As a gamer for most of my life, more specifically a lover of Nintendo, to hear that the company will likely be announcing their Wii U successor, the long rumored NX very soon, is baffling and concerning to me. And by the looks of things, analysts and the general gaming community aren’t having a particularly sunshine and rainbows attitude towards it either.
The Wii U has massively under-performed, having only sold 12.6 million units according to official sales numbers provided by the company, and there are a lot of reasons for that. Not the least of which is that, save for being a fairly interesting multimedia device, it truly can’t cut it for hardcore gamers and at best is a complimentary piece of hardware—a piece of hardware that will set consumers back $300. The solution to those problems is not, however, to make their loyal customers to buy yet another new piece of hardware. Instead, Nintendo should abandon home consoles altogether and focus on mobile gaming and licensing their titles to Microsoft, Sony and PC.
Nintendo should abandon home consoles altogether and focus on mobile gaming and licensing their titles to Microsoft, Sony and PC.
The thought of the company that revolutionized the home gaming console no longer making home gaming consoles may be a tough pill for many avid gamers to swallow, but to those gamers I say: “How are you enjoying your Wii U?”
Truthfully, even going back to the Nintendo 64, the company has sort of been behind the eight ball and making the wrong guesses about what hardware is going to take off and with that, incorrectly anticipating the needs of their consumer base in the long run. For instance, as much as people fondly remember the 64, it was a cartridge-based gaming system in a world that would come to be dominated by discs. Sega had been able to guess that much a few years earlier, even if the Sega CD was a bit ahead of its time. Not to mention no Nintendo system has ever allowed us to play DVDs or Blu-Rays.
Sony came out of the woodworks with the original Playstation during that console generation with much success, and that would inspire the Playstation 2, which still remains the best selling console of all time. Nintendo, instead, opted for the mini disc misfire known as the Gamecube, which only sold a fraction of what the competition managed to sell.
There is no need to really dig into Nintendo’s entire history to see that the way things are progressing and the way Nintendo has attempted to innovate haven’t really gelled. The PS4 and the Xbox One are more similar than they are different when it really comes down to it and that is probably why they have both succeeded, even though Sony is kind of running away with it sales-wise.
However, what Nintendo has now and has always had going for it is titles that everyone loves and really wants to play. Not only does the house that Mario Bros. built have their signature brotherly plummers to entice gamers, but the company also has the much acclaimed Zelda games and let us not forget that anything Pokemon comes from the big N.
With that in mind, it is safe to assume that there are an awful lot of gamers out there, myself included, who would absolutely love to play the latest Mario Kart or Zelda but don’t exactly have the disposable income or desire to shell out a few hundred bucks to obtain the hardware just for a few select titles. That said, if those titles were available and licensed to Microsoft and Sony, gamers would more than likely happily shell out for the games themselves.
Nintendo clearly isn’t making bank off of their console market right now, so, why not quit worrying about dealing with hardware altogether and tap into the console market that Microsoft and Sony already have? That would be nearly 60 million consoles (not to mention the potential PC gaming market) that Nintendo could tap into.
What Nintendo has now and has always had going for it is titles that everyone loves and really wants to play.
“As far as NX goes, I’ve said it’s different and obviously a new experience,” Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said in a recent interview with Time. “That being said, I can assure you we’re not building the next version of Wii or Wii U. It’s something unique and different. It’s something where we have to move away from those platforms in order to make it something that will appeal to our consumer base.”
Though that sounds fine on paper, that sounds like a lesson that should have been learned and something that should have been said prior to the release of the Wii U, not now. Not when 12 million people will probably be upset they shelled out for what will already be an obsolete console. Yes, the Wii was a tremendous success, having sold more than 100 million units, but that is because it was relatively cheap, unique and could be a complimentary piece of hardware that was able to tap into a large market of very casual gamers that had little or no interest in playing Halo or Call of Duty.
No gamer, or even lover of pop culture for that matter, wants to see Nintendo go away. Not at all. But if the NX fails, and there is not a lot of momentum in its favor, that could put the company in a really bad spot. Sega has never really recovered from the Dreamcast and though it is hard to imagine, the same fate could be right there waiting for Nintendo.
Instead, Nintendo should get ahead of things and control their own destiny. Make their games accessible to the widest possible audience. They are already tapping into the mobile game market and no company has had nearly the success they have enjoyed with handheld gaming. So, keep the Game Boys coming and let me play Donkey Kong on my Xbox. Please, don’t make us shell out several hundred dollars just to play the surely glorious next installment of Zelda.
Ryan Scott is a freelance news and entertainment writer who knows way too much about music, movies and comic book-related happenings. He runs on Mountain Dew and still buys CDs. Follow him on Twitter @RyanScottWrites.