So Nintendo revealed yesterday that they are dropping the price of the Wii U (after being on sale for almost a year) and they are releasing…this.
Now, I’m not in favor of this but I’m not really Nintendo’s target market either. They’ve been catering more to kids and extended family than people who buy their own games ever since the Wii. Which is fine, and in fact has been genius since they’re targeting a market Sony and Microsoft largely ignore.
Here’s the thing though, it doesn’t seem to be working. Nintendo’s first fiscal quarter was pretty decent, but not what they wanted. Last year they announced their first annual loss and sales for the Wii U have been sluggish to say the least. Even when they were selling a ton of Wiis though, that’s not where game companies make their money. Everyone brags about console sales, but that’s because they increases game sales, the more profitable side of the industry.
Nintendo has continued to fall down on producing content for these systems. They have new versions of all their best stuff (Mario, Super Smash Bros, Animal Crossing…wait, they haven’t had Zelda or Metroid) but they are still failing to court outside developers. Worse, the “new innovations” Nintendo want’s to push into people’s hands aren’t very attractive to said developers who have to decide whether to make a Nintendo game or make a game that can be released on all consoles. It’s the same old story of developers throwing in some new gimmick to appease Nintendo and then doing what they wanted to do…just not as well as on the other consoles.
And the communication to customers hasn’t been nearly as smooth as with the Wii, resulting in poorer sales. When the PS4 and Xbox One come out, developers are going to be making new games to take advantage of the new tech and the Wii U, just like the Wii and the Gamecube, won’t be able to keep up. That’s not to praise Sony and Microsoft, they’re making tons of mistakes of their own; rehashing the console cycle, going for more flash than substance, ramming policies and peripherals down people’s throats, etc.
But I think Nintendo will find itself in more trouble. I would hate to see this, but if they don’t start doing things differently, I see them going the way of Sega. Especially, as the market evolves. People are already saying the console market is dying, saying the future is in the cloud. We have Valve’s rumored console and the Ouya, which doesn’t seem to be doing everything it was promised but it served as a proof of concept for future developers. At what point does Nintendo get pushed out of the market? At what point do they decide they can make more money as a developer or publisher than as a console manufacturer?