Sales wise, Nintendo has dominated this generation of consoles. No competitor sold anywhere near as many systems as Nintendo’s little system that could. Unfortunately they did it at the expense of the core gamers and their recent sales numbers reflect that. Join me as I discuss how Nintendo can dominate sales and win back the core gamers in this next generation.
No matter what you think of Nintendo you have to give them their dues. There are things that Nintendo excels at to the point of mastery. Simply put, the big N makes games that are fun to play. Seems simple, doesn’t it? Yet many games nowadays have so many battle systems and ins and outs to the experience that they neglect the fact that games are supposed to be fun. Nintendo nails it almost every time. Their first party games are mostly critically acclaimed and are the masters of their respective genres.
However there are things Nintendo just falls flat on it’s face with. As a company they have never really wrapped their head around online play and while Nintendo states that is simply the way they prefer things, the times, they are changing. Online multiplayer experiences, like it or not, simply sell systems. The biggest games sales wise anymore have some sort of online multiplayer component and while I personally prefer single player you simply have to provide the online component, or a large chunk of gamers just won’t be interested.
Nintendo in the recent years, N64 and forward, have had horrible problems on getting third parties on board. This is mostly due to the systems lagging behind on the technical front. While they are well known for their first party titles, lately when you look in a magazine at most blockbuster third party games you read, systems: Xbox 360 and PS3. In order to succeed in this next generation they need to bring these developers and publishers on board. While Nintendo’s tried and true are usually fantastic they just can’t sustain hardcore gamers. A game every six months, no matter how good, won’t keep us occupied.
Finally, for the love of gaming Nintendo, I need regular gaming controls. Look, I like motion controls for playing with my son or whenever I invite people over but when the lights go out in the evening and it’s time for serious gaming time the Wii, when I still had one, went off and the Xbox came on.
These are the things I think Nintendo has to do right for Wii U. While you can argue that Wii is a sales success, and it is, I don’t think it will work as well the second time around without the above things. Most of the original sales that the Wii got were because of the novelty. In console gaming space we just hadn’t seen anything like the Wii and so it was massively pushed on the news and in multiple formats. People who don’t usually buy video game consoles were snapping up the Wii as the latest thing and forgetting about it a month later. While the Wii U seems to be unique and certainly something different; it’s not as groundbreaking as motion controls were for the masses.
Good news is I think Nintendo is on the right track so far. While we don’t know specifics on the online system, the big N have stated that they plan to massively improve on their stance with online play. So far on the 3DS they seem more committed to online downloads and such, however time will tell. In addition, they made a big deal of EA coming out at E3 2011 and saying they are supporting the Wii U. With some of the most popular franchises in gaming at their disposal this could be the massive shot in the arm Nintendo needs third party games. The place I remain skeptical is the controller. Though I’ve read multiple hands-on reports that seem positive, the device just looks awkward to hold. Hopefully if I ever get my hands on it I’ll be proved wrong.
Also, never underestimate Nintendo’s pull with fans. Even jaded gamers that traded in their Wii and scoff at the third party shovelware can tell you of fond memories with many of Nintendo’s consoles. Though I myself largely dismissed the company of late and went with the Xbox for more core games I want to love the company. I want Nintendo to make the system that all my games come out on, one I can be largely devoted to playing on. Nintendo breeds nostalgia with gamers and has a stable of mascots and games that many of us cut our teeth on. In my opinion Legend of Zelda is one of the best franchises out there and games like Skyward Sword make me almost weep that I don’t have a Wii any longer. If they can make those games come out alongside games like Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed, then future can be very bright indeed for Wii U.
Nintendo has a strong lineup of first party games and mascots to draw from, an innovative new system with some awesome features and a head start on Xbox and Playstation in a time when people are starting to wonder what’s next for consoles. The Wii U has the potential to have experiences on their console that you just can’t get anywhere else due to the controllers. The ability to take your game on your screen while your family watches TV, is for this father gamer, a dream come true. Even simple things like viewing maps and inventory on the screen could be an awesome way to keep from breaking away from the game and wading through menus. With strong third party support, well done online features, a controller that doesn’t involve waggling and their always fantastic first party games at their disposal, Nintendo would have the means to woo the core gamers back and to dominate in sales yet again. Time will tell if they take advantage of it.