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For the Sake of Nintendo, Hear my Plea…

11 Jul

Nintendo fans, I have a request from you. Shut up. Really. Nintendo fan-boys, like all other fan-boys(or fan-people for you PC types) need to realize that they do not actually help. Because in your case, you are the reason that Nintendo is in trouble.

Now I understand that this can be confusing. How, when you all loyally buy your massive number of games and consoles and various digital content directly from Nintendo can I say that you are causing their financial stress? How, when everyone else has turned their backs on them can I accuse you of the very problem you seek to avoid? Simple, because you help Nintendo buy into its own press.

Companies are very interesting things. You are told that they are not people but instead are some mysterious entity that floats above massive skyscrapers pulling the strings of the people. But at the end of the day there is something very important that you should know about Corporations: They are composed of people and they need to make money.

Recently the Investors of Nintendo had a meeting to discuss the future of the company. Some questions were down right stupid. We got that. But most of the questions focused on matters of fiscal futures and company leadership. One investor bluntly asked why Iwata had not resigned due to the failures of the company and how he was messing things up. Iwata wasn’t actually at the meeting(perhaps due to last years punching of an investor when he wouldn’t shut up.) and his representative remained firm that Iwata would in fact continue to help the company along. In other words, they ignore the problem.

But here is the real problem. Three years of losses are going to take their toll on a company and that group of investors are getting nervous. As I informed a co-worker those investors do not care about games directly. They care about making money. And if Nintendo can’t make a profit, then they will go somewhere else. Although I’m sure we all agree it should be all about the games, money is still what pays the bills.

So now Nintendo fan-people, you are probably wondering why this even applies to you. After all we did establish that you loyally go out and buy the games that the company makes. You eagerly buy E-shop money to download the new releases of digital games. Heck, some of you even ran out and purchased a 2ds just to show your loyalty. What more can I ask of you? Why can’t I realize the awesomeness of Nintendo and just love the games?

Because Nintendo is dieing. And you all are the ones allowing it to wither away.

Nintendo might have won the first generation of console wars between Sega and Atari. But to be blunt, they aren’t winning right now. The Wii U is one of the worst selling consoles in history for Nintendo. Due to the drought of games Nintendo is trying to fill in the blank spots with digital releases of classic games. Several of the games that people have actually purchased the system for are either delayed(Super Smash Bros, Bayonetta 2, and Watch Dogs), not mentioned(Metroid? Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy), or so far out to be pointless.(Legend of Zelda and Star Fox) The system is a total flop. And the worst part is, I think you all realize it.

Why do I say that? Because you all scream against any detractor at the top of your lungs. Me think you doth protest too much.

When the blunt investor asked for Iwata’s resignation you all screamed that the investor was a moron and didn’t get video games. When Ubisoft came out and stated that they were putting Watch Dogs, along with other major titles on hold due to the lack of return you wailed that they had become money grubbing bastards who didn’t care about gamers. And when EA stated that the Wii U was a lessor system than Sony and Microsoft and they were done remaking games for Nintendo you jumped on the EA hate train so fast that you forgot that they were a company who had made more games for your system than any other 3rd party. You screamed and wailed and complained that people couldn’t see the beauty and perfection which is the Wii U. You have attacked the critics of the system and chased off fans who have begun to question the livelihood of a console giant. And you have been proud of it.

Three years ago Reggie Fils-Aime came out when asked if the Wii U would have a blue ray player and calmly informed people that blue ray was a fad and would never take off. Later on when asked if it would at least play dvds he casually mentioned that no one really bought dvds anymore and that digital was the future. When questioned about why there wasn’t a better digital option than Netflix, he brushed it off saying that they were only making a gaming system. And when people questioned him about where all of these games were he did his best to bring up the various first-party titles that everyone would clamor to the Wii U for.

The problem is right then and there fan-people you should have been asking for his head. Think about this for a second. Nintendo is telling you that you don’t need to worry about anything but games and then fails to deliver anything but a paltry number of first party titles. You should have been screaming for a return to the glory days, when everyone had a “Nintendo” regardless of what the kids were actually playing. You should be hunkering down demanding that Nintendo remembers why they were the powerhouse that survived. Instead you plug your fingers in your ears and say that everything is perfect. When in fact it isn’t.

