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Discussion Nintendo and Fan Feedback

Truno

Cappy
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Something that has always piqued my curiosity is how does Nintendo process and manage fan feedback?

For example, consider the state of Mario spinoffs (Sports, Paper Mario, Mario Party, etc). Fans have provided a myriad of criticisms for these series, but it almost seems like Nintendo purposefully ignores them? These criticisms include the state of the "free updates" model for Mario sport games, lack of original characters for all Mario spinoffs, the removal of RPG mechanics in Paper Mario, barebones content, etc.

When it concerns a series as big Pokemon, it's easier to discern why Gamefreak can get away with their, "1 step forward, 2 step backwards" approach. The series is so big that it can't fail. However, it seems like most Mario spinoffs have failed to reach their potential (except for a few exceptions) since the late Wii days, despite fans constant criticism of these games. The aforementioned Mario spinoffs aren't exactly juggernauts sales-wise, so what gives? I understand that these games still sell in the millions, but you'd think that a game with Mario slapped onto it could reach greater heights, both commercially and critically. It'd be nice if these spinoff titles were given the same care as say, a 3D Mario game (as I mentioned, there are exceptions such as Mario + Rabbids, Mario Maker, etc). Could it just be that Nintendo sees these games as filler, therefore they give developers smaller budgets to break even easily?

I'm using Mario spinoffs just to highlight how tone-deaf Nintendo can seem when it concerns fan feedback, but you could use so many other examples to illustrate the same point. NSO, the state of the Switch's OS/E-Shop, the lack of meaningful updates for their evergreen titles, etc. You could even use TotK as an example. What was the biggest piece of fan-feedback that BotW received? "Bring back traditional dungeons and integrate them within the open world". There's been 3 trailers for the game and we still have no confirmation that they've considered that feedback. That's not to say that the game won't have meaningful dungeons, but it'd be nice to hear some confirmation, no?

I'm not trying to incite any platform warring, but consider God of War Ragnarok. As soon as the first trailer premiered, the developers made sure to reassure fans that they had listened to feedback. The biggest criticism of GoW (2018) was the lack of enemy variety and meaningful boss fights. The developers addressed both of these criticisms immediately.

Is it a case of the developers wanting to constantly innovate instead of just giving fans "safe products"? Perhaps it's a case of lack of communication? What do you think?
 

Lucyfer

Li'l Devil
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I believe from things I've heard, Nintendo does very much listen to feedback. They do not respond directly, and there is rarely any communication, but they are aware of larger scale feedback through social media.
 

Bowser Sr.

Octorok
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There was an anedocte a while ago where one of the Splatoon developers told a story about how in Japan, if a restaurant feels that a meal should be enjoyed their specific way, they will lie to you that there is no sugar/mayo/whatever if you ask for it because that they genuinely think that the experience they've developed is more pleasurable than what the person thinks they want.

Of course that is naturally only one developer from only one team, but I think that would be my guess of why Nintendo ignores "Internet People Complaining", because they have a vision of the game they want to make and while they will at times listen to criticism (see: Luigi Mansion 3) they will still try to go for their vision instead of twisting the project in an reactionary manner. Specially since, frankly, how do you even know that the majority of the audience shares those complaints? You brought up Pokemon yourself, which is a series where I straight up have not seen a friend in the flesh who shares the opinions hardcore fans online have, so that's also a thing tricky to gauge in relation to "how much weight should a developer give to the voice of a specific opinion?" It's not homogeneous, if they remove breakable weapons in TOTK because of fan complaints for example is a thing that I would find silly since I am a hardcore fan who did not share the dislike for that mechanic.
 
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LukasManak22

Inkling
Of course they do, even higher executives are vising gaming related forums to see what fans think and some of them even interacted with fans through this way.
 
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Gartooth

Universal Madness
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They're a big corporation so you are going to see cases of some developers listening to feedback (Zelda) while others ignore it or take feedback into consideration but pursue their own ideas (Paper Mario).

