Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
September 1, 2014
arrowPress Releases
September 1, 2014
PR Newswire
View All
View All     Submit Event





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


 
What should Nintendo do now?
by Ben Cousins on 01/23/14 05:13:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

I've been in the games industry for nearly 15 years. First as a QA tester then a game designer and now one of those evil executives you read about.

I've worked in console, PC and now mobile. I'm known for my interest in free to play and disruption, but it's not that well known that I used to do remixes of classic Nintendo music.

As a Nintendo fan (my favorite game of all time is Link's Awakening) I've been thinking about the company's troubles for nearly three years now. At a high level, Nintendo’s problem is that they are failing to hit thier own sales forecasts: The company’s expectation of how much their products will sell is behind what actually happens. They are banking on a level of success which is out of step with what game players think.

Nintendo's historical stock price.

 

Here's some thoughts on what I feel the underlying problems are and a few suggestions for what they could do next.

In their heyday in the 90's, Nintendo managed to serve three distinct customers with pretty much the same IPs and product lineups.

  • Kids
  • Casual gamers
  • Hardcore gamers

The great news is that since the mid 90’s, the number of people playing videogames has increased greatly- This means that now each of these segments is big enough to support specific targeted products. The kids and casuals market has grown massively since the mid-2000s on the back of incredible innovation from Apple and Google as well as the rise of gaming on social networks, and the core market grew significantly in the late 90s and 2000s thanks to the aggressive market entry of Sony and later Microsoft.

The bad news for Nintendo is that now these three segments get special individual treatment, their old catch-all strategy ends up seeming like a compromise for each group.

In essence, many gamers feel like Nintendo products don't do a great job of serving their specific needs anymore, relative to other (newer) options.

How has the behaviour of these groups changed? I'll use anecdotal examples but there are wide ranging shifts with plenty of objective observation.

Many young kids (who would have previously played games like Pokemon or Mario on Nintendo handhelds and home consoles) are playing kid-specific games on smartphones, tablets and to a lesser degree PCs and Macs, specifically Minecraft. Toca Boca and Clumsy Ninja are examples of kid’s games my three year old daughter loves. My tween half sister and brother like PC/Mac games like Minecraft and mobile games like Angry Birds.

Many Casual gamers (who would have previously played games like Brain Training and Tetris on Nintendo Handhelds) are playing games on smartphones and tablets. My mother, who was previously a Tetris and Nintendogs player on her DS, is now playing a lot of a Candy (™) Crush Saga (™) on her new iPhone and on Facebook.

Many hardcore gamers (who would previously have played hours and hours of games like Metroid and Earthbound on the SNES) are how playing games on HD consoles. Many of my friends who were massive SNES and N64 gamers in their teens are now playing Call of Duty, The Last Of Us and Battlefield on PlayStations and Xboxes

Nintendo needs to accept and embrace the specific innovations that have lead to many members of these demographic groups ignoring Nintendo.

It also needs to accept the relative weakness of Nintendo in some of these areas.

- Smartphones and tablets are general purpose computing devices with a networking focus and touch screens. The games software for them is either free or extremely cheap and readily available via app stores They have extremely good user interfaces and a stylish design that works with all ages and sexes.

Nintendo in the past has produced cheaper, childish-feeling devices with relatively clunky interfaces and poor online features. They tend to sell games at high prices.

- Modern consoles focus on high end visuals, immersion, adult content and games that are as much passive cinematic experiences as they are interactive games.

Nintendo in the past has reticent to create more mature interpretations if their IPs and does not push hard on visuals or immersion. Its games are not very cinematic.

But Nintendo needs to hold on to what makes it a great company.

  • Strong, long-lasting IPs
  • Tremendous hardware innovation unique hardware products
  • Peerless quality in game design

So here's my suggestion.

Split the company into two distinct business units, perhaps with their own consumer branding. Each group leverages Nintendo's strengths but addresses changes the industry has gone through.

Business unit one. Nintendo Fresh! (please forgive me for my terrible logo design)

This unit owns kids-based IPs (Mario, Kirby, Pokemon, DK, Animal Crossing, Pikmin), concentrates on leveraging classic Nintendo IP in two ways.

1. Designs and builds Android-based general purpose devices. These beautiful small and medium sized devices have touch a screen AND physical controls. Here's a fun image I found of a phone-sized device.

There isn't enough money in smartphone and tablet software to interest a big company like Nintendo. But there is in hardware.

These devices would be priced similarly to a DS/3DS. $200 or 24x$10 monthly payments. Sold at a profit, with similar margins to other Nintendo handhelds. The devices run a Nintendo-themed version of Android which naturally runs all other Android apps including games. Nintendo does not attempt to take a cut of the software sales through Google Play. Nintendo need to embrace the superior interface designs of companies like Google and not try to do it themselves.

Point of differentiation - Exclusive game content. The devices are the only way to access completely free full-versions of hundreds of classic Nintendo games, from NES to Wii. No IAPs, no catches. New games are ported and released monthly. The classic games only work with the specific hardware controllers used on these devices.

Full Pokemon games for free. Full Yoshi's Island for free etc etc. Huge library.

Nintendo need to understand that this audience will never pay for games again and they should use the massive power of free in combination of their peerless library of software to drive adoption of the products where revenue does come from - hardware.

The 3DS sells at $250, the cost of components is about $100. This is pretty close to a Android tablet like a Nexus 7. Margins may need to be lower than this, but the assumption is that free world-class software and Android multifunction features would increase the audience over a device like the 3DS.

For benchmarking purposes, Samsung's Galaxy S3 Android phone hit 50 million units in just over a year. The 3DS took four years to get to 34 million. By adopting a more modern approach, Nintendo could increase the size of their handheld business enough to make up for the shortfall in handheld software sales if they make even a moderately successful device (17m units annually) in this category. Beyond that point they have a great new, modern platform to aggressively target kids and casuals.

2. The new Nintendo Android devices will greatly improve recognition of classic Nintendo kids IPs. This group also Licenses out these classic IPs into clothing, food, TV shows, movies. 45% of Angry Birds creator Rovio’s revenue comes from consumer products like these.

Group Two Nintendo Pure (sorry for the kerning)

Owns IPs with more potential to go mature (Metroid, Zelda, F-Zero, Earthbound, Golden Sun, Star Fox, Fire Emblem)

Leverages Nintendo’s incredible software and hardware R&D teams to make premium consoles and games purely for the hardcore gamer. Building incredibly innovative, high quality, immersive hardware like VR, wearables, or projection devices etc etc. Sell these devices at a small profit, rely on software for most operating income.

Nintendo need to side-step the battle for the TV and do things with hardware that Sony and Microsoft can’t.

For these devices, they will of course create incredible Nintendo-quality games, using new and classic IPs, but with an adult focus. Imagine a photorealistic, dark Metroid game running on a VR headset with a 98 metacritic. Imagine a deep, 100 hour Zelda adventure with 3D projections and voice recognition. You've seen 'Her', right?.

Nintendo need to recognise that they are one of the few companies the world who can make gameplay good enough to impress and excite even the most jaded core gamer - and audience they have somewhat ignored in the last decade.

By focussing on innovative hardware - a strategy that Microsoft and Sony just cannot match, Nintendo must just hope that the core audience overlooks the poor relative quality of the online experience.

They may never hit the install base they had with the Wii, but with the right hardware and software, numbers similar to the kind Microsoft and Sony achieve (along with good software attach rates) seem well within reach with this approach.

To recap

The market that Nintendo used to dominate in the 80s and 90s has been disrupted. As the market has been expanded by these disruptions, their traditional approach to user targeting has left them in no-man's land.

They need to jettison their weaknesses (bad UIs, expensive games for kids) and play to their strengths (hardware innovation and peerless software quality)

In some ways they need to follow the crowd (Android, going mature) but they also need to use the power of difference to give those appealing concepts a competitive new approach (fully free classic games with no IAP, whole new hardcore hardware platforms).

Nintendo probably won't choose a plan like this, but I hope they do something surprising and I wish them the best. Companies fail and die all the time, people don't bat an eyelid. Nintendo would be sorely missed if they continued the current slow sink into oblivion.


Related Jobs

Zindagi Games
Zindagi Games — Camarillo, California, United States
[09.01.14]

Software Engineer
Zindagi Games
Zindagi Games — Camarillo, California, United States
[09.01.14]

Lead/Senior Designer
N-Fusion Interactive
N-Fusion Interactive — Manalapan, New Jersey, United States
[09.01.14]

Unity 3D Game Designer
Retro Studios - Nintendo
Retro Studios - Nintendo — Austin, Texas, United States
[09.01.14]

RETRO STUDIOS - Level 3 Engineer






Comments


Benjamin Quintero
profile image
All very convincing.. Nintendo FRESH I can easily see happening; it's the most likely to come next considering Nintendo just bought up stock in Dwango and will probably buy up a small phone maker somewhere to partner with.

Nintendo PURE sounds interesting and would likely see the most backlash from internal as well as external forces. I don't see this happening but it certainly would be an interesting turn of events.

Robert Green
profile image
I'm not sure I agree with the Nintendo FRESH concept. The kind of device shown above, if it were to sell for a decent profit at $200, would need some fairly inferior hardware by modern standards, which would put customers in a fairly bad position - I can buy this cheap Nintendo phone, that's large and underpowered, or for the same price I could get an iPhone or Galaxy S4 on contract. For most people, that's not going to be a difficult choice, especially since the Nintendo device probably wouldn't work on some of the larger American carriers, who haven't embraced the BYOD concept. And unless they're updating it on a yearly basis, the choice would be even easier next year, when newer and better performing phones are released.

Unless you're actually suggesting that it would be available on contract, in which case they have a different set of challenges, like making hardware that supports every carrier (or multiple SKUs) and making the deals with every major carrier in the world. If that doesn't sound very hard, take a look at how many different phone models are available on all four of the major US carriers. So far, you can count them on one hand, and some of the biggest tech companies in the world (like Sony and Google) haven't managed it.

