By Aaron Collier
Nintendo is synonymous with video games.
They single handily saved the home console market, created the most recognizable character in all of gaming, and continue to move the video game business forward with their innovation.
In short, without Nintendo the video game market might not exist or, at the very least, be a lot less prominent in the world of entertainment.
With the release of the WiiU sales expectations for 2014, Nintendo is cutting the console’s sales estimation by 70% from a 9 million prediction to a 2.8 million one. With the adjusted numbers the whispers of Nintendo’s demise became a bit louder. Anytime you cut your sales expectation by that much the term “sky is falling” is going to follow from both fans and financial experts.
So with all this panic in Nintendo’s proverbial streets, should the company itself be worried? For that matter, should us as fans be worried that Nintendo is in a situation they can’t possibly survive?
Before we answer this question, let’s back this truck full of doomsday thinking back a little bit and remind ourselves this isn’t the first time that the industry and fans have questioned Nintendo’s future as a hardware manufacturer. In fact, the last time such clamoring started was when the Gamecube was released to less than stellar sales. You even had some panic with the N64 due to the Nintendo clinging to the cartridge format while Sony thrived with CD-Rom design as their weapon of choice.
Then they make something like the Wii and we remember why Nintendo is, well, Nintendo. They always view the gaming business through different lenses and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The Wii worked because you could hand it to your kid brother or your 80-year-old grandmother and fun could be had by all. They may have alienated the “hardcore” gamer, but they gained a market share that both Sony and Microsoft are still scrambling to capture a piece of with their own motion control devices.
Unfortunately, the Wii U hasn’t captured anyones imagination like the Wii did and there is no denying that the console is in trouble. It was marketed wrong, it didn’t have many games at launch, and no one has figured out the touchscreen control pad just yet. Throw in Nintendo’s lack of interest in online play and it’s not hard to see why everyone is doubting Nintendo yet again. They haven’t given us a reason to purchase a Wii U, like they did with Wii and the innovated motion controls that no one thought possible let alone generate millions of dollars in revenue.
Call me crazy, but even after all the mistakes they have made over the last year, I feel like Nintendo can still make the Wii U a viable second console to have in a household. Mainly due to Nintendo’s core franchises being able be enjoyed by all ages together regardless of the console. With Nintendo cutting the sales estimations so drastically, they know the Wii U isn’t going be a major success and it may not even be a minor one, but if Nintendo breaks even on the console then they should count that as a moral victory. Nintendo has a ton of money. They would have to lose 1 billion dollars for 20 years straight before if would even remotely think about filing for bankruptcy. So the talk of this last year being their “demise” is silly at best.
Unless there next idea is a Virtual Boy HD, I don’t think they are going to be in serious financial trouble anytime soon.
2014 will be telling for the system with many of Nintendo’s core franchises debuting on the system. Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, and a new take on the Zelda franchise (think Dynasty Warriors) all scheduled to come out this calendar year. Add those titles to the highly reviewed Super Mario 3D World, Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, and quality Virtual Console titles like Earthbound and Nintendo still has a chance to recapture some of the market share, even if it is a small one behind Sony and Microsoft.
The good news for Nintendo is the stage is set for them to innovate and show us something new that makes them a viable contender again in the video game market. If some reports can be believed, they may be doing just that with their next console. Regardless, Nintendo has too many smart people and, maybe more importantly, world famous characters to just quietly go away.
We should all want Nintendo to thrive. They offer different characters and gameplay that Nintendo can only do. They may not be the most popular kid on the block right now, but they are the kid that everyone likes and wants to see succeed, even though he does things a bit differently.
Without the House of Mario in the gaming industry, I see a dystopian future filled with Call of Duty and Mountain Dew flowing through the streets.
I don’t know about you, but a future without Nintendo looks to be a bleak one at best. Let’s all hope that Mario and company can save us from such a dark future.