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When people try to say Wii Sports or Sims or World of Warcraft were "lightning in a bottle" when they appealed to the Mass Market, they are trying to create an alibi that the Game Industry is not guilty of Mass Mediocrity. And if the Game Industry is not guilty of Mass Mediocrity, that means every game developer should be allowed to keep doing whatever the hell they want to do. The Lifestyle Developer lives on...

Enter Sean Malstrom, armed with knowledge of the books The Innovators Dilemma and The Blue Ocean Strategy [1], came along in 2006 declaring why the Wii would be a huge success, despite the mass attitude of It Will Never Catch On by the gaming industry and press. Malstrom then starts a website that deals with what he feels is the real reasons of the Wii's success.

Sean Malstrom began on a gaming website called The Wiikly, where he successfully predicted the Wii's success half a year before its release. His Wiikly articles can be found here.

His new site was founded in early 2007 and is split into three main categories:

From mid-2008 on his focus shifted to his blog, originally a news page on his progress on new articles and other short-term topics but nowadays many people think it is a gaming blog. It is that very blog that the following examples draw from, most of which deal with Malstrom's highly controversial opinions on video games.

The forum (Not run by Malstrom) [1] is a comment section as a forum. It was created due to chaos in the blog's comments section. However, Malstrom only made one post there and isn't likely to pop up again.

The Articles Contain Examples Of:

  • Aborted Arc: The Disruption Chronicles seem to be this, as Malstrom himself says that there isn't anything noteworthy going on business-wise and Nintendo is deviating from the blue ocean and disruption ways they've established this generation.
  • After the End: The New World depicts the various 'hardcore' gamers throughout time as a people living on a continent that gets flooded every time their ways become irrelevant. The article also concludes with the situation of today's 'hardcore' gamers being flooded away.
  • Dialogue: Malstrom's preferred method of writing.
  • Dummied Out: Avalanche
  • History Repeats: Deja Vu lays down all the groundwork on Malstrom's view that the Wii generation is a repeat of the NES generation.
  • Talking to Himself: Quite literally.

The Blog Contains Examples Of:

  • Accentuate the Negative: If he feels there is a flaw in something, he will make it very clear, but he doesn't do it for the sake of putting things down. He also does this for games he thinks are good, just that they can always use improvement. But if he feels a franchise is going the wrong way, he will slam it for doing so.
  • Cassandra Truth: Malstrom accurately predicting the rise of the Wii to first place in the seventh console generation back in '06, when others expected it to fail. This is one of the few things his lovers and haters can agree on.

 "Malstrom: Since I’ve been right on so many big things like the Wii, the 3DS, 2d Mario, Sakamoto, etc. when everyone else was on the wrong side of the issue, I am held to a higher standard than people like Pachter. I find that quite amazing."

  • Cerebus Syndrome: Malstrom himself admits that his writing got a lot more bitter and serious in tone as time went on.
  • Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch: Malstrom sometimes knocks games he hasn't played, but does admit he hasn't played them.
    • Many of his detractors admit to not reading his blog... and then claim they know what he's been writing recently.
  • Creator Worship: Malstrom maintains that the mentality among game fans of "Game Gods" is choking creativity throughout the game industry, even when the flaws of certain games can't really be pinned on any particular developer.
    • In particular, when Metroid fans lashed out at him for criticizing Other M, Malstrom accused them of not being fans of Metroid itself, but of Sakamoto, and unwilling to brook any criticism of him. It should be noted that at that time neither they nor Malstrom had seen anything more than previews of the game.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: In-Universe: Likes to make entire blog posts showing game soundtracks he feels are especially good.
  • Death of the Author: Sean Malstrom holds to a variation that a developer (or producer) should know why the customers make a game a hit, not just assume their own reasons.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The existence of Super Mario 3D Land seems to have become this for whatever faith Malstrom still had in Nintendo and especially Miyamoto (who is nowadays treated with the same level of contempt as Sakamoto and Aonuma).
  • Excuse Plot: He argues most games don't need more than this. But he does not claim games should have no plot whatsoever, just that they shouldn't put the narrative ahead of the choices of the gamers (he cites and posts videos of Blizzard games as good examples of the latter). Basically, he says that stories are about why we should play a game, not to take over the game.
  • Fallen Hero: Not exactly a hero (since Malstrom is so fundamentally opposed to game designers being hailed as such), but he used to respect Miyamoto despite disagreeing with his insistence on 3D Mario -- he even wrote an entry titled "Why Miyamoto is Awesome"! Unfortunately, after Super Mario 3D Land and Miyamoto's openly-stated desire to convert 2D Mario fans into the 3D style with said game, Malstrom now treats him with extreme contempt.
  • Fan Myopia: He states that people who make entertainment will ruin a medium when they start to think that what they like about that medium has to be what the audience likes as well.
    • Also calls out gamers who only acknowledge certain old-school games, while ignoring those that were actually more popular back in the day.
  • Grand Finale: Promises his #100 music post will be the last post of his current blog. Has not stated yet what his projects after that will be.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: In spades.
  • Large Ham: This blog piece demonstrates it well.

 "Malstrom- World-wide sex symbol to women. When a new article appears, his mailbox gets flooded by the ladies demanding passion from him. "A business article on video games? That is so hot!" they squeal. Each Malstrom article also gains him a million dollars from jet-sitting super secret investors. Malstrom is also prone to self-delusions. ("Hey," he says, "if you are going to have delusions, might as well go for the really satisfying ones!")"

