When people try to say Wii Sports or Sims or World of Warcraft were "lightning in a bottle" when they appealed to the Mass Market, they are trying to create an alibi that the Game Industry is not guilty of Mass Mediocrity. And if the Game Industry is not guilty of Mass Mediocrity, that means every game developer should be allowed to keep doing whatever the hell they want to do. The Lifestyle Developer lives on...
The year is 2006. Nintendo's Wii comes out and becomes the fastest selling video game console ever, and no one knows exactly why. Gamers, analysts and game developers alike say that it's because of the novelty of its motion controls and that the "casual" audience that it appeals to only want shallow and simplistic mini game compilations.Enter Sean Malstrom, armed with knowledge of the books The Innovators Dilemma and The Blue Ocean Strategynote two books quoted as the biggest influences on the direction Nintendo is taking with the Wii, and often discussed by Nintendo themselves before the Wii is launched, came along in 2006 declaring why the Wii would be a huge success, despite the mass attitude of It Will Never Catch On by the gaming industry and press. Malstrom then starts a website that deals with what he feels is the real reasons of the Wii's success.Sean Malstrom began on a gaming website called The Wiikly, where he successfully predicted the Wii's success half a year before its release. His Wiikly articles can be found here.His new site was founded in early 2007 and is split into three main categories:
invokedThe Blue Ocean Articles: Aside from explaining what The Blue Ocean Strategy is all about the articles there also deal why there is such a thing as a 'Hardcore Gamer' in the first place. Also discusses why current Hardcore Gamers shouldn't spend their time ranting about the Wii ruining gaming forever.
Aborted Arc: The Disruption Chronicles seem to be this, as Malstrom himself says that there isn't anything noteworthy going on business-wise and Nintendo is deviating from the blue ocean and disruption ways they've established this generation.
After the End: The New World depicts the various 'hardcore' gamers throughout time as a people living on a continent that gets flooded every time their ways become irrelevant. The article also concludes with the situation of today's 'hardcore' gamers being flooded away.
History Repeats: Deja Vu lays down all the groundwork on Malstrom's view that the Wii generation is a repeat of the NES generation.
The Blog Contains Examples Of:
Accentuate the Negative: If he feels there is a flaw in something, he will make it very clear. Even for the games he thinks are good, just that they can always use improvement. But if he feels a franchise is going the wrong way, he will slam it for doing so.
Cassandra Truth: Malstrom accurately predicting the rise of the Wii to first place in the seventh console generation back in '06, when others expected it to fail. This is one of the few things his lovers and haters can agree on.
Creator Worship: Malstrom maintains that "Game Gods" is choking creativity throughout the game industry, even when the flaws of certain games can't really be pinned on any particular developer.
In particular, when Metroid fans lashed out at him for criticizing Other M, Malstrom accused them of not being fans of Metroid itself, but of Sakamoto, and unwilling to brook any criticism of him. It should be noted that at that time neither they nor Malstrom had seen anything more than previews of the game, nor has the Metroid fandom ever brought up Sakamoto in their comments.invoked
"Social Justice Warriors are presenting themselves as a new threat to gaming. In this, we must ally with the hardcore gamers and every other gamer to stand against this political onslaught. Imagine it like Warcraft 3 as all the races combine to stop the demonic horde."
Excuse Plot: He argues most games don't need more than this. But he does not claim games should have no plot whatsoever, he says that stories are about why we should play a game, not to take over the game.invoked
Fallen Hero: Not exactly a hero (since Malstrom is so fundamentally opposed to game designers being hailed as such), but he used to respect Miyamoto despite disagreeing with his insistence on 3D Mario — he even wrote an entry titled "Why Miyamoto is Awesome"! Unfortunately, after Super Mario 3D Land and Miyamoto's openly-stated desire to convert 2D Mario fans into the 3D style with said game, Malstrom now treats him with extreme contempt.invoked
Fan Myopia: He states that people who make entertainment will ruin a medium when they start to think that what they like about that medium has to be what the audience likes as well.invoked
Also calls out gamers who only acknowledge certain old-school games, while ignoring those that were actually more popular back in the day.
