You’ll all look back on this point someday and know: this was when Nintendo gave up on home consoles.
Do you all remember that Nintendo commercial from over the holidays? It’s the one where the kids are preparing to “sell” their parents on the idea of buying them a new Wii U for Christmas. They have their little charts and pointers and gather together to rehearse how to “overcome sales objections” (much like a real marketing company would do). One of the very first issues on the agenda is when the parents would inevitably suggestion that “…we already bought you a Wii.” To which, the kid is instructed to reply, “…but this is the Wii U!” This commercial perfectly summarizes Nintendo’s uphill battle with its latest, half-assed console. It’s a system I have been hammering on since its release as a waste of time and money (not to mention being unfit for the name Wii).
It would seem that Nintendo has finally seen fit to pluck their heads out of the Koopa shells they’ve been hiding in, and face reality. In what could be considered Nintendo sending up the very first warning flares that something may be amiss aboard their ship, president Satoru Iwata recently had to apologize to shareholders. It looks as if the company is reportedly expected to experience its third straight year of operating loss. Sales projections for the Wii U were originally set at a ridiculous 9 million consoles by March of 2014. Now, the company has slashed that figured by almost two-thirds, as it believes they will move just under 3 million.
So, with these abysmal sales figures from its latest console (and no real magic bullet in sight that could pull the company out of the fire), many have begun to speculate where Nintendo will go from here. At this point, they’ve clearly backed the wrong horse with the Wii U console, as many just don’t consider it a "must have" system compared to the original. We may be seeing Nintendo’s first inklings of considering what a console-less future looks like for them, as Iwata himself says, “"We are thinking about a new business structure.” While that could mean a variety of things, all signs point to them possibly pulling the plug on their home console endeavors for good and turning their attentions elsewhere. “Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business...The way people use their time, their lifestyles, who they are--have changed. If we stay in one place, we will become outdated." He said.
One respite in the storm is certainly the firm death grip that Nintendo continues to have over the handheld gaming market. If they were going to consider doubling down their efforts in the mobile arena, Nintendo is certainly in a position to completely lock it down (now being able to give it 100% of their undivided attention). As prevalent as the iPhones, Androids and Vitas have become, they simply can’t match the huge popularity (and loyal fan base) a Nintendo branded mobile game device brings.
Face it guy and gals: we may have just seen the first chink in Nintendo’s armor that could lead them in a VERY different direction over the course of the next-gen in 2014 (and beyond).
I told you so.