Nintendo is beset by obstacles. Its underpowered, overpriced devices are shoving away both the casual and hardcore players. Its management is sending mixed messages to the industry. And following a second holiday season of abysmal sales, a generation of young gamers is aging out of the market with no emotional attachment to Mario.
Nintendo's product strategy has painted the company into a corner. Both of its flagship platforms made a bet that consumers would find value in new gimmicks slapped on old devices. The Wii U boasts a controller that promised to bring to the living room the same kind of second-screen, touch-enabled experiences that made the original Nintendo DS transformative. Carrying that legacy forward, the 3DS rode the bandwagon that seized the industry early this decade.
But in trying to please everyone, Nintendo has succeeded in pleasing no one. The casual market doesn't understand why they should upgrade from their Wii, or even that it's a new product altogether. The hardcore market doesn't want to be stuck playing old games on the newest console.