Nintendo's future

If you’re an avid gamer like me, and you like to keep up to date about the developments of the industry, you will surely have read about the fact that Nintendo hasn’t been having stellar results as a company in the past three years. Especially compared to the golden years of the DS and the much coveted Wii. Nintendo used to pretty much own the casual gaming market with games like Mario Party, Brain Training and Wii Fit. Even my less then game oriented friends and colleagues stood in line to buy a Wii, their kids all had a DS and some of them, ladies who had never had any interest in those kind of devices, even took a chance and played a Professor Layton title.

This kind of success is usually not long-lasting, and certainly in the gaming industry, they must stay on their toes and be on the lookout for the next innovation. I saw the change up close: those same people who owned a Wii bought an Xbox Kinect for the kids for the next Christmas. I heard comments like: “so cool that you didn’t even need a remote to operate it!” Or they bought the new PS3, because they wanted a Blu-ray player anyway, and PS3 worked for that medium too. The casual gaming market just isn’t that dedicated to a brand!

So Nintendo came up with the 3DS and the WiiU, and while particularly the 3DS does fairly well, it seems they have lost much much of the casual gaming market. Somehow for a company that’s been around for so long they can come across as a bit clumsy. The 3DS was too pricey at launch, a very weak line up of launch games. In the casual gaming market, it would primarily be the parents that have to buy the new 3DS. They’re not going to if the price is high, and the old DS still functions well enough. And the WiiU’s main feature in my opinion, the GamePad, isn’t marketed as it could have been. Most people see the WiiU just as a successor to the Wii, more of the same so to speak. So they lost market share to their immediate competitors, Sony and Microsoft and are now facing an uphill battle. Aside from that I think the entire industry is facing a challenge caused by app gaming, ill leave that topic for a future blog.

I’ve been pondering the question if there’s still a future for Nintendo. As a fan I certainly hope so, but I think they should explore new territories to do so. Not fall back on Mario or Zelda, but try to make a new hero that can help persuade gamers out there. The 3DS is a success that could be explored even further, for instance by making more use of the eShop. I’d like to see a connection between the WiiU and the 3DS, making for more gaming fun. Develop more WiiU games that can be played on the GamePad only, and release more apps that use the GamePad like you would use a tablet.

I’m hopeful for their future, because at the E3-2014 last June they did well. Not with a big show like their competitors, but by showing what they do best: make excellent games. They showed gameplay in the Treehouse, they showed the developers behind the games (I loved the interview with the designers behind Yoshi’s Woolly World) and they had some cool new games ( like Captain Toad Treasure Tracker) and new ideas to show. Like using the already present Near Field Communication on the GamePad to market the Amiibo, little adorable figurines of Nintendo’s finest to use in a range of games. Judging by the success of Skylanders, this could be a huge success, and could draw the casual gaming market back in.

So yes, I do think there is a bright future for Nintendo, and because of that, a bright future for Nintendo fans too!


  1. The N64 and GameCube struggled sales wise, and so the Wii U’s sales issues are not unusual. The big N’s problem rests in the image of the brand. When the so called hardcore thinks Nintendo, they’re engulfed with negative thoughts about specs, and games for kids. Many 3rd parties also hate the fact that Nintendo’s hardware is so different from that of Sony and Microsoft. But even with all that in the pot, I for one would hate Nintendo to change their strategy in order to increase its consumers. I like the Mario’s, Zeldas, and I wouldn’t want Nintendo’s overall image to change. These are the sort of games I like, and enjoy playing without fear that my children may just get a glimpse of them. Even the Metroid franchise I’m a big fan of. Yes, I know Samas has a big arm cannon to protect herself from horrible monsters, but the main focus of the game is adventure not violence.

    Nintendo does need lessons however in how to market its consoles. The 3DS was vastly overpriced considering the games it launched with, and the Wii U launch was troubled by confusion caused by a lack of advertising. And the launch prince was way to high!

    1. Thanks for commenting Jonah. I was surprised this week when my teenage daughter, who has had a DS for so long, admitted to me that confessing that you had a nintendo device to your friends wasn’t considered the cool thing. So, Nintendo isn’t cool to that age group, and when I asked, apparently the other big two are. What happened?

      1. There is problem with Nintendo having a so called kiddy image. The other consoles are where the so called mature content have a home. I for one am used to being unfashionable. 🙂

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