I think for example GameFreak has listened to fan feedback, because Pokémon Legends Arceus was basically a side game they made primarily for the fans that wanted a big experimental, (semi) open world reinvention of the formula. But GameFreak is bogged down by other issues which could result in them not meeting fans expectations always. (tight deadlines, technical issues)

I think largely that the developers do care about what audiences think of their games. The people running the sales side of things at Nintendo probably do not care given how wildly successful the Switch and its games have been for the company, but so long as Nintendo is a creator driven company I think they'll be fine.
 

Dardan Sandiego

Dill Spowser‘s nephew
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Don't really understand what kinds of answers you're looking for here. We know that developers, both internally at Nintendo as well as their partners, don't ignore feedback because they've acknowledged various points of criticism in the past when asked in interviews. People at their American and European offices relay feedback to the dev teams in Japan. A lot of Zelda games since Wind Waker turned out the way they did because they directly reacted to fan feedback. They don't send out all of these surveys just to throw them in the trash.

Hardly anybody is going to give you a satisfying answer as to how they "process" feedback but it's evident from their output that they will address things if they think it makes sense and dismiss them if they disagree, have a different vision or other factors stand in the way. Take for example Origami King, which is a symbiosis of some of the stuff that was criticized in Sticker Star (and to a lesser extent in Color Splash) but still features its own new ideas that the devs wanted to implement.
 

Catalyst

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Nintendo isn’t exactly the best company at listening to fan feedback, but they have done it before and just cherry picking examples of the contrary doesn’t give the entire picture.

For instance, you bring up BOTW but that entire game was a reaction to Skyward Sword’s mixed reception. Luigi’s Mansion 3 got rid of 2’s mission structure, Mario Maker added a lot of demanded features like slopes, Metroid Dread addressed many of Samus Returns’ criticisms, and Smash added characters that hadn’t been relevant in a decade just because people wanted them. You can run down a list of Nintendo listening to fans just as easily as you can the opposite.
 
OP
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Truno

Cappy
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There was an anedocte a while ago where one of the Splatoon developers told a story about how in Japan, if a restaurant feels that a meal should be enjoyed their specific way, they will lie to you that there is no sugar/mayo/whatever if you ask for it because that they genuinely think that the experience they've developed is more pleasurable than what the person thinks they want.

Of course that is naturally only one developer from only one team, but I think that would be my guess of why Nintendo ignores "Internet People Complaining", because they have a vision of the game they want to make and while they will at times listen to criticism (see: Luigi Mansion 3) they will still try to go for their vision instead of twisting the project in an reactionary manner. Specially since, frankly, how do you even know that the majority of the audience shares those complaints? You brought up Pokemon yourself, which is a series where I straight up have not seen a friend in the flesh who shares the opinions hardcore fans online have, so that's also a thing trick to gauge in relation to how much weight should a developer give to the voice of a specific opinion? It's not homogeneous, if they remove breakable weapons in TOTK because of fan complaints for example is a thing that I would find silly since I am a hardcore fan who did not share the dislike for that mechanic.

I think that Scarlet and Violet (despite their blatant issues) are a result of Gamefreak listening to fan feedback. I used it as an example of a series that's so big that it could be just fine without ever listening to fan feedback. In the case of Paper Mario, for example, it's baffling to me that The Origami King isn't the best-selling installment in that series. It feels like it could reach new heights if the developers listened to fan/critic feedback.

Thanks for sharing the anecdote, it makes complete sense

Don't really understand what kinds of answers you're looking for here. We know that developers, both internally at Nintendo as well as their partners, don't ignore feedback because they've acknowledged various points of criticism in the past when asked in interviews. People at their American and European offices relay feedback to the dev teams in Japan. A lot of Zelda games since Wind Waker turned out the way they did because they directly reacted to fan feedback. They don't send out all of these surveys just to throw them in the trash.

Hardly anybody is going to give you a satisfying answer as to how they "process" feedback but it's evident from their output that they will address things if they think it makes sense and dismiss them if they disagree, have a different vision or other factors stand in the way. Take for example Origami King, which is a symbiosis of some of the stuff that was criticized in Sticker Star (and to a lesser extent in Color Splash) but still features its own new ideas that the devs wanted to implement.