I also think that perhaps you're giving Nintendo too much credit in the hardware department. Nintendo have made a few innovative consoles, but they haven't necessarily been great. The Virtual Boy was innovative, and terrible. The Wii was innovative, but largely didn't work as advertised. The 3DS screen was interesting, but kinda flawed and ultimately so unimportant that they released a version without the 3D.
When people think of what makes Nintendo great, very few would go to the hardware first.

Christian Nutt
profile image
Where does he say it's a phone?

Robert Green
profile image
Ahh, my mistake. That'd make it a little cheaper, but otherwise the same logic largely applies. It'd still be an android-based device, competing against products that sell for very small margins and fairly impressive performance gains every year. If the only benefit is "it can play nintendo games", then is it that much better than a 3DS?
I find it a little interesting that it's the Wii U that's done really poorly, not the 3DS, but everyone seems to think that the solution involves something portable.

Christian Nutt
profile image
The 3DS has done far from poorly, but it's also not approaching its projected targets in the West and Western third party support is a tiny fraction of what the DS enjoyed.

Now, there's a lot to talk about there. Most important is: Is the dedicated portable a viable market at its current size and one Nintendo should pursue using its current tactics? And Ben is saying... nope!

Ben Cousins
profile image
The handheld devices are driven by the Nintendo game catalogue and the basic Android functions of email, Facebook, photos etc. I'm confident you could create a device with a devastatingly good catalogue of classic Nintendo games with a device BOM of around $100 (in two years time).

Jacob Pederson
profile image
Nintendo has proven over and over again either a failure, reluctance(?), legal difficulty(?) to emulate most of their amazing back-catalog. They have released a ridiculously overpriced, and sadly spotty amount of emulated games for their various modern systems, but nothing even approaching what you're suggesting here. I agree that they could own the android hardware market practically overnight with such a strategy, but are they capable . . . I don't think so.

My most played game on my Wii-U, is SNES F-Zero, picked up for 99 cents on sale. But most of my SNES emulation has taken place on Sony's PSP and more recently on NVidia's shield. Why? Because my cart collection either hasn't been available, or has been ridiculously overpriced on Nintendo's platforms! Not to mention Nintendo's emulators have lacked key features like scaling and autosaves.

Bob Johnson
profile image
@Cousins

I'm not seeing the big selling point of old Nintendo games. I don't think the masses what to play old games. I don't think it was/is a huge business for Nintendo on the Wi or 3ds. It's a nice side business.

Ben Cousins
profile image
They were overpriced.

Bob Johnson
profile image
Yeah but I don't think people will be clamoring for them even if free at least that's been my experience. I may have purchased less VC games because they were overpriced. But I still didn't do more than check them out a few times. My kids didn't either.


Theresa Catalano
profile image
I'm not sure if these are good ideas, particularly the "Nintendo Fresh" concept. You're trying to fix something that isn't broken... the 3DS is already a very successful system. There's no purpose in making a new device like this.

As for the "Nintendo Pure" concept... a drive towards realistic and mature content is a very shallow viewpoint based simply upon what's popular right now. The hardcore gaming market is more diverse than you make us out to be.

Ben Cousins
profile image
The 3DS is not hitting sales targets. This is one of the reasons for Nintendo's crashing share price. As stated early in the piece, with the 3DS, Nintendo is expecting a level of success that isn't achievable. Something is wrong, I'm suggesting the weak sales in the west are driven by people moving to other classes of devices for mobile entertainment.

Bob Johnson
profile image
Yes surely the 3ds is affected by mobile gaming today.

But just like how most pcs don't have a gaming gpu in them, what will these smartphones and tablets etc of tomorrow look like?

It seems like they will drop in price and that gpu advances will stall out as the masses won't require them.

What will the NIntendo games of tomorrow look like? Will they be all digital? What prices will they be?

Will Nintendo's hardware be sleeker? Willl they bring anything new to the gaming experience on their next piece of hardware?

Will the market interest level in mobile gaming drop off? And how much?

I hate to say it but it isn't going to be exciting to see a cheaper quality iPod touch wanna-be with a controller built-in that lets us play old games for free if Nintendo releases such a device in the next few years.

Christian Nutt
profile image
There are some interesting ideas here -- certainly what I like best about this post is that it attempts to assess the situation and the possibility of how to move forward. Even if I don't necessarily agree with the approach (especially emotionally, of course) it's nice to see someone put thought into an approach at all.

Coincidentally, this approach actually roughly mirrors EA, which I kind of use as a bellwether of what the market can sustain from the perspective of a big company that has a broad base: mobile and core. (That's an oversimplification, of course, but essentially accurate.)

First up, I find the suggestion of a non-phone Android device with disruptive pricing and hardware margins to actually be pretty clever. Like many people my only idea for how Nintendo would take care of its "hardware problem" is merging the handheld and consoles into one device. (Hence that ridiculous "Fusion" rumor which I don't believe going around right now.) This is another solution that is totally different than that and it makes some sense, for a few reasons: More open is better. Hardware margins continue. Splitting the business into two units that are more sharply focused will make it easier for them to concentrate on their creative strengths and the strengths of the target platforms, and their audiences.

As far as making Nintendo's console games go "more core," so to speak... Well, that's where I kinda start to throw up in my mouth a little bit. Without being overly cynical about the aesthetic shortcomings of triple-A games in general (which is damn hard for me to resist!) I don't think that Nintendo's core competencies as a developer even align with where that space is going right now. Taking an aesthetic and design shift down that road -- to try to get people who want to buy Skyrim or The Last of Us interested in Nintendo games -- seems really weird and hard to me, as weird and hard as a pivot to F2P mobile would be in its way, despite some obvious overlap.

Anyway, this is still food for thought.

Ben Cousins
profile image
I'm a core gamer. My first preference is for something like The Last of Us. When I play Nintendo games, I push myself to overcome the unpleasantly childish aesthetics and low level of graphical fidelity because the game mechanics and balance are so unbelievably incredible.

I think it's clear that not ever core gamer has the stomach to overcome this natural aversion to pink sparkles in candy land. By dropping that churn point, I think that Nintendo could unlock a larger addressable market (of high spending people).

Benjamin Quintero
profile image
@BenC

Why does Mario have to smear camo paint on his face and go on a killing spree? Mario can still be Mario. Nintendo just has to consider more serious (new) IP for their older audience.

That said, some of their games could grow up nicely. Twilight Princess for example was probably their best selling Zelda to date (~8 million?) though it was also the only Zelda to be cross-generational so there may have been some double-dips. Ocarina was a close second (~7m), and also a slightly darker game than many other Zeldas. Oddly enough Skyward Sword was the worst selling (next to Four Swords) and also the most colorful. The craziest thing is there are rumors that WiiU Zelda is planning to follow in the Skyward Sword art style; a likely truthful rumor since they just developed the engine for Windwaker HD.

Muir Freeland
profile image
Personally, I think that the childlike wonder the best Nintendo franchises evoke is part of the point. I don't want them to "grow up." There are plenty of other games that do gritty. You could even probably make an argument that MOST other games in the AAA space are grittier. Asking Nintendo to lose its unique voice here is like asking Pixar to start aping Michael Bay.

Josh Charles
profile image
Agreed. This is one very important point that's completely glossed over in the article.

Ben Cousins
profile image
Mario is not appropriate to go mature. I'm picking the IPs that I believe many many gamers are desperate to go mature.

Christian Nutt
profile image
"Aesthetic" in the context of games isn't purely a visual distinction.

I think the gameplay aesthetic of triple-A games has very little in common with what Nintendo is good at either. Generally I am not a big fan of what I perceive that to be at the moment, if such a broad brush can be used. The only triple-A success of the last few years that I think has much in common with how Nintendo makes games is Dark Souls, which is essentially Zelda with the slider on puzzles/combat shifted almost all the way toward combat.

As far as the visual aesthetic argument goes, of course I understand that a lot of adult gamers are unwilling to jump into the kind of worlds Nintendo currently makes, but making a hard, hard shift over to Last of Us style realism would bring a whole host of challenges that I don't think play into Nintendo's strengths. And that's what I mean when I say that it would be as hard as the F2P shift.

Bob Johnson
profile image
Cousins is skating to where the puck is. And not where it's going.

Hey make Android devices, give your games away for free and then make cutting edge graphics games. That's what everyone's doing.

Money will roll in. Why? Because Sony and MS lost money last generation on their cutting edge consoles. Everyone giving away games for free makes a ton of money and only Samsung makes money on Android hardware and then that money is made mostly on expensive phones and tablets.

Then this notion of an adult Star Fox or adult Fire Emblem? Those IPs are not even big enough to base an entire division on let alone have a chance at an "adult" audience. Metroid isn't a big seller either btw. Only Zelda could be called big and maybe Zelda moves a few million copies.


Sure go ahead use Android OS. Amazon uses it so I don't see any downsides as Amazon isn't in bed with Google afaik. I'm no expert. Maybe using Android OS would increase the possibility of piracy or being copied etc. Maybe the tools aren't what Nintendo needs for its games. But otherwise why not?




Ben Cousins
profile image
I'm suggesting that Metroid isn't a big seller, not because of the IP, but because after the SNES era died, the consumer segment that are most interested in Metroid aren't buying Nintendo hardware in significant numbers.

Bob Johnson
profile image
I don't know. I think, if Metroid was on the Xbox and Halo was on the Gamecube back in the day, you would see GC sales go up and Xbox sales go down. I think it is an IP problem. It just isn't that big of an IP.

Bob Johnson
profile image
Pretty obvious what Nintendo will do next. Something new. Something not quite so obvious. Something not quite what the other guys are doing. They are in the entertainment business after all. They are in the creative business.

That's their business model.

Harald Striepe
profile image
Hmm - have you looked at recent Pokemon or 3DS sales. Have you looked at their margins? Have you looked at the predictable success of properties in the App store - not just the few top sellers, but the average app?

This reminds of all the pundits telling Apple to license its operating system in the 1990 and how that nearly killed Apple.

