Nintendo released a Direct this week focusing on this year’s Wii U releases. It quickly mentioned a Pokemon digital release game called Pokemon Rumble U.
I’m not a fan of the Rumble series, which is a melee-based action game, but I am a fan of the traditional Pokemon role playing game series. When I saw the announcement, learned about their strategy and pricing, a red flag rose in my mind. I totally saw a missed opportunity. The game, which is the third in the series, will release on the Wii U for around $20. It will allow gamers to play all 649 Pokemon on August 29th. NFC (Near field communication) figures will be available to unlock characters and content at only $4 a piece. Basically, figures are placed near the NFC chip on the gamepad to register on screen.
Clearly, this is Nintendo’s version of Skylanders or Disney Infinity, but something isn’t right. Rumble U is Nintendo’s first Pokemon game in HD. It’s disappointing that we’re not getting a more interesting title, like a full-fledged HD Pokemon RPG. Then again, it’s a smart business move since the game is easy to produce quickly and can generate dollars for the Wii U.
Problems still remain, however. For one, there is no disk-based version, only digital. A disk version would look nice on the small shelve space for the Wii U.
The disk-based version could be $10 more at only $30. Nintendo is even doing this for the already released Super Luigi U. The game launched digitally in June, and the disk-based version is releasing this Month at only $10 more.
If a disk version of Pokemon Rumble U were released, uninformed consumers perhaps considering a Wii U purchase would see that a Pokemon game is available. A nice attractive case may have created a bit more value to the lineup, despite Rumble U being a lackluster game. It’s the Pokemon franchise that’s attractive and sells, after all. Also, Skylanders has made $18 trillion with its figurines, so if anyone can take advantage of the NFC figurine craze, it’s Disney and Nintendo. Disney is already doing so, taking the Skylanders’s formula to Disney-Hell and back with innovation with the release of Disney Infinity.
Nintendo is perfect for the NFC job, and Pokemon is the perfect franchise to use it with. Imagine having to buy a figurine at $4 or less to play and have to collect all 649? Skylanders figurines go for about $10 each, depending on where you buy them, so a $4 Pokemon toy is a smart strategy. The Skylanders series also requires a “portal” peripheral to connect the figures with the game using its NFC technology. Rumble U doesn’t require an extra portal, because it can tag straight into the Wii U Gamepad’s NFC chip located in the bottom left hand corner. The lack of a portal makes Rumble U a lot more eye-catching because it allows the game to be much cheaper. The Pokemon toys are also packaged in a way that leaves consumers clueless to which one they’re buying. Think of Pokemon cards in a booster pack; we always wanted a Charizard, but instead got a damn Machamp, always. Seriously.
Having only 18 different figurines available for Pokemon Rumble U rather than a ton more is a missed opportunity for Nintendo’s sales. Making many more figurines could’ve given the Wii U value to parents, children, and hoarders.
Pokemon Rumble may just crumble.