Not trying to find any end-all-be-all or satisfying answers, just trying to generate a discussion and gauge other perspectives
 
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Bowser Sr.

Octorok
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I think that Scarlet and Violet (despite their blatant issues) are a result of Gamefreak listening to fan feedback. I used it as an example of a series that's so big that it could be just fine without ever listening to fan feedback. In the case of Paper Mario, for example, it's baffling to me that The Origami King isn't the best-selling installment in that series. It feels like it could reach new heights if the developers listened to fan/critic feedback.

Thanks for sharing the anecdote, it makes complete sense
Origami King is, actualy, a game that seems to be reacting to specific fans complaints, but still refused to "fold over" (Get it? It's paper. It folds.) and instead did a compromise half-step that still sticks to their guns while giving a nod to some of the fan's opinions, so it's actualy a series that is a good example of "Nintendo listens, but Nintendo also wants to make the game they want to make". In fact PM's overseer within Nintendo is the same man that oversees the efforts to Next Level Games, behind Luigi's Mansion recent games, so the difference between the reaction to fan opinions is interesting to see. Luigi's Mansion 2 sold GREAT and yet they still reacted to fan complaints with Luigi's Mansion 3, despite their financial success.
 
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anderson64

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I think there are a lot of armchair analysts who if they knew anything about the business, they’d be in it. Having said that, I understand the frustration with some things they do. I think it’s more that that listening to feedback. Just my thoughts!
 
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CyberWolfJV

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I mean, they did put K. Rool in Smash just because I requested nicely (hundreds of times for 5 years or so);
 

correojon

Custom title
How they handle feedback is one of the things I love and dislike more of Nintendo at the same time. A lot of times they take a "we know better" approach and they're absolutely on the right...but other times I can't understand why the hell they didn't listen to the millions of people asking for the same, obviously better thing (like their reaaaaally backwards approach to making the controls in their games customizable in any way).
 
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They do listen, but this doesn't mean they change their own vision too much. They have their reasons for why Paper Mario is not an RPG anymore and they stick to it, even if they still listen to fan feedback and take it into account.
 

Mr Doggo

I am inside your house
Nintendo's approach to options in games is awful. And they are moving at a snail pacr to address that.
 

9-Volt

Starman
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Nintendo audience is too big and too diverse to share a common opinion. Ours, the enthusiast circle, is just a one of them. I mean, if they asked people how they want their Mario Party games, you'd get equal amount of people asking for modern and traditional style. Hell, there might be some that doesn't even want boards in games.
 

CyberWolfJV

I talk more about games than I play them
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Do you have faith that we'll see K. Rool and the Kremlings in the next DK game? They were absent in the latest Strikers game 😭
Absolutely! The whole thing with DK getting his own license branch lately (separated from the Super Mario brand), with K. Rool included, as well the plans for the big expansion on Super Nintendo World and even rumors for a solo animated movie after the Mario one, makes me unbelievably hopeful that Kremlings will all have a big part of that.

In fact, even though I lament the lack of Kritters in Battle League, it would make sense to use a new big mainline Donkey Kong game to bring the Kremlings back in the limelight.. and the EPD game is indeed a thing (same team that filled New Donk City with DKC references!)

Believe, my friend!
 

WestEgg

King of the Krocs
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In the case of Paper Mario, for example, it's baffling to me that The Origami King isn't the best-selling installment in that series. It feels like it could reach new heights if the developers listened to fan/critic feedback.
Paper Mario famously shifted away from its roots BECAUSE of fan feedback, specifically the surveys after Super Paper Mario that indicated fans didn’t really care about story in the prior games.
 
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Truno

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Paper Mario famously shifted away from its roots BECAUSE of fan feedback, specifically the surveys after Super Paper Mario that indicated fans didn’t really care about story in the prior games.

Why did they shift from the 64 and TTYD style to SPM in the first place? I assumed someone higher up wanted something innovative, as the developers attempted to revert back to the original style with Sticker Star before Miyamoto intervened.

