What should Nintendo do?

Pokemon MMO is the super obvious option.

Well, obviously both the DS and 3DS have web browsers built into them…but they’re clunky and rarely used, due to the screen resolution, generally. It would be brilliant for a nintendo handheld to have a data-plan…but I sincerely doubt it would make any money doing so.

I agree. They should make a new console with specs to crush the MS and Sony consoles and they should name it the “WiiNES.”

What’s a PS Vita? :smile:

There are a myriad of problems when trying to compare the Wii and the WiiU.

  1. The Wii had a pretty solid marketing strategy that showed off its key asset. Motion Control and that everyone of all ages can enjoy that control scheme. The WiiU, on the other hand, has very poor marketing. Hardly any ad presence at all to speak of. And there was brand confusion between the Wii and WiiU. Many people have thought and continued to think that the WiiU is just an upgrade to the Wii.

  2. The Wii was launched at $100 cheaper than the WiiU. Unfortunately for the WiiU, it had to compete against the PS3 and 360 which were, at the time of launch, the same price and had much more established game libraries to choose from.

  3. The Wii had a relatively solid gimmick with the motion controls and most games required that to be used for playing. The WiiU’s touchpad is horridly underutilized within their own first party games.

  4. The Wii had many more first party games ready out the gate to capitalize on the new hardware. Third party developers also had a good number of games ready for launch day. On the other hand, Nintendo has been extremely reticent to release games for the WiiU and third party developers/publishers have all but abandoned, quite vocally, the WiiU. (Ubisoft not included in that bunch.)

The problems with WiiU are a double edged sword, and it is extremely unfortunate for Nintendo in that case. If Nintendo continues to support the WiiU, then they’re pumping money into a dead console, so that’s money just down the drain. If they decide to pull support for the WiiU, then they have to spend a LOT of money to do a crash development of a new console which would put them in the same position they were with the WiiU in the first place, releasing a console mid-generation cycle. Also, if the PS4 and the XboxOne are to last a seven year cycle, then Nintendo would have to wait approximately seven or so years to release a new console which takes even more potential money out of their coffers in the meantime.

Lastly, we can’t forget that the 3DS also had similar problems. The 3DS had a problem selling until Nintendo lowered the price and had brand recognition problems with respect to the original DS. Nintendo has been, unfortunately, resting on its laurels for far too long.

It’s my opinion that Nintendo could easily sell boatloads of $20-$40 games for iOS, if they were of the calibre of the fare they release for 3DS. There’s a lack of stellar games for iOS that have that type of depth. They’d clean up. It could even be old catalogue games for $10 to $20 each, say SNEA through N64 or Cube era. What could also give them an edge is if they released their own controller for iOS. Hell, they should freaking merge with Apple and rule the entire world, I’ve always thought they had compatible approaches – and it’s not that insane, anyone remember Pippin?

I’d imagine that Nintendo could probably score some cash on their back catalog (at least if they got their heads out of the stone age on online services/sales, people aren’t going to pay enough for Super Mario Brothers to be worth stamping it into cartridges and selling them brick and mortar); but this would both require getting their act together (purchasers of Nintendo’s back-catalog downloads on the Wii have an endless stream of horror stories about the total mess that is the interaction of Nintendo’s incompetent DRM system with the tendency of console hardware to not last forever); but they’d likely have a trickier time as time went on.

Selling the back catalog is relatively hard to screw up (though they still arguably manage) because much of it is a sunk cost and the rest is bundling copyright-blessed ROMs with already available emulators; but new development faces the trickier hurdle of paying off the dev costs (and dealing with the somewhat fragmented world of dev environments and walled-garden tithes.

Plus, Nintendo has frequently taken advantage of being able to do ‘wacky hardware choice + first party game that does something clever with that hardware(or in catridge-based mobile systems, sometimes even weirdo hardware built into the cartridge. What was that game with a UV sensor?)’. If Nintendo goes software-only, now they have to come up with ‘Mario Respin N+1’ that manages to be compelling and lowest-common-denominatored across multiple consoles, maybe iPads, and all their various control schemes and limitations. Suddenly, things get hairy.

What I find strange about Nintendo (though, in my layman’s opinion, reversing this could be very convenient for them) is how they seem to have a knack for economical design in mobile consoles; but have absolutely hit the rocks in terms of going all-proprietary, all the time, on in-home consoles and not even getting much in the way of savings for it.