It is clear that design and strategies have to adapt. The lack of title support in the WiiU is a real problem. But Nintendo's core business in the portable market has some real strength. There needs to be a comprehensive integration of the hardware line across price and use points etc.

But if I was Nintendo, I would continue on refining a counter strategy rather than competing head on with Sony, MS, or the mobile market on iPhone.

And BTW, Pokemon is not just for kids. My son is in college majoring in game design. He remarked that a lot of people are playing Pokemon and not just in his major. The underlying mechanics are quite complex, but it looks easy.

Ben Cousins
profile image
I'm not suggesting in any way shape or form Nintendo get involved in the App Store.

I'm not sure how creating core gamer devices on a completely different design/experience dimension to a TV-based console is competing head-to-head with creators of TV-based consoles.

Bob Fox
profile image
The reality is Nintendo has too much on it's plate, it's trying to do too many things. It can't manage both handheld and console and on top of that produce 5 AAA titles for its main console.

It's buckling under it's own weight.

They've driven long time fans away by not understanding the gaming market, for instance they should be asking "Why did you leave us?" to gamers. Any business that loses long time customers is doing something fatally wrong.

Nintendo is not known for being wise unfortunately, they've been really lucky they haven't been driven out of the market by relying on the hopes of long time fans. But me and many of my other friends are permanently done with Nintendo. Nintendo doesn't have the competence or intelligence to understand that the value of their company is in the software, not the hardware.

They don't understand that trying to force ALL their software to create a monopoly for revenue in a world of multi-platform games is no longer a sound strategy for growth. They need to do some exclusives and some non-exclusives. They need to test the waters, I'd love for them to do a real starfox sequel and have it done via kickstarter for PC so they can test the waters without taking on too much risk to see if there's interest. Lots of old fans of old properties that went down the drain are still hampering for a real starfox 64 sequel (aka arwing bliss).

The people at nintendo are too constrained in their thinking and tight fisted and senile to understand the modern gaming environment.

They should also be porting Bayonetta 2 to PC. They have this false idea that bayonetta two is a console seller, rather then something a person like myself (as an adult) wouldn't mind playing but is just a rehash of games we've been playing for 20 years. We can take it or leave it because we're not kids and Nintendo hasn't gotten the message.

Exclusive's only work for kids/teens and the minority of hardcore adults, everyone else can wait for the bargain bin.

Gabriel P
profile image
I'd like to see Nintendo stop doing their own home consoles. Then develop games and peripherals for other platforms (PC, XB, PS...), it's what they are really good at...

warren blyth
profile image
they've never done this, so how are they really good at it?

Ryan Bloom
profile image
34 million suddenly isn't good enough, huh?

I'd argue that it's thinking like this that got Nintendo in to the place it's currently in; the problem is that Nintendo is a very slow, very monolithic company, made even worse by being based in a location where functionality like internet connectivity has historically been a lower priority (unless you're talking about for mobile phones).

The 3DS successfully got a shot in the arm, and had it been sooner, it would probably be closer to your Samsung figure.

The Wii U had one year to prove that it was worth buying before it was swept away in Xbox One and Playstation 4 hype; Nintendo was too slow and too monolithic for that to be a reality. They are trapped learning the same lessons everybody else learned 8 years ago: making HD games takes a lot more time and a lot more money than you'd expect.

It's an uphill battle that gets steeper by the second, but pretending like it's a doomsday scenario that demands Nintendo uproot and reorganize the entire company to focus on smartphones seems more than a bit alarmist.

Especially given the picture you paint is one where Nintendo can't succeed, almost like the business they are in is dead. That, in order to "pull themselves out of this rut", they need to chase everybody else's coat tails. The Wii U was simply a case of bad timing; a hard lesson for slow ol' Nintendo to learn. I suspect they'll come out swinging on the next one and might actually do a pretty decent job with it.

G Irish
profile image
The Wii U was not just a case of bad timing. It was bad timing, the wrong product, poor marketing, poor dev tools (supposedly) and poor planning for launch games. Their sales forecasts were off by a factor of THREE. Both PS4 and Xbox sold more in 3 months than the Wii U sold in a year. That is an abject failure by any measure.

As for the 3DS, it's still profitable and selling reasonably well now, but sales are dropping and the threat from smartphones/tablets is only going to get bigger not smaller. Nintendo shouldn't wait until the 3DS is on its deathbed before they respond to this market shift. How they respond could take many different forms, they don't necessarily need to start making smartphone games. But they cannot afford to ignore them.

The time to turn the ship around is before it has run aground. Nintendo still has plenty of cash reserves so they've got time and money before the situation gets desperate. They should make use of it now while they can.

Ben Cousins
profile image
The 3DS continues to fail to hit targets. The notion that the only problem is the Wii U is incorrect. Wishful thinking. The way Nintendo approaches handhelds is not going to work in the future. They need to make a change before it gets really really bad.

Merc Hoffner
profile image
"The 3DS sells at $250"

Fact?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3ds

Maybe start talking about problems and solutions by learning the first things about the subject.

Ben Cousins
profile image
Launch price

Merc Hoffner
profile image
"The 3DS sells at $250, the cost of components is about $100."
- Sounded like a present tense statement to me. 3DS was launched worldwide by April 2011, and discounted globally four months later on July 28th 2011 to $170 (in the US)

"This is pretty close to a Android tablet like a Nexus 7"
- This sounds like a direct comparison. Nexus 7 was launched in the US and Australia in July 2012, and worldwide by about October 2012.

I'm confused. Are we comparing the same things at the same time here?

Christian Nutt
profile image
He's saying that Nintendo could build a $250 Android device for a $100 COGS.

You're needlessly overcomplicating this by trying to compare what sold for what price at what time. The cost of the device and its price are in the theoretical "now" when it launches.

Merc Hoffner
profile image
I guess that makes some good sense and makes an interesting point for the argument. Nintendo could position hypothetical devices like that with those kind of economies (though couldn't at the time - 3DS cost substantially >$100 in 2011 to manufacture).

I just have trouble reading an article with a straight face with followup statements like "The 3DS took four years to get to 34 million", when it'll be 3 years old in March and has sold >40 million.

Josh Charles
profile image
I'd agree that your observations regarding the different audiences splintering apart since the 90's and 2000's is reasonable.

However, I neither agree with your solutions nor the way in which you frame your argument for those solutions.

Neither of these suggestions, the "Nintendo fresh" and "Nintendo pure," is necessary. Nintendo has not done all that they could with their existing hardware to warrant mass changes to their approach to hardware. Sure their forecasts were off but, as you said, most of us knew they were unrealistic to begin with. That doesn't diminish the incredible success that the 3DS has had up to this point alongside the mobile market that was supposed to destroy it.

Even if we were to seriously examine these ideas, they both operate under the assumption that they are a) in line with Nintendo's core competencies and b) that Nintendo is a tech company similar to Sony or Apple. I'd argue that neither of these two assumptions are correct which undermines both arguments.

Not only that, but I think there's also a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes Nintendo IP's as special as they are to their audience. Your description of Metroid and Zelda in particular demonstrates this:

"For these devices, they will of course create incredible Nintendo-quality games, using new and classic IPs, but with an adult focus. Imagine a photorealistic, dark Metroid game running on a VR headset with a 98 metacritic. Imagine a deep, 100 hour Zelda adventure with 3D projections and voice recognition."

What makes you think that turning Metroid into every other first-person game will make it successful or that it will retain the audience that made it popular or that it will still maintain its Nintendo feel? This is underpants gnome theory. Take Metroid - change it - magic happens - success without losing original base. Who's asking for this or that Zelda idea? People who play those games for what they are? Or people who want them to be something else?

One last point. The way in which you view "mature" games judging by your comments on this article and by this section of the article itself:

"...Owns IPs with more potential to go mature (Metroid, Zelda, F-Zero, Earthbound, Golden Sun, Star Fox, Fire Emblem)"

Is rather strange. Potential "to go mature"? As if these games can't be viewed as mature to someone else already? What's not mature about Fire Emblem? What's not mature about some of the fiendishly tricky dungeons of Zelda games? What, do the stories not feature enough shooting, blood, sex, or alcohol? I'm honestly confused here. I don't know what qualifications you're deciding a game needs to have in order to be "mature" but to me, Fire Emblem and the rest of those games are just as mature as Halo, Call of Duty, Mass Effect and others based on the unique set of challenges that they offer players that requires a certain level of critical thinking.

Sam Stephens
profile image
"Is rather strange. Potential "to go mature"? As if these games can't be viewed as mature to someone else already?"

Agreed. This obsession with what is "mature" in the gaming culture is actually quite immature. It also highlights how people tend to position storytelling over game design. By looking at the quality of design in Nintendo games, I can confidently say that they are the most mature developers in the market.

Ardney Carter
profile image
No need for confusion. A few comments up he clarifies that, for him, bright colors != mature. It's aesthetics, not content that he has issues with.

Josh Charles
profile image
Thanks Ardney. All I can really say on that is that that narrow-minded definition of mature is remarkably... well, immature.

Ben Cousins
profile image
"every other first-person game"

Trying hard to find the part of the article where I state that.

Josh Charles
profile image
Although I believe there are certain implications made in your article and comments, I'm not going to get into the wording dispute because I don't want that to divert attention away from the rest of the points that others and myself have raised about your article, most notably your misunderstanding of what makes Nintendo's IP's great. I'll refer back to those comments.

Christian Nutt
profile image
Because perception of "maturity" in the core games space is purely about visual aesthetic and has very little to do with depth of gameplay or how puerile a game's narrative content actually is.

N.B.: I'm not saying that every triple-A game has puerile narrative content. But we just have to look at the ham-fisted attempts to make the new Castlevania game "mature." Super emblematic of the sophomoric thinking at some triple-A developers:
http://www.usgamer.net/articles/yes-castlevania-lords-of-shadow-2
-did-make-me-feel-uncomfortable-

Yet undoubtedly to a certain audience this game is a lot more "mature" than Zelda, for example.

