On Oct 28th 2015, Nintendo held their first investor meeting with the new CEO, Tatsumi Kimishima. There was news ahead of time that the first game in a promising line of mobile games from Nintendo and DeNA would be announced. It was. I was not impressed. Neither were many other people.
The game is called Miitomo, and it been promoted as what amounts to a social media app for Mii’s. The release date was also pushed from before Christmas to March 2016. This news brought trouble, even with the rumors of NX dev kits being set out to 3rd parties and the word that there are more unannounced games for 3DS and WiiU couldn’t stop Nintendo’s stock from plummeting in almost no time. Despite all of this, I don’t want to harp on Nintendo’s issue. Instead, I’d like to focus on the potential for the future.
I’m not an industry expert. I don’t have special knowledge in statistics or trends. I’m just a gamer, who interacts with other gamers. I think Nintendo can save themselves from themselves, but it will take a shift in mindset.
Nintendo, despite their status in the past, is not an industry leading hardware maker anymore. This is a fact that they have needed to accept for a while now. In an industry dominated by PlayStation, Xbox and even PC, both in technical power and 3rd party support, Nintendo needs to fully embrace and rule their position as a second system. But a 2nd system is not a $330+ box. That’s the problem with the WiiU.
The Nintendo NX could be this. It probably won’t be, but it could. Nintendo needs to make a small box, with maybe ever so slightly less power then the WiiU and a sizable low energy hard drive. They need a $100-$150 console that is digital only and could work with either a controller or use the New 3DS as a controller as well as a way to play games both on the go and at home. Put the focus on well known franchise and team up with talented indie developers. Make the NX what Xbox Live was in the last generation.
You may scoff at the idea of a digital only Nintendo system, but historically, current Nintendo systems do not make up much of the used games market. This is due to the fact that people do not generally sell back their first party titles and even used, they retain their high price point. So not being able to sell back N games is a nonissue for many. And if it’s the idea of trading games with friends or bringing them to other houses, a smaller size system could help address one of those. Nintendo can also save money by not having to press discs and cases and selling games through their own digital store, especially first party titles, would help them retain even more of the profit. Profit being something they definitely need.
I am not the average game buyer. I own all 3 current consoles and both current handhelds. If you’re reading this, you are probably not an average gamer either. The majority of people who buy and play games own either a PS4 or and Xbox One, not both. Most will eventually get a 2nd system but not right away. When that time comes, why would a PS4 owner buy a $300 WiiU with its (excellent) line up of 1st party titles and nothing else, over a $400 Xbox One, which has both great exclusives and 3rd party support. They won’t, as is evidenced by the WiiU’s less then stellar sales. Xbox owners have even more of a reason to choose the slightly more expensive PS4 console, for the same reasons.
But a $100 box that plays amazing games. That’s a no brainier for a 2nd console. That system moves units with every type of game player. A low price point with unique game experiences is what made the Wii incredibly successful. They can do it again, but with less waggling and shovel-ware.
I still believe in Big N. But it seems like their plan is to try and compete with the other console makers. That is a recipe for disaster. Speaking to Nintendo, embrace your niche. You can still innovate, but it must be done in a way that is inexpensive for the consumer. Or we will have a repeat of the WiiU and no one wants that.
Full disclaimer, I love Nintendo. The WiiU was my first system of this new generation. I was in line on day one to update to the New 3DS. Despite this initial stumble, I still believe their mobile experiment can be successful.