Last week two important events occurred, all within the span of two days. Nintendo fired employee Alison Rapp after she became a victim of online harassment, and then the company released their first and much anticipated mobile app Miitomo. It takes a lot to alienate a lifelong fan, and somehow Nintendo managed to do it in one week.
Firing the Employee
Online harassment is not a situation to take lightly. It leaves lasting scars and hurts many people in its path. It’s difficult to even bring to court and those who do face endless struggles tied up in the legal system for years fighting for justice. It’s also pretty clear that anyone who takes a stand against the movement also makes themselves a target for harassment backlash. But honestly, enough has been written about that topic by other authors, and I’m not mentioning it to include my own commentary. Since clearly individuals who stand either with the victims or against the attackers are mercilessly targeted, it’s up to groups and institutions to stand for what’s right. In Alison Rapp’s case, Nintendo released a statement claiming they fired her because she had a second job. Now, if we pretend that moonlighting isn’t allowed at Nintendo (which it is), she had used a fake name and no identifiers so the job couldn’t be traced back to her; her online harassers made the information public. This means Nintendo fired her because of information released by online harassment. This means Nintendo is siding with her online harassers.
I’ve been following this movement. I know that women receive significantly more harassment than men. I know I fit into the category of people who are more likely to be targeted by online harassment. And with their actions Nintendo pretty much just told me that they were ok with that.
Miitomo! Obviously a title like that has got to be about Miis and friendship- probably similar to tomodachi life since that was what that game was essentially about. I was ready to have Miis of my favorite characters and friends sing and dance with each other in a sims-like adventure.
As it turns out, I was unprepared.
In this day and age we’re familiar with microtransactions in video games. Games that built around that system are arguably ruining video games. Even South Park is making fun of this concept. It’s a common strategy for mobile games in order to make money.
From what I remember, Nintendo was never about doing what’s commonplace. Nintendo has always been strict with its licensing policies for third party game developers, were the last to keep using cartridge based systems as opposed to CDs, and sold the NES to a market that had given up on video games. They’ve built up their whole brand on being a household name that you can trust.
So you can imagine that it’s extremely disappointing to now see Nintendo monetizing its users at our own expense.
I guess we should have seen this coming with some of Nintendo’s less hyped recent releases.
This whole game is a crude facade for data collecting and microtransactions. Very little of the game is actually playable. The whole concept is a rewards based system for answering questions about yourself and your (real life) friends. By answering questions, the player earns coins they can spend on outfitting their mii. There’s no way to meet new people unless they’re friends of friends. You even have to be mutual followers on Twitter or Facebook friends. This clearly means this game is marketed towards young adults and up. I’ve heard people joking about how they’re data collecting on Mii-lenials.
It’s… really sad.
One bad game in their long list of hits is excusable. Ok, they took a risk and messed up. Whatever, we move on.
But they shut down Club Nintendo for this.
Club Nintendo was a nice gesture to fans to show appreciation. Games came with a code that, when redeemed online, could be added up and turned in for exclusive rewards. Fans who bought a certain amount of games in a two year span got a special gift at the end of the year, such as an exclusive calendar. I have a special wii remote holder that I redeemed from Club Nintendo.
You can redeem rewards with a combination of these coins.
Nintendo’s new reward system feels like one giant microtransaction. I haven’t felt this betrayed as a game consumer since Neopets implemented the Neocash system.
Nintendo has hung me out to dry. Their actions have told me that they don’t care about my wellbeing …or rather, that they only care about me enough to collect information on how to sell to me. In other words, they only care about me for my money. And this recent trend tells me that they’re only going to keep it up.
It’s not easy to lose a lifelong fan. I was surprised by how strongly I felt – strongly enough to write this article. I really hope to see things at Nintendo change sooner rather than later.
Edit: I keep trusting them again only to have my heart broken. So I’m going to start a list that I can add to so I won’t keep forgetting.