The Intellivison Amico special event was a missed opportunity, showing nothing about what the console can do that’s different from the competition. What it did show was sponsorships, bad looking games, and the mistakes of once industry giants THQ and Majesco.
The games Intellivision presented were not examples of unique gameplay systems, in fact they released a demo of Moon Patrol on Android not too long ago. Intellivision have not shown developers or gamers what this product does different than the average smartphone or average motion controller.
Most of what we were offered were licensed games, poorly made versions of classic games, and an overall lack of vision of what the console is supposed to be. Intellivision has gone on record saying that they were inspired by the success of the Wii in 2007. However, the Amico’s marketing plan lacks many elements of Nintendo’s marketing strategy that made the Wii such a success.
Nintendo knew that alienating the traditional gaming market for the causal wasn’t a practical plan. At launch, the Nintendo put The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Nintendo Wii. Twilight Princess was also one of the biggest games of the Nintendo GameCube’s lifespan. Nintendo also created Wii Sports as a packaged title that came with every Wii.
Wii Sports was a tutorial for new gamers to understand how to play video games. It was also a tool for developers and the press to understand what the Nintendo Wii was, and how it was a revolution in the gaming landscape.
This wasn’t done by just putting out the system and counting dollar bills, Nintendo was aggressively marketing the system. They showed it in trade shows, and promoted it post-launch with new games like Wii Party and Super Mario Galaxy; to have both gamers and newcomers alike to enjoy video games.
There is a lack of communication from Intellivision on how the Amico is unique and what it can do, and that is hurting the console in the long term. People need to know how to control the game from a glance. It’s what Nintendo worked very hard on to do with the Wii, and it’s how the Wii created a new generation of gamers.
Intellivision itself isn’t entirely to blame due to the massive global outbreak of the Wuhan Virus. Nonetheless, the lack of communication in general paints a bad picture for Mr. Tallarico and his talented team of video game industry veterans.
The delay was a necessity not just for quality, but also to help Intellivision better communicate the Amico to the general masses. This is despite the lack of identity that the Amico is currently suffering from.
Intellivision’s biggest marketing pitches are also its biggest flaws, in the sense that it’s trying to cater to the nostalgia of older gamers, while completely disregarding the advances and progress created in the video games industry.
Intellivision is intentionally limiting themselves in order to recapture the golden days of video games. They’re limiting the value of their games from five to fifteen dollars, banning teenage and adult oriented video games, and barely have any third-party support from smaller publishers such as THQ Nordic or Devolver Digital.
The lack of microtransactions is great, however the status quo being awful doesn’t set the Amico apart from the Nintendo Switch or any other games console. It just means that AAA developers over play their hands. Even Gearbox has started using the lack of microtransactions as a selling point for Godfall, which it really shouldn’t be.
These limitations and the extreme focus on family friendly content are devaluing both the Intellivision brand and the Amico. This isn’t to say that the Amico can’t do great things. However, limiting the reach of the Amico will only result in lost potential for success.
This is coming from a world post-Majesco, where licensed products do not necessarily equal success. One of failures of Majesco was the heavy investments into Facebook gaming and bad licensed products.
This is something Mr. Tallarico should have learned with the failure of Advent Rising, but I fear is a lesson he may have forgot as time goes on. The only noteworthy title in the Amico’s upcoming lineup is Earthworm Jim 4. However, Earthworm Jim 4 will not be available at launch, and its key artist Doug TenNapel has confirmed that he is not currently working on the project.
Google’s Stadia and the Nintendo 64 were a few examples of how a launch can cripple the lasting lifecycle of a console. Having a successful launch is extremely important, not just to Amico but all gaming platforms in general.
Despite this, Intellivision has not shown any content that stands out on the same level of Earthworm Jim, Mischief Makers, Monster World IV; and other niche revivals that can really bring more interest into the platform.
Bad licensed games and remakes of old games are not a substitute for the lack of launch content. No one should expect the major flagship content of any system to be only available at launch, but it seems that Amico has no year one killer apps, which is crucial for the platform.
While the idea of packaged games is a smart one, it also hikes up the price from what should be a one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar gaming console by about one hundred dollars. This is limiting the success of the Amico by inflating the value of the console.
The Intellivision Amico suffers from a lack of identity, it wants to cater to a new audience while completely dismissing the current gaming demographic. It’s attempting to create a nostalgia grab for an audience that has no nostalgia for the Intellivision brand. I believe that the main problems from the Amico come from trying to cater to too many audiences at once, without any real focus.
Does Intellivision want the Amico to be the new Wii, or does it want the Amico to be a glorified Android console? These are the questions I keep asking myself when watching the August 5th special event. This is despite wanting Intellivision to be successful.
I do not criticize this system out of hate, but rather I hope to God that I’m wrong about the Amico, and that Tommy secretly has some crazy killer app. Gex and Croc are games that we still talk about today, but haven’t seen a new release in years. As of now, I have nothing but mixed feelings for the system. I will likely wait and see what Intellivision have in store for the Amico, if anything at all.
Image: Intellivision Amico