Wii U? More like Pii U. Nintendo, what are you thinking?
For those of us who have grown up with “Super Mario Bros” and have survived the quest to save the princess who is constantly in a different castle, the company that brought it all has hit hard times. Nintendo has run into financial issues by overestimating the popularity of its new Wii U system. While there have been numerous moves on the company’s part to remedy the situation, such as the pay cuts from the executives and the owners of the company, the Yamauchi family is now selling its stocks.
Nintendo began as a card game company in 1889 and evolved into the world-famous electronics company we have today. It now faces financial crisis because the Wii U undersold terribly. The big executives at Nintendo are taking up to 50 percent pay cuts, but this still may not be enough to fix the situation.
Nintendo began by making games that challenged the everyday player while creating a unique family friendly gaming experience. As the years went on, Nintendo remained on top with its N64, Nintendo GameCube and the Wii. The Wii’s release marked Nintendo’s shift toward more innovative systems to stay above the competition. The Wii was impossibly difficult to buy within the first few months of release. Seeing that the shift toward innovation was working, Nintendo seems to have abandoned caring about the games it produces and caring more about the new types of innovation it can create.
This is where Nintendo first began to run into problems. The Wii was the first system to be able to be completely motion-controlled. The only setback was that many of the more popular Nintendo games, including “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” and “The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess” were more suited to a classic style controller than the arm flailing required of the Wii Remote style playing. As games were continually produced, Nintendo gained a much better understanding of how to implement the motion controls. As such, the gaming experience improved.
Believe it or not, this can be considered another issue. The style of gameplay that uses motion controls leans heavily toward carnival-style games. This was made apparent when Nintendo’s third party games, games made on its consoles but not produced by it, went insane with production. These games were family-oriented and alienated many of the hardcore Nintendo fans who wanted new Metroid, Legend of Zelda and Mario games. Nintendo became a family-friendly carnival game-producing mess.
The focus became less about the games and more about the different ways to push the motion controls to make an even more unique gaming experience. The third party games Nintendo was producing showed as much promise as a popular app does on mobile phones. The popularity is there for a bit and then is immediately crushed by the four other games that have the exact same play style, only with a slightly different main theme.
The obsession with innovation reached its pinnacle with the Wii U. Nintendo has promised continuations of its most popular franchises, namely “The Legend of Zelda” and “Super Smash Bros.,” but there has not been anything new released for the Wii U that holds any kind of promise to an increase in sales of the system itself. The Wii U is too focused on making family-friendly games and has lost track of many of Nintendo’s fans by adding overly-complicated motion controls and tablet controllers.
While there are obvious benefits to the change in controller styles—improved menu interface being the most memorable—the other big companies, Sony and Microsoft, have spent their time improving their games first and their controller styles second. Nintendo has completely fallen behind in terms of graphics and the first-party games are taking second priority to the drive to innovation. This issue was a little unfounded when the Wii came out because it was so different, but, at this point, Nintendo should have much better graphics and a better handle on the controller styles it implemented.
Nintendo will have to do a few things to remain a top-selling video game company. First, they should turn their attention from the constant drive to innovation and pump out some good, well-known franchise-based games. Third-party games do get Nintendo some money, but those games are not able to draw enough attention to warrant buying a new system when the Wii has essentially the same third-party games anyway. Second, they should turn some of the focus to the handheld industry. Nintendo has always been on top with its handheld gaming. The new “Pokémon” game, “Fire Emblem” and other top-selling handheld games should help defer some of the tension from the failing Wii U sales, but obviously not enough to cover the error in prediction. Finally, Nintendo should update the graphical capabilities of the games. Pretty games don’t make better games, but it is way easier to make people want to buy something if it’s shinier than its competitor’s games.
Hopefully, Nintendo will be able to figure out some strategies to recover because its failure will likely hurt the entire gaming industry.