  • Magic A Is Magic A: The worlds of video games has to have some logic, he argues, no matter how whimsical they seem. Doing otherwise is just making up stuff, which he argues hurts game content as much as it hurts a story.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Although he's very specific of why some older things are better, like games with arcade values, and also states that new things that hold to those are just as good.
  • Only in It For the Money: Not Malstrom himself, but he's argued that video games turn out better when designers hold to this than when they try to get artistic. That is, unless they not only do this trope, they also turn into Viewers are Morons.
  • Opinion Myopia: Seems to suffer from it, but he's admitted he doesn't like some hit games, such as Just Dance, and like some niche games that don't sell well, but admits the former has to have some mass appeal, and that the latter only has a small amount of mass appeal.
  • The Player Is the Most Important Resource: To him, this is a vital thing to keep in mind when making a game. This is likely an extension of his years as a door-to-door salesman, where he learned that pleasing the customers is foremost in making sales.

 "Buy this because we want you to kick ass!"

    • He basically states that doing the opposite (developers pleasing themselves and their peers first) is the biggest factor in the decline of gaming.

 "Buy this because we kick ass!"

  • Poe's Law: Both pro- and anti-Malstrom webbers have argued over whether Malstrom's personality as presented in his blog is what the man himself is like or just an online persona of his that is unique to said blog.
  • Polygon Ceiling: He argues that games work best in going to 3D when they hold the values of what worked with the 2D games.
    • He argues that racing games are the most successful of this, and work even better with Polygonal Graphics than with sprites.
    • He has stated that the Super Mario Bros. games haven't worked as well in terms of sales in 3D vs 2D because the games don't play the same. He states that the 2D Mario games are about getting from point A to point B in whatever way you can in the level, and that the 3D games force you to replay levels just to collect things, and that many are more like an obstacle course than the way 2D Mario games play.
      • He supports this by pointing out that Miyamoto lamented Tamogachi games outsold Super Mario 64.
    • He also states that Zelda games could have worked, but that it went downhill since the overworld of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time was undone by dungeons that played more like obstacle courses and puzzle-fests than the exploration and combat of previous Zelda games. He doesn't think The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword will actually change this (although he hoped it would for a time).
  • Punny Name: His opinions can cause a bit of a storm of controversy.
  • Quality by Popular Vote: He's a strong believer in this, pointing out Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and even Star Wars were all bashed as poor quality by reviewers in their times. The people decided they were quality.

 "What aspiring game makers can learn from Nicalus is that you cannot judge whether your game is good until you sell it because sales determine the quality of the product. There, I said it. I expect 500 emails reacting to that comment alone."

    • When it comes to games, he often admits games that don't sell well can still be good, but are full of tiny to major flaws that prevent them from having mass market appeal.
    • For games that have large sales, but he says aren't quality, his argument is that those games have large sales upon release, but do not have sustained sales after that (known as "legs"), which means they sold at first due to hype, but when word of mouth kicks in, the sales drop off after a few weeks, as he noted specifically with Heavy Rain. He argues that most HD games lack legs and that is the reason few of them are truly good.
  • Quote Mine: Both he and his detractors are guilty of this at points.
  • Reclusive Artist: Other than his blog or articles, he isn't heard of a lot. And chances are, you won't find him.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Worries Nintendo might be suffering this in regards to bringing down Sony.
  • Serious Business / What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Reaction to Malstrom's writings, both the positive and negative (mostly his negative one).
  • Shown Their Work: Malstrom has a surprisingly well-rounded knowledge of the business end of video games.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Seth Hearthstone. Despite having a similar personality and identical-looking blog, Seth is the polar opposite of Malstrom.
    • Unknown Rival: Other than a few off-hand mentions, Sean doesn't actually think much of him.
    • Sean himself has become something like this to Nintendo, most notably to Shigeru Miyamoto.
    • More conventionally, Michael Pachter.
  • Tainted by the Preview: In-Universe: When Malstrom saw how Metroid: Other M was being made with a more cinematic angle in mind, he was rather put off. Further info about the game, along with the release itself, did nothing to change his mind.
    • Feels the same about Skyward Sword. It was at first inverted with E3 '10, but turned into this normally with more info being revealed.
  • Take That: Likes to take stabs at things he doesn't like.

 The reader protests, "Malstrom, it is not fair for you to compare She-Ra and Metroid: Other M!" You’re right. She-Ra is more entertaining.

  • Taking a Third Option: He is convinced that "content" is the actual answer to the whole "Gameplay vs. Graphics" debate.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Isn't too fond of this when it comes to things that slow the game down and force players to find out what the developers are thinking. This especially applies to Solve the Soup Cans style puzzles.
  • Viewers are Morons: Absolutely loathes this attitude. He states that this is a major factor in the decline of many successful franchises, among many media (right behind entertainers focusing on entertaining themselves more than the audience.
  • Viral Marketing: He has a tendency to call his detractors out as viral marketers, much to the chagrin of those who aren't. He however says that there are far more viral marketers than one might think.
  • You Keep Using That Word: He's very clear that "casual gaming" was just made up to try to explain why those in the gaming community couldn't understand the success of the DS and the Wii. He also called out Michael Pachter for using an obscure definition of "secular."


  1. two books quoted as the biggest influences on the direction Nintendo is taking with the Wii, and often discussed by Nintendo themselves before the Wii is launched
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