Editor's Corner: Nintendo Can Stand to Lose a Little Cash
Posted on Wednesday, July 30 @ 18:00:00 PST by Daniel Bischoff
Microsoft, Sony, Valve, Ubisoft... these are some of the gaming industry's biggest conglomerate corporations, gobbling up billions of dollars in revenue in exchange for millions of units of product, but none of them hold a candle to Nintendo when you consider the sheer strength in recognition the company's brands still hold.
Sure, Microsoft have Master Chief and Sony has even developed their own crossover brawler showcasing the platform's historically fluid mascots. Yes, Valve has Steam and one extremely in-demand license and Ubisoft has Assassin's Creed and the UbiArt engine. None of that can really take away from one name or one system in Nintendo's stable.
These names will live on in the entertainment hivemind consciousness for decades after they fall out of relevancy and even today that's proving more and more difficult for a Nintendo brand to do. Rarely do you hear people complain that Nintendo has continued developing new entries in old franchises and the reverse holds true too. Even when New Super Mario Bros. U landed alongside the company's Wii U console, people didn't seem to mind so long as a few new ideas and the same classic gameplay remained true to the expected and familiar.
While news today puts Nintendo's financial situation in the dumps, the company has enough capital to continue operating in a way that maintains major brands as opposed to the dumping of assets that might have come with a console transition.
Where Nintendo excels is in making the old feel like it's new, in making the adults sitting down to play with their children feel like kids again, and in making stale gameplay mechanics entertaining through iteration and feedback.
10 billion yen in a single quarter is a lot of loose change, but you can't deny the strength in Mario Kart 8 sales or the feeling that even more copies will fly off of retail shelves as 2014 continues into the holidays. Christmas this year could mimic last year and wind up disappointing Nintendo shareholders as PS4 and Xbox One continue to build speed, but you could hardly make the case that any holiday season proves itself a failure for the big N.
Simply existing, simply sitting on store shelves with a price point lower than the other consoles will help the Wii U hardware. Having recognizable, family friendly software will only aid the system's cause. At this point, finishing this generation "in first place, leading the console wars" feels like a slap in the face of what Nintendo's capable of, especially since far greater emphasis should be put on maintaining the brand's ability to attract old users as much as it does new.
I bought my Wii U console at launch and have used it sporadically as software demands change and my attention is pulled back and forth from the console, but that doesn't mean I haven't given it its due. Wii U will continue to sell modestly into the next four or five years. Some consumers want Nintendo to unveil new hardware but from all the entertainment I got from my GameCube, I'd say third-place is hardly last in any console war.
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