Nintendo Wake Up Call

Nintendo Wake Up Call

After the uncompromising failure that is the Wii U video game console, Nintendo as a company was certainly in need of a serious wake up call.  The CEO cut his own personal salary in half, and many other top level executives are taking pay cuts as well.  Due to their reluctance to license out their tried and true franchises such as Mario and Zelda onto third party devices, they have fallen significantly behind the times. Although they have made some big announcements about a new strategy involving marketing to fitness conscious individuals that would not normally purchase a video game console, it will probably not be enough.

Since the inception of the Nintendo Entertainment System in the eighties, Nintendo has established their presence apart from other video game console and gaming companies by creating character based franchises that have recognition which has grown to near Disney proportions.  By carrying over character franchises such as Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong over to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo was able to not only compete with the 16-bit Sega Genesis, but in the opinion of many, they were able to completely win that particular console war.

This trend continued through the release of their other consoles, but they eventually lost ground to Sony with the release of the PlayStation and subsequent release of the PlayStation 2.  The sales figures and types of games on Sony’s system indicated a dramatic shift in the world of video games at large, and Nintendo’s unwavering stance on development strategy they have fallen far behind Sony and Microsoft in the present day.  The most popular games are adult themed nowadays, whether they be first person shooters such as Halo and Call of Duty, or an open world cornucopia like Grand Theft Auto.

Long time gamers still have a tremendous respect for Nintendo franchises, which aside from Mario and Zelda, was evident in the enormous popularity of the brilliant Metroid Prime series, which was another intelligent use of in-house franchises by Nintendo.  Things began to change with the Nintendo Wii though, and even with its success in expanding the market share of Nintendo to include first time gamers with family and party hits, such as Just Dance, which took advantage of the motion controls to create a new type of gaming experience, it isn’t enough to compete with Sony and Microsoft anymore.

The list of top rated games on the Xbox and PlayStation systems trumps Nintendo’s list on both the Wii and Wii U by a mile.  And now this new fitness marketing strategy which will possibly include an entirely new console will not restore Nintendo to where they need to be.  PlayStation and Microsoft have employed motion controls that are far more effective and responsive than both iterations of the Wii.  The reason Wii Fit enjoyed so much success was because there was not any direct competition at the same, but now there is and the clunky and seemingly endless of peripherals Nintendo systems require seems cumbersome in the present day.  The best course of action for Nintendo would probably be to release a non-motion controlled old school gaming machine with beautiful versions of Mario and Zelda akin to the versions on Super Nintendo, because it makes logical sense that the particular market that exists there is significantly bigger than non gamers.

Editorial by Michael Blain

Washington Post

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