Here is my plea to you. If you really love your company listen to the critics. I’ll be the first to agree that not all critics need to be given the time of day. But every complaint can and does fix a company. And as I said before, this corporation is made up of people. Understand why that investor was demanding a resignation from Iwata. Send letters asking for newer titles and new IP. And demand a system that actually competes with the big dogs. When Splatoon comes out next year, give it a fair shot, but be critical when parts are broken. Which they will be broken.(Almost all online games are apparently.)

And pay attention to the people who left. I work at a game store. I have on a regular basis met your quitters. They get tired of waiting for games to be released on the Wii U only to discover that it has been delayed or was a slimmed down version. Remember many of these people left during the Wii’s dead period. When there wasn’t anything really good coming out on the system and they wanted games to play. The Wii went a bit too long and the Wii U was Nintendo’s next step.(Sadly a step behind the other consoles as well.) If you want them back(which you want and need) then find out what it would take to get them back. If Sony could do that with the PS4 then I imagine that Nintendo can do it too.

Last but not least. Stop living in the past. I remember Excitebike and Duck Hunt with much fondness. I also remember Altered Beasts and that dumb Taz game. I can go through years of archived games remembering with fondness the stuff that made them great. And I also know that it is time to move on in many ways too. I might love the classics, but it is more important to discover what is currently great. The Gamecube is done. The N64 has moved past its prime. The Wii is dead. You don’t want them going the way of the Jaguar either, so start demanding more from the current systems. I’m still waiting for a solid RPG for the Wii U.

So I guess in closing, don’t shut up. Or at least shut up long enough to read this and learn from it. Then start talking and figure out how to help your company out. I’ve seen both Sony and Microsoft makes some great strides this year. There is no reason that Nintendo can’t make a comeback.

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A letter to trading Parents

8 Jul

So this is a letter to parents. If you are an adult and selling your own games, this really doesn’t apply to you. Let me also start out by pointing out that we are in fact a business that has overhead to cover. If you don’t understand that concept, then I’m more or less just wasting time with you on the following plea.

Don’t come to my store to trade your child’s games for cash.

Let me explain. I’m more than aware that in most cases they are not you child’s games. You more than likely have an allowance that you provide them so that they can buy them. As a result, you probably feel that you have the right to sell them as well. I don’t disagree on any finer point. But here are somethings you should remember.

1. We are not a buyer in the traditional sense.
2. Cash is not going to be what we give you the most of.
3. Twenty years ago, when this company formed, you might have had few options to resell, but that time has passed.

Disclaimer: I actually do agree with my company’s model so don’t assume this to be a trash talk against it.

Lets focus on these shell we.
Number 1. I am not buying you games for personal use. I am buying your games so that I can turn around and resell them. These purchases sit in a hold pattern for a few weeks while we wait to see if they are stolen. After that, they are put on the wall for the set price point we already established. (Little fact. If we are selling the game for 30$ during a sale and you happen to trade during that window it might come out of trade after the sale has ended and the price has gone back up, usually establishing more value than before. That does suck but those things happen.)
Since I’m not purchasing it for myself, I really don’t care what your feelings are about the game in relation to it’s trade value. If the game was life changing for you it doesn’t give it anymore value than if you thought it sucked. Period. I give you a set value so that I can make a profit off of the sale. Nothing more and nothing less. People who are buying for their own personal pleasure will actually offer more money for the product, hence the mark up. Also, since you are coming in only looking for cash and claim you don’t care about the games anymore it removes some of that sympathy.

Number 2. We want you to spend the money in our store. We want a return for our investment. It’s a case of you get more because you are spending the credit in store as a thanks for spending it in store. If you don’t get that, sorry. Simply put, we want your business. After all, we are giving you value for something that technically has 0 real value.
But lets say you really “need” the cash. We aren’t obligated to give you money. Truth be told I have the liberty to turn you away. We will give you the lowest level possible and make a higher mark up. I understand that this can be angering, and by all rights you can do what every other person does when they don’t like the value. Go somewhere else.

