It seems like an understatement to say that Nintendo may have hit one hell of a rough patch, recently. With people going back and forth about how much of a failure the Wii U is going to be, Nintendo’s sales forecasts for its next financial year (which just came out yesterday) has things looking down.
There are people all over the internet talking about all the things Nintendo’s doing wrong. Yes, it starts with graphics. It always starts with graphics and pisses off Nintendo fans. But the undeniable truth is that with powerful machines like the PS4 and Xbox One coming out and sheer processing power displayed by PS4, the Wii U has been pretty disappointing.
Nintendo never had to focus too much on graphics or carrying every single fad of a third party title, because it had its own objectives and own strengths. They have a loyal fan base, a plethora of beloved exclusive franchises, prioritize innovative and interesting gameplay over going with market-safe methods, and a kid-friendly casual-friendly appeal. But one has to admit, those are some of the places it’s going wrong.
With a fan-base as loyal as Nintendo’s, must they market themselves so heavily towards the casual crowd? While the Wii’s success as one of the highest selling consoles of all time can very well be attributed to that fact, one has to keep in mind that casual gamers now have tablet and smartphone gaming more than catering to their needs. In fact, tablet gaming is pretty much starting to compete with consoles to some degree, with big-shot development companies going as far as to make tablet OS exclusives. It wouldn’t hurt Nintendo to target a more “hardcore” audience at this point.
So, is Nintendo really dying out? You might think so, but Nintendo has hit rough patches before.
The Virtual Boy was Nintendo’s first venture into 3D gaming, if you remember. If you don’t, it’s because it wasn’t exactly a big hit. It was also the first portable console released by Nintendo. And despite the fact that it wasn’t the main Nintendo console coming out that gen (it was closely followed by the N64) and the fact that times were not as competitive in the gaming world, Nintendo bounced back from Virtual Boy. Just as it did from GameCube, which despite having several well-loved classics on it, was still commercially a no-go.
We still have to keep in mind how badly Nintendo’s current handheld, the 3DS, was doing when it launched. It went on to be the highest selling console (console, mind you, not handheld console) of 2013 in the US. And it’s no wonder. I personally believe it to be one of the best stand-alone consoles in the last couple gens, thanks to its amazing collection of games. So, who is to say that the Wii U won’t be able to turn things around again?
They still have a frustrating (and confusing) region locking system, yes. They still don’t focus too much on multiplayer, at a time in gaming where I would say it’s crucial. Maybe they’ll address these issues with a new version of the Wii U. Maybe they’ll scrape by for now and re-enter the game with some new control mechanism, like they did with the Wii, when the 9th gen rolls along.
There are a lot of reasons that the Wii U is doing badly. But there haven’t exactly been that many killer games on the Wii U, just yet. Its third party launch title was ZombiU for heck’s sake! But Nintendo has a lot going for it. After all, a person with a Playstation wouldn’t have much reason to buy an Xbox and vice versa. But where can one play Smash Bros. and Mario other than a Nintendo? And after Zelda 2014 comes out, I really doubt people won’t be lining up to buy the Wii U.