Nintendo is already on the mat. Sony shoved their fingers in Nintendo's nostrils and dragged them screaming up and down the block. Microsoft scurried over to their whimpering, bloody body and stole their lunch money. Nintendo blubbered something about the supremacy of the Game Boy, but now they have their first real competition in years and a user base that's ten years older than they realize.

The saddest part of all this is that Nintendo knows it. Some of them do, anyway. You just need to read their awful press release for the Game Boy Micro; it tells the tale. Right at the end of the first paragraph, Nintendo's own marketing people issue their cry for help: "In an instant it attracts attention and positions the image-conscious player as someone on the cutting edge of cool." As soon as your marketing department flat-out says, "Hey kids, our product is cool!" it's time to sell the stock short. The first rule of marketing is you don't say you're cool; you show your product with cool people, cool music, or cool imagery and let the consumer fill in the blanks. But no, Nintendo marketing rants ever on: "Because of its diminutive size and industrial-hip look, Game Boy Micro immediately identifies the person playing it as a trendsetter with discriminating style." It's tiny, "allowing it to sit comfortably alongside today's hippest technological gadgets."

Nintendo's marketing department is the canary in the coal mine. They're losing the war and they're desperate and they no longer care who knows it.

It breaks your damn heart.

When gamers celebrate the fact that gaming has gone mainstream, that it's everywhere, they're dancing on Nintendo's grave. They're rejoicing in a future of narrowly defined genres: the shooter, the stealth action, the character platformer. They're laughing at the burning wreckage of Feel the Magic: XY/XX and Nintendogs and Odama. They're whipping out their PSP and playing "Tony Hawk: Back For More Cash" and saying look at the screen, look at the graphics, isn't it pretty, and so familiar. They'll eat at McDonald's and shop at Wal-Mart and listen to The Killers and wear their Hot Topic. And ten years from now, some guy like me will write an article about "Remember Game Boy?", and that'll be that.


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