Concerns over Nintendo’s future are rising, but will our plucky plumber live to fight another day?
Ever since the introduction of the NES, Nintendo have been one of the biggest contenders in the gaming industry. They have enriched the lives of gamers and brightened many a childhood, but with their recent fall in profit during 2012/13, will they remain in the console market?
This is not the first time Nintendo have been doubted. Whole gaming communities scoffed when Nintendo brought out a console that would require participants to physically move during game play. However, they were underestimating Nintendo’s ability to hone in on their target audience; Nintendo know exactly who they are aiming their consoles at. Even people who still considered the Phone Box to be essential part of daily life were picking up Wiimotes and joining in. Where previously sullen teens would be playing games alone in their room, whole families were playing games together. The Wii ended up selling over 99 million units worldwide, and the naysayers were left embarrassed and ashamed.
It’s possible that in this multimedia world they need to take a step towards greater functionality.
After the great success of the Wii, the announcement of the Wii U at E3 2011 was extremely exciting. Yet it has been reported that the Wii U isn’t doing as well as Nintendo had hoped, with just over three million units shipped since its release. But why? Maybe it has something to do with the scarcity of games specifically designed for the Wii U so far. After all, Nintendo games are of a different creed to first person shooters. Mario, Zelda, Kirby and Starfox all have stories and character development behind them, and they appeal to a wider age range due to their lack of graphic violence. Without them, there’s no point in buying the console. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Wii U is primarily for official Nintendo activities. Nintendo have always created their consoles to function as hubs for gaming and nothing more. It’s possible that in this multimedia world they need to take a step towards greater functionality. And to top it off, slightly shy of three hundred smackaroos is a lot to invest in a piece of kit that isn’t multi-functional.
The question is, if Nintendo do end up dropping out of the console market, where will they go? They could take the same route as Sega did when the Dreamcast flopped and just make games. But let’s face it, no Sonic game has ever lived up to the definitive 1991 edition, Sonic the Hedgehog. Can you imagine trying to play a Legend of Zelda game on a PC or an Xbox? It would give you that cringey feeling you get when an actor you like is in a really bad movie.
Maybe it won’t come to this. After all, Nintendo have always been the connoisseurs of handheld entertainment. Gamers will use any excuse to escape from the real world, so if forced to leave the custom gaming chair, a handheld is essential. I for one spent the entirety of my early teens collecting Pokémon on my (yellow) Gameboy Colour. A greater focus on their portable devices could well be a move towards future success.
Despite Nintendo’s recent hiccups, Mario cosplayers can stop weeping into their adhesive moustaches. Shares are up and with a host of new games on the way, Nintendo are doing everything they can to please die-hard fans this year. In my opinion, Nintendo will always find a way to continue producing consoles. Adhering to time pressures has never seemed to be their first priority, but making good games for use on revolutionary consoles has. If they can squeeze through this recession, I’m sure there will be many more great Nintendo creations to look forward to.
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