And also, if the surveys are the means through which they gauge feedback, then communication is absolutely an issue. Those surveys were incredibly flawed.
 
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between Wii U and Switch era they listened to a lot of feedback

They made a much lighter OS (though, we miss Miiverse) for the Switch, and a less cumbersome form-factor for the controller (even though the Wii U was fine), and made sure to implement the most no-brainer hardware there was in the market (Nvidia stuff)

They made Zelda as non-linear as they could after people started complaining about SS being too linear and too handhold-ey

They made main Mario more like Mario 64 in terms of movement and freedom, after a few people complained about Galaxy not being as movement-free (I mean, it's not like it was an actual criticism but)

Even though it's not directly Nintendo, GameFreak did see the need to revolutionize the gameplay in Pokemon after fan feedback of X/Y; and they did so to some degrees of experimentation and success

I feel like they actually listened to a lot in regards to Paper Mario and Mario Party, but people forget there's a big divide between people who just like Mario games and people who play these games faithfully; I guess they just haven't found the sweet spot to embrace both of them
 

WestEgg

King of the Krocs
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Why did they shift from the 64 and TTYD style to SPM in the first place? I assumed someone higher up wanted something innovative, as the developers attempted to revert back to the original style with Sticker Star before Miyamoto intervened.

And also, if the surveys are the means through which they gauge feedback, then communication is absolutely an issue. Those surveys were incredibly flawed.
The point is there are no good measures of fan feedback aside from sales and to a lesser extent review scores. My favorite game in the series is TTYD, I love classic Paper Mario. But Twitter complainers and YouTube essayists are not a good metric to build a game around, and not super representative of the mass market.
 

ngpdrew

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Never forget that we are a drop in the bucket for Nintendo and that our feedback accounts for a fraction of the reception of their products.
 

Brofield

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futurama-godfellas.gif


Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't. Much like another thread OP that posits that voting with our wallets does absolutely nothing, we can either continue to buy their products, or not. Complaining online is free, at least.

We definitely take too much of what they do for granted when it comes to the scope of Super Smash Bros, or the open air Zelda, or the fun romp freedom of Mario, because realistically if all we have to complain about are their underpowered hardware or woefully incompetent online services, that says a lot that we really and truly love their games.

(I'm still gonna be sad that Paper Mario will never be enjoyable to me in the future though. But, at least I can complain online for free.)
 

Serif

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There is a level of awareness of what enthusiast fans want, Emily brings up an example:

Nintendo knows that some legacy titles are highly requested. Sakurai is aware that people want Kid Icarus Uprising on Switch. Nintendo is aware that there is a loud group of fans for games like F-Zero GX and the older Paper Mario games. I'm not saying those games are getting remasters, but Nintendo has seen how loud and vocal those fans are on social media.

So, the company is trying to figure out which games are worth remastering / remaking. That's why it's so important for fans to get loud on social media. Because Nintendo is paying attention to fan requests. NOA/NOE sends feedback up the chain of command to NCL.

So whatever concerns we air on social media and such - I'd say it's worth to keep doing so. I would assume these decisions take time to make.
 
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Sometimes they seem to be very ignorant. But then theres something like Smash Bros which feels like fan- fiction...

Or the return of Advance Wars. Or the increasing third- partie support. Or the folders for the Switch-User-Interface...
 
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Gartooth

Universal Madness
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Nintendo listened to fans saying "fucking Donkey Kong" by deciding not to make another one ever again :|
 
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Leo

Tingle
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Paper Mario wouldn't necessarily be huge if they listened to fan feedback.

Fans can only speak from a personal perspective, they don't understand what a game has to do to have mass appeal, and sometimes they don't even know what they themselves want.
 

Tangerine_Cookie

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They definitely do listen to feedback a lot. Listening, at least.

They might not do anything about it for whatever reason, though. Either because the feedback isn't that useful, or because they have different ideas on how to address the problems brought up by that feedback. And don't expect them to publically comment on it, either.

But listening? Always.
 
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Lord Azrael

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I don't really think your examples are good at all. This generation literally kicked off with BotW, which was a huge response to all the criticisms of Skyward Sword and (at the time) modern Zelda in general. And how about let's not jump the gun on TotK?