Flame War: Almost got himself caught in one regarding My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. To see what the hype was about, he watched some of it and was scared that it gained such popularity among men, feeling worried that American masculinity was declining. Fans of the show were less than pleased. He fought back for a short while but backed down before the conflicts could escalate. For the first half of 2013, Friendship Is Magic became a recurring topic that he prefers not to talk about.
Grand Finale: Promises his #100 music post will be the last post of his current blog. Has not stated yet what his projects after that will be.
"Malstrom- World-wide sex symbol to women. When a new article appears, his mailbox gets flooded by the ladies demanding passion from him. "A business article on video games? That is so hot!" they squeal. Each Malstrom article also gains him a million dollars from jet-sitting super secret investors. Malstrom is also prone to self-delusions. ("Hey," he says, "if you are going to have delusions, might as well go for the really satisfying ones!")"
Magic A Is Magic A: The worlds of video games has to have some logic, he argues, no matter how whimsical they seem. Doing otherwise is just making up stuff, which he argues hurts game content as much as it hurts a story.
Nostalgia Filter: Although he's very specific of why some older things are better, like games with arcade values, and also states that new things that hold to those are just as good.
The Player Is The Most Important Resource: To him, this is a vital thing when making a game. This is likely an extension of his years as a door-to-door salesman, where he learned that pleasing the customers is foremost in making sales.
"Buy this because we want you to kick ass!"
He basically states that doing the opposite (developers pleasing themselves and their peers first) is the biggest factor in the decline of gaming.
"Buy this because we kick ass!"
Poe's Law: Both pro- and anti-Malstrom webbers have argued over whether Malstrom's personality as presented in his blog is what the man himself is like or just an online persona of his that is unique to said blog.
He argues that racing games are the most successful of this, and work even better with Polygonal Graphics than with sprites.
He has stated that the Super Mario Bros. games haven't worked as well in terms of sales in 3D vs 2D because the games don't play the same. He states that the 2D Mario games are about getting from point A to point B in whatever way you can in the level, and that the 3D games force you to replay levels just to collect things, and that many are more like an obstacle course than the way 2D Mario games play.
He supports this by pointing out that Miyamoto lamented Tamogachi games outsold Super Mario 64.
He also states that Zelda games could have worked, but that it went downhill since the overworld of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was undone by dungeons that played more like obstacle courses and puzzle-fests than the exploration and combat of previous Zelda games. He doesn't think The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will actually change this (although he hoped it would for a time).
"What aspiring game makers can learn from Nicalus is that you cannot judge whether your game is good until you sell it because sales determine the quality of the product. There, I said it. I expect 500 emails reacting to that comment alone."
When it comes to games, he often admits games that don't sell well can still be good, but are full of tiny to major flaws that prevent them from having mass market appeal.
For games that have large sales, but he says aren't quality, his argument is that those games have large sales upon release, but do not have sustained sales after that (known as "legs"), which means they sold at first due to hype, but when word of mouth kicks in, the sales drop off after a few weeks, as he noted specifically with Heavy Rain. He argues that most HD games lack legs and that is the reason few of them are truly good.
Shown Their Work: Malstrom has a surprisingly well-rounded knowledge of the business end of video games.
Unknown Rival: Sean himself has become something like this to Nintendo, most notably to Shigeru Miyamoto, but more conventionally, Michael Pachter.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: In-Universe: He says that ownership of a franchise passes from the developers to the fanbase once the franchise becomes established, and that future iterations of a franchise should consider its existing fans first. If developers want to reach out to new fans, they should create a new IP, not change an existing IP in ways that can alienate the old fans.
Viewers Are Geniuses: Isn't too fond of this when it comes to things that slow the game down and force players to find out what the developers are thinking. This especially applies to Solve the Soup Cans style puzzles.
You Keep Using That Word: He's very clear that "casual gaming" was just made up to try to explain why those in the gaming community couldn't understand the success of the DS and the Wii. He also called out Michael Pachter for using an obscure definition of "secular."