I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Nintendo’s days are numbered. According to a new report by Gamasutra, the Japanese company’s Wii U console is a flat out failure. Just last month, the company only sold about 100,000 Wii U systems, this month, it’s estimated that they’ve only sold about half of that. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Xbox 360—which is well over five years old—just sold over 250,000 units to remain the number one console for the 25th month in a row.
There’s not easy way to say it, Nintendo’s lost its step. While the company continues to make fun games, they’ve failed to realize that their main audience, the audience that helped build their empire back in 1985 with the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), have all grown up. Games, like people, have matured and Nintendo has decided to ignore that fact. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a place for kid friendly games, Microsoft and Sony both have titles like Skylanders, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, but they also have games like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Saint’s Row and more. Nintendo is notorious for living off their prior successes, like selling the original Super Mario Bros. on countless systems over the years. They’ve failed to create new IP’s that can revitalize the brand name, Pokemon is getting old, Zelda’s are becoming hit or miss and the Mario games are a shell of their former glory.
With the Wii U and even the original Wii, Nintendo built a console around a gimmick, a gimmick that’s fun to play in an party or family environment, which is fine, but the console(s) deliver a stale experience when gamers want to play solo. The original Wii lacked HD games, a DVD play and a real social online network, which forced gamers to buy either an XBOX or PS3 to have that experience. With the Wii U, Nintendo finally offers a console with HD graphics and DVD playback, but its online service is broken and doesn’t feature anywhere near the experience that gamers can get on XBOX Live, or even PSN for that matter. The Wii U launched without a major “must-have” title, no real Super Mario title, no Zelda, nothing unique or brand new, instead, it launched a Ray-Man game, recycled ports from other systems or terrible games based on the controller’s gimmick, like ZombiiU. By the time Nintendo does get a solid Zelda, Metroid or Mario title out the door, Sony and Microsoft will be launching their new consoles, with spectacular specs, new online services, voice and motion control and a Blu-Ray player for those who prefer to buy discs instead of streaming. While Nintendo on the other hand finally got around to adding a standard DVD player.
The real problem for Nintendo is that this is it, if the Wii U fails, there’s no time to make a new console. It takes years to build and test new hardware, the Wii U was designed and built to last for at least 4-5 years, but with sales only hitting about 45-55K after only 4 months of availability and when you add in the fact that Nintendo is already selling each unit at a loss, it spells trouble. Nintendo needs to find another way to bring in revenue, if they don’t sell hardware, they won’t be selling software, which is the real cash cow. It may be time for the former video game giant, to suck it up and stick to the handheld devices for now, while developing software for competing consoles sort of like Sega. The mobile phone market is a gold mine and if Nintendo wants revenue quickly, they need to release a few of their titles on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. As long as they are priced appropriately and not like SquareEnix titles (not $14.99 – $19.99), then they should have some quick success.
I invested so much time and money into Nintendo’s products over the year, they were a part of my childhood and my life growing up, so it’s really sad to see the company crumbling, I just hope they do the right thing and continue to make great games, even if they stop making consoles.