RPG Analysis

Posted on Jan 15th 2015 at 12:00:00 AM by (Fleach)
Posted under Collecting, Zelda, Majoras Mask, N64, 3DS, Nintendo, Remake, HD

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask strayed from well-established game elements. It was darker, creepier, and more foreboding. Imminent danger was always staring down upon young Link, which created a sense of finality; and the clock ticked away the hours to remind players of the urgency of their adventure. The game was fantastic and now we can play it in glorious (or not) updated stereoscopic graphics.

Originally released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000, Majora's Mask quickly became a favorite among series fans. Despite not attaining the popularity of its predecessors, like Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, this darker, more mature game certainly didn't feel like a Zelda game. This deviation from tired conventions contributed to the game's overall positive reception and solidified its status as a cult classic.

When looking at the Zelda series, it's telling that Nintendo is capitalizing on nostalgia. In September of 2013, we got to take to the seas and relive Link's adventure in the HD remaster of the bright and colourful Wind Waker. Before that, Nintendo brought us back to Hyrule Field with Ocarina of Time 3D. New ideas continue to come out of Nintendo, but they know that they have a safe alternative with all the classics that many gamers played in their youth. Even the Virutal Console is home to many 16-bit gems. But there's something about Nintendo's nostalgia trip that has many people wondering: "What's with the secrecy until the very last minute?"

The Zelda series re-release of the updated Ocarina of Time excited many Nintendo devotees. This hallmark game was perceived to be an omen for more remastered versions of fan favourites. If the first N64 Zelda got the 3D treatment, surely its successor would, right? That's when things became vague.

Source: IGN

Fans spotted teasers like this one in Link Between Worlds and then speculation ran rampant over the internet. Even before this, in 2012 director Eiji Aonuma said that a remake of Majora's Mask was considered "not an impossibility." Let's not forget , which made many believe that the game was being redeveloped for the Wii U. That was the last piece of news or rumor for quite some time. Fans petitioned for an HD update, but Nintendo remained silent. Operation Moonfall, a campaign which gathered signatures of gamers requesting a remake, seemed to fall upon deaf ears.

Then suddenly, during one of their Nintendo Direct addresses, Nintendo announced what many Zelda fans were waiting for, development of a 3DS release of Majora's Mask was under way. What happened next can only be described in three words: "hype" and "let down."

Source: IGN

First it was revealed that Europe was to receive a Collector's Edition. This likely wasn't a surprise; Bayonetta 2 was released with an incredible limited edition in Europe as well. Then listings appeared for Majora's Mask 3D on North American retailers' websites. Certainly this excited a great many people, thought die hard fans still held on to hope that a fancy limited edition would be available State side as well. And sure enough, it was announced to much praise from fans and critics alike, but it was extremely limited. Listings first appeared on Amazon's US site and pre-orders sold out within minutes. Online communities had their share of respectful excitement from those fortunate enough to reserve a copy and bitter resentment from those who missed out. Then another batch was made available for pre-order. Some of the unlucky claimed that resellers and "scalpers" were buying multiple reservations to sell after the game's release with high price mark ups. Some even proclaimed a loss of faith in Nintendo and game retailers.

A Canadian forum for bargain hunters had an interesting discussion regarding the release of this edition of the game.  "Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Limited Edition for NA (with Skull Kid figurine)"

As collectors, we all understand that a limited release of a game will be just that, limited. But in the case of Majora's Mask 3D limited meant store allotments of five copies or less. What could Nintendo be thinking when they release these small batch Collector Editions? Are they testing the water to gauge the profitability of the Zelda franchise? Were they just exploiting what we all learned in high school economics in terms of supply and demand?

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Heard about the New 3DS Majora's Mask Limited Edition today at work. I work from 6-2:30 p.m. mountain time. I even left work early to snag one around 1:00 p.m. and they were gone by the time I could get to Gamestop. How am I ever going to get my hands on amiibos or these types of releases when I am not able to sit around and jump on these opportunities within minutes of them being announced?
Don't forget about the Hyrule Warriors LE that was only available at the Nintendo World Store in NYC, yet was available everywhere in Europe. All that craziness for a scarf...