Brian Peterson
profile image
I cannot understand the idea of "maturity" being a solution either, but I see it all the time. Will the kids watching Cars and Toy Story grow up to demand Pixar make realistic versions of those series with more "mature" visuals? I sure hope not.

Interestingly, Metroid fans have been excited about the idea of a new 2D, Super Metroid-style game for years. Remember the popularity and persistence of the "Metroid Dread" rumors? After the success of A Link Between Worlds for 3DS, I wouldn't be surprised to see them take a step back for the next entry in this series too.

I think Other M was the attempt to push the series into a more "mature" direction (more cutscenes and a bigger focus on storytelling), and that was a financial and critical failure when compared to every other Metroid game.

Ardney Carter
profile image
@ Christian:
Absolutely unrelated to the main conversation thread but...what does "N.B." stand for? Closest I got was "Now Beware" as it got the meaning across but that seems too clunky to actually be what you intended.

Mike Griffin
profile image
As with Castlevania, there were a couple of friggin' awesome 2D Metroid games released on GBA. I'd love to see sumptuous new sidescroller + HD Metroids and Castlevanias appear on current devices. "Hardcore" classic-inspired 2D-style games are still OK by me; obviously they've also grown up and matured.

Christian Nutt
profile image
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nota_bene

Ardney Carter
profile image
Rock on. Thanks

Ben Cousins
profile image
'Great' by what measure? I'm only interested in financial performance or potential financial performance, as are the shareholders that could fire Iwata.

This is not an article about art.

Josh Charles
profile image
Which is precisely why your suggestions seem unrealistic and so unnecessary. Nintendo is one of the few companies that values the art of game development as much as the financials. If you leave art out of the conversation, then you might as well burn the company to the ground because that's what you'll get if you make Nintendo not Nintendo.

Sam Stephens
profile image
This is why it is so tricky to write about Nintendo. They are the creator, the publisher, and the platform all in one. It's great to write about how Nintendo could change their current position, but some of your points imply that Nintendo should compromise their design for their business, which is naturally going to rub people the wrong way, especially considering the many who think Nintendo games are great and doing new things already.

Matthew Mouras
profile image
I'd play the part of the cynic and find issue with a number of suggestions in this article, but I like the core ideas too much. Something like your proposal for "Nintendo Fresh" would go a long way toward bringing Nintendo back into the forefront of gamer's consciousness. Many people online complain about the lack of classic Nintendo titles on the eShop or the high expense if the title is available.

Alex Nichiporchik
profile image
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Wii U

First two are clearly new consoles, the last one sounds like an upgrade to the original Wii.

During the E3 unveil I was questioning if this was just a controller, an add-on, do you need a box, is it processing everything on the controller? I also assumed it was multitouch. That about sums up why Wii U failed.

Then the product itself has poor online functionality, poor UI, expensive games, and lack of third party support or killer first party games. The initial wave of early adopters gets disappointed, doesn't spread the word, and the platform quickly dies off with the launch of competing products.

The second screen had some interesting concepts, but as Valve said it "you're looking at the TV, not the controller while playing, so we ditched the screen on the Steam Controller".

Nintendo needs to change. I'm not sure if the ideas in the article are the right direction, but I definitely see the need for them to iterate more. They've got probably the strongest IP portfolio of any game company, and giving that away to mobile and giving up on hardware would be a mistake -- unless they partner up with a hardware manufacturer to get their own phone out there.

Merc Hoffner
profile image
"First two are clearly new consoles"

Xbox one

Sounds like an old console. In fact it's what we largely called the old console before a PR man told us we were wrong.

Salim Muhammad
profile image
Xbox One may sound like an old console, but consumers are not confused by the naming. Working in a retail store, it's almost laughle how confused people are about what the WiiU is. Most people that come in think it's a peripheral. I think the marketing of the WiiU is perhaps Nintendoe's biggest mistake.

Samuel Carrier
profile image
Lots of opinions and erroneous facts in this article. Although this overall proposition might be what some of the fans want, Nintendo will probably never take a step in a direction that would split their user base.

I feel like what Mr. Cousins is suggesting here is "Enter the smartphone business to make money and keep the kids user base but make super hardcore games on a different console for old fans like us". That's pretty much the complete opposite of brand synergy.

Ben Cousins
profile image
Feel free to point out the erroneous facts, citing sources, and I'll edit the article.

G Irish
profile image
I think at the end of the day if Nintendo refuses to recognize that they can't continue with their current strategy of underpowered hardware with paltry 3rd party support and poor online services for their home console, they are going to end up out of that business. Nintendo doesn't necessarily have to make more 'mature' 1st party games IMO, but they need 3rd party support.

As for the 3DS, smartphones are going to eat into the 3DS's share whether Nintendo chooses to put apps on smartphones or not. There is no way Nintendo can slow down the adoption of smartphones and tablets. They can either choose to profit from where the market is shifting, or ignore it at their peril. Bottom line is there is a growing segment of users who will never buy a 3DS because they can get games on their phone or tablet. That segment includes parents buying devices for kids.

Maybe Nintendo can make a new device that has far better general computing capabilities than the 3DS has, but that goes back to the question of going Android.

Either way the market is moving on. Nintendo is going to have to take drastic action to save the Wii U or they'll have to wait until the next console cycle and not make the same mistakes again. They are also going to have to respond to the threat of smartphones/tablets or accept the fact that their portable sales are going to continue to decline. If I were Nintendo I'd rather be the one cannibalizing 3DS sales instead of letting the market kill it for me.

Josh Charles
profile image
Hyperbole aside, as long as Nintendo continues to deliver gameplay experiences that can't be found elsewhere to an audience who's willing and able to spend money on their hardware to get those experiences, and as long as Nintendo earns a profit on this particular business model, their handheld division isn't going anywhere. No matter what you or I say.


This line of thinking that mobile will kill Nintendo's handheld market is like how people were saying e-books would kill print books, and we see how that's turned out so far. (Spoiler: e-book growth stabilized and the two markets co-exist.)


Before the holiday period, 3DS hardware sales were up to 35 million worldwide. Will it reach the DS level of sales? Probably not nor does it need to. Some DS owners undoubtedly went off to mobile and aren't coming back. But again, as long as the 3DS turns a profit and there's a reasonable install base who continues to spend money on 3DS games, that's all that matters - not chasing after the latest trends.


Mobile has been around for several years now and yet gamers continue to jump into the 3DS ecosystem because it serves a niche that mobile either refuses to or simply can't (not even getting into personal preferences on what and how many devices one likes to own).

G Irish
profile image
The reason ebooks haven't cannibalized print books more than they have is because publishers have kept ebook prices artificially high. Furthermore, to buy a print book, one needn't buy anything other than the actual book. If print books required a $100 print book reader when someone could pay $70 more and get a Kindle Fire (or they had already bought a Kindle Fire) it'd be a different story.

In the case of the 3DS vs a smartphone or tablet, many people already own the smartphone or tablet and can simply buy games for it, the 3DS would require an additional outlay of cash. The smartphone and tablet also do a lot more than the 3DS. The 3DS has superior controls, but a smartphone gives you access to a whole universe of functionality.

Mobile is not going to outright kill the 3DS in the near future, but it's going to continue to eat into 3DS sales. So for Nintendo, do they just give up on all of that money leaving the 3DS market? Mobile is not just a 'trend' that is going to go away. Year after the year the install base gets bigger and bigger. Year after year more money is spent on devices, apps, and services on mobile. It would be unwise to ignore that.

Arcades used to be huge, but over time home consoles kept getting better and now arcades are rare. Sure there are still some arcade game companies making some money but they are but a tiny fraction of what they once were. Is that future what Nintendo should be happy with? Are shareholders going to be happy with Nintendo's shrinking island. Would Nintendo make more money if they tapped into the mobile market?

Josh Charles
profile image
"In the case of the 3DS vs a smartphone or tablet, many people already own the smartphone or tablet and can simply buy games for it, the 3DS would require an additional outlay of cash. The smartphone and tablet also do a lot more than the 3DS. The 3DS has superior controls, but a smartphone gives you access to a whole universe of functionality."

But that's just it - north of 35 million people worldwide didn't care that the 3DS doesn't offer a whole universe of functionality in one device. All it ever needed to do was one thing - offer great game experiences. This is probably at the heart of why you and I see two very different futures. You're operating from the assumption that a device that one always has that does lots of different things will always be so obviously more desirable than a single device that does one (it actually does more but let's just say one) thing but does that one thing really, really, really well. I'm perfectly content with the notion that the number of mobile users will continue to grow and gaming on mobile will co-exist with higher end dedicated gaming platforms while you seem to think that only one or the other can survive, specifically that mobile will eliminate the need for handheld gaming devices.

Here's another analogy. Like the camera industry, mobile phones have taken away the low end of the market yet high end, premium cameras still exist. Why? Because they serve a niche market who understands the improved functionality that some dedicated cameras offer. Smart consumers pay for quality, especially if their primary concern is just for one activity (like taking pictures or like playing games). Everything else is a bonus but if the device can't offer value high enough for the personal activity in question, then its overall value greatly diminishes, even if it can do 100+ different things.

That's the 3DS' advantage over mobile - it offers compelling game experiences that people are willing to shell out money for for what they perceive to be higher quality gaming experiences over less expensive options like mobile games. Ask yourself: What about mobile gaming is holding 35 million plus gamers back from giving up dedicated gaming on handhelds? I find it hard to believe that most of them don't already have a phone.

There are certainly other factors that go into why someone would purchase a handheld device besides the games themselves but the quality of the game experience becomes extremely important the more you go from the casual end of the market to the core gamer end.

Like I said, as long as it makes Nintendo money, that's the minimum of what it needs to do.


"Are shareholders going to be happy with Nintendo's shrinking island."

Also, this statement implies that Japanese corporate culture is similar to western corporate culture which just isn't true. I don't think shareholders in Japan are as worried about Nintendo as some western gamers and media seem to think. It's a very different style of thinking that deserves more careful analysis. If anything, the shrinking island will shrink but then level off to a new normal. At that point, we'll see what handheld gaming looks like with the loss of the casual end of the market. The core gamers aren't going anywhere though.

