With the confirmation of the new Nintendo NX system would be shown and possibly released this year, there is a lot of hype along with much speculation on what the system will actually be; a regular console with a unique remote, a console/handheld hybrid, and so on. This article is not that type of speculative article about the NX, but rather, a realistic view on the possibility that it may not sell well.
This is an article that talks about the possible end of Nintendo the way we know it now, not as a whole.
Let’s get this out of the way first; in no way do I think that Nintendo will fail as a business. I believe that Nintendo will be around for a very long time in one way or another. For a company that started off selling playing cards to turn into what is today is amazing and there is no reason to think that they will just go away based on another console failure.
The fact does remain that the Wii U is a failure as a console seller. Only selling one-tenth of what the original sold is terrible and can be compared to the Sega Dreamcast in many ways. The saving grace of the Wii U is its software; games like Mario 3D, Mario Kart 8, Splatoon, Super Smash Bros, and Mario Maker are excellent games that didn’t reach the audience that it could have.
There is no definitive reason on why the Wii U sold poorly. It could be that the confusion of the name and if it was an extension of the original console, or the lack of third party, the poor starting lineup of games. Maybe because consumers knew the PS4 and Xbox would have new consoles soon, or perhaps they couldn’t market the console out of a paper bag were reasons. More than likely, it was a mixture of all of those scenarios.
While the Nintendo produced games were mostly great, the all-time excuse of “people buy Nintendo for Nintendo games” doesn’t hold true anymore, as clearly this is not the case. Older gamers have the nostalgia for Mario and Zelda that newer gamers do not have, and in order for Nintendo’s next console to sell, they need to understand that gamers are growing up and their older audience have a budget to abide by now for the most part.
They have to make something that speaks to everyone and not just a gimmick that sells consoles that are destined to collect dust. That statement may come off harsh, but it’s not without some validity either.
So the question comes into play, “What happened to Nintendo if the NX fails?”
For starters, the obvious answer is that we may not see a home console from them for a very long time, or at all. There is always the possibility for them to continue the handheld market, but since the 3DS sales are less compared to the original DS handhelds, it would be no surprise that may go away as well. The simple fact is that no company, including Nintendo, wants to hemorrhage money on something that is no longer working for them in sales. Nintendo has a massive amount of money and the idea is to keep it loaded in their accounts, not to lose it; that’s how business works with shareholders.
“So what does Nintendo do then?”
There are a couple of different ways that Nintendo could stay relevant. The first way has already been set in motion with the deal with DeNA, as Nintendo starts going into the smartphone space and eventually tablets. This opens the door for their franchises new and old to get into the mobile market.
The second way, and honestly, one of the most profitable ways is just to become like Sega and be a software company.
According to Pixelkin.org (Oct. 2015) these are the software sales for Wii U:
Wii U Game Units Sold
Mario Kart 8 5.87 mil
Nintendo Land 5.00 mil
New Super Mario Bros. U 4.88 mil
Super Mario 3D World 4.47 mil
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 4.03 mil
Splatoon 2.42 mil
New Super Luigi U 2.27 mil
Super Mario Maker 1.88 mil
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD 1.62 mil
Wii Party U 1.58 mil
With there being ten million Wii U consoles sold so far, that means on average, almost half of Wii U owners buy Nintendo software titles. Not too shabby for a low selling console.
Now imagine if they put out their software titles on the PS4 and Xbox One, as both platforms as of January 2016 have sold close to at least 60 million units combined. Nintendo could make huge profits with their original IP, and if the same hold true in terms of sales, Nintendo can be successful without needing to rely on a console. It can be almost assured that some of their investors want this anyways and it makes sense if the NX fails that this would be the next step; besides, no one probably thought we would see Sonic on Nintendo when Sega systems were still around.
“So what needs to happen to make sure the NX succeeds?”
In terms of the console and its mechanics, there is no real opinion at this point as no one really knows what it can do, or even what it looks like. Some actual third party support would be nice this time around for the long run instead of simply just porting already existing games to the NX library. Ubisoft did a great job of this during the Wii’s popularity, but that consisted of mostly party games and probably won’t have the same selling factor as it did several years ago.
Nintendo should come out of the gate with the NX firing on all cylinders this time. It is almost a certainty that The Legend of Zelda will release on the same day the NX does, but that won’t be enough. A new 3D Mario should make an appearance, perhaps another title from a classic IP. If the system is a hybrid of some sort combining console with handheld portability, then don’t be surprised to see some older DS games getting updates to the new system; like Trauma Center, some Castelvania DS games, The World Ends with You just to name a few that many people wouldn’t mind having again.
When it comes down to it, Nintendo can’t simply rely on their older IP’s regardless of how great they still are. Taking chances with new titles may be Nintendo’s saving grace the next time around, and this has been proven with Splatoon, already showing that it can be done. It’s time for a new group of developers to come into the fray and create something new that resonates with new and older gamers alike.
To reiterate and conclude, I do not wish for the Nintendo that I grew up with to go away. It’s sad to think that there could be no more Nintendo consoles anymore, but if that is the way it goes then I believe that Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, and Yoshi, to name a few will be around for a long time. The sad truth is that with competitors like iOS, Sony, and Microsoft out there, there is a possibility that this could happen.
What do you think? Do we have a long time left with Nintendo consoles? Do you care? Would you rather play Mario on your PS4? Let us know in the comments below.