Nintendo has announced recently that their fiscal year’s numbers have been revised. Words that may come to mind when reading the actual vs. projected numbers: shocking, absurd, damning, game over. Despite having the best month since the console release in 2013 with a strong December, the Wii U just hasn\’t been able to make the dent that Nintendo was expecting it to. Even the almighty 3DS didn\’t meet expectation numbers, despite being the top-selling device in December.
One strong month can\’t overtake over seven months of mediocrity and now, things don\’t look well for Nintendo and especially the Wii U. The stocks went down 17% and, with Iwata not resigning, many people feel this could be the end for Nintendo in the console business. Is the Wii U going to bring the \”Big N\” down to the ground? Will Mario be hopping on a PS4 and Xbox One? Both of these claims are not just silly, but outlandish. The NintenDOOM articles have taken a life of their own and it feels justified, but it’s not. If anything, 2014 could be the best year to be a Nintendo fan for one reason: change.
Many Nintendo fans were banking on Super Mario 3D World to be the system’s saving grace, but to put all your faith into a series that usually has a slow burn on sales isn\’t smart. 2013 had some great exclusives for the Wii U with the aforementioned Super Mario 3D World, Lego City: Undercover, The Wonderful 101, and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. These games, despite Nintendo fan claims, did not ignite the system sales the way it was perceived it would.
So what does that mean for 2014? With such games as \”X\” from Monolith, Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze, Project CARS, Super Smash Brothers Wii U, Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart Wii U, and Hyrule Warriors, what is to say any of these games will ignite the system sales that Nintendo so desperately needs for the Wii U right now? Nothing is a guarantee, but there is a silver lining in all of this.
That amazing list of games features all but one exclusive on the Wii U. All of these games have a forecast for a 2014 release and all will meet that deadline more than likely — and that’s just what’s announced. These games are what Nintendo was banking on carrying the \”nine million\” console sales that the system should have had in the fiscal year, but now, these games will be the ones struggling to bring the system totals to that.
So why is that a good thing? Well, because Nintendo is now faced with something they never wanted to do: change. The brand name is tarnished, they are currently the laughingstock of the gaming community with their lofty expectations falling short, and now, they realize that something has to change. Whatever it may be, however, will not affect these titles. These great games will still come to the system, but Nintendo is going to need to supplement these titles with more great titles and more reasons to buy a Wii U.
Iwata not resigning struck a chord with a lot of Nintendo fans, because many point to him as the problem. They feel his line of thinking is outdated, he is too old-school, and the Wii was only a \”right place, right time\” system, which is why it had such great sales. Although some of these claims may have some merit, Iwata brought Nintendo into their most profitable times with the DS and Wii. Something went right, but it feels like Nintendo was banking on the success of the Wii to sell the Wii U, and it didn\’t. So the Internet solution is to can the man who brought them to the promised land.
While everyone is a critic and is allowed to be one, the man who came to the defense of Iwata was one that you would never expect: David Jaffe. The creator of the God of War series went on a tirade on Twitter, echoing sentiments that, in order to succeed, you must fail. Stocks go up and down and failure isn\’t a sign of weakness, but that something just isn\’t working with the original plan. What does that mean? Well, it means we are going to have to change.
Iwata is going to have to change the company focus, especially in America and Europe, because it can no longer tread water in the area of the Sony and Microsoft sharks. You may have noticed a game in my list that didn\’t quite fit: Project CARS. The reason I mentioned it was not because it’s a hardcore racing game and not because it is a system move. Project CARS is so far the only game coming to Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One. Why would a graphically taxing game be on the \”underpowered\” Wii U?
Many analysts are saying Nintendo should scrap the Wii U and start fresh, which would be the worst thing that could happen. If the Wii U is so underpowered compared to the PS4 and Xbox One and that is the reason it cannot compete, why would we see this game on the system? How can it handle the graphics engine? Andy Tudor, Creative Director of Project CARS, has addressed these issues already. He has gone on record as saying the game will showcase the Wii U’s \”hidden power\”. While many multiplatform games on the Wii U look as good or better than their PS3 and Xbox 360 counterparts, that is practically seven-year-old technology. Is it possible that Project CARS developer Slightly Mad Studios knows something that everyone else doesn\’t know when it comes to programming on the Wii U? Or is it simply a more refined effort on their part to actually try and utilize the system properly?
Notice the common theme of the exclusives I listed earlier? None of them have a \”realistic\” graphical system that the gaming world seems to love and thrive on. I\’m not saying that as a knock against Nintendo, as their games are all beautiful, but you never can fully appreciate the graphics the system is capable of without realistic-style games to counter-act them on the same system. Many third-party companies have stayed away from the system with the launch of PS4 and Xbox One, but is that because of a high power differential or simply because they don\’t feel their games with a gritty style will be profitable on a Nintendo platform? The latter is more probable.
2014 has a great library of games coming in the pipeline and Nintendo must change their business outlook and use of the Wii U. Nintendo has learned that taking it easy and solid first-party games from them was not enough though to spark the system. They need third-party support now more than ever. The system, despite some claims, isn\’t harder to develop for then other systems. So how can Nintendo woo the third parties back? Honestly, all signs point to one thing and it is the one thing that Nintendo hates: paying them.
How is that achievable? Isn\’t the company in a financial peril? Well, not quite. Although the past two years have been financially hurting the company, it hasn\’t always been that way. To say that Nintendo is doomed financially is incorrect, especially looking at this following chart that documents the fiscal years of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo since 1981.
Financial peril? There are currently some problems, yes, given that losing money two consecutive years in a row is not good. This isn\’t the SEGA situation, like many claim it to be, because of one thing: the money Nintendo has in the bank. Everyone seems to forget that Nintendo has 11.6 billion dollars cash on hand. Guess what, Nintendo? It’s time to use that money.
Before the analysis and breakdown of the numbers came out, many fans where very excited for Nintendo in 2014 because of the upcoming library of Wii U games and the always trusty 3DS. These games aren\’t going to disappear; they will still come out on the system. Add in the fact that Nintendo knows they have to do something in order to spark the system and their income, it makes for a very exciting 2014. Is the advertising campaign going to go crazy? Another price drop? Huge third-party partnerships? We won\’t know until Nintendo’s press conference on January 30th.
Don\’t count out Nintendo just yet; 2013 was strong in Japan, but weak elsewhere. This issue finally has Nintendo’s attention, though. 2014 is bringing two things the system has been lacking: a great library and the promise of change. Hold on tight, Nintendo fans, weather the storm, and ignore the NintenDOOM articles that everyone loves to gain clicks on their site. 2014 has the potential to be an exciting and great year for Nintendo, because it has to be.