This generation, both MS and Sony threw in the towel and got AMD to spin almost-entirely-a-PC for them, abandoning Microsoft’s departure from this model with the 360, and Sony’s history of truly weird consoles stretching all the way back to the PS1. Nintendo? Total oddball. PPC-based multi-chip-module (3 vendors in one package, apparently quite the integration delight), totally awesome resistive touchscreen quasi-tablet right as everybody and their mother is buying a tablet, and the thing is still having issues with full ports of 360 and PS3 titles…

Given their ‘absolute speed not a priority, innovative peripherals, etc.’ style, Nintendo would seem like a natural candidate to take advantage of the brutally competitive world of mobile-driven (but easily 1080p capable, especially if you relax the thermal headroom a bit and give them some additional RAM and die space) world of commodity ARM SoCs. Seems like going down that road would be an easy way to get a cheap, powerful, hardware base (that will support whatever curious ideas they feel like playing with this generation), while avoiding the death spiral effect of having to maintain a 100% proprietary console, and still undercutting the x86-based consoles.

Except the Pippin failed miserably?

They already sell their old games already through the Virtual Console. And what would Apple want with a company hemorrhaging money left and right? Furthermore, while there are good quality games from the NES, SNES, N64 and GameCube eras, Nintendo would only be able to sell first party games on iOS, and the control schema on a touch screen device is not the most conductive to most games? Consider the number of buttons on any of those games. Then imagine the time and money, it would take retool those games to reduce the number of pushes. Then would Nintendo redesign the game or would they keep the same game as 30 years ago?

Did you miss that thing about releasing a controller? The Pippin failed? It wasn’t even released, was it? Thank you, come again.

Supposedly, have heard this before, can’t find an up-to-date source but this seems credible, from March 2012:

Buried in reams of financial data is the revelation that Nintendo have 812.8 billion Yen (£6.7/$10.5 billion) in the bank - enough for it to take a 20 billion Yen loss (£163/$257 million) every year until 2052. Then there’s almost 469 billion Yen (£3.8/$6.0 billion) held in premises, equipment and investments. When that runs out - we’re in the year 2075 by this point - they’ve got some of the most valuable intellectual property in gaming to sell off before the company goes out of business.


I agree… add a new Pokemon game or Minecraft to the Wii U and my kids will be begging me to get one.

Yes, the Pippin was released on September 1, 1996 in the US. It only sold 42,000 units world wide. I’d consider that a “failure”, yes.

Nintendo wouldn’t necessarily need to go into the sewer of iOS/Android app stores either - it seems like they could get their feet wet on the PS4/XB1 (physical and/or download) and I’m sure either Sony or MS would be falling all over themselves for the opportunity.

The fact that ZERO people even knew the Pippin was a real thing and they still sold thousands of them rests my case.

At this point in the product cycle (34 months after release) the 3DS is 10 million units, or 20% down on the DS.

The PS Vita is 11 million down on the PSP, and falling. Sony is on track to sell a third of what their previous generation handheld did.

You cannot hold up the 3DS sales in isolation. The handheld gaming market has suffered a massive contraction. How many 3DS sales have gone to committed handheld gamers that simply switched from the PSP? What is the profit per unit of the 3DS, given that Nintendo is driving sales with price cuts?

How could “zero” people know of a thing if it sold X units? That doesn’t make sense. The Atari Jaguar, which is considered to be in the same generation of consoles, did marginally better than the Pippin, but was still an utter failure compared to the Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64 and the Sony Playstation. Did zero people know about Atari’s console too then?

The failure of the Pippin had to do with its price point, horrid marketing, tough competition from other console makers, and lack of software.

Hmmm, that sounds a lot like the WiiU, actually.

The problem Nintendo is having right now is the same reason why I haven’t had any interest in getting a PS4 or Xboxone: Software.

If these companies would make a stronger effort to have a non-trivial amount of quality titles available at launch (or heaven forbid, after an entire year) I think they just might see an increase in sales.

The trouble isn’t with the hardware. They have a very unique opportunity with their platform and they just aren’t using it to its full potential. Once that happens, they will be fine. What concerns me is that they seem to be going back to the drawing board on it instead of just putting out games that people want.

“4 players plus 1 with a touchscreen that has access to information the others don’t” is an amazing formula for success. People with very real talent have been throwing them ideas for free with regards to software that would bring them success, but seemingly aren’t listening.

Thank goodness someone in the thread gets it.

