Nintendo needs a complete strategy shift or they’ll die by 2015


Wii U Kids

Nintendo ushered in the era of modern console gaming with its first and second generation systems. Their history since then has been up and down as it fights with their primary competitors, the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox systems, to stay relevant. Things turned for the worse with the introduction of the Gamecube, clearly inferior to the competition at the time. They revived the family of systems (and arguably the company) with the innovative Wii. Now, they’ve taken a turn for the worse with the Wii U, the first entry into the 8th generation of gaming consoles that has disappointed fans and missed sales expectations.

Last week, they lowered forecasts dramatically for sales of the system from 5.5 million units through the first quarter of 2012 to around 4 million. Considering that they’re the first to have an 8th generation console, the first to have a touchscreen on the controller, and superior graphics to the current systems, they should be sailing through to a big lead on the Xbox 720 and Playstation 4 which will be released at the earliest a year after the Wii U. They aren’t sailing. They’re sinking.

The biggest problem they face isn’t necessarily from their console competition but from the rise of mobile gaming. Tablets and smartphones with less robust but easier to acquire games are filling the gaming needs of millions. Adding the touchscreen to the Wii U controller was a nice attempt to play on this trend, but it wasn’t enough. They need innovation. They need major changes. They need groundbreaking advances to keep up and stay alive.

It is unlikely that these necessary innovations will come from the console gaming world. The life cycle of console games is at best two per decade, which means Nintendo is stuck with their dud for a long time. Instead, they must come out with something that can either integrate their games with other technology (such as tablets) or focus on dominating the last remaining arena in which they do well: handheld gaming systems. The unfortunate thing for the company is that handheld gaming segment is the most vulnerable with the rise of mobile device gaming.

Their only answer, as obtuse as it may sound now, may be to completely shift away from the things that have carried the company in the past and bet high on something brand new. The strategy change cannot be a mere shift. It has to be a complete rebuild. They have to tear down what won’t be working in the near future and redirect their technologies, qualities, and skills into something that they can either dominate through innovation or something that they can dominate through creation.

By innovation, it is to say that they’ll need to produce something bold and take advantage of the trends. It could be the aforementioned integration with tablets and smartphones. They tried to go with the split-screen approach with the Wii U, but it simply has not resonated with gamers. Instead, they could create a true two-screen gaming experience by making games that can be played partially through the consoles and partially through tablets and smartphones. It would require them to rethink their game types, but such a shift made by smarter minds than me might be enough to prolong their existence while opening the door to further innovations in the field.

The other, much riskier approach would be to truly create something. Rather than integrate with other devices or try to fix the current platforms, they could create something that nobody has available at this time. This isn’t just about thinking outside of the box. It’s about taking the box, turning it inside out, ripping it into pieces and then reforming it into something that seems like it’s from another planet. Think holographic gaming. Think eyeball-level motion capture. Think “thought joysticks”.

Think about whatever we don’t have today that may or may not be possible in the near future. These are the realms in which Nintendo needs to break ground. They need to be the first to step on the gaming moon. They need to enter the 5th dimension, put a colony on Mars, or put a flux capacitor in a DeLorean.

Whatever their next move is, if it is an inch short of mind-blowing, the company may not be around in its current form by the end of 2015. They’ve made it through plenty of adversity through the century of their existence, but this is different. It’s not that they’ll be out of business. It’s worse than that. They’ll be irrelevant.

As companies like Sega and Atari have learned, irrelevance is special sort of death for a company with such a proud history.

  1. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, do you? If you are going to write articles actually take time to study what your subject is about before spewing crap from your mouth.

    1. pretty sure it came out his other hole, very start when he said gamecube was clearly inferior was a clear hint, he knows feck all. the cube was Superior to ps2 and by the end matched the best xbox had to offer. any one who did research would know that the vast majority of fans have being more than pleased with the wiiU and that sales are steady and with the line Up of exclusives titles comming the way sales will pick up just like the 3ds sales did.

  2. Nintendo is the God of gaming and it will be just fine. The 3DS is an incredible piece of technology and the Wii U will be successful in 2013 like crazy. It’s really a good time to invest in some Ninty stock, that’s for sure, because it will go up from here. I wouldn’t be surprized if they make another product like you suggest actually in 2014-2015, and it’s another good reason why it’s time to buy the shares now.

  3. Nice prediction. The console is 2 1/2 month and already it is dead? Let Nintendo gain their ground. What I witnessed on their last Nintendo Direct sealed the deal for me. I will hopefully own a Wii U by the end of the month. The Xbox 360 and PS3 have current advantages BECAUSE of their age. I don’t think the Wii U will age quite as well as those other two devices, due to the tech, but if I learned anything, I probably spent more time on my Wii last year than my PS3. Why? Because of Xenoblade, The Last Story, Skyward Sword, and the replayability of almost ALL Nintendo’s own IPs. The 3DS got off to a rough start, but is doing very well now. If a console is breaking records we all notice, but what if it is just doing fine? Why do all the naysayers come out of the closet and declare its death, as if that would be a good thing for the gaming community? Wii U, sales-wise, isn’t going to break the records of the Wii right now. Nintendo needs to advertise more intensely to Dad and Mom. BUT, even if Wii U went the route of the Gamecube then they created a system whose games I will still be going to in 10 years from now.
    Simply put quality over quantity. The Wii was lucky to have quantity and some first party quality. I hope the Wii U is as successful. But I know one thing: I will be playing some sweet games on the Wii U: Xenoblade Successor, 3D Mario, Wind Waker HD, the New Zelda Game, etc. If it takes a while for them to come out…so what? I have a lot of confidence in Nintendo. They aren’t going to roll over and play dead.

  4. This was the first and will be the last time I read any article on this TECHi website. Pure GARBAGE! I don’t even want to invest the time to write reasons why…

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