Opinion: Where Did Nintendo Go Wrong?

It’s been a long time since the heady days of the original Wii, which couldn’t be found on shelves for months and months after release due to explosive sales. While I’ve always maintained that the Wii U could never even hope to hit the sales numbers of the Wii, the launch of the Wii U was worse than even I anticipated.

From consumers not understanding that the Wii U was a new console, to many first-party titles failing to hit expected sales goals (or being delayed so that it’s inevitable that they won’t hit those goals… we’re looking at you, Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs…), it may seem like the future of Nintendo remains in question, and we fans have much to be concerned about.

Fear not, fellow Nintendo-phile! Don’t forget that Nintendo has been around for a long time and their fiscally conservative nature as a company has served them well over the years. Currently, they have enough money in the bank (actual cash-money) to run a significant financial deficit for literally decades before feeling the heat. Nintendo isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

That being said, there is no question that they are lagging behind their competitors. A couple of steps in the right direction could do much to level the playing field. Here are a few ways they could do it:

1. Stop lagging in the technology arms race!

Nintendo has always put a focus on building ingenuity into their new platforms, rather than just utilizing the latest technology. Their plan has been to keep the cost of a new console down so that it’s accessible to many consumers. Unfortunately, this hasn’t always worked. The Wii was an outlier and probably a once in a lifetime occurrence. I suspect it would’ve sold just as well if Nintendo had packed it full of technology on par with the other “next gen” platforms for a higher cost.

If Nintendo bundles their creative, different approach with hardware that can compete on the same level as Microsoft and Sony, they just might be able to court much of the hardcore console fanboy audience.

In addition, the underlying software really needs to catch up with current technology. I lost my 3DS last year, and with it went my 2000+ street passes and all my purchased / downloaded games. I cannot believe that in this day and age all that stuff is tied directly to the hardware unit, rather than stored in a cloud-based account. I can’t even bring myself to play a 3DS anymore, I lost too much. I bought a new one, but it mostly sits around and collects dust these days.

2. Cross-buy capabilities.

Why can’t I link my 3DS and Wii U together, allowing me to buy the games once, and play them on either system? This is obviously a bit more difficult to enforce with third-party developers, but there is no reason why Nintendo can’t do this with their first-party offerings.

Not many people will buy the same game for multiple platforms unless they are a super fan of that particular series, and even then it’s questionable. However, if consumers could buy the game once and play it at home, then take it with them on the road, there would be a great increase in the perceived value of the purchase. Book sellers have been recently bundling digital versions of their book with the hardcopy, and this has worked very well. I think it could work for console games too.

3. Continue to develop first-party support and new IPs.

Nintendo’s strength has always been the iconic characters that make up its first-party library of games. They will always have trouble courting third-party developers until the Wii U is viewed as being on par with the latest iterations of the Playstation and Xbox systems.

In the meantime, what’s Nintendo to do? One possibility is to put more effort into developing a higher capacity for original IPs that can only be found on Nintendo platforms. The greater the selection of unique, well-crafted and high-quality produced games available only on Nintendo platforms, the more likely the company is to court converts from across the fence.

Sure, Nintendo is currently sitting pretty from a broad financial perspective, but that’s no reason for them to rest on their laurels and do nothing. In fact, that’s a sure way to hasten their demise, even it if does take decades to come about. Now is the time to take active steps to regain ground so Nintendo can rise back up to its former glory days.

Not that I’m implying they’re sitting about, of course. There are a number of anticipated announcements about to come down the line from E3, and these may have an impact on how Nintendo is viewed and what their future looks like for the year ahead. Their annual investors’ meeting will be held in the weeks following the event, so we’ll undoubtedly be hearing more about Nintendo’s strategy to regain ground in the coming year—perhaps some tangible action points based around Nintendo’s assertion earlier this year that they were taking a hard look at the company and its priorities, and finding new ways to do business.

And if there’s one company that has been doing business consistently, despite the highs and lows that come with operating within the fickle gaming industry, it’s Nintendo.


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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