Game Freak does listen to feedback. They might be slow to implement it but Pokémon went open world, switched to overworld encounters, changed their prerelease marketing strategy, etc. Heck, literally all of Legends Arceus...

The Mario spinoff games you answered yourself. They sell millions. More than ever in fact. Didn't Aces and Super Mario Party smash their franchise records? Why would they listen to a vocal online minority then?

Switch OS is clearly an intentional design decision. And I'm not sure why you think fans know better than Nintendo for NSO. I don't like it, but if they're trying to maximize profits, they are doing it right. They already had Virtual Console and didn't bring it back, probably because it made them a lot less money than you think it did. People probably only bought a few high profile games and the rest sold diddly squat.

Us hardcore forum posters are not representative of the entire customer base. Just because they don't listen to your specific complaints every time doesn't mean they don't listen. Even if I happen to agree with some of the criticisms on a personal level.
 

PixelKnight

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Just with regard to ‘how does a big company manage and process fan feedback’, I think one aspect is that there’s lots of ways they get feedback. There’s heavy users, like us, that participate in online discussion. There’s professional critics, social media and everything in between. Surveys and other customer research. Most of those are adults, I assume theres also channels for feedback from kids of what they think of some games etc too, which is, to be fair, probably at least as important to them than 20-30 somethings relating stuff to their attachment to the games they played years ago. There’s sales at launch (which may imply hype and initial reviews/impressions and is weighed up against marketing spend) and sales over time (which often implies word of mouth). So I think that they likely take it all on board, but what seems like the most popular theme in some channels online isn’t necessary the be-all and end-all of feedback.

There’s also the element that, just because a particular line of feedback isnt seen to be addressed, doesn’t mean that others weren’t. Which leads to the company accused of not listening to some fans when they just listened to others instead and decided that was more important to address. And then some stuff that does appear to be a reaction to a complaint, might be something else entirely. If they get feedback from one group of ‘we didn’t like x’, but decide the next game should follow path z out of something new, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a response to feedback about x from the first group either. It might just mean a group of creatives wanted to do something new.

I don’t know. Nintendo keeps a tight lid on things, all we can see is trends, but I don’t think they ignore feedback. BotW felt like a response to a lot of things and (appropriately) a breath of fresh air at the same time, and there’s obviously schools of thought on what it got right/wrong too. Their response to it is just not always what vocal sub-groups of the customer base always want. Which is probably true of just about anything with global appeal across all age ranges and different levels of dedication to the hobby within that too.

One more point- not all feedback is negative, and positive feedback is presumably also taken into account when deciding what to do next, which feels like a point that often gets left behind. What feels like a misstep for some fan subgroups re. a new game in a long series may just be something designed to appeal more to a different subgroup, based entirely on ‘taking feedback on board’. But just as I assume many adults don’t much care what kids think of a game series, the reverse is probably also true, and both groups likely have a mix of heavier and lighter users all with their own thoughts. The balancing act across multiple axis must be a nightmare :D
 
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Lord Azrael

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Also just gonna point out, the poster child for these kinds of things that people just love to point to - modern Paper Mario - is a direct result of listening to feedback, contrary to what fans of the first two want to believe. They've literally confirmed that they simplified the story because players in a survey said there was too much of it. Maybe they took the completely wrong lesson from it, but just because they didn't listen to you specifically doesn't mean they didn't listen. It actually invalidates your point entirely.
 
Think of it this way.

What sold more?

Classic Mario Party or modern Mario Party?
Classic Pokémon (not including RBY) or modern Pokémon?
Classic Paper Mario or modern Paper Mario?
Classic Zelda or BOTW?

It's night and day. Nintendo are still around today because they know what they are doing, as much as that hurts me to say.
 

P.Scoop

Mostly lurk, talk sometimes.
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Simply put: They do. There are many way Nintendo can get feedbacks from consumers. Online survey, public poll, reactions, etc. Heck you can even submit feedback and questions directly to Nintendo on their mobile titles. Will they implement those feedbacks or not is another matter though.

