It looks like Nintendo has become our clueless friend at the party.
The video game industry is a damn competitive one. Gone are the days that two designers in a room at Atari can sit together, smoke some reefer, and knock out a half-dozen titles that will go on to be classics. Microsoft and Sony are about to launch the opening shots of the next-gen console war in just a few short days. I’ve dubbed them the “Big Two,” as Nintendo has clearly fallen out of the picture. It’s crazy to think that a company that had such a huge impact on the current-gen is so completely irrelevant in the upcoming one. Where did Nintendo go wrong?
We won’t just see the release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 soon, but also a slew of other consoles (like the Ouya, Valve’s Steam Machine, and the M.O.J.O.) that hope to eat up precious market share away from Nintendo. Recently, during its second quarter financial report, Nintendo said something that I think really highlights exactly how oblivious it is to the state of affairs the company currently finds itself. Actually, I’d call it more of a nose dive. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had this to say on the matter: “I think the launch of other video game systems is also good for us because they energize the video game industry as a whole. Though there are some who take the view that intensified competition means overseas competition will be tough for Nintendo, no matter how Nintendo does domestically, I do not necessarily see it that way. This year, what Nintendo is promoting is, conversely, to stand out in the game industry for individuality. I believe we have become a unique value.”
A statement like this coming from the president of Nintendo is like the Titanic hitting the iceberg and the captain thinking they just installed an icemaker on board. He doesn’t realize the ship is slowly but surely going down.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not willing to write off Nintendo just yet. I know that they’ll be around for a long time to come (and I couldn’t be happier about that fact). The problem is, as a Nintendo fan, I don’t want to see them just laboring along for the next five years as Sony and Microsoft set the world on fire with their next-gen achievements. At this point, I’m not sure Nintendo survives as a viable option in the next-gen. With the huge success of the original Wii, the company moved over 100 million units and was one of the bestselling consoles of the current-gen. With its quirky style and charm, Nintendo showed it could compete with anyone without the need to push technology over fun. It now seems it is simply staggering into the next-gen, with little hopes of keeping up. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the Wii U is already winded. It’s moved just fewer than 4 million units since its launch (an abysmal start compared to its predecessor), and many of those sales can be attributed to a recent price cut. So is Nintendo throwing its full faith and support behind its new console during one of the most important financial periods of the year (the upcoming 2013 holiday season)?
No, it’s repackaging the Wii in a stripped down, lower-priced bundle with Mario Kart in hopes of salvaging the end-of-year revenue.
I say these things not out of petulance. I take no glee in the idea that Nintendo may not make it through the long haul of the net-gen, with the wolves of the other console developers at the door. It’s almost like a wounded animal that is limping along as the pack surrounds it. I can only hope and pray that the folks at Nintendo snap out of their pie-in-the-sky outlook and realize they need to right this ship now before it’s too late. I, for one, want Nintendo to be part of future console generations.
Remember Mr. President; you might think that’s the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s not. It’s the train.