Nintendo Ain’t Backing Down From Console Biz
In the face of some pretty dire losses as reported Friday during a company press conference, head honcho Satoru Iwata agrees its time for Nintendo to rethink their strategy. But that still doesn’t mean you’ll find Mario leaping onto smartphones.
The Wii U pegged as a central cause of financial disappointment, Nintendo has lowered their original projection of 9 million units sold all the way down to 2.8 million for the fiscal year ending in March. Industry analysts are already comparing the struggling Wii U to Sega’s doomed vessel the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast’s unfortunate – and, may history not forget, heartbreaking – failure dumped Sega out of the hardware business, forcing them to recoup their losses in software; subsequently publishing first-party IP’s like Sonic the Hedgehog onto former rivals’ machines.
Investors are seemingly pushing for a similarly drastic overhaul in Nintendo’s business, narrowing their eyes on the potential profit to be mined by releasing the company’s world renown properties on mobile and home devices not manufactured by the Japanese juggernaut.
Iwata, though illustrating his thoughts more eloquently, obviously believes that’s horseshit.
“The spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles,” said Nintendo’s president to The Wall Street Journal. “It’s not that simple. It doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones.” Dishing out titles such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, or Pokemon on other platforms would only disrupt Nintendo’s current success: the 3DS.
While the sales forecast for their handheld has also been lowered, the disparity is nowhere near as severe – down from 18 million units to 13.5. With the 3DS having dominated the hardware market worldwide in 2013 (even outpacing both the PS4 and Xbox One’s total sales in the month of December), it’s no wonder Nintendo doesn’t want to shut down its manufacturing shops.
While Iwata stands by the Wii U as a product, he subscribes to the notion that, at the end of the day, games will sell a console. And, once again, Nintendo relies on its flagship titles to do the convincing. For some, this strategy won’t cut it.
Stock analyst and notable talking head Michael “Pach-Attack” Pachter thinks it’s already too late for the Wii U, stating in February’s Game Informer, “I don’t think they recover. I think they screwed [the Wii U] up royally. They’re going to have to scrap it.”
Even suffering losses and a constantly shifting market, I wouldn’t soon expect Nintendo to drastically change how they rule the kingdom they’ve spent decades building. We’re not just talking about a financial player here – this is a development/publishing/manufacturing powerhouse that helped define modern gaming. Trends, tastes, and practices all change. Through it all, Nintendo has somehow remained constant.
That’s not to excuse the Wii U and the underwhelming decisions keeping it out of gamers’ living rooms (mine included). And that’s not to say I wouldn’t be tickled pink at the opportunity to play Zelda on my PlayStation 4. Christ, I would love that. It’s just, if that happened, I’d have to accept Hell has frozen solid and that the sky was moments away from crushing me. I don’t see it happening but, then again, if I were old enough to invest in Sega right before the Dreamcast launched… Let’s– Let’s just cut the article here, huh?
Naughty Dog Founder Calls Nintendo “Irrelevant” in the Console Biz
Mr. Jason Rubin, co-founder of acclaimed studio Naughty Dog as well as the last CEO at the helm of THQ before its public dissolution, recently had some biting remarks for industry titan and household name Nintendo.
A frequent, and outspoken, guest of the Geoff Keighley hosted Bonus Round, conversation on a recent episode gravitated from who will be successful in the new next-gen console race (Sony or Microsoft) to how Nintendo, in Rubin’s opinion, barely qualifies as a contender.
Rubin says both Sony and Microsoft stand to do “extremely well” because “Nintendo has stumbled.” Then he landed this juicy sound byte on the Japanese publisher’s chin: “Nintendo is irrelevant as a hardware manufacturer in the console business right now.”
In a cordial showing of impromptu damage control, Rubin rained praise on the company, calling them a “worldwide treasure” and that no developer alive “will ever be Miyamoto,” as in Shigeru, the living legend responsible for creating almost every A-list first-party franchise in Nintendo’s catalog. Rubin's singeing comments stem, no doubt, from the year old Wii U’s struggle to place itself in consumer’s living rooms. To add some perspective, IGN noted that the PlayStation 4 outpaced the Wii U’s life-to-date sales in the U.K. over the weekend.
Hearing that, it’s easy to chart the Sega course for Nintendo, in which they burn up their manufacturing business and stick strictly to software, doomed to becoming a third-party publisher in order to keep breathing. For Rubin, that may be the ideal outcome. “It is a crime that we do not play those games on the systems that we have.”
But Nintendo could hardly be called “irrelevant” when it comes to the handheld market, which they have in a damn sleeper hold. The 3DS and its various incarnations are dominating the world, time and time again topping the NPD’s hardware list. Sony’s own bid at handheld success, the PS Vita, has fought to find even remotely the same traction since its launch.
Rubin’s words may sting, but if truth hurts, they sting for a reason. The Wii U left a gaping maw of an opportunity for the competition to seize upon. For now, the console war is between two companies, and despite helping define the home console as we know it today, Nintendo is not one of them.
Wii U Drops Its Price and the 3DS Drops a Whole Damn Dimension
All right. Where to begin? I suppose I’ll start with the news that doesn’t scramble my brains like Iwata himself stabbed a whisk through my head.