I have a Wii. For the last 2 years of its life before the WiiU launched, the number of good games coming out was dismal. Take a look at a fan’s list of the top 25 Wii games of 2011, and cross off the ones that aren’t exclusives (because any cross-platform game will be better on one of the other consoles), and you’ll see that pretty much the only reason to have a Wii in 2011 was Skyward Sword.

Meanwhile, the PS3 had LittleBigPlanet 2, Saint’s Row the Third, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Uncharted 3, Skyrim, CoD, Mass Effect 2, Arkham City, Portal 2, LA Noire… 2012 was even worse, I’m not sure I even turned my Wii on.

So after that awful experience, I decided I wouldn’t buy a WiiU until it had a good half-dozen system exclusive games I wanted to play. I’m still waiting. I’m not buying a $400 console to play just Pikmin and Mario sequels.

The 3DS has succeeded because Nintendo managed to deliver software for it. When Animal Crossing: New Leaf came out, 3DS sales literally doubled. They also shipped Kid Icarus, a Professor Layton game, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Monster Hunter, Pokemon, Super Mario 3D Land, and so on. People will buy console hardware, if you deliver enough compelling software.

Now, Nintendo’s game design is second to none. Their hardware design is excellent too, in many ways they’re the Apple of consoles. But their software development is where they are failing. It’s been bad for years – GameCube shipped late because the software wasn’t ready, Zelda for GameCube almost didn’t ship at all, and developers will tell you how terrible Nintendo’s dev tools are compared to the competition. Read A Dolphin’s Tale (very long) for all the background.

Also note in that writeup that while other manufacturers view third party developers as key, but Nintendo has historically treated 3rd party as an afterthought. “Well, I guess it’d be nice if we also attracted some 3rd party development, but we’re focused on Nintendo’s own needs”.

So to reiterate, Nintendo can’t sell the WiiU because they’ve been unable to deliver enough compelling software for it. Given that it’s much lower power than the other consoles, “compelling” pretty much has to mean “system exclusive”, which in turn means “developed by Nintendo themselves”. Which is even more true once you consider that their tools suck and their relationship with 3rd party developers is poor. And Nintendo simply can’t develop and deliver enough HD-resolution games quickly enough.

So that’s their WiiU problem, they can’t develop enough software. And given that that’s the case, the idea that they could turn things around by failing to deliver software for the PlayStation 4 or Xbone instead, is pretty obviously silly.

(It’s also interesting to look at what the homebrew scene has uncovered about the Wii firmware. Basically, when Nintendo shipped an OS update for the Wii, it kept every previous version around in a big chain, so that games could carry on running using the exact version they were built against. This, to me, says scary things about their internal software development practices.)

What is the fix? I don’t know. For the WiiU, there may be no fix that can be applied in time. But for their next console, they absolutely need to follow Sony and Microsoft’s lead and make ease of development a priority, even if only for their own sakes. And they probably need to look at their internal software development practices and overhaul them.

But I’m certain that the fix for a company that is having major problems developing software, is not to try developing software for someone else’s hardware using a whole new unfamiliar toolchain. Particularly not when you can guarantee you’ll be selling the software at a lower price point even if you succeed in shipping any.


Nintendo has two things it ruthlessly controls, and everyone thinks it should give up one of them: software and hardware. Neither of which Nintendo has any desire to release their grip on. Most of the pundits say they should release their software to other systems, specifically ios and android, but that software exclusivity drives sales of their hardware. And it is the absolute control of their hardware that has let them be the historic innovators in gaming. While, the WiiU and the 2DS may not have been the successes Nintendo were hoping for, there is no reason to think the next console or handheld won’t be.

The answer may be Nintendo has one other asset that it could loosen its grip on, one that it has historically been willing to occasionally take advantage of. That asset is its intellectual property.

If the hardware and the software are currently in a slump, rather than watering down their core competencies by weakening their hold on those assets, why not license their IP to Disney, or some other media company? Release a few high-quality movies and/or weekly cartoons starring Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach or Zelda and Link and sales of games and hardware will immediately go up.

Licensing their IP gives them even more leeway to weather this gaming contraction. And that time will most likely lead to the next great innovation from Nintendo. Or at the very least we could get some cool movies out of it.

The problem with Nintendo and their console business is as I stated before:

While their next console may be “successful”, Nintendo would take a huge hit in any of the three options that they would have to take. Plus, you’d have to assume that Nintendo would learn the lessons from the failures of the N64, Gamecube and the WiiU.