Sunday, February 2, 2014

News in gaming this week: Nintendo's New Direction

Can an old dog learn new tricks?

From Starwarsclub123 on Deviantart
Recently the Nintendo of America CEO Satoru Iwata, sat down and took an interview from the Nikkei Asian Review. The portion of the review posted on their website was short, but very revealing on the direction that Nintendo will attempt to be taking in the next few years.

The question is, will it be enough?

Don't get me wrong, I love Nintendo as much as the next guy that grew up with NES and Super NES right under their extra-large CRT TVs. I remember fondly many a night where the warm glow of Super Mario reached out for me and took me to a new world full of wonder and possibility. Lately though it seems that most of those possibilities have been met, and it seems that the characters Nintendo uses to market it's brand are tired, and worn out.

The Wii U, since it's release, has garnered underwhelming sales figures, and shaken the confidence of investors as Nintendo has been scrambling to find a foot hold. Luckily the Nintendo DS has held up exceptionally well in the mobile market, but it still is beat out by the newly established gaming market on smartphones. In a controversial move, Nintendo originally decided that they wouldn't port Nintendo games to the extremely mobile IPhone and Android markets, though the Interview with Nikkei may show that they are regretting that decision.
Sorry Mario, overalls were so last decade.

The Mergers and Acquisitions that the CEO mentioned don't seem to be aimed at new technologies, but more following the Microsoft model of acquiring smaller studios with franchise characters that hold potential. The Nintendo company is still depending on the characters that are exclusive to it's system to sell it's brand, which is fine. That strategy has helped them in the past, and for all the market data, franchises make a ludicrous amount of money. Especially the newer ones. Which is why Nintendo needs to pull out the stops and get people to invest in new Wii-only franchises, so they can taste the nostalgia of other characters Nintendo has so lovingly kept alive (just barely).

Marketing, like Itawa said in the interview, is something they will be working on. He mentioned
"discounts to steady, regular customers", which I hope means that they will be implementing a PlayStation-Plus style system, where you pay a monthly fee, and get free games each month directly uploaded to your system. It would be a great marketing idea, to get people to buy their product, and get groups of consumers to flock to the Wii U, which is honestly what they need. Nintendo consoles are the only ones that haven't jumped on board with the discount train that followed the Steam Sales these last few years. You'd be hard pressed to find a great deal on a newer Nintendo game, even one that's been out for a couple years. They just don't settle, and that in turn is hurting their marketability.

Finally, when he mentioned quarterly earnings reports, and the difficulty in projecting sales? I've seen projections be accurate. It's been difficult, and you need someone who keeps a very, very close eye on the pulse of the gaming community, but I'm sure you could find a way to make accurate projections. The problem isn't projections, it's popularity, and Nintendo right now, isn't a currently popular idea in most gamers heads. The company and their products are outdated, retro, and quite honestly a bit boorish. Investing in revamping themselves, will help Nintendo compete in the long run. Otherwise we may see the Wii line go the direction of the Dreamcast, tossed out of the market by the bigger dogs in the pack.

(If you had a different opinion or a new video game to suggest, leave a comment below!)

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