First up, the Wii U is officially seeing a price drop. In a ploy to divert your attention from Sony and Microsoft’s Hell in a Cell, next-gen warring this Holiday, Nintendo has slashed $50 from the Wii U Deluxe Set’s tag. The 32GB model’s newly minted price of $299 will kick in for North American retailers on September 20th.
Personal bite: I can’t complain about a console price drop. A more affordable system pushes me closer to inviting it into my home. Though, the fact the drop had to happen at all tells a distressing tale in regards to the system’s performance – keep in mind we’re not even a year out from the console’s November 2012 release date and a price drop is already happening. Not fantastic.
And a discounted tag ain’t enough to catch the public’s attention by itself. Any software not adorned with a Nintendo mascot holds up like a drop of fresh water in the ocean. You hear a story every other day about a third-party publisher ducking out of releasing a Wii U version of their hot title or, at best, releasing a watered down version. Once more, not fantastic.Nintendo also announced a new model of the 3DS minus the 3D part. "Isn’t that just a DS, though?“ No, simpleton. This plays 3DS games. But not in 3D. Also, it doesn’t have a hinge, ridding you of the frustration of being able to close the machine and protect the screen from the elements – an innovation Nintendo foolishly invested into back with the Game Boy Advance SP.
I introduce to you the Nintendo 2DS. Soak it in, friends. Nintendo is billing the new handheld as an entry-level portable for youngsters…which makes the damage susceptible design even more boggling. Reduced functionality – and, seemingly, reduced versatility – means the handheld can be yours for just $129.99. The 2DS is locked in to debut in the states alongside the release of the world’s first 3D Pokemon titles, X and Y – it just gets better and better as we go along, huh? – on October 12th.
Nintendo’s much needed intervention has not yet been scheduled.
EA: Absolutely Nothing in the Pipeline for Wii U
Here’s the byline bouncing around this evening: Despite EA announcing an “unprecedented partnership” between itself and Nintendo at E3 circa 2011, the game publishing giant has revealed it currently has no games in development for the struggling Wii U.
That oath, made while CEO John Riccitiello had a clasp on the company’s reigns, manifested in several ports of popular titles – Mass Effect 3, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and Madden included – that long since had homes on the Xbox 360 and PS3. According to EA’s spokesperson, Jeff Brown, those handful of ports encompass the whole of their Wii U partnership, ensuring future blockbusters such as Battlefield 4, FIFA, and Madden 25 won’t be making it onto Nintendo’s newest console.
Having that waterway dry up – the"waterway" here referring to one of the biggest third-party publishers in the world – further shoves Wii U into a rough corner. But, as Kotaku illustrates, ever since the first Wii third-parties have had a hell of a hard time finding success on Nintendo’s systems. Usually Nintendo’s first-party hits take up the lion’s share of sales while third-parties are left to scavenge for scraps. Follow that with Nintendo’s increasingly upward slope of a fight to put their hardware in gamers’ homes, and even the big boys like EA are turning their back to the Japanese monolith.
Business is business, however, and EA isn’t likely to give Wii U the lifetime shunning if the system starts to perform well. Hell, EA might even be threatening a drought just to incite Nintendo into shaping up and narrowing their focus on pushing their console. Just a musing. Ultimately, time – and your dollars – will tell.
Nintendo Pushes Over 1 Million Devices in a Week; Wii U “Essentially Out of Stock”
The Wii U’s domestic launch is in the bag and the sales flurry that manages to get at least one poor sucker trampled to death a year, a.k.a. Black Friday, has come to a close. So how did Nintendo fair last week? Pretty friggin’ well, actually.
In a phone interview done with CNET, Nintendo of America’s walking meme, spokesperson, and president Reggie Fils-Aime revealed that total U.S. hardware sales – including both handheld systems and home consoles – amassed in 1.2 million units sold.
The highly anticipated and equally impossible to find Wii U system (which debuted to the American public on Nov. 18th) capped off its opening week at about 400,000 units sold. Fils-Aimes is confident that number could’ve wrapped around the moon instead of just reaching orbit if Nintendo were able to pump more Wii U’s into stores in time. “Wii U is essentially sold out of retail,” Fils-Aime explains, “And we are doing our best to continually replenish stock. Retailers are also doing their best to get the product to store shelves. But as soon as product hits retail, they’re selling out immediately.”
Trailing not far behind, the original Wii system proved it was still alive and kicking with 300,000 units pushed out of retail and into people’s homes. Looking at handheld sales last week, 275,000 DS systems (be it Lite, DSi, or XL) were sold and, surprisingly, fewer 3DS systems were pushed, coming in at 250,000 unit sales, though Reggie blames this disparity on Black Friday deals being too good to pass up on and, unofficially, the 3DS’ 3D functionality burns children’s eyes right out of their sockets (Ed: Don’t fucking listen to him).
CNET was also keen enough to ask Mr. Reggie if consumers should expect ongoing Wii U shortages as evidenced with the first Wii platform, a system that incurred holiday line brawls between parents vying for the rarity (Ed: That one’s real). “Wii was a unique phenomenon,” says Fils-Aime, admitting that consumers weren’t able to walk into a store and pick up a Wii unimpeded until Springtime 2009, over two years past the system’s late 2006 launch. “We’ve certainly learned many lessons from that and we are replenishing retailers more quickly this time around. We are looking to have as much product into retail as possible. It’s driven by consumer response.”