“I find your lack of faith disturbing…”
OK kids, reality check time. We’ve heard a ton about the recent ups and downs (mostly downs) as of late regarding one of our favorite game institutions. Nintendo has been on the ropes over the last month or so, starting with its public acknowledgement of the essential failure of its Wii U console (in slashing sales predictions for the early part of the year) followed by Satoru Iwata symbolically falling on his sword by taking a huge salary cut as an “I’m sorry” to their investors.
So why do I say it’s time for a reality check? It comes in response to the collective sigh of relief sweeping the internet regarding Nintendo’s recent outline of their future plans. Last week we saw Nintendo's president go into great detail regarding exactly how the company plans to pull the plane out of its nose dive or right the ship’s course. It ran the gamut of taking their resources to the mobile market to allowing Nintendo licensed characters (something they’ve always played VERY close to the chest) to be farmed out to other developers.
However, Nintendo’s new interest in mobile is one that people should pay close attention to (as it’s more significant than some might realize). In regards to the blossoming smart phone gaming market, Iwata said, “We recognize that attracting consumers' attention among the myriads of mobile applications is not easy, and as I said before, we feel that simply releasing our games just as they are on smart devices would not provide the best entertainment for smart devices, so we are not going to take any approach of this nature.”
When Iwata says “…approach of this nature,” he’s clearly referring to the concept of “porting” titles. We saw this happen with many PS2 games that were simply shrunken down for the PSP to become handled versions of what we already saw on the consoles. Nintendo is saying that this simply won’t work for them, and they will be required to come up with new and innovative concepts for smart devices if they plan to compete in an already competitive field.
However, the problem is, this is yet another new rollout from a company with far too many balls in the air as is, and whose resources are already spread dangerously thin.
While they can’t come right out and say it now, Nintendo is flying blind. They have been slapped in the face with an unexpected reality, namely a failed console and a fan base that is not unified under one banner (IE: Wii fans not always being crossover DS fans, etc.) For instance, take a guy like me who was specifically a Wii lover. When this was taken away, I didn’t necessarily feel the need to switch to Nintendo’s next console as I would upgrading from a PS3 to PS4. That means I’m now kind of stuck in limbo, waiting for Nintendo to make their next move. They have taken one step in the right direction in that regard, by attempting to unify the game libraries via the MiiVerse. In the end, I’m wondering if it’s enough.
Now, here is why Nintendo’s mobile aspirations secretly reveals their true intentions.
Many may not pick up on this, but Nintendo’s next move is clearly them testing the waters to see if an all-mobile backup plan is feasible. This is Iwata and the brain trust hedging their bets, so if things continue to go south, they have an exit strategy. I’ve stated in the past that a complete mobile Nintendo is a very real possibility, one that I believe the company has already internally began to consider and explore.
In short, this new direction will not be seen as the magic bullet that saved Nintendo as we know it today. If things continue down their present course, I still maintain, as I always have, that this company will be out of the home console business in 5-10 years, instead focusing 100% of their energy on handheld gaming.
I don’t make these claims for bragging rights mind you, I make them because I feel nobody else will.