Super Mario Bros., Kirby All Stars, Star Fox, Donkey Kong are characters and games that have become the reason I am the gamer I am today. I grew up on Nintendo products and the characters became my avatars on a daily basis. I remember the first time I found out about this pink bubble gum shaped genderless blob named Kirby who can inhale its enemies and gain the majority of their powers. It's a very distinct memory that I think of every time the name Nintendo is mentioned. I have a connection with the name Nintendo and it isn't far from the truth that the corporation in all of its glory was my best friend and companion throughout the early stages of my life. With sales forecasts slashed by 70% and stock value severely decreasing, we are on the edge of losing my, and many others, childhood friend.
Over the past 5-6 years we have seen Nintendo fall farther and farther behind in the console war. The Wii was the last console success from Nintendo and it was focused on the smaller market of the gaming world: the family oriented games. There is no doubt that family gaming having a presence in the industry is incredibly important and without it makes the PR department of Sony and Microsoft have one of the toughest job in the video game universe.
For those who don't know, Public Relations, or PR for short, are responsible for maintaining the intended image for a company or brand that these public entities wish to portray. So, when the big two, Sony and Microsoft, become interested in developing and producing family oriented gaming, they have to draw the eye from their violent, graphic, and other works that attract the mass audience. The big two have done family oriented games, but in today’s world people just do not spend Xbox or PlayStation money to pet a baby tiger, at least not in a highly profiting capacity. Developing on family oriented gaming has been relatively successful, however, being exclusively focused on this niche audience has all but murdered the Nintendo Corporation.
With smartphones becoming what young gamers crave, developers have ventured out on their own to create applications and browser based games accessible only by PC’s, tablets, and smart phones, thus drawing the handheld device audience away from their pocket bricks. Of course, there are still feats that iPhones and Androids still can't conquer at an affordable price, such as fully fleshed out story driven games and 3D technology like the Nintendo 3DS has. This seems to be the only advantage Nintendo’s current handheld still has over tablets and phones, but who’s to say how long that will last. Nintendo has a job to do, and it has to be done fast before they float to the top of the tank.
Should Nintendo develop a new platform and continue their long line of innovation and find new ways to use the technology they are already familiar with? I think their track record shows that they can, so if they have the resources they should give it one more go, and now with their recent announcement that Nintendo will begin to release “free mini games on phones”, they are on the right track.
Nintendo’s most recent venture is the Wii U, which unintentionally are the first two sounds you hear when you're about to watch an episode of Doctor Who, and it is a console that I had barely heard about fully until the day it was released. The “Tab” -- a nickname I gave the console due to its terrible name -- was announced at E3 the year prior to its release, was not made very public nor talked about enough in the major press channels, and really did not to leave enough of an impact anywhere for it to even be taken seriously.
Nintendo did a terrible job at marketing their new product and left zero incentive for customers to buy it. This was coupled with a marked up the price per unit without improving the hardware all that much from the Wii. Nintendo can argue that the price was to justify the addition of the platter-sized controller, but why not improve the entire console if you’re going to release something “completely new” at the same time?
The real question is what can Nintendo do to fix this major 6 yearlong decline into the realm of dreams and memories? Thoughts around the office have all pointed towards the exact strategy that Sega took when Dreamcast, the console that came with a cup holder for a controller, was released to only fall flat on its own face. In other words, quit the console business and concentrate exclusively on developing games for one of the bigger companies may be a better option. When Sega jumped the console ship, they teamed up with other major companies, majorly including Nintendo, to hopefully keep the company up and creating new content for their fans, but now with their big brother going down, they have to devise a plan to keep from giving in to the lords of the industry. What is happening to Nintendo is what happened to SEGA, and instead of repeating the same mistake, Nintendo needs to learn from SEGA and either move on with them or do something completely different.
So what does Nintendo do? Do they pull out of console development and try to work on games for the other parties only to be another company absorbed by the corporate giants? Or do they take one last stand and use their innovation bone to develop one more industry first? These guys and gals were the consoles we grew up on, they were the first to attach shoulder buttons to their controller, they were the pioneers in motion gaming, they were the first to put real 3D technology in a handheld gaming system. I mean come on! There has to be more innovation for the way we game that can keep Nintendo going.
Maybe make a tablet sized console with an attached screen; it sort of worked for android. Develop a friends and online store system that actually works and runs smoother than or as smooth as PSN or XBL. Something has to be done and it has to be done fast because with the President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, is taking a severe pay cut by 50% in order to keep the company afloat for a little longer.
Nintendo, oh captain my captain, I will say again, you have a job to do and we are here to give you our support. Your reign cannot end without a bang and it most certainly cannot end on the note of the Wii U. If the company is going to go down, it needs to go down because you overshot the landing, you missed the target because it had phasing powers and the bullet went straight through it. If there’s one thing that will make for one hell of a goodbye, make it something that us humans just can’t handle at this point in time. Nintendo, I know you have what it takes to blow our minds, do it and go out as champions.