France is getting the skull kid separately as a pre-order bonus for the system too. Lucky individuals in France get everything all in one bundle when pre-ordering.
I was talking to some others about this yesterday and it really makes no sense in terms of what Nintendo is doing and why they are releasing things in such a limited way. The last time I checked, the purpose of running a business was to make money. Some say that they are afraid that these items, like the 3DS Majora's Mask LE, won't sell enough and they might be afraid of overproducing. I say there's no way Nintendo doesn't understand the rabid market they have created. Like other companies, they evaluate consumer statistics and know, like we all do, that the rise in N64 cartridge prices is due to the N64 generation who are now in the job market and have disposable income. The only reason that I can think that a company would limit the amount of their releases, like certain Amiibos, is to create a frenzy so that they can sell the overproduced characters to buyers who think they might be able to obtain the others at some point.

The reality is that whether intentionally, or unintentionally, Nintendo is creating a market for flippers and not for fans. I can't imagine they don't know what eBay is and haven't seen what's happening.  People continually being unable to obtain the items they seek will ultimately result in two things......bitterness and loss of consumer base. 
You could argue that Nintendo was the company of 2014 by focusing on just releasing good games and having smooth launches. After all the other AAA studios kept making such huge missteps just doing things right and releasing a complete product was all it took to stand taller than the rest. That's a sad state.

So far they've almost burned through the good praise they earned last year, and its only halfway through January. Between this and the newest announcement that the New 3DS in North America will only be the XL versions and people are raising a ruckus. People wanted the face plates that are only available for regular sized New 3DS' in Japan!

With so much more focus on them as a result of last year's performance they've only tripped over themselves, stumbled, and punched themselves in this face. All they've done is completely misread the market and demand for their products. The only real winners are Nintendo fans constantly refreshing pages for new pre-orders, and the scalpers doing the same thing.

Even being a few hours late to the Majora's Mask Limited Edition order meant you were screwed, they were long gone. I really wanted one too.
Well written article, nicely done, and timely too.

As a financially limited video game collector and fan of Nintendo products, I've frowned heavily at the big N lately, but most of these decisions have made far more business sense than being faithful-consumer friendly.

While trying to keep share-holders happy during these post Wii/DS craze years,
It seems Nintendo is trying to keep every head of its hydra content; the franchise fans, potential newcomers, and of course the Dilbert pointy-hairs.

Releasing these recent LEs (Bayonetta, Hyrule Warriors, Z:MM) as actually limited items works perfectly to their advantage.  The vast, vast majority of gamers who eventually pick these up aren't interested in an LE/CE, and by producing just enough to cover the cost of making them (remember, costs are far more than just the physical items; there's the design and art, packaging, logistics for alternate SKUs, etc) Nintendo fires up their fanbase while making their business suits happy that the bottom line stays out of the red from mass producing niche products.  At the same time, limited production guarantees interest and gets people talking about their products, all the while generating sales of other items (the non-LE edition or even other Zelda games.)

It's not loyal-fanbase friendly, and I'm not defending them, just explaining what I assume is their reasoning.  As much as it fumes up forums, the fiscal reality is that Nintendo stands to gain far more profits alienating the relative minority of gamers who know about this (many of who will lose some faith in the company... and eventually buy the game anyway) rather than overproduce and stand to lose money. 

This explains the same logic behind limiting the Wii U Gamecube controller adapter and Amiibos, too.  As a guy who's lost many an 8-player Smash because I kept hitting the wrong buttons on the Pro controller while my buddies were playing the way it was meant to be, as well as trying unsuccessfully to buy a Marth Amiibo from day one just to give to a friend, I've been disappointed myself.

As for the New 3DS only being an XL and without an AC adapter, similar deal.  Their research shows most early purchasers are simply upgrading, which means they can start with the bigger, more expensive model and introduce the regular model for first-time buyers as sales die down.  Keeps the sales more even, and prevents flooding the market and taking a hit through price reduction later (ala original 3DS.)  And in a particularly cheap shot, not including the AC adapter means that folks are far less likely to trade in their original models to upgrade, since places like GameStop require an AC adapter to trade in your old one.  So Nintendo cramps the used market while pinching a few pennies by not including an extra piece of required hardware.  Shrewd and practically consumer antagonistic?  Of course.  Likely to hurt overall sales?  Not as much as we'd like to think.

