Forums - Nintendo Discussion - Is ARMS a failure, or not?

TheMisterManGuy said:
Jumpin said:

1. You’re stretching by trying to equate an online feature being active for 2 years before stopping to be 2 years of support. The last real dev support ended in January 2018. An initial marketing push is not a result of success, it is an attempt at it.

If they were still promoting and running Party Crash events, then they were still supporting the game. That still takes resources, staff, and coordinators to do.

2. If the goal was to show off the joy cons’ motion controls, as you say, then they failed for the reasons I already stated. When success looks like in that regard are the 20M+ selling motion games on Wii and driving the sales of tens of millions of consoles, a follow up selling a mere 2.1M and not creating any kind of significant sales wave can’t be regarded as successful.

You forget that

A.) ARMS is more "core" oriented than games like Wii Sports or Wii Play.

B.) Wii Sports and Wii Play came with Hardware. Wii Play sold because it came with a Wii Remote, not because it was a great game. Wii Sports came with the Wii itself.

ARMS was always going to do less than those games because of those factors. That said, on its own merits, it was still a very successful game for what it set out to do. By your logic. 1-2 Switch was also a colossal failure because it didn't do the numbers of Wii Play or Wii Sports, never mind the fact that it wasn't a pack in with anything, or that it was $50. By the standards of a standalone release, ARMS did very well.

3. Despite what you may think about Nintendo, their resources are not boundless when we’re talking about the devs that work on their core strategic titles. If it were a matter of spending some of the billions of dollars Nintendo has to push out some extra game, they wouldn’t have used their core devs. They would have used one of their lesser teams, bought a new team, or contracted a third party. Instead, they used the devs that made Wii-series and Mario Kart: games that have sold between 20 and 80 million+ and have been core to driving millions to tens of millions of console sales. These employees are a finite and extraordinarily valuable resource, not devs they use to push out titles with the expectation to only sell a couple million.

You make it sound like Nintendo is a struggling indie studio who needs to focus on the big titles to make it by. They're not. They're a multi-billion dollar company with nearly a thousand developers at their disposal, all supporting a platform with over 40 million users worldwide. They're a big company, they have the resources to make games that don't do Mario and Zelda numbers, yet still be profitable. Again, May I remind you that this is the same company that still continues to put out Pikmin and Rhythm Heaven games in-house despite never breaking past 1 million copies?

Nintendo's developers should be free to make whatever they want to make so long as its profitable. If the team wants to make another ARMS game, then they should have the ability to make another ARMS game. Don't you want developers to make the games THEY want to make?

Nintendo made no strategic gains: no millions of extra consoles sold, no new markets created, no new massive 10M+ franchise established. If none of these things were a goal for Nintendo with this title, they’d not have used these particular resources for it. Especially in the launch period of one of their important consoles.

ARMS filled a niche early in the Switch's life. It was a non-Smash Fighting game with a unique premise that showed what the Joy-Con can do for traditional game genres, and sold well on the then very limited Switch userbase. A sequel will obviously be expected to sell more now due to more competition and a larger userbase. But for a launch window title, 2.1 million copies is very good.

1. Maintaining a feature is not new dev support, that support ended in January 2018. I'll also note the feature in question received an early cancellation which is an indication of failure. It seems silly to put in a feature for a launch game that would be inactive after 2 years.

2. I didn't forget those two things you brought up, I just don't see their relevance to the argument. Explaining why ARMS wasn't as successful doesn't change the fact that ARMS wasn't successful. But I'll break it down regardless since there are some other flaws in your reasoning, and I wanted to point those out:

2A. You state ARMS is a more "core oriented" than Wii motion games. That hasn't stopped Breath of the Wild, another launch window game, from shattering records and continuing to sell millions of units years after release.

2B. If you're going to argue that selling with the hardware is the reason motion games were more successful, you'll have to argue that these games weren't the reason for the success of the Wii. And that reason doesn't work for Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus, or Wii Sports Resort (each selling above 20 million) - which while they all often came with additional peripherals, were not required for other games.

In the end, attempting to explain the reasons why ARMS was unable to sell (even if you weren't accurate) does not change the fact that it was unable to sell.

Saying that by my logic 1-2 Switch is also a failure is a meaningless statement. 

2E. If 1-2 Switch failed to meet its business goals, then yes, by my logic 1-2 Switch is a failure. And?

3. Pointing out that Nintendo's resources are not boundless and, that despite having billions of dollars, their core resources are finite is not in any way making them sound like a "struggling indie." That's a really silly thing for you to say. Please refrain from making up your own version of my argument and stick to addressing what I have written.

Yes, you mentioned Rhythm Heaven and Pikmin. Pointing out other games with low sales doesn't make ARMs successful.

You go on to claim that Nintendo devs are allowed to do whatever they want as long as it's profitable. Where do you get this from? All this tells me is that you have no idea how businesses work; let alone larger ones such as Nintendo. There are process frameworks and pipelines with checks, greenlights, strategic business goals, and staff resource assignments.

What kind of question is asking if I don't want developers to make games that they want? Frankly, I don't see the relevance of your question. But, for the record, I would hope the development staff is working what they're assigned to do; otherwise, it would be chaotic and nothing would get done. If they don't want to work on these projects, then they probably shouldn't be working for Nintendo.

Moving on to the last bit:

4. Nintendo wasn't trying to fill a niche. This game came directly out of their experimentation during the Wii era. They have auxiliary dev teams and third parties to handle the filling of niches. The MO for early core dev team software is to seek out an ocean, not a pond.