Jason Weesner
profile image
Nintendo should buy Sega.

Bob Charone
profile image
Sega is worth 6.6 billion, Nintendo wouldn't have much financial cushion left if they do that

Merc Hoffner
profile image
They could buy EA

Bob Charone
profile image
EA is worth 7.4 billion, it is same problem. Nintendo are technically capable of buy one of those company, but no company can afford to spend most of its cash one one company!

Consider Apple or Microsoft, which have 10 times as much cash as Nintendo, have never payed that much for a company. MS came close when they said 10 years ago that they want to buy Nintendo. (worth a bit more than EA then and now)

Merc Hoffner
profile image
Oops, yes, I was looking at net equity, not market cap! Have to be careful with the 'W' word!

Gern Blanston
profile image
Split their company into 2 separate companies? Maybe they could say either "Published by Nintendo Fresh" or "Pure" on their Wii U boxes, so that consumers will be even more confused about their current console. And what demographics would find those names appealing?

The problems with Nintendo had to do with their philosophies surrounding their hardware. The 3DS stuttered at first when their hubris got the best of them and it cost $50 too much (without any games). Regardless of how well things have gone for their portable handheld since then, it remains the biggest reason for its trailing behind the original DS in sales.

There were so many things wrong with the Wii U launch that could never be rectified with name-changes to their development teams. Is is a new console or controller? Can I buy more than one? Can I use a different controller for this game? Why aren't all the big 3rd party games on Wii U? Why does it cost so much? These questions represent the problems that Nintendo is still facing. They presented us with the most confusing hardware unveiling I've seen, and forget to follow it up with strong software and marketing.

But its the philosophies, the ideas, behind the Wii U that just aren't 'cool' to the average consumer. It's become almost an embarrassing admission for kids to say that they own a Wii U, similar to how it was with Gamecube. Nintendo has lost the hardcore gaming community entirely, and cannot provide any sort of confidence/reassurance to their investors.

It will be a long haul the rest of this gen for Nintendo, so here's to hoping that they've already begun big plans for next time.

Sam Stephens
profile image
"Nintendo has lost the hardcore gaming community entirely"

It is the hardcore gamers that have lost Nintendo.

Ben Cousins
profile image
Placeholder names. 'Perhaps with their own consumer branding'. Emphasis on perhaps.

Sean Kiley
profile image
A casual audience let Nintendo get drunk with money with the Wii, so they assumed they would buy another one that came with a tablet. But now its the next morning. How's that hangover?

Good news is that you make better decisions when you aren't drunk, they have learned a lesson and I hope take the next step with a critical eye.

Bob Charone
profile image
Actually Nintendo have less money now then they did just before the release of Wii (original)!

2006: 8.7 billion
2010: 13.1 billion
2013: 8.5 billion


And as indicated by the stock chart they have lost most of there value since world-beating Wii days... (not relavnt but still!)

evan c
profile image
Not make mobile games that's for sure...

Jindo Fox
profile image
Android, Ben? Seriously? Why would they do that? Because it's free?

The stubborn, proud old Nintendo I know would sooner shut down their video game business altogether before piggyback onto Google's mobile OS.

I could maybe envision strategic limited partnership with Apple in which they retain a lot of control, but that seems equally unlikely.

I think that these "helpful" suggestions are premature (missed earnings expectations aren't the end of the world), especially considering the bad exchange rates and overall financial slump worldwide. I think the whole game industry is going to shrink a bit, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If Nintendo can return to profitability and continue to keep its artistic integrity, I think that's all it needs. World domination isn't their bag.

Bob Charone
profile image
You don't know much about Nintendo because if you would read even one of there official hardware Q&As you would see they are perfectly happy partnering with other companies, including Google. Nintendo have piggybacked off the CPU and GPU of foreign companies since NES days too.

Ben Cousins
profile image
Android is a better OS than Nintendo could ever develop, and it's free. Seems like a no-brainer.

The Nintendo shareholders are interested in world domination not artistic integrity. Nintendo are a public company not an indie firm. They exist to generate profit.

Eric Harris
profile image
This article stinks. Nintendo has been surviving off low selling consoles for years. The reason why they wont make a super piece of game hardware is, the corporate might of Sony and Microsoft would drive them into the ground. The war Nintendo is fighting is trying to gain the upper hand with something different. In addition, better graphics doesn't enhance gameplay. These ideas you propose stink. Get into the mobile market? Sony tried that and their gaming phone failed... If they can't do it with their wealth of IPs, money, loyal fan base, hardware/manufacturing connections, and corporate savvy, how could Nintendo?

In addition, the mobile gaming market has not produced anything like what Nintendo values. Comparing NintenDogs to Candy Crush Saga is insane. If all we need to do is make another Candy Crush, then we might as well melt down all our console games now. Why play a fun and interesting game when all we need is "dopamine click fest". This article reveals the writer's greedy soul. He is only interested in making money. His work experience is from testing, not designing. It is no wonder that he can not appreciate what Nintendo is doing and has done.

Furthermore, I think Mr. Cousins lacks cultural awareness. what we call adult in the west, Japan does not. Just look at some of the adult themes in what we would call children's products. Japan considers "cute objects" mature. If you were culturally aware, you would sight Nintendo's lack of culturally diverse content as a problem and not their hardware. Do you know what kind of GPU the Wii U uses? It is awesome enough to produce high quality HD content. By this "hardware > gameplay" logic that many are posting about Nintendo, then the PS4 and XBone are super substandard to the PC and upcoming "Steam Box".

My advice to all interested:"If you like the content of Nintendo, then go buy one; if you don't, go buy something else."

G Irish
profile image
Nintendo is fully well and capable of producing a console with power on par to the PS4 and Xbox One, they consciously chose not to in order to keep costs down. The result is that you have a platform that is difficult for a 3rd party to justify. If you developed a title for next-gen consoles and have to downgrade it and spend extra engineering expertise to put it on the Wii U, when the Wii U's install base is low, you might rightly surmise that you're wasting your money.

Sure Candy Crush Saga is garbage compared to the typical Nintendo 1st party game. But the point is that a lot of people are choosing to play Candy Crush Saga because it's available on the smartphone they already own. If Nintendo 1st party IP were available on smartphones a lot of people would be playing them.

Ultimately it doesn't matter if Japan's idea of mature is different than the Western idea of mature. The truth is that the Wii U is selling poorly in the West. If Nintendo wishes to have strong sales in the West (which they do), they're going to have to do something different. Whether that means making more 'mature-by-Western-standards' 1st party titles is anyone's guess. I'd say no, but Nintendo needs to do more to appeal to core gamers in the West.

The Wii U's graphical capability is more on par with the PS3 and Xbox 360 than it is the PS4 and Xbox One. The issue is that this makes 3rd party console developers to make the effort to bring their multiplatform titles to the Wii U. With the Wii there were quite a few multiplatform titles that were on all three consoles and the Wii version tended to sell poorly despite the fact that it had the biggest install base. Now that the Wii U has the smallest install base of the new consoles, it makes even less financial sense for 3rd party developers to make the effort.

Eric Harris
profile image
I appreciate your unique view as a third party developer. And it might just be that Nintendo is not very appealing to a third party developer, but I also believe it depends on the developer. Konami, Capcom, Ubisoft, Rocksteady and others have no problem making money on the Wii U. Maybe they are more geared culturally to produce content for the Wii U. Maybe they can get faster responses from Nintendo because they can communicate in Japanese.

To say Nintendo should release classics on a smartphone would be to get rid of something that is a key selling point of all their hardware: "exclusive titles only on Nintendo." That would be a horrible business decision. Sure they would maybe make a few million at first, but then what? One less reason to buy Nintendo hardware now(where Nintendo was heavily invested).

Yes it does matter what is mature in the West v. what is mature in the East. No More Heros 2, from Ubisoft made for the original Wii was very mature but did not sale. It had some themes that western audiences probably did not care for. Ultimately we agree that Nintendo needs to do more to reach western audiences.

Wii U, in the right hands, can outperform Xbox 360 and PS3. Since you are hardware critical, please realize the cycle time, talent, and cost it will take to produce a next gen title for the PS4 and XBone. None of that is third party friendly. Are Xbox 360 and PS3 graphics really that bad? Will Donkey Kong, Mario, Kirby, etc. really look so much better with more pixels than the Xbox360 can handle?

G Irish
profile image
I'm sure language plays a big part in how successful Japanese studios are with Nintendo, but that's not really an excuse as Sony does pretty well with Western game studios.

As far as Nintendo games on mobile, I'd say that Nintendo should develop a few games specifically for touchscreen interfaces. They could be smaller in scope than the typical 3DS game, and far fewer in number. It would probably cannibalize some 3DS sales, but it would add an enormous number of sales from customers who are never going to buy a 3DS. Ultimately if 3DS + mobile sales > 3DS only sales, Nintendo could potentially make a lot more money. The 3DS is not going to slow down smartphones and tablets, might as well profit from them.

Developing titles for PS4 and Xbox One is indeed expensive, but the potential return is there to make it worthwhile (assuming the quality and marketing is there).

Then look at the install base. Each console has already outsold the Wii U in 3 months time. Put together, you're looking at an install base north of 8 million versus 3 million for the Wii U. Many developers are deciding that the extra effort to port to Wii U isn't worth it.

Especially considering that Wii versions of PS3 and Xbox 360 games for core-gamers didn't sell very well when the Wii had the largest install base of the 3. For example, COD: MW3 sold over 10 million copies globally on the Xbox 360 and the PS3 (totaling over 20 million). On the Wii it sold 700k units.

Some of the dancing games faired far better on Wii, but for the most part, multiplatform games sold poorly on Wii, even with the huge install base.

I don't think the 1st party games for Nintendo are the problem. Those franchises are fine. It's the 3rd party titles that are the challenge. If a 3rd party makes an exclusive Wii U title and designs it with the Wii U's constraints and advantages from the start, it'd work better, but the smaller install base makes this a somewhat unattractive deal compared to developing for the other two consoles.

