It wasn’t all that long ago that gaming industry watchers marveled at Nintendo. Collectively they wondered how this old gaming company had managed to create a gaming console with a motion controller that dominated more technologically impressive consoles from both Sony and Microsoft.
Unfortunately for Nintendo, it’s no longer 2006. Playing games on a tablet with a resistive touch screen isn’t as big a gimmick as motion control, and no one in their right mind is purchasing a Wii U as an all-in-one entertainment solution.
At this point, almost no part of Nintendo’s business isn’t under threat from a larger, better suited competitor. As most industry watchers predicted, smartphones are now responsible for the majority of mobile gaming dollars spent. Android and iOS particularly aren’t just grabbing users who would have spent their iPod Touch money on a GameBoy just a few years ago, they are both opening up the market to even more players than the Wii U did. For a company that prides itself on offering video game experiences for the entire family, that’s a huge red flag.
Sales of the Wii U haven’t just been slow, they’ve been almost nonexistent up until this point. While Sony might score points with hard-core gamers for denouncing the idea that gaming consoles can be used for anything else other than gaming, Nintendo is actually walking the walk, and paying dearly for it. At a time when gaming consoles have morphed into machines that can deliver music, television shows, video games and even internet browsing effortlessly, Nintendo’s offerings are largely devoid of any unique entertainment experiences outside of acting as an expensive IR remote repeater and conduit for other streaming services.
This is at a time, when even Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One will offer a wide-range of entertainment features. For example, the Xbox One won’t just allow every member of the family to have their own customized version of the Xbox One dashboard, it’ll actually recognize each member of the family’s voice and appearance then automatically log them in to interact with their friends and enjoy content they own.
The PlayStation 4 enables users, to stream from dozens of video and music services while also offering it’s own set of entertainment services that can also be accessed on the company’s Android devices and other gaming consoles.
To make matters worse, due Nintendo’s decision to not embrace smartphones, tablets or PC gaming, the company’s wealth of lovable first-party titles is also in danger of losing its luster. For many users, the best gaming machine you have is the one that’s always with you. Unfortunately Nintendo has continued to be stubborn about offering its titles on smartphones and tablets, insisting that if a user wants to play their games, they’ll need to buy one of their expensive consoles to do so.
By holding its titles so close to the vest, Nintendo is breeding entire generations of users who won’t be loyal to its Mario and Pokemon franchises. These same kids already know what an Angry Bird is, and they don’t have to pay $30 or buy a Nintendo 3DS to get their fix. There’s also no shortage of independent developers creating iconic titles to fill the void left by Nintendo.
Whether Nintendo realizes it or not, it’s in trouble and unless it actually takes bold steps to understand the gamer of today, it’ll continue to be for the foreseeable future.