Which brings us to Number 3. There are other options. Twenty years ago the internet sales model was still young and not realistic. Even ten years ago it was a bit sketchy at times. But we are in 2014. I could attempt to sell things on 2 free websites and 1 reputable website that will only take a percentage cut. It is still your job to figure out what things are selling for, but Google has even made that simple. If you have a series of games, you could actually find a suitable cash value in a matter of minutes. (Heck you could even come into the store and then find the values. After realizing it wasn’t enough you could then go home and mark it up yourself to make money on it.)
So why did you come here looking for cash for games that you feel you are being ripped off on when you could actually make the money yourself? Answer: you’re lazy. And that reason right there is why I can make money off your laziness. I don’t owe you anything if you aren’t willing to take the time to try and make more money for it. You don’t like the cash value, fine, look at the credit. Put it toward another game that you know your kid is going to ask for three weeks down the road anyway. No games? Alright buy a gas card or Google card or a iTunes card. Put the money on a gift card and attempt to sell that on amazon or craigslist. There are options and I’m not required to make you feel better about being lazy.

Now Parents. This was originally directed at you. See there are several types of people who come to my store looking for cash. One is the shoplifter who has a drug addiction to feed and couldn’t care less what I offer. Another is the person who is in fact strapped for cash and has a unexpected bill show up that needs to be paid now.(I have done cash trades a few times for someone whose car is in the shop and they need money to get it out. Usually they have checked with every pawn shop in the area before hand to and we are their best option. Sad, but understandable.)
But you dear parent are a different type. You are the parent who has decided that your kid needs to be taught a lesson about the importance of economics and thus will drag them in to force them to sell the games for cash. Then make them feel like they are being ripped off the whole time(while, mind you, basically accusing me of the theft) and then leave berating them about their poor choice in selling the games.
How do I know this? Because you are a regular. You never actually give them an alternative. When you come in, looking for cash, I usually will let you know about the alternatives 20 seconds into your speech about being ripped off. “We bought each of those games for 60$.” You’ll cry with false pain brought about of losing so much of your hard earned income. (Bonus points if we can still see the price tag that shows some value under 60$. Best I ever got was 5$.) When the kid looks at you and says something about the store credit being better you’ll shoot him down claiming some debt that they owe you. Then you’ll return to your lament at how horrible my company is. You will be loud and annoying. Trust me, I’ve seen it.
What are you? A loan shark. If little Timmy doesn’t pay up soon are you going to break his fingers? Was there really no other alternative? No chores that could be done around the house? Maybe confiscate the games and create a purchasing plan via grades and chores? Heck. Confiscate the games and force them to go out, get a job, and re buy them from you(kind of like what I do.) Point is, there are alternate possible things than just selling them. Stop being a jerk and actually TEACH your child an important lesson about the value of things.
Because I can promise you didn’t teach you child anything useful. The public humiliation that they endured wasn’t good for them. You didn’t actually make these games have a better value. You just wanted to berate them and belittle them and me. And guess what, they saw that. Hard work? Bah. I can just convince them to buy the games again. I don’t actually need to worry about the cost. Just have to hear the lecture again. Often you are back two or three weeks later buying one of the games back because the kid “really” wants it, and they are offering to pay you back. Again. And you will be back doing the same song and dance. Again. You aren’t helping stop that mentality at all.
So knuckle up parents. Time to be responsible. Make the games have value. Confiscate them if needs be. If not, teach them how to get the best bang for their buck. Make them learn the value of the product. Be a PARENT. Because after the fourth time you do this with Timmy. He comes in smiling because he knows he hasn’t spent a dime and never will.

Who won E3?

2 Jul

So being part of the Game Retail business, E3 is the major event of the year.  As a result people come in afterwards and ask me, “Who do you think won?” (Some of them actually just ask me if i realized that [game console company] actually won, but i digress.)  The problem with this question is that really there is no contest.  Each company comes and shows their wares in hopes of encouraging people to buy their product in the long run.  Wii U released Mario Kart 8 right before E3, and could appear to some to actually be the winner if just examining console growth.

But at the end of the day the only thing that declares a winner is fiscal numbers that show what is selling and who is buying and who sold the most of what.  Can’t really determine that number from E3 since none of the games will release for another two to three months.  But in our competitive genre(and nothing more competitive than gaming right?) we feel that a winner must be declared.  So i stand before you to declare one solid point.