Alex Feng
profile image
I could not agree with dividing the IPS into "kid" and "hardcore" so simply. Just because the art style or theme might seem "kiddish" does not follow that it is a "kiddish" game. It just does not work that way. It is not the mature theme or graphics that attracts hardcore players, but the whole package. I would argue that games like infinite blade could be considered a "casual" game despite having mature themes and high res graphics.

Whereas on the other hand, games like Pokemon which was classified as a "kiddish" game do have a large hardcore fan base. I could consider myself a hardcore player, having more than 400 games on steam, and owning every gaming console since playstation 1. Games like Pokemon and Mario are some of my favorite games. Just look at the competitive scene for Pokemon with players calculating EVs and hunting rares. The existence of a competitive scene is the greatest indicator that a game is hardcore. As Theresa mentioned, the hardcore market is just more complicated and diverse than what was put forth.

There are 2 main problems I see as the main contributing factors to failure of Wii U.

1. The severe shortage of good titles on the console. 3DS and Wii had been doing so well mainly because of the great titles on them. Nintendo succeeded because they understood that it is not hardware that determines the success of a gaming console but the software on it. However, there's almost no good 3rd party titles on the Wii U, and a severe shortage from Nintendo's own IP as well - There are still no Mario Kart, Smash Bro Brawl etc so long into the console's release. This year could be a deciding one for Wii U with many greatly anticipated titles coming. My bet is that they will save Wii U, but it remains to be seen.

2. Wii U hardware is just confusing for developers. I am actually a 3rd party nintendo developer. When I look at Wii U, i'm really confused about the whole design of the machine. There are 2 screens, but the tablet is kind of difficult to make use of for anything other than a touch screen interface. I cannot assume that I could use both the TV and tablet screen because the player might not have access to the TV. I also could not make use of multiple tablet connected to one console for some cool multiplayer features as it's not supported even though intuitively it should. I also could not use wii remote features because Wii U does not come with one and I can't assume that the player have one. In effect, it makes it really confusing for 3rd party developers and might be a reason why Wii U is not getting enough 3rd party support. It just not straight forward enough, kind of like iPhone vs Android and why developers like to develop for iPhone a lot more - it's just more streamlined and straight forward.

Itzjac Daath
profile image
Both of your ideas, NINTENDO Fresh NINTENDO Pure should consider Steam. I know it is very hard to conceive, but this would be a massive combo bomb!

warren blyth
profile image
I appreciate the research and outside-the-box thinking. but have a issue/question with each of the proposed solutions.

1) 3DS isn't performing well enough - so your solution is to discard the product line? or were you proposing the Fresh android handheld would exist without cannibalizing 3DS?

2) Nintendo's IPs (and Hardware) pursue a family wide acceptance, like Pixar films. Would you tell Pixar they need to rethink their franchises to become more dark and gritty? That tonal shift makes no sense for a Pixar-like entity, because their brand is built around appealing to the entire family.

Further, I'd argue Nintendo's "clunky" hardware is trying to exist in that same family-wide head space. Wii offered a magic remote control you could play games with. DS was a laptop for children. wiiU's gamepad is a tablet with joysticks (and console-quality games).

If you start trying to compete with MS and Sony in cutting edge hardware town, you would also need counter their : world wide networking facilities, blue ray movie option, their live streaming through twitch, and ... all this other bullshit that isn't part of Nintendo's core competency. Nintendo doesn't need "hardcore" hardware, because they'll never be number 1 in that fight.

What they need is a marketing department that can remind the fleeing audiences what they're missing.

If there continue to be "families" in the world, and these families want to play with each other, Nintendo should probably just keep on serving them.

Ben Cousins
profile image
The new product line would replace the 3DS in the sense the DS was replaced by it.

If Pixar suddenly lost customers, and you could determine it was because others had grown and split the market for animated films, I would also suggest they also split focus or go after one market only.

I'm suggesting there could be another way of going hardcore which is orthogonal to the Sony/MS approach.

DanielThomas MacInnes
profile image
Look at Nintendo's stock price over the past decade. See that mountain in the middle, especially 2006-2008? Here's a crazy thought: Maybe they should go back to doing what they did then?

Aye, there's the rub. When Nintendo had record success with the Wii, much of the game industry and the "hardcore gamer" clique spent every week bawling, crying, kicking their legs in the air, and screaming like babies. They were throwing tantrums over the thought of those awful, dirty, smelly...CAZHUALZ!!! WUAHH!!!

It was, and remains, an embarrassing spectacle.

The DS touchscreen and Wii Remote were enormously successful for Nintendo. The mass market loves video games, and they want classic arcade-style games, at a low price, with simple-to-understand controls. Software is King, and Price is King. And when Nintendo followed that strategy, they were successful.

Unfortunately, they abandoned this strategy, abandoned the motion controls, abandoned NES-styled classics like Wii Sports in favor of selfish vanity projects like Wii Music, Metroid: Other M, Pikmin 3, Zelda Wind Waker, and 3D Mario. They rejected the Wii Remote in favor of a bulky, 18-button controller, in an effort to court the "hardcore" crowd who were throwing screaming fits. The Wii library was replaced with a Wii U library of "hardcore" PS360 ports, as the industry demanded. And the results speak for themselves.

Wii U is the polar opposite to the Wii in every way. Its controller is the opposite, its focus on GameCube games are the opposite of the Wii Series, and the audiences that made Nintendo billions are ignored, deliberately. The results speak for themselves.

Why did Nintendo abandon motion controls? Because Nintendo does not want to make those games; they want to make games that THEY want, not the public. And so we have yet another attempt to push 3D Mario, Pikmin, Wind Waker. We have PS360 hardcore games. Good luck with that.

This isn't rocket science. Your product isn't selling because your product isn't any good. The fanboys who threw temper tantrums at all those "casuals" are nowhere to be found. They now demand that Nintendo double down, move even CLOSER to Sony/Microsoft, go even more "hardcore." It will not work. They have never, and will never, deliver the goods. They do not support Nintendo. They want Nintendo to go away.

EA was being honest: Nintendo is "dead to us." Stop pandering to jerks like that. Why not try appealing to the people who actually buy your products? The "casuals" never disappeared; they didn't climb into some rocketship and flew to the moon. Nobody is making any games for them, aside from Ubisoft's Just Dance series, which continues to sell millions. Maybe you should make more video games those people would enjoy.

And stop listening to the crybabies. These are emotionally maladjusted losers. They are not your friends.

Anyway, those are my quick thoughts on the issue. Sorry for not going more into depth, but thanks for the essay and all the compelling comments.

G Irish
profile image
The problem is that Nintendo didn't make a console for core gamers or a console for casuals and they didn't market it to either.

And how should've Nintendo done the Wii U differently, in order to appeal to casuals? Upgraded Wiimotes? A Kinect-like sensor? No tablet but a lower price?

And what's up with all of the hate for core gamers? They buy a lot of games, they pay for a lot of services, and they have a long term committment to playing games. Catering to them is certainly no crime.

Muir Freeland
profile image
I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. Mario and Zelda are being "pushed" on people? Metroid is a "selfish vanity project?"

mike amerson
profile image
I was just discussing this over a ps4 live stream last night- lol
Nintendo simply needs to port its most popular games over to android and IOS, They will make a billion dollars by the end of the year and make up for all the previous years of trying to force consumers to buy their hardware.

Ben Cousins
profile image
There really isn't that much money selling games (rather than making them F2P) on iOS or Android. This strategy would not work.

Sam Stephens
profile image
Actually, I have heard Nintendo does have a F2P game in the works; a sequel to Steel Diver of sorts.

G Irish
profile image
Porting games designed for d-pad will not work very well on touchscreens. Nintendo would make money, but they would do so by sacrificing their quality principles. If I were them I don't know that I would do that.

Eric Harris
profile image
Doubtful. If people really wanted those IPs on that platform, they would have ported them over longtime ago. Are all the old Sega classics (Crazy Taxi, Golden Axe, Sonic CD) raking in the dough on iOS and Android? What?!!? They aren't? You guys were playing a PS4, when would you put that down, take money that could be used to buy a new title, and spend money and time playing those classics? How could they even make that work with the smartphone interface?

G Irish
profile image
Sorry I left out a word, I was trying to say porting old games will NOT work on mobile. Sometimes a port sells well but to really knock it out of the park the gameplay has to be designed for touchscreens, otherwise it's frustrating and unsatisfying.

Michael Wenk
profile image
From a business perspective, splitting Nintendo would be a bad move. A split N would have nearly all the same problems the whole one does, and the benefits would not really outweigh that.

Were I nintendo, I would make changes, but splitting the company would not be one of those changes.

Kyle Redd
profile image
I think the "Fresh" idea is sound and would probably work, though it seems like an impossibility given Nintendo's entrenched resistance to selling games (even ancient, decades-old games) at anything less than premium-level price points. Maybe Iwata's recent acknowledgement that they have misread the market indicates they are finally ready to relax that policy.

Regarding the core console, I agree with a couple of the other commenters that it might be a better idea for Nintendo to simply abandon the idea of creating a TV-based console that appeals primarily to the core market.

Looking at their history in that area, we could honestly assess that their last successful attempt at this type of hardware was the SNES. Every console since then has had forehead-slapping design decisions that were a serious detriment to both core developers and core gamers: the super-expensive cartridges with minimal storage on the N64; the awkward controller and silly handle on the GameCube; the weak online features of the Wii; and the underpowered Wii U with poorly-implemented developer tools. Every one of those consoles has also had consistently awful third-party support across the board.

Unless they plan on overhauling their hardware R&D team with a completely new focus, I think it would be better for them to try making games for PCs and the other consoles for a while, to see if their core IPs would have success in that market. Particularly on the PC, it's clear that there is a ready and eager audience of gamers that would love the chance to play franchises like Metroid and Fire Emblem. I know I would.

