Op-Ed: Nintendo Needs to Stop Consoles and Focus on Handhelds

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You might already know that earlier I ripped into the one console developer I’m a fanboy of. Not the obnoxious kind that will defend them into a six foot grave, but the one that will prove you wrong when you need it. One secret is, I have a love affair with two companies, and the second one is Nintendo. How might this be? I grew up to Nintendo. My first console played was my dads launch-day NES that he brought home on his way from work. Yes, I remember it, and I was one years old when he did it. I still remember sitting on his lap as he played games like Bubble Bobble, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., and Galaga. To me? This was my childhood and over the years? I’ve never abandoned Nintendo as they remain a part of me that has become sentimental. If they make a bad console? I’ll buy it. If they make a great one? I’ll buy it. I’m a loyalist. Much like I am to Sony and Microsoft, but not a fanboy to Microsoft.

Over the years, I’ve made the debate a few times over that Nintendo needs to leave the home console market. Their three last consoles have bombed, that being the Gamecube, Wii, and now their failure of the Wii U that has become much like Sony’s Vita. Not a lot of support and what little it got has been fantastic. Again, some of it isn’t even first party. Titles like Xenoblade Chronicles X, Resident Evil Revelations, Shovel Knight, and even my beloved Bayonetta 2 aren’t first party. While I do enjoy titles like Yoshi’s Woolly World, Super Mario Maker, Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, and Super Smash Bros. But when it comes down to third party support? Nintendo has been weak on that aspect for years, it’s no secret, and because of it? It’s honestly hurt them in the long run since they have very few IP’s that are new. While new ideas for old IP’s are great, you can only flog that same dying cow for so long before you’ve beat it to death. Unfortunately? This is where Nintendo has seemingly gone with consoles. I’m not saying they haven’t been ahead of the curve. They are truly ahead of the curve, but there’s only so much you can do before approaching the technological brick wall and slam into it.

This is where Nintendo has seem to go with the Nintendo Wii U. While we’ve seen plenty of ideas of what the Nintendo code-named “NX” could be, we already know that it’s going to focus heavily to an online service, that the console itself will be, if rumors are true, more powerful than the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. If the rumors are true this means that they will be putting some pressure on both Sony and Microsoft to push their hardware to the limit. Meanwhile while that is a nice thing, we all know that when there’s a new piece of home console out of Nintendo, that means a handheld isn’t far along. Even with the launch of the New Nintendo 3DS XL last year, it’s still a bit dumbfounding as to why they would release a new handheld already with the NX. Perhaps they are taking a PlayStation Vita route where they want a handheld to coincide with their console. However, whatever they do, it’ll be no surprise if they are forced to keep both first and third party support focus for both pieces of hardware in order to keep fas interested.

Nintendo Should Focus Solely on Handhelds – It’s Their Best Demographic of Players

If the totals according to Nintendo is true, the Nintendo 3DS has sold roughly 57.94 million units since its launch and well… The Wii U hasn’t done even a quarter of that sitting at only 12.6 million units sold since its launch. The numbers are devastating from a marketing perspective. If it puts anything into perspective since it’s launch the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both have broken 30-40 million units each since their launch two years ago back in November. While the Wii U had come out before them, this means the console has become a literal failure, the Nintendo 3DS however, isn’t doing much better in comparison to the handheld it succeeded, the Nintendo DS/DSi, which combined sold 154.01 million units.

While it is hard to say that Nintendo has had great marketing in the past, it comes to show that some gamers feel that the 3D effect is just a cheap gimmick. Speaking for myself? I don’t use it. I find it mildly irritating to my vision as well as my Nintendo 3DS’s battery life since it does deplete my battery at a bit quicker rate than when it’s on. If Nintendo wants to do anything successful to succeed the 3DS and the Wii U? Go back to the basics. Go for high quality graphics in a handheld. There’s plenty of focus there as fans are big for handhelds since many gamers do find themselves on the go. Even if they are in public places it’s not hard for friends to get together and even gaming together through the Nintendo 3DS. If sales say anything though, it’s that Nintendo’s handhelds have always outsold their consoles and still continue to-do-so today. While that would be a sign to some, it seems the executives at Nintendo want to try and bring console gamers over to their side. It’ll be a tough road to recover from due to the Wii U’s current status in total sales.

