The rise (and perhaps the inevitable fall) of Nintendo

Nintendo is one of the “old-school” gaming powerhouses; not one of the pioneers such as the Odyssey or Atari, but the first in my comparatively short lifetime to get me into gaming, and for that reason, the house that Mario-built has a very fond place in my heart.

Announcing their Q2 2013 results; the future looks bleak. No-one I’ve spoken to can suggest how Nintendo can get out of the complete marketing mess they have made with the Wii U.

Between April and June the company sold just 160,000 hardware units; down 51.3% on the previous quarter. Compare this to Microsoft’s Xbox – nearing the release of their next console – which sold 5.9 million over the same period, and you can see the dire situation.

It doesn’t help that major retailers such as ASDA (the UK subsidiary of Walmart) has dropped support of the console, and will only be selling any hit software online going forward.

Nintendo is known for their iconic IPs – Mario, Pokémon, Pikmin, Zelda... the list is almost endless. Generally these well-loved exclusive franchises make any Nintendo console a success, so now most of these have released their latest titles; how are they faring?

With only 1.03 million units shipped, the situation isn’t great here either. Although some big titles are on their way; it’s doubtful they’ll be enough to changes the company’s fortunes. As was the situation with the original Wii, third party publishers are dropping support after poor sales. Most notably is EA; with Activision and Ubisoft set to follow “by Christmas”.

The original Wii sold (and is still selling reasonably) on its innovative Wiimote control and cheap price. With the follow-up console - Nintendo followed the same strategy – bringing a unique, tablet controller. Now, however, the PlayStation has its PSMove; whilst Xbox has the incredible Kinect (heading into a second version with even more features.)

Xbox, using their “SmartGlass” technology - can also turn any tablet or mobile into a second controller like the Wii U. There are very little selling points here.

The Wii U is also plagued by slow loading times; both in-game and applications. Gamers want instant gratification, which Microsoft and Sony provide. Sure Nintendo’s offering is cheaper, but as a result features much less content which is attractive to everyone. As a console being sold for families - it’s mainly only appealing for children.

So where could Nintendo find their saviour? It’s really hard to say, no analyst I’ve spoken to can give me any suggestions. My only thoughts could be in mobile. Their own handheld ‘DS’ offering is still doing mightily fine (unlike the PS Vita, but this could change with the PS4).

If all else fails - it would be a disheartening downgrade - but I’m sure Nintendo could find their life raft in releasing franchises on iOS and Android. Mario isn’t finished yet.

What are your thoughts of Nintendo’s current predicament and future?

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