Eric Harris
profile image
Poor idea. N64 was a success actually. The Wii was also a success. Developer tools can/will improve over the products lifetime. Now they don't have the market share of Playstation and Xbox, but that is okay as long as they are making money. A Nintendo game on the PC? You can't be serious.

Sam Stephens
profile image
Yeah, the day Nintendo stops making hardware will be the day they stop making games.

Kyle Redd
profile image
@Eric Harris

The N64 was a successful console that nonetheless got its clock cleaned by Sony's PlayStation, a console made by a company that had no prior experience in the area of game consoles. The PlayStation was both easier and cheaper to develop for, had far more games made by far more developers, and had a longer, more successful life in the market than the N64 as a result.

Regarding the idea of Nintendo releasing games for the PC - I'm quite serious. Not only would this be a great idea for Nintendo, there is absolutely zero downside for them that I can see (assuming they were willing to break Nintendo-console exclusivity for Nintendo-developed games).

Plus, the PC platform has several advantages for them that the Microsoft and Sony consoles do not have:

1) Graphical fidelity is not a critical feature. For the most part, Nintendo games are known for their quality art assets rather than cutting-edge engines. On Xbox One and PS4, they would be unfavorably compared to the other titles available on those systems for that reason. But on PC, this would not be an issue at all. Look at the best-seller list on Steam and you'll see that everything from pixel art "retro" games to mid-budget indies to AAA studio titles can be very successful.

2) Even new ports of years-old games would be big sellers. You need look no further than the recent releases of Final Fantasy 7 and 8 on Steam to know that PC gamers don't care how old your game is. As long as the interface and controls have been properly optimized for the platform, it will sell.

3) Massive install base. This is obvious but no less important to Nintendo. 75 million Steam accounts plus who knows how many millions of other users outside of Steam means that even a mediocre port of a mediocre game could still sell hundreds of thousands of copies easily. A quality port of a better game (think Metroid Prime Trilogy in high-resolution with proper keyboard and mouse input) would very likely move a million plus.

4) Lasting community involvement. Whereas almost all games on XBOX and Playstation are largely forgotten by players and developers within a year of their release, PC games that have established fan bases live on for years upon years through mods and community updates. Take a look at Moddb.com pages for games like GTA San Andreas - This was a mediocre PC port of a game that was clearly designed for consoles, and yet there are numerous major modding projects still ongoing to this day. And when you think of well-regarded PC games with strong community support, think of Garry's Mod, Left 4 Dead 2, and Skyrim - all games that are several years old that are still strong sellers to this day.

Eric Harris
profile image
I accept your point of view as it is well thought out, but unfortunately these ideas do not generate money. At least not the type of money Nintendo is already making. Nintendo invented the first Playstation BTW(Google Super Disc). I had way more fun playing my N64 than I ever had playing my PSone. Golden Eye, 4 player mode, game variety, Rumble pak, Star Fox 64, etc. I am not saying the PSone was garbage, but they did not have the same gameplay. Steam is proprietary and Nintendo is proprietary, it would never work.

Ben Cousins
profile image
Please re-read the article. The whole point of Nintendo Pure is that they don't make TV based consoles.

Eric Harris
profile image
I re-read the article. It makes no business sense to do what you are suggesting. Making another handheld that plays android games is superfluous, as their current handheld is dominating. They don't need to "go mature", I like the idea of a game system I can leave in my living room and play games with/in front of my wife and kid. There is too much "mature stuff out there anyways. You don't have to have mature themes in every game.

You, like many other people, don't understand that Nintendo is not trying to steal market share from Sony and Microsoft. In addition, have you considered that people might buy both a XBone/PS4 and a Wii U much like people did with the previous generation? I understand you want Nintendo to do more, but these ideas are not the way to do it.

Adam Merkel
profile image
As I'd mentioned in another blog, opening an international market (along with the caveats of no translations or unrated content) for international developers who have an interesting game but don't have the resources for an international release may be the way Nintendo can come back on top. As for lot of decisions I'm seeing, most of them are focused on how Nintendo can become relevant again in the Western market. But what about the developing markets in the rest of the world? Nintendo opening a door to and putting focus on the South American or the now-legal (but restricted) Chinese market might be a stronger strategy then an attempt to get back on top of the already-developed North American and European markets.

Jean Louis
profile image
Peter Jackson + Zelda Movie = More Rupees and Golden Skulltulas than Nintendo can count.

Alexandru Dumitrache
profile image
We all know that Nintendo is not doing well... even if you like their games, their handhelds and their consoles, they have to change something. For some people, graphics don't matter, or the fact that the games are childish, still don't matter. But unfortunately, those people are just a few (compared to the other part of hardcore/awesome graphic lovers) and you can't keep Nintendo alive based on just a handful of people. Anyway, they have to change their market or expand it, otherwise Nokia or Kodak.

Kujel s
profile image
To all the people calling Nintendo games childish:

“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

- C.S. Lewis

Ben Cousins
profile image
I'm using the term 'adult' as a merely descriptive term.

James Yee
profile image
As Jeferson has noted in the past I don't really have a dog in the hunt when it comes to Nintendo. It has never been my system of choice on pretty much anything.

Is that a bad thing though? I mean does Nintendo have to change? It sounds like they are serving their current "core market" rather well with the 3DS. Now, they may have reached max capacity on this market which would explain their failure to meet sales expectations, but again if they are serving those who want their stuff why do they need to change?

I think that's the question here, because what does Nintendo want to do going forward? Do they want to serve the Nintendo Faithful or do they want to try and get new people interested? As mentioned before they've got millions of users right now do they really need to really change their formula? 30+ Million is a pretty good sized Niche to be king of, why do they need to do more?

G Irish
profile image
That depends on what Nintendo's long term goals are. If Nintendo is happy with just the dedicated handheld market, they're not in bad shape, although their sales are slowing down.

If Nintendo intends to keep selling home consoles they're going to have to do something different because the Wii U is failing miserably. It's not too late to turn it around, but it's going to take serious actionon Nintendo's part.

Jonathan Murphy
profile image
Pay me $10 million to save your company. My fee went up from $100k last year, and will climb ever higher in 2015. You don't need to hire me, but you better hire someone who can fix your problem, and soon.

William Collins
profile image
Some quick thoughts - one or two which seem obvious:


*Software is the biggest issue for the Wii U atm. Release 1-2 heavyweight titles per genre per year (RPGs, action/adventure). A software library similar to the 3DS would definitely sell Wii U hardware.

*I think they're also missing out on a huge opportunity to galvanize some of the best Japanese designers who've splintered off of the major studios over the past few years (Ex- Square Enix and Capcom talent comes to mind).

*Beef up their in-house talent and/or acquire a developer or two (Mistwalker, Level-5, others).

*Revamp the Wiimotes to double as TV remote controls. I was almost certain this would happen at some point down the line as this function seems cheap to incorporate and keeps hands on the hardware longer. Everyone in all age ranges is familiar with the tv remote control, which is one of the reasons why the Wiimote was so popular. When you consider the phasing in of streaming game technology (to no doubt be bolstered by tech/services like Google Fiber) the 'controller' becomes even more important.

Michael Joseph
profile image
haha. i guess there is something psychologically empowering about wielding a magic wand that allows you to CHANGE THE CHANNEL (*thunderclap*).... or play a game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQwYNca4iog

Doug Cox
profile image
Well there has been a leak in the new Nintendo Fusion. The specs as of right now are more powerful then the PS4, but Nintendo's main concern is getting back the diehard fans they once had. In order for them to do is, is to go all out on the next console and really push the limits of hardware and software. They have to stop with these gimmicks like motion controllers, controllers with screens, etc..

Nintendo wasn't founded on gimmicks, they were founded on straight gaming. Don't get me wrong, they did try everything with the NES (The Gun, PowerGlove, Dance Pad, etc), but their main focus was still gaming.

I think that if they can't pull the next console out and grab back the horns, then I think they should do what Sega did and stop creating consoles and focus on games. I'm sure that they would make a killing making their Mario games multiplatform, which would give them the market to make back all the money they have lost in the last few years.

SD Marlow
profile image
Not that it matters this far down the comment thread, but I'll re-state my thoughts from other posts I have commented on.

Short-term: Nintendo-skinned android micro-console pre-loaded with many of the classics (the ones that can be emulated the best) and retro SNES style controller. It's probably the only thing that has kept the OUYA afloat. I suspect they don't even need access to Google Play (a kid-friendly walled marketplace is actually a selling point for them). Oh, and perhaps critically, the little wedge-thingy should be able to double as a development platform, even if it takes a while longer to create an official SDK for it.

Sony will be the only competition, with it's Vita TV (hopefully re-branded as Vita Play). I'd also suspect that a revised version will be a miniature copy of the PS4, both in color and shape. Offering 2nd T.V. playability to PS4 and the newly launched service on top of a catalog of PSP/PS Vita games... Yeah, Nintendo really should make an effort to establish themselves in the "micro-market."

Long-term: One and ONLY one of the following options. Creating a new handheld device, perhaps a 5" 1080p upper screen with 4.3" 540p lower screen clam shell built-in controllers kind of thing (3DS + Nvidia shield). Or, go all-in on an NES64 gaming system that ups the GPU performance while sacrificing system memory and storage space in order to hit a critical $300 price point. Both options involve taking a loss or at least breaking even on hardware for the first 2 or 3 years (more so with a gaming system).

New IP is kind of a given regardless, but they need more than a one-trick pony. Modding tools could be a short term solution.

Josh Charles
profile image
I disagree with each of your suggestions.

While I applaud the technical showcase for what you're proposing, the problem is that Nintendo is neither in the position to need to go in those directions nor should Nintendo be going in those directions in general.

As I believe has been mentioned in the comments of this article, Nintendo is a game company first and foremost -- not a tech company. They are neither in the position to launch such initiatives nor does their core competencies focus on cutting edge technology to drive their software. (It's actually the other way around. Their software drives their hardware design.)