 The NX Rumors of a Console and Handheld Combined Could Spell Trouble

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While it’s hard for people to not point out my love for my PlayStation Vita and my PlayStation 4, the same can be said about my Wii U when I get in the perky mood to play it. That means I have to be willing to sit in my V-Rocker and paying attention to the TV in front of me for hours on end at eye level since I sit on the floor to primarily play my Nintendo. Force of habit after having sat on the floor playing NES/SNES for so long as a kid. While those reflections are nice, it’s hard to say that the combination of the two could spell trouble for Nintendo. With Satoru Iwata no longer around to share his vision with his fans in his beautifully charismatic way – it’s hard to see what Nintendo’s future is like since we haven’t seen the new Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima has had a rather successful career at Nintendo, we haven’t seen many of the amazing things that Iwata managed to pull off. Things such as Iwata asks, Nintendo Direct, and the likes, Nintendo’s new president Mr. Kimishima, has been silent since he took the seat at Nintendo on September 14th, 2015.

While there have been write-up’s from such as Nintendo’s Investor Relations, we know that Kimishima is planning to keep the same course that Iwata has. The only hope here is that he has a strong idea of how to market the possibility of a home console and handheld console duality. With them depending on one another we could see Nintendo and DeNA pushing hardware and software sales next year assuming Nintendo doesn’t pull a Wii U and launch it the same year they announce it. Then again this is Nintendo we are talking about. We’ve known them to be sporadic in the past.

Third Party Support Matters for the NX – This is Why New Nintendo 3DS Focus Will Help

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When looking at the Nintendo 3DS library of games we see the same thing that the PlayStation Vita has been going through, but in an opposite direction. Instead of fantastic third party support, we’re seeing minuscule amounts of big name titles hitting the Nintendo 3DS. While we do have games such as Yokai Watch, Etrian Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei, Fire Emblem and such leading the way, the third party support is bleak. We’ve seen few games coming out of anyone, including XSEED Games, Koei Tecmo, Atlus, NIS America, Bandai Namco or anyone really trying to make an impact. To be honest? It feels as if the handheld is dying, almost hemorrhaging for some solid third party support.

While it’s hard to say that the Nintendo 3DS family deserved a more powerful successor to the family, we got one known as the New Nintendo 3DS XL. It sports faster hardware, processors, and even went to Micro-SD support for larger memory and faster memory access. Let alone did the screens get updated, we also get the circle pad built in through the handhelds c-stick function, which has helped tremendously with functionality. What is hurting this handhelds justification of being made is the fact it has received only one exclusive since it’s launch last year; Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. While I can say I love the game, it has been a hard to justify purchase since the handheld hasn’t seen much in the means of pure exclusives like it should have been getting already. This means Nintendo could be readying its last hurrah for the hardware so they can ready up for their next hardware line. While I’d love to see the NX succeed, Nintendo does need to remember that the New Nintendo 3DS family does have a lot of support, and will for years to come as has all their hardware.

Family Games Can’t be the Focus Anymore

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If you look at the Nintendo 3DS, you won’t be surprised to see a lot of the games are focused on family or kids. With a few sparse games for adults such as Fire Emblem Awakening, Shin Megami Tensei IV or the Devil Summoner series, the handheld family has very few games in line for adults who do own the handheld and do want adult games. This is where Nintendo will need to be shifting its focus if they plan on going towards the portable gaming hardware that the NX is rumored to have. Especially since the console is supposed to be able to go on the go with its handheld counterpart so that fans can, well, take it with them if they decide to leave. IGN even had a video supporting a supposed patent that actually demonstrated a hardware that looked a lot like what we have now with the Nintendo Wii U game pad that serves as a second screen functionality or even a second screen all together.

While Nintendo has relied heavily on its first party support and kid friendliness, it’s time for Nintendo to lace up their boots and provide a bit of diversity. Especially if they are going to attempt to compete with both Microsoft and Sony in the gaming market. While Nintendo took over the handheld market with a single hand, it’ll be hard for them to maintain their current run without pulling a few tricks up their sleeves to compete with Sony and Nintendo’s first party franchises such as Halo, Quantum Break, and even Kojima’s upcoming new titles. Nintendo, diversify a bit more. It won’t hurt, we promise.

Nintendo Rocks the Handheld World Already – Closing Thoughts

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While it seems Nintendo may not notice that their handheld focus would be their best choice, it seems they are wanting to focus on both home console and handheld. While it may all be good on pen and paper, we all know in recent years that Nintendo hasn’t done the best in moving units since the Wii U struggled to break even 10 million units while their amiibo’s have been the largest selling product of theirs since the Nintendo DS/DSi and Wii. While Nintendo’s chances of coming back as a mainstream console developer is possible, their future outlook might just depend on how well their handheld sales do if the console ends up being like the PlayStation 4 and Vita ordeal. Till then? I will still enjoy both my Wii U and NN3DS while they’re current.

Stay tuned for our upcoming news as we get it about the Nintendo NX.


 

About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on TwitterGoogle+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/pdf/2015/150914e.pdf

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