Also yes, the result of modern Paper Mario was partly because of user feedback that even less than 1% of the game cared about the story in Super Paper Mario in particular. Doesn't help that Super went with a more story-driven focus outside of Mario characters. (And if you remove the story, what you get is a mixed bag of a platformer RPG in my opinion)

The decision came with Sticker Star onward might be an overcorrection, but it was probably need to be done if they still want to make it a Mario game and not an original IP with Mario characters in it.
 
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juuso

Bob-omb
I don't think they listen to fan feedback in the strict sense of the word, but like any other company, are interested in understanding customer opinions and trying to conform to them to make their business thrive. They probably have analytics covering social media discussions, shares and likes and they conduct surveys to collect opinions on specific questions, and so on.

I would also imagine they are aware of the different types of customer segments, including more dedicated fans such as people posting on forums like famiboards dot com. But it's a balancing act between the different segments, and sometimes they may end up doing things we don't like, and sometimes also things that are just objectively dumb and bad, but even then I wouldn't think it's a problem of not listening, but a problem of not understanding.
 

Clov

Welcome to the True Bean's World
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She/Her
It's going to depend on the team within/working for Nintendo, I think. For example, as someone who enjoys playing Smash Bros, one of my biggest wants was "More Fire Emblem", and I got just that in Ultimate! Some others weren't as satisfied, but I hardly think they matter.
 
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Shinespark

Shriekbat
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You could even use TotK as an example. What was the biggest piece of fan-feedback that BotW received? "Bring back traditional dungeons and integrate them within the open world". There's been 3 trailers for the game and we still have no confirmation that they've considered that feedback. That's not to say that the game won't have meaningful dungeons, but it'd be nice to hear some confirmation, no?
I feel like this example though illustrates how feedback can be conflicting. By virtue of the strong sales and critical reception, Nintendo also received the feedback that traditional dungeons are unnecessary for a great Zelda game. In which case, if TotK doesn't have traditional dungeons, you could interpret that to mean that Nintendo prioritized the positive feedback over the criticism.

In short, you can't assume that the change you'd like to see in a game is the majority opinion (or warrants a response). This is particularly an issue I feel in videogame discussions bc the ppl making podcasts and running websites are in a hardcore minority that doesn't necessarily reflect the broader gaming public.
 
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GamerJM

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Tbh I think Nintendo listens to fan feedback a lot, as others have stated. Also, with modern Paper Mario, I think they listen to fan feedback, but they just see that feedback as demanding things that are over the limit for them. I think if a new Paper Mario game resembled the first two games more, I could actually see it selling a bit better, but I think them bringing back unique characters/partners/etc. is something they specifically see damaging to the synergy of the modern Mario brand, so much so that it's not worth whatever good will they'd gain from extremely online fans. Similar to how the Smash team won't implement Melee movement tech, speed, and carrying your momentum into your jump in modern Smash, it would gain them a lot of good will with a segment of the playerbase at the cost of Sakurai's vision of a game with a lower skill floor for competitive play, and they don't see that tradeoff as worth it.

Note that in both of these examples, I'm not happy about the decision and I wish it wasn't there, but I imagine they have internal reasons for making it.
 
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MondoMega

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They hear feedback; just depends on if and how they respond to said feedback.

Doesn't seem like they have any interest in going back on their current model for most multiplayer games they've published since Splatoon 1, for example; but they have avoided doing any further timed releases after 3D All-Stars and Fire Emblem got a ton of criticism in 2020. I know people were fearful of something similar happening for Zelda last year, and it never did.

They've historically made many moves with their games based entirely on fan demand (Twilight Princess' darker tone after Wind Waker; 3D Mario returning to the sandbox style with Odyssey; a lot of smaller elements like the return of fan favourite characters and whatnot). Many remasters and ports only exist on the back of there being demand for those games; I believe we're going to see more of that soon now that the Wii U well is running dry. Don't be surprised when we do in fact see games like F-Zero GX, Kid Icarus Uprising and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door rereleased on Switch.
 


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