Michael Pachter who? and Cooking Mama

I have been in the video game industry for more than 25 years.  Not only professionally but also as an avid video game player.  I have a pretty keen sense of what’s good and what’s not in a video game product.  I had several predictions on titles over the years where most other people would have missed some hits.

I am not a professional wall street analyst but feel comfortable going toe to toe with any of them, and especially Michael Pachter from Wedbush.  I have been consulting for about ten years now.  One example of a title that I predicted would be a hit before even reviewers had seen it was the original Cooking Mama by Majesco.  Another was the title Lumines by Ubisoft.  I had to twist arms at the now defunct Virgin Entertainment to take this title and it was a success and they were glad that I did push so hard. 

I am passionate about all kinds of Entertainment including movies, television, books, music and of course video games.  I am by far most knowledgeable on video games and consider myself an expert in this field.  Therefore, I feel more than qualified to speak on the subject. 

As a director of merchandising for Baker & Taylor I was privileged to be invited to Majesco’s offices to preview this quirky game called Cooking Mama.

I always liked the folks at Majesco and had tremendous respect for them, but when they  first brought this game out and mentioned the title I sort of mentally rolled my eyes thinking WTF?  I of course was polite and did not show any of this outwardly.  I kept a perfect poker face, but inside I really was thinking, what the heck am I doing here?  But after just a few moments with the game I got very excited and told them, you guys have a huge hit on your hands.  The funny thing was that even they had modest expectations and looked at me like I was insane.

Yeah folks I am crazy!  Crazy like a fox.

So we now get to Mr. Pachter.  While I believe his heart is in the right place and I sometimes agree with his assessments, I firmly believe he is wrong much more often than he is right.  Lately he is practically predicting Nintendo’s demise.  Stating that they are “toast” and that the Wii U will fail.

We have all heard this before folks.  If you go back to the time of the GameCube and before the release of the Wii, pretty much all the industry “pundits” like Mr. Pachter were predicting Nintendo’s death and even stating that Nintendo should become a software only company like Sega.  Well at that time I remember very well a statement made by Nintendo’s president which I will paraphrase here.

“The day Nintendo exits the hardware business will be the day Nintendo exits the video game business”  Essentially Nintendo understood then and does now the benefit of controlling the hardware so that they not only profit from their own software but they receive a cut of software from all the licensees.

Then of course the Wii came out and was a smash success and what a surprise, all the pundits now loved Nintendo again.  Both Sony and Microsoft who had derided Nintendo for their motion control, have now both released competing products with Sony Move and Microsoft’s Kinect. How does that saying go? 

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

So now we fast forward to 2012 and yes Nintendo is going through some struggles.  No company is perfect, and we learn from our mistakes.  However what I firmly believe is lost on Mr. Pachter is the fact that content is king.  Nintendo has one of the most impressive if not the most impressive library of popular characters and content of any of the video game companies.  They have a goldmine of content to mine now and for many years to come.

Here are just a few Nintendo characters/products:

1.  Zelda and Link

2.  Donkey Kong

3.  Kid Icarus

4.  Metroid and Samus

5.  Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser

I could go on, but you get the idea.  Here is my prediction:  Nintendo launches Wii U with one or more of their classic characters and people line up to be the first to play the latest version of: Insert your favorite here.

If Nintendo can, and I firmly believe that they can, continue to create compelling experiences utilizing their unparalleled content then consumers will continue to buy their consoles.  Nintendo has been around since the 1800’s, yes you read that right!  You can Google the details for yourself, but they started out making playing cards.

The experts have counted Nintendo out before and found out just how wrong they were.  I will agree with one criticism of Nintendo which is that they were slow to embrace the online component.  Nintendo does things on their schedule and while we may not always agree, eventually Nintendo comes around and they usually catch up.  Also Nintendo has one of the strongest brand identities of any company including some major brands like Pepsi and Coke.

One other factor that I believe is being discounted by Mr. Pachter and others in the industry is the fierce loyalty that video game players have towards their brand, and I would argue that the Nintendo fan boys are the most vocal and loyal.  Although from this blog post it may seem that I also am simply a Nintendo fan boy, I am and have always been platform agnostic.  I have multiple game systems and also play games on Android, iPod Touch, iPad and still go back to playing Atari.

