Ask Emily — 11.28.2014 (Saints Row, Binding of Isaac, and Bad Indie Games)

ask emilyI hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

This weekly mailbag feature is called “Ask Emily” where I’ll answer questions that people email or tweet me.  This feature is also a good way for me to offer my opinions on different things without writing 20,000 word articles.

Do you have questions to send me?  Send your questions to  For the email subject line, please write “Ask Emily” so I know it’s for this feature.  Side note: If you send me an email with any attachments (pictures or files) then your email will not be opened or read, and it will be automatically deleted.

You can also tweet me questions for this feature at my Twitter account @Emi1yRogers.  If you tweet me a question, please use the hashtag #AskEmily so I can keep track of everyone’s questions.

If I don’t answer your question this week, then there’s a chance that I’ll answer it next week or the week after.  Sometimes I like to save certain questions for other weeks.  Also, there are some questions that I won’t be able to answer because I don’t actually have answers for them, or I’m still waiting to get answers from people close to the situation.  Furthermore, there might be questions that I have already answered in a previous “Ask Emily” feature. Keeping all of this in mind, I’ll do my best to respond to as many people as I can.


How come we’ve never seen Grand Theft Auto or Saint’s Row on a Nintendo home console?  — Jeremy Krohl (Email)

Back in 2011, Nintendo of America was VERY determined to make Wii U a “hardcore gamer’s console”, and they were pushing THQ to bring all of their M-rated games to Wii U.  THQ and Nintendo had many meetings about bringing more adult-oriented content to the console. Let’s not forget that former THQ Vice President Danny Bilson was very pro-Nintendo.  Remember, it was Bilson who helped convince Itagaki to bring Devil’s Third to Wii U as an exclusive.

Here’s a story that I never shared before.

Before THQ went bankrupt, Volition were given Wii U development kits to evaluate the possibility of porting a Saint’s Row game to the console. Many of Volition’s employees were Nintendo fans, and there was some interest in bringing Saints Row to a Nintendo console. They did run some tests to see if a Saints Row game could actually work on Wii U. Unfortunately, Volition ultimately decided against it even though they had the development kits. Key members of their tech team (and higher up executives) didn’t have faith that it would be worth their time to port to a Nintendo console.

Porting the game to Wii U would have required special case work done at the engine level. Which isn’t impossible, but they didn’t have enough staff to make those changes. Around that time, Volition only had a little over 100 people with three platforms to develop a game for. It wasn’t like Ubisoft who has ten studios and 1,000’s of employees to work on Watch_Dogs for six different platforms.

So, the Wii U development kits sat there in Volition collecting dust. Keep in mind that this was before the Wii U had launched.


Will Nintendo ever loosen up on their policies regarding religion?  Is Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ever coming to Nintendo platforms? — Joseph M. (Email)

As long as everything goes smoothly, Nintendo fans should hear some good news in the future regarding Binding of Isaac. The key phrase here is: “As long as everything goes smoothly”.

Because we’re all still waiting for 90’s Arcade Racer from Nicalis, which was originally suppose to release on Wii U in mid 2014.  Also, it’s been five months since Nicalis announced that 1001 Spikes was getting an Off-screen play patch that would also fix major bugs.  Whatever happened to that patch?


Do you see Wii U’s hardware sales improving in 2015?  – Kedanna007 (Email)

Typically, most consoles reach their peak in sales during their third year, so I think it’s safe to say that we can expect something similar with Wii U in 2015. By the end of 2015, most of Nintendo’s best selling (and most important) franchises would have been released on the console. (Examples: 2D Mario, 3D Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, Donkey Kong Country, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Mario Party, Yoshi, Kirby, Pikmin, Wii Sports, Wii Fit)

If all of these first party games can’t convince Nintendo fans to buy a Wii U, then there’s a good chance that nothing will.

My prediction: Wii U’s install base won’t reach 15 million units worldwide until 2017.  As of September 30, 2014, Wii U has shipped 7.29 million units worldwide.  Three million of that 7.29 million came from Wii U’s first two months of launch back in 2012.  That means 41% of Wii U’s worldwide hardware sales came from the last two months of 2012.

Unless amiibo takes off like a rocket, I’m not going to expect miracles any time soon for Wii U.

want to be wrong on this because Wii U is a good console with a solid library of first party titles and indie games.


