Nintendo, what happened to you?

My god, you haven’t aged well.  What happened to the video game/ console developer we all grew up with?  Nintendo, the SNES, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, and then you drop the Wii on us?  The future of Nintendo looked so great in the 90s.  With companies like Sony stepping up in the late 90s/early 2000s with the PlayStation and then Microsoft jumping in with the XBOX, the future of gaming technology looked promising didn’t it?  I mean three console making juggernauts, how could you not expect them not to go at each other bringing new technology into play and creating new experiences for gamers?  With major flagship titles like Zelda, Metroid, Mario, etc, the idea of seeing our childhood favourites given new life with new technology was something that I think a lot of us looked forward to, but ended up being severely disappointed with.

The years 1983-1985 were marked by what a lot of people called the “video game crash”.  So many companies were wanting to cash in on some of the video game money thus creating a flooding of horrible games/consoles/etc that ended up putting the entire industry in a threat of bankruptcy.  The long-term viability of gaming and consoles were put into question by major investors.   It wasnt until the major success of the original NES system becoming popular in 1987 that saved the entire industry from bailing out.  Nintendo brought forth quality gaming at the time and a console everyone would soon grow to love.  As the years went by, the SNES was released, and not more than 4 years later the N64 was released.  Keeping other consoles out of this discussion, things seemed to be progressing.  

In 2006 the Wii was introduced as the other big time players released consoles such as the 360 and PS3.  While a lot of people looked at the Wii and noticed major graphical capability differences and the fact that it wasnt in HD, it was enough to discourage some from purchasing.  However, even Nintendo’s game designer Shigeru Miyamoto said, “The consensus was that power isn’t everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can’t coexist. It’s like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction.”  Fast forward 6 years later,  Im still looking at the Wii dazed and confused.  Earlier last year at E3 we were greeted with a new console entirely, called the Wii-U.  Shigeru admitted that the lack of HD and limited network infrastructure for the Wii contributed to the system being regarded in a separate class to its competitors’ systems, the 360 and PS3.  Could this new Wii be marketable to hard-core gamers ? Or will it be another living room center piece for casuals that tend to enjoy party games.  I for one don’t get tantalized by the idea of bowling or Frisbee toss in 1080p.

How would I change their design model for consoles?  Drop the Wii name or have it a secondary model catered to a younger/parent purchase friendly market.   Create a new flag-ship console with cutting edge hardware, with a new name and vision.  Have a design that obviously rivals the PS3 and 360 in terms of user interface/hardware/and capability.  Give us back those expansion slots that players and developers can squeeze another 1-2 years of good life out of an ageing console without having to sacrifice graphics.  Maybe a slot with a proprietary Nintendo graphics card (working along side AMD or Nvidia)?  That shouldn’t be hard to do Nintendo, you have been in the game (no pun intended) longer than anyone.  With talks of gamers having to wait another 3-4 years before they even see a newer console, now is the perfect time to cash in and gain a new user fan based on yesterdays die-hard Nintendo fans and the newer generation that have yet to experience the greatness that Nintendo once was.  Lets face it, if this is not the direction of Nintendo, expect to see them rest in the shadows of the Goliaths in the console industry.


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