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The Demise Of Nintendo

Arguably the biggest gaming staple since the commercialisation of gaming in the 80’s, Nintendo has stood tall and proud as an elite company within the industry. Catering for multiple types of gamers, Nintendo are well respected within the industry. Yet, after the crippling launch of the Wii U and the issues surrounding the 3DS, Nintendo is facing up to harsh realities after posting a forecasted loss of  £205m for the financial year ending March 31st.

Nintendo is by all accounts arguably one of the centrepieces to gaming’s short but populated history. Despite the success of the industry, gaming can be incredibly ruthless to beloved companies also. Over 10 years ago, Sega made losses equivalent to Nintendo despite releasing a superb console. But it was the stiff competition from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo that made the Sega Dreamcast falter. Sega then ditched console manufacture reshaping their company towards game publishing and development.

This could be the harsh reality that Nintendo could well face. There have already been questions over whether they will commercialise their games to appear on smartphones such as Mario for example. Whatever the future may hold, here is a look as to why Nintendo have fallen from greatness.

The Wii: First impressions are a terrible terrible thing. The Wii when first sampled in 2007/08 was a unique experience. Motion controls and enhanced interactivity opened up all sorts of possibilities for gamers. The console successfully touched into the casual crowd and was popular among family gamers. Yet, despite some sterling titles such as Super Mario Galaxy-the console in its later years received very few essential games.

Couple this with the low specification quality of the console and its inability to target hardcore gamers-the console was somewhat redundant in its final years. Despite a successful innovation, the company did not successfully enhance the Wii.

3DS: The launch of the 3DS was a failure by all accounts. The games available at launch were simply not good enough and a high price premium to purchase the console put many off a potential purchase. Nintendo made a radical decision to drop the price of the console shortly after its launch which meant-despite selling more consoles, they sold each console at a substantial loss.

Until 2013, the 3DS sold well but not at a rate which met expectations nor was it making any money whatsoever. This period hurt Nintendo and did briefly threaten its dominance in handheld gaming after the high-on quality launch of the PS Vita. 2013 was a return to form and the launch of the 2DS may ease the company through.

The WiiU: I watched as the WiiU was unveiled to the world at E3 in 2011 and all I can say is that things did not look good for that moment. I said to my friend sat next to me that “its a really good controller for the Wii.” Then it hit us both, it was in fact a controller for a new console. The thing is about the WiiU is that the gamepad, as impressive as it is does nothing to paper over the cracks of the actual console which looks strikingly similar to the Wii.

The console, launched in late 2012 was meant to kickstart the next-generation. Its hardware? The hardware for the console was nearly on par with the PS3 and Xbox 360. The lack of first party titles at launch meant that the console was relying on multiplatform titles and version exclusives. It was a poor strategy and the console sold badly.

2013 got even worse for the console. Retailers such as Walmart and Asda dropped the WiiU from its stock citing the low sales. Anticipated exclusive Rayman Legends was then dropped from exclusivity and made multiplatform. The WiiU version despite being ready was delayed to coincide with the release of the other versions also.

Despite some titles in the pipeline, the console looks likely to do well only in Japan. With over 8 million gamers having bought the PS4 or XB1, the WiiU having been on the market longer has barely scratched 3 million sales.

The Future: The problem with the strategy of Nintendo is that the company is not prepared to take on risks or high manufacturing costs.  The 3DS was only at a high cost through its 3D feature and the Wii with its gamepad. Its hardware needed more investment so that they could appeal to all gamers. I remember at that 2011 E3 that EA got on stage and showed Battlefield 3. The trailer was not running on the Wii U and the game did not release on the console either.

Its an example of how inadequate the console is. The PS3 and XB1 have gotten better with age despite having relatively low specifications. I do think Nintendo has got exclusive games on its side and a number of them are in the offing to release this year. That will help the console claw back its fanbase. Things could indeed get worse if the PS4 and XB1 continue to be as successful as they are. It would not be a surprise in the future to see their games commercialised. If however games like Earthbound/Mother 3 were to release, everything could indeed change.

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