Why do you think Nintendo is targeting the female market for their games, and when do you think that became their focus? — KingBroly  (Twitter)

Analysts believe that Nintendo should leave consoles and make smartphone games. Nintendo’s President Satoru Iwata says women are the core users of smartphone games.  Mr. Iwata believes that if they can attract women to Nintendo’s products, then smartphones won’t eliminate the need of consoles, and then analysts will stop begging Nintendo to make mobile games.

Here is Satoru Iwata in 2013 talking about why 19-to-24 year old women are the “smart phone people”.

“The common argument going on right now is that since smart phones exist, there’s no need for specialised game machines anymore, right? But, these 19 to 24 year old women are the ‘smart phone people’. We often say that casual female users do not need specialised gaming machines, but here we see them reconfirming the value of those systems.” — Satoru Iwata

Here’s a quote from Satoru Iwata in 2013 when talking about Animal Crossing’s popularity with women.

“People often debate whether Smartphones will eliminate the need of consoles for gaming. When you look at these numbers, women of ages 19 to 24 are some of the core users of Smartphone games. They say casual female gamers don’t need a console, but after seeing these [Animal Crossing] figures, we’d really like to reconsider that and the true value of console gaming.” exclaimed Satoru Iwata.”

In other words, Nintendo is trying to capture the female market so they can AVOID making games for smartphones.  If they fail to capture the female audience, then investors and analysts will keep pushing for Nintendo to go mobile.  This is why I wrote that article about why young adult women will decide Nintendo’s future.

Some recent examples of Nintendo aggressively targeting females:

  • QOL (Quality of Life) devices will most likely be targeted at a large female audience.
  • New 3DS commercials in Japan target young girls (Watch here)
  • Nintendo UK launched the Nintendo Girls Club channel on YouTube (Watch here)
  • Tomadachi Life commercial targets girls (Watch here)
  • The Squid girls in Splatoon
  • There’s at least 9 playable characters in Hyrule Warriors that are female
  • This Smash Bros 3DS commercial is girl focused (Watch here)
  • In this amiibo commercial, the female is the one who teaches a boy how to be a Smash Bros/amiibo master (Watch here)


I’m happy that Nintendo is embracing independent developers, but I’m afraid that it will open the doors to a lot of garbage games.  Should Nintendo fans be worried about the future of the eShop when it’s flooded with subpar games like The Letter and Arrow Time U? Whatever happened to Nintendo’s Seal of Quality? — Kevin P. (Email)

The Nintendo Seal of Quality isn’t about assuring that the product has met a quality standard, but rather simply confirms that it is licensed and distributed by Nintendo. There was a lot of shovelware on the first Wii that had the Seal of Quality too. In regards to indie games, the only quality control that Nintendo should be doing is ensuring the bad games can’t damage your Wii U.

Some people want it both ways.  They want Nintendo to be more indie friendly, but those same people are complaining about quality control. Your company can’t be “indie developer friendly” if you’re going to prevent anything that doesn’t meet a certain standard.

It’s not Nintendo’s job to decide what is a good or bad game.  That is for the market to decide by voting with their wallets.  People laugh at “The Letter”, but that game sold really well. “The Letter” became so legendary for being a poor game that people started buying it to see how bad it really was. Remember that movie, “The Room” where it was so bad that it sold out of every time they showed it? The Letter is very similar to that situation. Let’s not forget that Nintendo receives a percentage of The Letter’s sales so they’re definitely not complaining either.

Nintendo use to make a lot of money (royalties/licensing fees) from retail shovelware on Wii and DS. But compared to the Wii days, there isn’t much shovelware coming to the retail side of Wii U. To compensate for this, they will allow almost any indie game on the Wii U eShop unless it’s super offensive or controversial.

Here is why low quality indie games won’t damage the eShop’s reputation:

In most cases, you will not see games appear on the Wii U eShop’s front page  if they don’t meet a certain standard of quality. It’s highly unlikely that Nintendo will highlight a game like “Meme Run” on the front page. Also, they are less likely to promote games on the front page that don’t have a certain amount of hype or press coverage (like Shovel Knight).  By the way, if your game never appears on the front page, then that could potentially be the kiss of the death for your game’s sales.  I know this because I’ve seen the weekly sales for many eShop games.

Here are some games that I’ve never seen promoted on the Wii U eShop’s front page in North America.