I mentioned this earlier and I'll mention it here: you're essentially suggesting that Nintendo not be Nintendo by doubling down on their weaknesses instead of focusing on their strengths (which they themselves are honestly not doing a good job of at the moment). This, I believe, would be a recipe for further deterioration of the Nintendo brand as they 'hit' way more often than they 'miss' when Nintendo focuses on being Nintendo -- and not on what other gaming and tech companies are doing.

Yes they need games. Games. Games. Games. That's their biggest problem. The 3DS is nothing special tech wise but they supplied it with a wealth of high quality games on a consistent basis up to now and 35+ million people bought the system anyway. It doesn't need to do everything a phone can do -- it just needs to do the one thing people bought it for really, really well and that's offer great games on a regular basis. It has easily passed that test. The Wii-U on the other hand, is a different beast. They definitely need games but they need to sort out other common complaints such as their network infrastructure, cross compatibility with the 3DS, the joke that is the virtual console, their eShop navigation and pricing, developer support, and their very slow OS, amongst other things.

On that note, I don't think prettier specs is the solution to Nintendo's Wii-U problem. In fact, nothing of what you described regarding the long-term view and better specs necessarily translates into success for Nintendo. Just look at the Vita. It's technically better than the 3DS in every way tech-wise but it's getting absolutely trounced in hardware sales. Why? Because: games. That's what ultimately matters to gamers who buy dedicated gaming devices. Everything else comes second to that no matter how cool it is. Without great games that people are willing to spend time and money on, the system would just be an expensive, high-tech paperweight.

One last thing. The difference between 720p and 1080p on a mobile device is almost indiscernible to the human eye. 1080p requires more battery life to run and the benefit for the few who believe they can notice the difference between 720p and 1080p is nowhere near the cost of putting what is cool but largely unnecessary tech into a device.

SD Marlow
profile image
Microsoft has proven that up scaling only works for older DVD movies, not for games on a native 1080p screen. Development of games, across all platforms, is basically 1080p by default, and that includes mobile devices. The hardware inside will be creating 1080p for the HDMI output players want, so a smaller screen just means down sampled video. Power drain from screen size is a minor issue. Just wait until next year when handhelds are pushing 60fps!

Renan Rennó
profile image
I just read the second paragraph and... man that Zelda remix is one of my top favorites! Great work! :)

Leon T
profile image
Neither hardware or mature ( hate how this is used in gaming) games are Nintendo's problems. It's software and value. Nintendo also launched their handheld and home console too close together which didn't leave them any room for error. They were so busy saving the 3DS that when Wii U problems happened they couldn't react in a timely matter.

First they got the value and software wrong for the 3Ds launch. Nintendo doesn't pay attention to modern trends so an account system, multiplayer lobby features, cloud saves, and smart device porting didn't factor in to their launch. On top of that their software for the first 6 months was niche at best. The 3DS was not at the value that Nintendo thought it was. Even now with all the killer software it has the 3DS is priced too high for a gaming device. The DS had a much larger library of new games at a lower price. Nintendo also doesn't have any new breakout software. They were so busy trying to take over the PSP market that they lost the DS market. Animal Crossing showed that it really doesn't take a new game to pull in some of those DS fans , but Nintendo put great effort in that game. Compare it to the poor Nintendogs sequel they put out to see why some many DS gamers still haven't returned.

While dealing that mess the Wii U happened. Nintendo is stuck on trying to surprise people instead of excite them. The Wii U gamepad was a big surprise , but it didn't excite the market( I was excited). The Wiimote was made to appeal to people that thought a normal gamepad look scary. The Wii U has one of the scariest gamepads ever. Even hardcore gamers are intimidated by it. They also followed the launch software strategy that didn't work with the 3DS only Mario was added to it. Two Mario platformers per console doesn't seem like a lot until you launch those consoles about a year apart. Now Wii U software is behind because HD development issues and I'm sure having to ramp up 3DS software production had something to do with that too. Of course lacking the modern online features were also present and for some reason this was the console that Nintendo made the smart device port machine.

The hardcore gamer already abandoned Nintendo during the GameCube era and Nintendo isn't offering anything new and compelling to the expanded audience. They just need more games. Changing the hardware won't do anything. Just as the 2DS didn't stop sales from being down year over year removing the gamepad or launching a micro console won't help Nintendo's situation. Games are the answer. The Wii and DS had more first party games at the same point in their life cycle than the 3DS and Wii U have. Nintendo must ramp up game production for the Wii U with first party games, second party games, and fund third party exclusives from small and talented studios. HD ports of Last Story,Xenoblade, Pandoras Tower, HD collections ( Zelda, Mario, Metroid, ) to help fill gaps.

Next gen Nintendo shouldn't launch until they have more first party games complete.

Bob Johnson
profile image
Nintendo needs their own stores to show off their product because they have so many different types of software/hardware experiences to show off and many are hard to explain without some hands-on time. Current stores like Gamestop and Walmart do not adequately show off nor communicate their products.

HOw many know about...

Pokemon Rumble with figurines?

WiiSports Club?

NES Remix?


How many even know really what Nintendoland is? How many know what the Gamepad can do? How many know it can switch your tv channels for you if you have a cable box?

How many know that arguably the best Lego games out there is only available on the Wii U?

How many understand what the Gamepad does for the Wii Fit U and how the Wii Fit meter works with it?

And that's just some Wii U products. Never mind the 3ds and its software/features.

I think Nintendo could massively benefit from having at least one store in every major city. Gamestop and Walmart don't cut it.

These stores could host things all Nintendo. They could show off the history. They could stock Nintendo toys and board games. They could be places to bring systems in for repair. They could be places to pick up your Nintendo Club items. They could even host birthday parties for younger kids. They could have classes for Moms to try out products like Wii Fit U. They could show off features like TVii for those with a cablebox at home.

Nintendo is probably too cheap to attempt this But they do 1 big "world" store and they are constantly saying how difficult it is to communicate what some of their products are. This would solve that problem.

And, even if they are cheap, the beauty is you start with just 1 store (not including the 1 and only flagship store they have in NYC.) And go from there.

I mean I look at the Wii U in my home and all these experiences they have on there. And at the system itself. And I see a good system for younger kids and families and fans of games in general. I think much of this is lost on consumers that aren't hardcore gamers. Even hardcore gamers I think tend to parrot what they hear without having a true-hands-on with the systems.



nicholas ralabate
profile image
It's the rare bird that likes the even-numbered Zeldas!

Laura Elliott
profile image
All I have to say is that Nintendo has always been my favorite... Yes I have XBOX and PS3 but ever since I got my first NES at 4 years old, Ive been in love with Mario and his adventures. Mario and DK 3D adventure games will always be my favorite... hands down. Nintendo just needs to come out with more of those kinds of games...

Alternate Procellous
profile image
I've read most of the comments here (and I'm late to the conversation), but there hasn't been a whole lot of direct talk about positioning. Sony and Microsoft are going after the core gamer segment (18-35 single males) at high price points ($399 and $499). The answer seems obvious to me: target 6-12 year olds with a console priced at around $199 (or lower, if possible) and most games priced no higher than $39. This segment is mostly ignored by Sony and Microsoft and the customers exist.

The funny thing is they already have a console like that: the 3DS. Look at technologies like Chromecast and figure out a simple add-on to turn the 3DS (or the next generation of the 3DS) into a home console and leave the high end console race to Sony and Microsoft. Work deals with Nickelodeon and other owners of IPs targeted at 6-12 year olds to get some console exclusives to help grow the platform.

Make a tidy profit while re-establishing the Nintendo brand and building a following in a segment that will turn 18 in 6-12 years. Stop spending money on the Wii U and start figuring out next-gen now -- their current market (kids aged 6-12) will be the core market during the next product cycle and if they've done the job right, the kids will fall in love with Nintendo just like I did when I was a kid.

Eric Harris
profile image
Positioning has been covered along with cultural awareness. What you call childlike in Japan is not childlike to them. Most of the developers for Nintendo are Japanese. Nintendo lacks cultural awareness and that is why it seems like they are tackling the 6-12 years segment.

Price is usually related to cost, so there are unknown variables that could be influencing the cost of the Wii U. "High end consoles", is a loaded statement. How are you determining what is high end? Hardware specs?, Online features?. Remember Sega Saturn? How "high end" it was. Remember Atari Jaguar how it was "high end"?

In the gaming world, it is not smart to base marketing decisions solely off of age. People do not buy games based on their age, they buy them based on their interest. All genres have their different appeals. Take for instance: a father who wants to play a video game in his living room with his family. We know he is looking for something multi-player. He also needs something that can hold his and his child's interest. Maybe the violence should not be too intense, maybe strong language should be avoided. There are some many considerations here that age is just scratching the surface. I think Nintendo understands this part at least. You can tell by the way their games search is set up on their website. They want you to chose a game that interest you, and this is a good thing.

Positioning from you angle at least would be a recipe for failure.

Nick Harris
profile image
Give a child a cornucopia of free games (however old) and they will play nothing else. Indeed, I'll play them too - filling up my leisure time inexpensively, when I could have been spending money on a new Nintendo console and new full priced games. Actually, cinematic adventures don't suit me as they are predominantly passive experiences with limited player freedom and often zero emergent gameplay. What is worse, is that these adventures demand long sessions of continuous play and cannot easily be picked up and put down on my terms. They become work, not entertainment. They have all the bad aspects of being "passive" with regard to limited (or "quick time event") interaction, without any of the good aspects of real home cinema with regard to a pause / rewind / character bio.

Casual games are separate from Wii motion sensing games - the latter is all about accessibility, whilst the former actually puts up barriers you have to pay to unblock, or at least accelerate through to avoid interminable grind. A carefully engineered system of audio-visual rewards based around Skinner Box psychology drives exploitative tat like Candy Crush Saga™ much the same as the attract sequences of fruit machines only with the cash flowing in but one direction. In-App Purchases ought to be disabled by default on iPhones which should have multiple thumb recognised user personas with different Home screens and restricted purchasing power through the use of Wallets, whilst Nintendo should just continue to be transparent and upfront about the costs of their entertainment products so that once you buy a Mario game there is no DLC or subscription fee, you are just free to be... a BEE!


none
 
Comment: