It looks like once again the cycle starts anew. Although this time the stars aren’t exactly aligning in the video game industry. The major three companies are in odd places at this very moment when it comes to the next generation consoles. Nintendo has already had their console (the Wii-U) out for a while now. Sony made their announcement in February, and Microsoft will soon show off what they have been hiding up their sleeves. Three companies in three very different situations at this very moment. Who will come out on top?
I will state that if all the speculation on hardware that has been rumored turns out to be true, this is going to be a very interesting battle between Sony and Microsoft. The war won’t be fought with hardware, but with software. It is imperative that all of the companies really start to embrace the power of independent developers and start to land exclusive deals with companies.
I can go on and on about how awesome it is to embrace the idea of independent development but the god’s honest truth is that we already know how awesome it is. Major game changers in the industry have left their high end, triple-A gaming companies to pursue an alternative market, which clearly exists. Now it’s up to Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to clearly deliver upon these requests.
Now I am planning on making this a three part series for the next three weeks or so, landing the last part just before Microsoft makes their huge announcement. Now as we know, information is on a need to know basis. Things can change from here to there. This is why I am putting Nintendo first, Microsoft last, and Sony takes the middle creamy center of this metaphorical ice cream sandwich.
Time to lay down the first chocolate cookie layer, Nintendo is up!
Nintendo has been a company longer than I can even think of. They started out as a card making company that eventually evolved into a home console giant. Although as of late, their company has faced some hard times. The 3DS and the Wii-U have both suffered from poor sales leaving the company dead in the water without any wind blowing their boat around. Although there are reasons behind this.
I think the first misstep that the company has taken was relating their products to that of older generations, and then rehashing their products. Nintendo made the DS, then the DSLite, then the DSi, then the DSiXL then the 3DS, and then the 3DSXL. The customer base is getting upset because almost every generation handheld comes out right after each other. There is barely any breathing room, let alone there be enough time to enjoy the handhelds that they currently have. It’s hard to try to sell a 3DS knowing that right around the corner comes an extra-large version slated for a year later. Here is the tricky part too, the 3DS is an entirely different system from the DS to the DSiXL. Explaining that to people is hard, and most of the time the people are mad because what they just purchased a year ago is already outdated. I wouldn’t even call this “buyer’s remorse” because it’s pre-emptively keeping people from buying your future products.
That trend also seems to continue with the Wii and the Wii-U. Because most families got burned by the DS fiasco I explained, they also feel that they shouldn’t purchase the Wii-U because it’s the same system with a different controller. That isn’t the case either, but people don’t care. They have been conditioned to not want to purchase something in fear that there will be an updated version a year from then. You can’t blame the customers for that.
The Wii-U doesn’t have the “killer app” that everyone is looking for. Nintendo has always had this way of showing off games during their presentations but never really delivering on them within a reasonable time frame. When they showed us the Wii-U for the very first time, we got about three seconds of a new Legend of Zelda game. Unfortunately the screen was accompanied by a note stating that game isn’t necessarily in development. That made the hearts of many sink. In this situation Nintendo has told us what is possible with the system, but have yet to show us something truly amazing, something that makes us need to have this system right now. They tease their fans in America, and it is almost disrespectful. During the last E3, there was a huge fan outrage about the lack of Animal Crossing being mentioned at their special 3DS conference.
Nintendo needs to suck it up and start making (and finishing) these games in a timelier manner. Either that or schedule their releases better. People love certain franchises so you would think that they would make the popular ones faster, and let the others hang back by a little bit. There better be a damn good reason why Animal Crossing is taking forever to make since it’s announcement, but Donkey Kong 3D has a launch window of 3 to 4 months away from its initial announcement.
Along with games, Nintendo needs to somehow future-proof themselves. When the original Wii released, there was no support for high definition imaging. Sure, you had HD cables, but the system didn’t produce HD signals. Sony offered HDMI while Microsoft incorporated HDMI into a later model of their system.
Being behind the times in an industry that you very much helped create sends a bad signal and Nintendo needs to fix it. Paying attention to what people really want will bring you there.
I hate ending articles on negativity. Even though Nintendo seems to be doing poorly right now, they are still in business, which means they are also doing something right. The 3DS outsells the PS Vita by presenting a solid line-up of well-made first party games. Even some third party development works fantastic on the 3DS. The idea of street-passing has formed an almost social aspect to gaming.
Even the Wii-U is a monolith of maturity that Nintendo is desperately trying to show off. Even the way Nintendo thinks about downloadable content shows that the company itself actually cares about its gamers (just not as much to release Animal Crossing already). They think games should be complete, and that additional content should be an afterthought opposed to a piece of a whole picture.
The heart of gaming seems to still beat within Nintendo. They believe in the long term goals of the company opposed to short term goals that major publishers seem to focus on. This may be the one thing that saves Nintendo in the future.