While many Nintendo fans were happy with the company's E3 2015 Direct show, there was a signifcant misstep in the minds of some. The publisher announced a small game for the 3DS: Metroid Prime Federation Force, developed by Next Level Games. The title is smaller experience springing out of the larger Metroid Prime universe.
The problem is the last real Metroid game was 2010's Metroid Other M for the Nintendo Wii. The series has yet to make a new appearance on the Wii U. So the announcement that the first Metroid game in years was an offshoot 3DS title stung a bit. Some fans got angry. At the time of this writing, googling "Metroid Prime Federation Force" brings up a Change.org petition for Nintendo to outright cancel the game.
"What we got however is a disgrace of a game with the name 'Metroid' slapped on the title," says the petition. "It has no elements at all of what Metroid is about and its a disrespectful manner to old and new fans of the series of showing them that the Metroid franchise is not dead afterall. This is not the Metroid we asked Nintendo to make. We should let Nintendo know what we really think of the game and make them actually listen to their fans for once. Help us stop this atrocity of a game from bearing the beloved Metroid franchise name and make Nintendo halt production on it."
I'd say that's hyperbole, but I understand it's coming from an emotional place. It's a side effect of that endearing passion that Nintendo - and the rest of our industry - goes out of its way to cultivate. Passionate fans are great when they're on your side and beating your drum, but things can turn ugly quickly.
I find it interesting that there's an outright call for cancelling Metroid Prime Federation Force. That's not the game I would've made with the Metroid name on it, but it's not my franchise. Nintendo owns Metroid, does with the series as it sees fit, and not every game the company develops will appeal to everyone. I have little interest in many of the Animal Crossing games, Mario Sports, or Hyrule Warriors. The same can be said of Federation Force. I'm sure some people will enjoy it and it's cool those people will have a new experience to enjoy.
That's not disrespect towards Nintendo's fans and it's not an "atrocity". It's a game that a team at Next Level Games put creativity and effort into making. Nintendo found the resources to make this smaller title and moved forward for whatever reason. The absence or cancellation of this game doesn't mean we'd have a brand-new Metroid title for the Wii U or 3DS. What we're left with are spin-offs that will come and go; something that's not particularly new for Nintendo.
While I dislike the calls for cancellation and I think the specific commentary in the petition goes a bit far, in abstract, a Change.org petition is merely concentrated feedback and criticism. These consumers have found a specific platform to provide their feedback to the company. That could be through Twitter, Facebook, email, or the form they chose. As long as it stays civil, rock out. They have about as much power to enact change as any other consumer and Nintendo can decide to do whatever they want with that information. That's speech. They dislike something and they've called for change. That's frankly a bedrock of culture and commercial art in particular.
Some people tend to forget that when the changes being called for aren't things they agree with. We tend to jump to call the criticism we agree with "feedback" and the stuff we don't "outrage", which is disingenuous. (Which is not to say there isn't good and bad feedback.) Regardless of if criticism is about controls, merchanics, narrative, representation, or anything else that goes into a game or work of art, any feedback or request for change is a implicit statement that something could be better in your opinion. You are saying, "Yes, Game X is great/good/bad/awful, but I think it could be better if you did this." Feedback asking for change is always a value judgment.
We as an industry and community need to be wary of going down the "No True Scotsman" path of criticism. I certainly would rather Capcom listen to its hardcore fighting game community when its developing Street Fighter V, but I'm not going to shut down the feedback from the lapsed player or the neophyte. The audience, current and future, has a right to provide civil feedback and criticism. The creators are allowed to listen to or ignore that feedback as they see fit. That's society at work. Vote with your dollars, but also let the creator know why you're making that vote.
So if you wish Nintendo would make more "real" Metroid games, tell them. Tell them on Twitter and Facebook. Tell them what they're doing wrong and right. Do so in a civil manner and acknowledge that they may not listen to you. I'm not going to be beside you for a petition calling for a game's cancellation, but I get that you dislike it and want Nintendo's resources to be used elsewhere. I've picked a bone with the company over its handling of Amiibos, so who I am to judge?
That doesn't make you "entitled", that makes you people. That makes you potential purchasers of Nintendo's art. Everyone should remember that "potential" can and has been as good for industries as "current" and creativity is as much about listening to new ideas as it is standing your ground.