It's a new year, and time for a new blog, so let’s get right into it. Nintendoom. “Is this the end of Nintendo”, “Is this the end of Handhelds”, we've heard all this before, but looking at the state of the Wii U, and it's understandable why this topic comes up. The Wii U is currently performing worse than the GameCube which is considered a failure sales-wise amongst the gaming community, especially in comparison to the numerous consoles from the big 3 throughout the decades (yes gaming can now use decades, you should feel old....very old). Sales weren't as widely known and spread back in the PS2/Xbox/GC/DC era, until consoles literally left the market (Dreamcast), and currently the Wii U is struggling to stay ahead of the PS3 (a console going on 9 years old). Having a console tank is a sad thing to see, and for many of today’s gamers the Wii U is the first console they’ll see struggle.
But who's to blame for this. Nintendo? Developers? Gamers? The result of Nintendo's current situation is a combination of all 3. Ultimately the blame is solely on Nintendo. Simply put Nintendo, doesn't understand the contemporary core gamer, and as a result, they also don't understand 3rd party developers which is the main reason the Wii U has failed thus far. Nintendo use to be the platform for young gamers to get their first taste of video games, providing them and the industry with a new market of gamers each generation. But now, gaming is everywhere. Kids with access to tablets and cell phones now have access to games many of which are free, and the need for Nintendo has taken a nosedive for that audience. Quality can easily be argued in favor of Nintendo, but 10 year olds and younger aren’t masters of determining quality, and price reigns supreme when it comes to the non-gaming parent’s wallet.
That leaves Nintendo servicing only loyalist, families who know about Nintendo’s E for Everyone quality, and fans who at one point grew up with Nintendo which as proven by the Wii U sales is a niche audience. The problem is Nintendo has done little to nothing to grow with the times, but rely on gimmicks hoping they catch on. This has alienated one of their potential biggest audiences, old-time fans, who have moved on to PlayStation / Xbox consoles, or PC gaming in an effort to obtain a blue ocean strategy and reach all audiences. A dangerous strategy that worked for the Wii, but doomed the Wii U.
The one gold star of Nintendo’s hardware has always been their Handhelds, but once again cell phones and tablets have become the go to devices for many children. These devices not only offer gaming, but full multimedia functionality rivaling that of the more expensive consoles, and for those who take their mobile gaming seriously 4G connections for constant internet access, vastly superior hardware specs., and in some cases HDMI for gaming sessions on your HDTV. Together this has caused Nintendo’s once powerful Handheld brand is starting to feel a small shift in lower sales for the very first time.
So how do they fix their situation. Many core gamers are going to flat-out disagree with what I have to say, but in order for Nintendo to thrive in gaming once again they need to either (A.) go completely casual or (B.) accept a buyout.
.......... ^_^ .......... ^_^ .......... -_- .......... (º-º) *evil glare
Now that I've given you a chance to put your pitchforks away, I want to say at heart, even I wouldn't want this, and by “going completely casual" I don’t mean making casual games, just making entry level hardware. Going full on casual for the first time is how the Wii became the huge success that it was. Wii also burned a lot of gamers, and while the Wii U IMO rectified many of the issues gamers had with the original Wii. The problem remains that Nintendo's focus on quality (which I completely applaud them for) leaves them with huge gaps in game releases without the support of 3rd party developers. With games being harder and more costly to develop, it would be best for Nintendo to focus less on high end hardware, and focus on capable hardware instead.
Still, I know this is going to send many gamers into an uproar, who believe under powered hardware is to blame for Nintendo’s current position; however, Nintendo’s chances of succeeding are far better with a lower price console than they are competing with the Sony and Microsoft in a technology battle they’re going to lose. None of Nintendo games aim for a real world look; therefore, there’s no need to have the greatest hardware squeezed into the console at a $400 - $500 price. On top of that Sony and MS already have the core market, and consumers faced with the option of buying a $400 PS5, a $400 XB4, and a $400 Nintendo console would be the final nail in the coffin for Nintendo’s console business. The entry and low-end console space has no competition except for the older consoles and android based gaming devices. This is a market Nintendo actually has a chance in, and at a reasonable price ($199 - $249) a market they’ve proven they can do well in. A consumer faced with the decision between a $400 PS, $400 Xbox, and $200 Nintendo console would choose their main gaming platform first, but at that price the Nintendo console increases it’s chances of becoming a must-buy for the “old fan audience” we discussed earlier.
Performance wise a $200 console at best would be on par with the predecessors of the competition, in this case equivalent to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or slightly better. It’s not what the majority of core gamers will be looking for when it comes to having the best console hardware, but it’s acceptable and offers enough power for Nintendo to show evolution.
As far as their Handheld goes, there’s not really much Nintendo can do to fix the situation. The good news is their Handhelds are still extremely strong sellers. The magic price point for their Handhelds seems to be $150, and as long as they stay within that range sales should remain strong for at least another generation. Also, fortunately for Nintendo mobile technology is in a rapid growth period, allowing their next Handheld to benefit from a large performance boost, without a significant rise in production cost.
Nintendoom: Part 2: Buyout / Merger
Wii U could very well be a GameCube 2.0, the only thing it has going for it is the fact that the Wii U still has room for several price drops.
GameCube vs Wii U JP sales
Great Art-style is timeless and doesn't need the best hardware
Price can do wonders for your console ask Wii $249, and XBO $349
Press Start writes: "There’s a lot to like about the new Forza Motorsport, then, but there are a few things that hold this title from back being truly excellent. While significant improvements have been made to the experience of racing when it comes to visuals, physics and audio – the AI drivers are a different story. Almost entirely unpredictable at times, the AI will consistently disrespect the racing line, side-slam your car and even brake check you during races."