Video game fans have always been a vocal group and the newly organization 1080up is about to become the most vocal in recent memory. Through the group's website, 1080up.org, they aim to inform Nintendo that the company's core fans want high definition support in the Nintendo Revolution console. As you'll recall, Nintendo recently announced that the Revolution would not ship with HD capability, whereas the upcoming Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 will.
I had the opportunity this past weekend to ask one 1080up's creators, Jeff Rivera, a few questions about the organization's goals and mission. Here's what he had to say.
First, introduce yourself please. Who is Jeff Rivera and what makes him passionate enough about Nintendo to establish 1080up?
My name is Jeff Rivera and I'm one of the creators of 1080up.org. We're a group of gamers that wish to see Nintendo implement HD resolutions into the Revolution. The reason I'm so passionate about this happening is that I love Nintendo and I wish to see them compete not just innovatively, but also technically with Sony and Microsoft. I'm one of the many that would rather pay an extra few dollars for my console so that HD resolutions are possible on the next-generation console that excites me most right now.
How many people own a proper HDTV among your social circle? How many of these people who do not own one plan to own one by the time the Revolution is released next year?
Well, the people in my social circle don't really reflect the general audience, but as of right now nearly every one of us already owns an HDTV. The rest of us plan on picking them up by the end of the year or early next year. I know that's higher than the national average, but I also feel that the general public is going to start picking up HDTV sets very soon in much larger numbers.
Assuming that the Revolution launches without HDTV at a price of $199.99 as Nintendo consoles have historically cost, how much extra would you be willing to pay for proper HDTV support?
That's tough to say. I think I'd pay an extra $50 happily to see it implemented into the system. If you think that the average console life cycle is 5 years, that would only be $10 a year more to have the HD support included. I'm sure that many would agree that it would be worth it in the long run, and a I know others that would be willing to pay more for it.
How is 1080up going about trying to change Nintendo's mind on this issue?
We're not bent on changing Nintendo's mind or anything, they know what they're doing. We just want to make sure that Nintendo knows the wishes of their fans before they make the final decision in regards to HD support. We really hope to gain enough voices that Nintendo can see that it's a relevant issue amongst their fans. If Nintendo sees that their core fans want HD support, maybe we can get them to include it, even if it means a higher price in the end.
Nintendo has a poor track record for acting on Internet fans' demands and prefers to do things on their own timetable. For instance, a petition to bring the Mother / Earthbound GBA compilation cartridge to North America has been ignored, as have the demands for a new Kid Icarus game. The company has dragged their feet on technologies before as well, such as hanging on to cartridges and delaying online gaming. Why should Nintendo listen now?
As much as I hate to admit it, Nintendo is in a bit of a troubled time. Sure, they are making more money than most in the business, but they are losing fans and mindshare pretty rapidly. With each passing generation, Nintendo has given up market share to an industry newcomer. We can point to reasons each generation to show what has happened. With the N64 it was the cartridge format and high licensing fees. This generation it was the mini-DVDs, lack of online support, and an oddball controller (awkward face button design) that intimidated 3rd parties.
The difference this generation is that the fans are speaking out BEFORE the launch of the console to address potential problems, not afterwards like with the N64 and GameCube. As for the petitions, it seems that Miyamoto recently acknowledged in an interview that a Kid Icarus game is something in demand right now and has considered bringing it to the Revolution in some form.
The 1080up FAQ states that "Nintendo has gone on record as stating only 1% of Gamecube owners own the [component] cable needed to showcase that consoles progressive scan capability" and "We think Nintendo could have doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled their sales of the cable by just letting people know where to get [component cables]." Wouldn't that just total sales of a maximum 4%? Would you consider 4% of GameCube owners making use of these cables a success from a sales point of view? Would you consider Nintendo to believe 4% is a success?
Not really a success exactly, but more of a good starting point. Next generation is truly going to be the HD era. The past couple of years we have seen a massive increase in HD interest amongst the general public, not just technology freaks. If people are being convinced to pick up an HDTV for the Super Bowl or NBA Finals, why wouldn't they be more willing to pick one up when everything in their living room supports HD display as well?
With game consoles, DVD players, and TV broadcasts all coming in at HD resolutions soon, the average consumer is going to be ready to upgrade their living room sets. Had the Nintendo component cables been readily available this generation, at least the majority of GameCube owners would have known they had existed. As they upgrade their TV sets in the near future, they'll be looking for those cables they weren't quite ready for a year or two ago.
Microsoft has been criticized in the press for making HDTV support mandatory in Xbox 360 games because the HDTV requirement implies that one must own a proper HDTV to take full advantage of the console, thus adding an extra expense. Now Nintendo is being criticized for not including HDTV support. Can you provide some balance to these arguments? In your opinion, which is a more accurate concern?
Both stances are wrong in my opinion. I think Nintendo's stance is closer to the correct one, but it should still be optional. Microsoft is playing with a dangerous thing by becoming rigid in their demands. That is exactly what got Nintendo in trouble in the past (high licensing fees, forced exclusivity agreements, forced GBA support).
I think something like HD support needs to be kept available and optional. Some of my favorite developers aren't going to be happy that they need to implement Live features and 720p into their games. I think of a smaller studio like Treasure (Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun, Gunstar Heroes) and I wonder if they feel stretched to their financial limits with these development requirements. At the same time I think of larger studios like EA and realize that they want a game like Madden to be displayed in the best way possible with all the bells and whistles of HD and digital sound.
By not including HDTV Nintendo is setting the Revolution up to be the console where players don't have to have a proper HDTV to get the most from the console. This could drive sales among families who have no plans to buy a proper HDTV and Nintendo has a record of aiming games for the entire family. Have you considered that excluding HDTV support is another method of pitching to their chosen demographic?
I think that is exactly what is going on, but I just want the option to be there. I feel that by alienating the HD crowd completely that Nintendo is basically telling the average consumer that it's not important to be on par with the competition in terms of technology. We all know that Nintendo makes excellent games, but to a large portion of the gaming community, that's not enough on its own.
Would you and your organization be satisfied if Nintendo announced plans to ship an optional add-on or upgrade unit to bring the Revolution up to HDTV standards when the company felt the time was right?
I think that would be fair, but only if it was a widespread and mainstream release. I don't think it should be handled like the component cables or online adapters have been this generation. If it's going to be optional, it has to be easily accessible for those who want it, or those who would want it if they knew it existed. It would also have to be the type of upgrade that isn't meant to cash in on those willing to spend for the adapter; they would have to aim for a low cost on the unit to show gamers that it's not another way to get extra cash from them.
At what point would you accept Nintendo's decision to not include HDTV?
I think that all of us here at 1080up.org are willing to accept whatever happens with the Revolution. I know that I'll be picking the console the day it releases whether it has HD support or not. We're not a bunch of jaded fans that are ready to jump ship, but rather a group that hopes Nintendo will do the right thing here. Collectively, we feel that the right thing is to include HD support and offer it as an optional feature for developers to implement or not. That's what we are hoping for.