I work at a big name game retailer, and even I didn't get in on a Z:MM reserve at our store, and that's with my boss trying to help!

Disappointing, but it's business.  The unfortunate reality is that for every one of us who won't buy a Ninty product because of this, there are another hundred who are annoyed but will buy their stuff anyway, and another thousand who are buying and completely unaware any of this is even a thing.

@slackur: I agree with most of what you are saying, but to make such a limited amount of products where you know many more will sell, seems dumb and counterproductive considering the time and effort put in by developers/designers who Nintendo has to pay.  Why not sell what you know will sell, and then go back and produce more if demand is there? Surely the molds and other parts used to make these games/handhelds are still serviceable for more.

A similar thing happens with the new pinball machines that Stern makes. They do a Pro, Premium, and LE edition (and sometimes another very limited edition) for almost every machine, usually taking orders site unseen. As you can imagine, the machine with more toys/more expensive machines are more limited. It boggles my mind that people pay thousands more for many of these because they are limited (same basic gameplay). However, I will say that with some of the better sellers, they have gone back (years later) and done a rerun, or what is basically referred to as a "vault edition," which makes collectors mad, but allows fans to acquire the same game they love at a better price, usually thousands less.

There is no reason for Nintendo to not capitalize on profits other than to simply strut their arrogance in the industry. "See how much they want it." I'm a life long Nintendo fan and I have zero interest in any of these LEs, but I have to say, it bothers me that a company I have supported all of these years is doing this.
You can say what you like, but I personally think NoA is simply mismanaged. NoE and NoJ seem to have none of these issues, and have been very good at supporting their fan base.

Companies exist to earn money. Money is made by selling products. To sell product, you must produce it. Higher demand and lower supply means you raise your prices (not let other people take the profit from you), or you raise supply to meet demand.

I'm glad that I'm not really in the market for most of this stuff (although I really wanted a Bravely Default CE), and watching it happen makes me less interested. Would I really like a Pit Amiibo? Sure. Do I want to put up with any of the crap to get one? Nope. Does that mean that I won't purchase more because I'm not in the store looking at them? Yes.
I agree with Slackur that Nintendo is making sound business decisions but those choices are coming at the expense of their fans. From a businessman's perspective it makes perfect sense. From consumer point of view it's silly. Even though the purpose of a business is to make many pumping out a huge number of expensive to make/market/ship products can be seen as risky because I'm sure Nintendo has a window of time to recoup the costs and if that window is missed then there will be unpleasant meetings in the boardrooms.

Everyone is saying that Nintendo is unintentionally creating a resellers' market. This is kind of true because there will always be people who want to capitalize on hype or nostalgia or what have you. But this could have been avoided by limited the number of units any one person (or address) could pre-order.

I think the one thing that has Nintendo fans all worked up is that they missed pre-order opportunities due to work commitments. Look at the New 3DS XL bundles for example. That Nintendo Direct was at 9am Eastern, stores open at 10am. So as soon as people got the news or finished watching they scrambled to get their orders in. Yes, it is unfair to those who can't drop everything a run to a store and I sincerely hope those people get a second chance. Even if it's a stand-alone Skull Kid figure or Monster Hunter faceplate. Something to take the sting away (even slightly).

There's no right or wrong answer in this debate. I'm enjoying discussing with you guys and reading your points of view.

Do you think Majora's Mask 3D will be the Xenoblade Chronicles of 2015?
Xenoblade Chronicles? do you mean,after it is rare then a magical "stash" from game stop comes out.
@douglie007: That could happen. Only time will tell.

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Role Playing games are my favourite genre of the gaming library. I feel it is appropriate to take a look at the games that have touched me in my time as a gamer and collector and share them with the community. Feel free to discuss your thoughts, ideas, and challenge my opinions. The conversation is welcomed.
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