5. You then argue that their goal was to show what motion controls can do for a traditional genre. I thought we already put this motion control nonsense to bed by pointing out that if it were the case, it wasn't very successful because people began to ignore the motion controls, and sales of the game remained very low for Nintendo's motion games. But you moved the goalpost and stated it was a traditional game with motion controls. Mario Galaxy is a good example of a game that successfully showed the integration of motion controls into a traditional game. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, also did this to a lower degree of success, but much more success than ARMS. 

6. You say 2.1 million for a launch window game is a lot. Perhaps if it was for some auxiliary or third party, but this is Nintendo EPD: for them, the 14m+ for Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 19m+ for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a lot. 2.1 million is utterly unimpressive. Aside from those unimpressive sales, ARMS is a game whose marketing shows exactly what Nintendo hoped to achieve with it, and it failed to do that.

To sum it all up: for the most part, your post was an exercise in describing why ARMS sold well then used that as a justification for lowering the bar of success. Giving reasns WHY something fails doesn't mean it didn't fail. But even in those explanations, your points all fell apart in light of the strong counter-examples of games having great to unprecedented success while given the same so-called disadvantages.

The other tactic you attempted was red herrings: "What about game B's bad sales?" and "Don't you want them to make what they want?" which don't add relevant information. To point out an analogy: if Finland fails in round 1 of the ice hockey tournament, pointing out that Egypt failed too isn't an argument that Finland succeeded their goal in winning the ice hockey tournament.

It's a copout to exempt the game from: A. achieving any of Nintendo's business goals, and B. sales comparison with the other Nintendo EPD/EAD home console games.

Last edited by Jumpin - on 06 November 2019

I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

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Deeds said:

Why do people keep bringing up whether Arms failed or not?? It this some weird meme?

Yes. I hear it a lot from Smash Bros people but I think that's because those folks have become almost hostile to anything Nintendo. I remember seeing a thread on r/NintendoSwitch and seeing a lot of people saying they enjoy it.

As far as "Will the game get a sequel", most likely yes. Keep in mind Pikmin got a sequel and sold about half of what ARMS did. Sequels are cheaper to make than a completely new game. This is, in part, how we're getting BoTW2. Moreover, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sells so well that there is no reason to introduce a new Mario Kart yet (likely they'll wait till close to the end of the console's life to give it a late shot in the arm). 



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VideoGameAccountant said:
Deeds said:

Why do people keep bringing up whether Arms failed or not?? It this some weird meme?

Yes. I hear it a lot from Smash Bros people but I think that's because those folks have become almost hostile to anything Nintendo. I remember seeing a thread on r/NintendoSwitch and seeing a lot of people saying they enjoy it.

As far as "Will the game get a sequel", most likely yes. Keep in mind Pikmin got a sequel and sold about half of what ARMS did. Sequels are cheaper to make than a completely new game. This is, in part, how we're getting BoTW2. Moreover, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sells so well that there is no reason to introduce a new Mario Kart yet (likely they'll wait till close to the end of the console's life to give it a late shot in the arm). 

That might be true for some, but as the most prominent voice (at least, from what I can see) for the "Arms was a failure" side of the argument, I can tell you this much about myself:

1. I'm no fan of Smash Bros. If you look back through my posts on the topic, you'll probably find that the only two updates I appreciated from that series since the original Smash Bros on N64 were: A. Cloud, B. Subspace Emissary.

2. I am certainly not hostile against Nintendo. But I don't hesitate to criticize Nintendo for things they do that I don't like, I also have not played on competing hardware (outside of the Vita, which I used exclusively as a handheld PSX, not for actual Vita games) since the Assassin's Creed 2/FF13 era. I also don't hesitate to point out Nintendo's failures. I'm a gigantic fan of Nintendo, and have been for decades, but not a culty fanboy -- although I admittedly was during the SNES era... and probably had some meltdown explosions when FF7 went to Playstation.

3. I am a big fan of Arms. I probably posted more about the game in these forums than anyone else, and perhaps more in-depth too.

4. When looking for objective criteria for a Nintendo EPD game's measure of success, I feel that there's a significant degree of dishonesty and fanboy bias here. People aren't looking at a set of criteria to measure success by, but rather a set of criteria that can make an unsuccessful game look otherwise successful. They divorce the sales number from the fact that EPD developed it; isolate it from Nintendo's core strategy, from their core expenses, and core resources. What this does is instead of establishing criteria to measure success by, they instead create a new set of rules by which they can force the game into the success pile 100%: "It was a launch window game; therefore sales are supposed to be lower" "It was a new franchise. Therefore sales are supposed to be lower," "Ignore the marketing pitch and interviews because that's not important," "It is more core of a game; therefore, sales are supposed to be lower," etc... Though, as my last post pointed out, these points are complete nonsense as there are numerous examples of games from the launch window, belonging to a new franchise, and from "core" gameplay elements (such a silly phrase Nintendo fans have adopted) that manage to hit the goals of their marketing pitches and sell 10M+. 

Nintendo EPD is Nintendo's core development studio; they're the ones who drive the hardware sales, who drive Nintendo's business strategy on the software front, who fish for new blue ocean markets. To set the bar for this studio's success to such a low level is an absurdity.

Anyway, enough of me ranting on and on.

T:DR - I'm a huge Nintendo fan, I'm not some biased Smash Bros player, and I'm a fan of Arms. I see a lot of reason to assert that Arms, the lowest selling Nintendo EPD game outside of Labo, hit very well below the bar of success.



I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.