They all lost!

That'll Hurt

That’ll Hurt

 

To be blunt, there wasn’t a whole lot of victory from the Console side of things.  Microsoft and Sony had a pretty weak showing of current year titles to get people energized for their systems.  Although there are quite a few third party games coming out for both, it doesn’t help the frustrated gamer decide which system to buy for.  Nintendo did a good showing with their First party games, but disappointed many when they realized that they would still have to go elsewhere for the 3rd party games they were pumped for.(The Ubisoft announcement probably hurting the worst since they had been a long time Nintendo supporter.)

It was bothersome to say the least when it comes to console choice.  But the good news was that there was plenty of games that attracted the eye.  With impressive line ups from Activistion,EA,Ubisoft,Blizzard, and 2K gamers have plenty to look forward too.

 

Sadly i still won’t be able to actually help you decide which system to buy.

Nano Blog 1: The Prequel problem

3 Nov

So earlier this year we had the release of God of War: Ascension.  The game received rather mediocre reviews from most of the gamers.  Why?  Because the story felt like a rehash of the first game.  After all, we already knew that Kratos was betrayed by Aries.  But Ascension says that it wasn’t the first time.  We get to sit back and watch as his family is turned to dust and he has to gain redemption.  Of course, this is so he can fight Aries again in another game.   Them Greek Gods always causing issues.

But this led me thinking about other games and movies that focus on adding a Prequel theme that just doesn’t work.  Now I know this can be a very sensitive issue for a few of you readers out there.  After all, we had moments of excitement and thrill at the announcement that led to our devastating heartbreak at the release.  Metroid Other M took the iconic Samus and turned her into a whiny brat.  Star Wars gave us Wanakin.  Star Trek Enterprise gave us a weak sauce TV series about the creation of the Federation and the man who hops in others bodies to…oh wait, wrong show.

Now I do realize that this isn’t entirely fair.  People didn’t like the new Devil May Cry or Tomb Raider, but not for story or gameplay reasons.  Both games gave us interesting character development mixed with an impressive story and thrilling gameplay.  So why did they suffer?  In the case of DMC, it was a specific group of fans who didn’t want a prequel and were vocal about it.  They wanted DMC 5 and didn’t care that they were being offered more. (Made better by the fact that the DMC timeline is less than linear anyway.)  Tomb Raider was aimed at an audience that was more interested in Croft’s chest size than why she ended up in the treasure hunting business.  In both of these cases, the fans decried the game more out of what it wasn’t more than what it was.  We as both fans and the audience sometime need to accept that we don’t always get what we want.

But sometimes a prequel just sucks.  When we all sat down to watch Phantom Menace we were eager to see a young Anikin Skywalker change into the great Lord Vader.  This story had been imagined by hundreds of writers and probably millions of fans.  We remember listening to Ben Kanobi talk about the Clone Wars and the Jedi.  Yoda talked about failing in his duty.  Even the ever shocking moment of realizing that Vader was Anikin was enough to cause wannabe writers to dive at their typewriters.

But instead we were given kid Anikin talking about Podracing.  We had our story distracted by a trade embargo that seemed completely pointless to the well-being of the Universe.  Nothing about the first movie so much as made a whole lot of sense other than to make us realize that Luke might have actually been better off with Vader destroying the Republic.  We were given a small child with very painful dialog such as, “Now this is Podracing!”  Even Jar Jar, who most people hate probably more of out what he represented than any fault of his, couldn’t do anything to help.

But we held out.  We raised our heads high and claimed “He’ll get it right next time.”  And then we were given “Attack of the Clones.”  Most of us dropped our head and said never mind and gave up.  But some held our hope until Anakin and Padme ran through the field of flowers.  That probably finished off the rest. It was mind-blowing to so many that Lucas, who gave us the ever impressive Star Wars trilogy could massacre a three movie Prequel.  It was like the studios approached him and had this conversation.

“My Lord.  Fans are asking for more movies.  What shall we do?”

“Whip them out.  All of them.”

The formula for the movies seemed straight forward.  We know that Anikin becomes Darth Vader.  We know that the Empire rises from the ashes of the Republic.  And we knew that the Jedi would be destroyed.  So all we needed was logic to it.  Why does Anikin Skywalker turn?  We knew it was going to happen.  Give us a good reason.  Make us care.  Make him a fallen hero instead of a hormonal idiot.  The bastard murdered a room full of children and you still couldn’t kill him Kanobi?  Really!

