple enough, Nintendo? I hope so because I have always felt that the $250 I paid for a 3DS was a good investment for the future...but I am getting a little uncertain after that analogue nub add-on crap. It's like you are just admitting you messed up everything with the 3DS, and this doesn't reward my loyalty as a Nintendo portable customer.

Also, if you want a PR person who can give you a bit less of a messed up dysfunctional image to your target audiences, I'd be happy to take on the job. I'm sure I wouldn't be nearly as insane as your current PR and marketing people.


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