I think we’ll all admit that Nintendo got us all when they released the Wii. We were suckered in by promises of game innovation, fun and a return to the Nintendo we grew up on. Too bad that fun lasted less than 12-months and we all very much regretted the purchase.
Third-party developers failed to create anything memorable for the Wii while Nintendo continued to pedal their same old wares of Mario, Zelda, Metroid and the likes. That’s not to say those first-party games weren’t great, some were but that’s all there was. Unless you were a diehard Nintendo-ite, you weren’t going to buy a Wii to play only a few games. Unfortunately for Nintendo, it seems like the WiiU is a familiar trip.
The proof is in the numbers
To say sales of the WiiU have been a disappointment for Nintendo would probably be an understatement. By all rights it seems no one is buying the WiiU and from reports I’ve been reading, developers aren’t exactly lining up to make games, which puts us right back where we were last time, a console seemingly designed for one developer: Nintendo. Again, not that there’s anything wrong with Mario, Pokemon and Zelda but how much longer do they think people will spend top dollar for a console that’s only good for a few games? Thankfully, the solution is simple…quit making consoles and just make games.
Know your role
Look, Nintendo is really good at making games. Their games are good, well designed, well made and worth the price. Nintendo built their empire selling consoles in the 80s and 90s but times they are a changin’ and now there’s a lot more competition, both console and non-console. I know it hard to give up on something that has worked for decades but sometimes it works out for the better. Just look at Sega.
Sega kicked ass with the Genesis and continued making consoles until the turn of the century when the Dreamcast ended its run. The Dreamcast was a great console but suffered from a limited game library. Honestly, the Dreamcast was way ahead of its time and while the technology can be appreciated, the fact remains that the Dreamcast didn’t sell and that was enough for Sega to return to doing what it has always done very well, make games.
Sega returned to being a game-only company and continues to help develop and publish some of the best games on current-gen consoles. Sega was able to bow out of the console business gracefully and pull themselves back up in the eyes of gamers and the industry. Sega realized what they were good at and focused on that rather than continuing to spread themselves thin between software and hardware. Sega games are out on all platforms from consoles to phones, so they’re making money off of gamers that didn’t otherwise want to own a specific console.
Let me play where I want
I would love to play today’s Nintendo games and see what they’re all about but I’m not going to pay $300 or more for a console just to play a few games. It just doesn’t make sense anymore and I don’t know why Nintendo can’t see that…although I hope they’re starting to get a clue given their sales over the past year. Nintendo is under attack on the console and handheld level. The Nintendo portables still sell well but they can’t hold a candle to the sheer number of phone/tablets out there and I know for a fact that there probably a few people that would pay good money for an official Mario game app. It’s true, Nintendo wouldn’t be able to sell an app for $50 but any game with “Nintendo” on it would certainly be an upper-tier app that could easily command $5 or more. And people would pay it. While Nintendo is struggling to sell consoles and games, I’m dropping cash weekly on apps and PC titles. I’ll happily give Nintendo my money, all they need to do is make it easy to do so.
Nintendo has become an exclusive club for fanboys and it seems like the rest of the gaming world is tired of it. Fool us once…fool us twice. Maybe Nintendo rested on their laurels too much with the Wii. Or maybe they’re stubborn. Who knows? But what I do know is that Nintendo can’t afford to keep their games in their walled garden for much longer.