Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is Nintendo relevant in this generation?

As a die-hard Nintendo fan, This is a tough question. To me, Nintendo will always be relevant because they are burned into my memory. Nostalgia plays a big part in why I'm so obsessed (which is true for the vast majority of fan-boys out there).

But there's a whole generation of kids who grew up playing Angry Birds and Minecraft. Kids who's only gaming experience is on smartphones and tablets. And while that, in and of itself, isn't such a bad thing, I'm worried that Nintendo's glory days may be behind us.

How can Nintendo gain ground when the industry seems to have left them in the dust? Let's discuss.

First here's the worst possible scenario I can think of.

What if the NX fails?

Though realistically this wouldn't spell the end of Nintendo as a whole, it may cause them to rethink their strategy drastically. Perhaps deciding to forgo dedicated hardware altogether and focusing on software. Sega made the same hard decision more a decade ago, though they had other problems that lead them to fail. Nintendo only making software already seems like a depressing future, but what if Nintendo didn't exist at all? What if Nintendo decided to sell off it's assets and close it's doors?

(I realize that this is highly unlikely. Nintendo has the most powerful IP library in the industry. And simply giving up on that wouldn't make much financial sense at all. But this is a hypothetical future we're talking about. So bare with me)

If mobile kills Nintendo, the aftermath seems bleak to me. There would be no safe place for families to enjoy a gaming system together. Nintendo prides itself in keeping children safe online. And sometimes to a fault. Where would we go if not Nintendo?

What if mobile games are the only games?

Now let's imagine a future where the only place you can play video games is on your phone. Personally, smartphone games hold my attention very briefly. They're shallow, repetitive, and ask for my money far too often. I'm yet to play a game on my smartphone that holds my attention like Zelda or Metroid. The depth just isn't there. Smartphone game makers are out for the dollar and not much else, with a few exceptions. There are very rare examples of experimentation or even story in these games.

Once everyone realizes that Nintendo had it right, will it be too late? Will we be sitting, smartphone
in hand, playing yet another round of Hearthstone, wishing there was more? will gaming disappear much like it almost did in the early 80s?

It seems foreign, but I wonder how likely this future actually is.

That's sad. I love Nintendo.

I love Nintendo too. And on the surface, you'd think they were making all the right moves in recent history. Splatoon, Super Mario Maker, smartphone games, ditching the Wii U for new hardware, etc... But the numbers don't look good. Nintendo has old sold roughly 10 million Wii U consoles. So even if they release amazing software (which they are) nobody is playing it. And the move to mobile seems too little too late. That market is over-saturated. And the NX is going to have to do something truly revolutionary if they expect to sell consoles in the middle of a lifecycle.

This an awkward and fragile time for Nintendo.

So, is Nintendo relevant?

the short answer is, no.

The long answer is, no, but maybe that doesn't matter as much as we think it does. History has taught us that Nintendo is good at selling us something we didn't even know we wanted. The NES was launched during the "death" of video games as we knew it. The N64 sold us on a future of polygons and analog controls. The Wii gave us some of the most memorable and quirky motion control games to this day. This is just a few examples of Nintendo bucking the trend and leaving the competition to play catchup.

The NX has the potential to sweep us off our feet once more. Nintendo doesn't need to be 'relevant', they need to show us something innovative and fresh. They need to show the world that they don't bend to the culture, they create the culture.

That's the Nintendo I know and love. But what do you think? What do you hope for the future of gaming? the future of Nintendo?


  1. Wow, man, I can't imagine a world without Nintendo. They need to do a much better job of marketing their new console this time. We honestly had no idea what the wiiU was when we were about to buy it. We just wanted to buy it because you could play as a family and all of us play together. Hopefully the NX comes with a bluray player or at least has the capability to play DVDs because that's another why people may make an excuse to get a console. When I first decided on an Xbox or PS3, I chose the PS3 because of the bluray player and the possibility of future final fantasy being strictly on the PS3. Bottom line, we are getting the NX to support Nintendo!

    1. FOR. REAL. I lost interest in the Wii after Skyward Sword and nothing peaked my interest until Mario Kart 8! Thats 3 years of me NOT spending my money on Nintendo. I love my Wii U now! you're absolutely right that marketing should be key for the NX launch.