  • The Letter
  • Flapp and Zegeta
  • Percy’s Predicament
  • BrickBlast U
  • Arrow Time U
  • Zacisa’s Last Stand
  • Turtle Tale
  • Shut the Box
  • IQ Test
  • Spikey Walls
  • Red Riding Hood
  • My Style Studio: Hair Salon
  • I’ve Got To Run
  • Poker Dice Solitaire Future

You will only find most of these games through the “Indie Games” category, the “Price Drops” category, or the “Search” feature.  But it’s very rare to see an actual banner for these games anywhere on the front page of the eShop.  If these games didn’t have Miiverse communities, most people wouldn’t even know they existed.

This is only my personal opinion, and not based on any facts, but I don’t think Nintendo has a ton of confidence in most Web Framework games. They would rather promote 20-year-old Virtual Console games on the front page than most Web Framework games. There are a few exceptions like X-Type Plus, which Nintendo Life called the “Citizen Kane” of Web Framework games.  I have seen that game promoted on the eShop’s front page.


How do you feel about Nintendo regarding Black Friday sales and promotions?   — Andy K.  (Email)

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, but most major U.S. retailers are treating Wii U like it doesn’t even exist.

Walmart is the largest discount retailer in the United States. Here are their Black Friday ads (click here). Do you see much promotion for Wii U in these ads? Most of the ad space is devoted to PlayStation and Xbox. There is also a good deal of ad space for Skylanders and Disney Infinity, but nothing for amiibo.

Target is the second largest discount retailer in the United States. Here are their Black Friday ads (click here). Most of the ad space is devoted to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and 3DS. Target gave more Black Friday ad space to the $179 Xbox 360 (a ten year old console) than they did for the Wii U. They devoted most of a page to Skylanders AND Disney Infinity, but there’s no mention of “amiibo” anywhere in these ads.

Now let’s talk about Best Buy’s Black Friday deal.

For $360, Best Buy is selling a Wii U Deluxe Bundle w/ Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo Land, Smash Bros, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.  At first glance, you might think that this is some amazing deal because it’s bundled with four games.

Here is what these items would cost individually without Best Buy’s deal:

  • Wii U Deluxe Bundle w/ Super Mario 3D World & Nintendo Land  —  $300
  • Super Smash Bros for Wii U — $60
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze — Amazon/Walmart are both currently selling this for $42

At the end of the day, consumers are only saving less than $50 on Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. It’s still a really good deal if you want a Wii U for Smash Bros, but I wouldn’t really call it “impressive”.


What is Wii U’s biggest game in 2015? —  KateyBird2998 (Email)

The biggest potential surprise hit in 2015 could be Splatoon, but that depends on whether Nintendo can properly communicate the game’s appeal to kids.  Marketing has not been Nintendo’s strength for the past two years in my opinion.

Splatoon has all of the right ingredients for a successful game.

1) It’s colorful.

2) It falls into the competitive shooter genre. Kids like shooters.

3) It has online and local multiplayer.

4) It has a single player campaign mode.

5) It *might*  incorporate amiibo features into it.

In terms of sales, there is only one thing going against Splatoon:  It’s not Mario.

Currently, four out of the six best selling Wii U games have something Mario related in them, including Nintendo Land.  (Source)


You’ve been watching all of the comic book shows this year. Why do you think Constantine is doing so poorly in the ratings?  — Andy R. (Email)

Constantine needs to air at a better night and time than Friday nights at 10 pm EST.  Who really watches television on Friday nights? I know NBC wants to pair this show with Grimm (which also airs on Friday nights) but I can’t see how this will work out in the long run.

Fox has been very smart with Gotham.  Gotham airs on Monday nights when most people watch television like WWE Raw, Monday Night Football, The Big Bang Theory, etc.  Even AMC realizes that Monday nights are becoming big for television, and that’s why “Better Call Saul” (the “Breaking Bad” spinoff) will be airing every Monday night.  All of the other comic book shows (The Flash, Arrow, AoS) air on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

With that said, I do hope NBC will give Constantine another season because we need MORE comic book TV shows, not less.  Constantine is a fun show that deserves time to improve, and I hope it will continue.

Some other thoughts:

  • The Flash is the most consistent in quality out of all of the D.C. comic book shows.
  • The first half of Arrow’s season 3 feels like a step down from season 2.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D season 2 is a big step up over the first season.
  • Really excited for Agent Carter this January.
  • I think I’ll write something about Gotham after the season is over. (Surprisingly, I’m really digging it so far. Yeah, it’s a corny show, but I find something amusing/entertaining about it. I know you CW bros don’t want to hear that.)

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