Having said that though, over my 25 years of experience in this industry I have seen Nintendo time and time again come from behind successfully.

Nintendo is very much like the story of the tortoise and the hare.

Bottom line in my opinion Mr. Pachter is way off.

You can NEVER count Nintendo out.

Watch and see folks.

Carpe Diem,


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7 Responses to Michael Pachter who? and Cooking Mama

  1. Michael Pachter has lost an amazing amount of credibility with his statements lately, people have pretty much taken it as fact that competitors and detractors are putting words and money into his mouth (even if it isn’t the case, I’m not really sure myself).

    • mjpolack says:

      Hey Guardian,

      Appreciate the comment and feedback. All I know for certain is that he really tends to be more wrong than right. I don’t know him personally and have no ax to grind, I just don’t like it when people get paid sick amounts of money and don’t seem to actually earn it. I have worked with many analysts and I think most of them are much better than Pachter but they are not nearly as well known.

  2. Vlad says:

    Great article, bro. What people tend to overlook is the fact that it’s not Nintendo who is catching up, but actually all the others. Microsoft and Sony are great followers but they all just play by the rules created by Nintendo in the first place. They have one core mistake: they create videogames. While Nintendo creates new experiences. The others just exploit the market and tools created by Nintendo and do so till they become overused and trite. And then Nintendo comes up with something new and suddenly the industry is alive again. Look at Microsoft and Sony: what they call video game consoles are quickly turning into plain pc-like media consuming hubs, converging with standard PCs. I will not be surprised if Nintendo remains the only true video game console maker in a couple of gens.

    • mjpolack says:

      Vlad thanks for the kind words. Great comment, very well articulated. You are right on the money that Nintendo is easily one of the most innovative companies. I actually like what Microsoft and Sony are doing and love the fact that my game system can do more, but at the end of the day it’s all about content and game play. It’s okay for me if a game system does more so long as we do not lose sight of the primary objective of a game system. Nintendo understands better than anyone it’s all about FUN. Period. Graphics, sound effects etc. are meaningless if the games are not fun.

  3. I know we spoke about this yesterday, but I wanted to leave a public comment as well. I agree that Pachter can be wrong and it sometimes feels like he is more wrong than right, but I agree that Nintendo has some troubling (by Nintendo’s own standards) times ahead of them.

    The brilliance of the Wii is that EVERYBODY bought one. Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles, Brothers and Sisters and then schools started buying them and then hospitals and nursing homes…the list of non-traditional demographics could go on and on. Simply put, I don’t see these institutions buying the WiiU. I certainly don’t see every relative of every video game playing kid in America buying one like they did on the Wii.

    I had the personal pleasure of being hands-on with the WiiU at e3 2011. It isn’t that cool. I used the word “cool” specifically because thats exactly what it needs to be to sell on the same level of the Wii. It isn’t and therefore it won’t.

    I don’t disagree at all that Nintendo has the strongest line up of IP’s in the industry. Nobody else has a Mario, let alone the secondary properties like Kirby, Pokemon or Kid Icarus, etc…

    Nintendo will absolutely have a great sales year and I’m sure the launch will be crazy, but Nintendo will short the market like they always do and there will be bedlam at every retailer for the immediate weeks after launch, but what will it sell after Christmas and further to my point, two or three years after release. If I’m Microsoft and Sony, I couldn’t be happier with the direction Nintendo is taking and if I was a Nintendo shareholder, I’d 100% be dumping my stock the week after the launch of WiiU.

    One last thought… I’ve always thought of the Wii as a terrible platform for playing games. I still do. I couldn’t understand why people came in droves to buy the Wii. This past October I purchased 35,000 units for the “Evil Empire” and we were sold out the week after Black Friday. Why? I know why…at least I think I do, but I still don’t understand it. Probably never will. I have 2 sons aged 9 and 11 and they never touch the will and if they do, its to play bowling on Wii Sports or occasionally Smash Bros. If anybody stands to lose from the launch of WiiU it is 3rd party publishing. Though, you can’t lose what you don’t already have and they certainly don’t have any sales on the Wii. I guess the better way to phrase it was who doesn’t have anything to gain…3rd party publishing. That’s who.


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