We expect sequels to suck on some level.  If the story finished, the question is posed as to why you would make another movie.  Because audiences want another movie and you can make money with it.  But prequels are different.  The audience has to be invested in your story enough that people want to know more about before. So when you go down this road you need to remember that we have expectations.  We asked you for a good story.  You need to make us love you for taking the time to tell it to us.  And as your telling it to us, the feeling shouldn’t be us scratching our heads wondering if this is at all related. (Looking at you Abrams.)

But we rarely see good ones.  TV shows will get prequels and you grab your head in pain.  Movies get them and people wish for their money back.  Games get them and tend to gather plenty of dust on the shelves.

 So a question comes from this.  Can one do a prequel right?

The answer is Yes.  And that probably explains why people keep doing them.

NaNoWriMo 2013

2 Nov

So around this time each year i attempt to accomplish Nanowrimo.  This isn’t exactly a small task.  The objective is to write a 50K novel over the course of a month.  Learn to turn off your inner editor and write.  The problem for me is not my inner editor.  The problem for me is sucking it up and getting down to writing.  That and November being the breaching of hell in Retail.

That’s right.  Welcome to the beginning of one of the hardest months in retail.  Although December is by and far the most difficult month, there is a lot of preparation that goes into this month.  Black Friday, the retail equivalent of a Twilight movie release that had the film break five seconds in, is just a bit on the stressful side.  Angry people who want something for less than they feel it is worth are going to get in your face over the fact that you only had ten copies and they are number eleven.

But in Game retail, the month is even a bit harder.  See developing studios feel the need to release their games close enough to Christmas to market it effectively while far enough away to ensure that the game doesn’t backslide do to the money being spent elsewhere.  What this means for me is that the end of October to the second week of November is a crush of games that all tend to be Blockbuster titles.

Now, what does this have to do with Nano?  Glad you asked.  Normally, at least while at the Pet Company i worked for, November was a somewhat easy month.  Although things got stressful, the way things work in that area means lots of last minute purchases since you can’t have the pet till almost right at Christmas.

But in my industry, November is bogged down with 6 day work weeks and major crushes of game releases.  So taking the time to work out a book idea and flush it into a full release tends to be a bit more than i can handle on a daily basis.

But it isn’t more than a Blog can handle.

Now, i’m not claiming this is really the stuff of Novels nor that i can really claim this as a Nano completion.  But the key to Nano is to write.  So i am doing my best to commit to a daily update of the blog over the course of the Month.  Hopefully this works out well.

Hello He….I mean Holidays

28 Oct

Yesterday involved our big store meeting to prep for the Holiday season. It was mainly employees who have been with us the last several months along with a few Seasonal hires that we bring on for the busy season. A few missed the meeting for various reasons.

While discussing with the group the up coming chaos i realized that there is very little you can do to prep. Perhaps one of the biggest misunderstandings of the Retail model is that you can never have enough people to meet the demands of the customer base. So realistically the best method for having a staff ready is to ensure they know their jobs.

In my store, this means knowing how to, and in no particular order: Organize merchandise; File Merchandise; Have a knowledge of product; Good Detective skills to ensure success with questions and needs; Ability to quickly and accurately discover product knowledge; Find product and ring the customer through. This isn’t a very descriptive list, but it goes to show what all needs to be done to make the night work.

This doesn’t even cover having a constant happy face or learning to defuse a already tense situation from someone who doesn’t have the time to deal with you in a civilized manner. I tend to prep a lot of my Seasonal staff through Midnight launches of games. These are very hectic events that have the organization and flow of a Marching Band in many ways. But even those don’t do an effective job training all of the staff.

So last nights meeting took on a very specific focus: Welcome to Hell.

Customer Care at it’s finest

29 Jul

To get back in the spirit of writing, it is time to write what i know.  Considering that i am a retail store manager, what i know is customers and customer service. (Hank eat your heart out.)  Having worked with the crowds that i have has lead to some interesting types.  So figure once a week i will regale you with a new customer type.