Although the death of consoles has been mentioned before– muffled through the walls of the gaming industry– there was always a beacon through the darkest night any gamer could see: the shining tower of Nintendo. With its can’t fail franchises which have captured the target audience’s hearts since the 80’s and before and the sales of enough gameboys to pave the streets of London it seemed that nothing could rip the fabric of Nintendo’s cloth. But still, I find myself now begging the question: Is this really the end for consoles as we know them? My own personal speculations began when China banned home consoles in 2000, and when Michael Patcher went in front of a small room of industry insiders during SXSW and alluded that consoles may die after 2013 slight panic set in. But the last nail in my nightmare’s coffin was hammered down by the second consecutive year that Nintendo has posted a loss following the launch of the Wii U. According to Bloomberg on April 24, Nintendo can anticipate a fiscal loss of $189 million USD to be exact. That’s a lot of yen!
It’s no secret how Nintendo turned significant profits for the original Wii. Selling out 3 consecutive years and using seasoned parts with no regard for the HD market, their cheap system cost nearly nothing to make and the hype was untouchable. Although not perfected until 2011 and the release of Skyward Sword and the Wii Motion Plus remotes, the momentum for owning a Wii just didn’t die down even if the games weren’t what customers really wanted. And now entering the HD era Nintendo’s Wii U faces the same dilemma that its counterparts are: how to sell an expensive system at a cost customers can afford… while turning a profit quickly for the appeal with investors. To give you an example, it took Sony years to make up for it’s PS3 losses even after the downgrade to the hardware, and even Microsoft was playing catch up in the quest for crisp graphics and high frame rates.
The undeniable outcome, however, is that Nintendo just isn’t moving a significant enough amount of Wii U units.In October 2012, Nintendo Life posted a story stating that with the purchase of just one game along side the Wii U console, Nintendo’s sales would be in the green! But the writing on the walls as of the closing of the fiscal year, something unimaginable may be on the horizon, the end of Nintendo as we know it. Even in Nintendo’s classically dominated handheld market, we find losses displayed for the innovative 3DS and prospects are not turning too well in the Western Hemisphere for the PS Vita who haven’t yet seen a price drop and even have canceled the development of games. It seems that no matter where we turn this industry is flailing in the waters of a crap financial market and an equally drowning global economy.
Coming off the drunken stupor of a new way to game, consumer backlash of those tired of waggling their Wii-motes is actually condemning the Wii U– her highly improved younger sibling. Miyamoto has said during a March 6 interview, that this setback most notably due to people not minding that Nintendo’s systems are intended to be social:
“I think Wii U certainly has a little bit more of a challenge [than the Wii] because it doesn’t have that ‘looking-fun’ element to it. But I think that as people bring it into the living room and begin to play it, particularly when you experience with five people, you really do get a sense for how fun Wii U is. And I think that’s the key; to try to get as many people to try it out as possible. Even with Wii, if people played a game, but it wasn’t fun, it wouldn’t have had the result that it did. So I think the key for us is continuing to focus on the fun of our products.”
He sited the importance of getting consumers to understand the product and the key to properly displaying demonstrations of the units. I know that here in America there definitely could have been more effort put towards promoting and demonstrating the console. Especially seeing as it was the first time in gaming history that a Nintendo console was debut released on North American soil. The failure promises that if Nintendo makes it out of this hole that they may never again get the privilege.
It’s hard being a conglomerate in 2013
Nintendo Co.’s president Satoru Iwata is promising that with the dawn of newly developed titles, some of which were mentioned at Nintendo Direct,that there is an end in sight (and a profitable one)… and if all else fails, his resignation has been implied. Actually, to appeal to investors he offered up his resignation as of the end of this financial quarter. Ace Securities Co. analyst Hideki Yasuda told Bloomberg simply:
“Iwata hasn’t produced good results in recent years… He can’t avoid being criticized.”
As far as the average consumers and video game analysts can tell there isn’t a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. It may be the end of an era for those of us who have picked the side of Nintendo in the battle of the Game Industry Greats. Or perhaps Nintendo is in need of a different president who has a more relevant vision to this dismal market, perhaps even Shigeru Miyamoto!