Oct 14, 2013
Nintendo are a company that always seems to go against the grain. Compared to Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, the Wii U is starkly different.
At a risk of labelling Nintendo a ‘hipster’ company, they have always strived to create something innovative and new, even if this meant risking failure. They currently seem to be facing a semi-crisis with the Wii U underselling dramatically. The console itself is essentially fine: but factors such as consumer awareness, pricing, and titles have severely impacted it’s reputation. It just doesn’t have the edge the more powerful competitors maintain.
Satoru Iwata has gone on to explain Nintendo’s iconic strategy at a conference in Osaka reported by The Bridge, where he focused on describing the Nintendo vision for developing something new and exciting, rather than creating their own version of similar company’s’ products.
Despite current worries, Nintendo have a staggering legacy of consoles, games, and other products. Some of these were failures (The Virtual Boy, or the Nintendo 64DD), yet Nintendo have come back from this, stronger than ever with the original iterations of the Wii and DS.
“If you do the same thing as others, it will wear you out. Nintendo is not good at competing so we always have to challenge [the status quo] by making something new, rather than competing in an existing market.”
When contemplating Nintendo’s historic gaming credibility, this is very true. Mario has had outings in a variety of roles and places (look at Super Mario: Galaxy or Super Mario: Sunshine), as well as consoles, ranging from the original NES to the Game Boy. Nintendo pioneered the analog stick with the Nintendo 64, and the Game Boy pretty much created the mobile gaming market. This shows how Nintendo do not like to compete directly, but instead do their own thing, and hope to attract different markets. Which is exactly what they attempted to achieve with the Wii U, putting aside conventional controllers and power-hungry consoles.
“It’s often called the ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’, looking for something that no one else is working on. When we created the DS, people said it was strange to have a dual display, and people said elderly people don’t play games. But they did. Opening the first door is when things are most interesting.”
He used Brain Training and Pokemon as examples of titles that were predicted to not be popular outside of Japan. Yet history proves to show that the consensus was wrong, with Western audiences adapting Pikachu as the icon of a generation, and Brain Training becoming a rampant trend, crossing age and gender boundaries.
There is no denying that Nintendo’s odd strategy has worked, for the best part. The middle-aged woman was a hard nut to crack when it came to console gaming, but with the Wii it was a different story. The DS has opened up mobile gaming to every age group, from 5 to 105, which inevitably would lead to the popularising of tablets amongst similar groups. Which may have damaged the mobile gaming-console market, slightly.
Although asked if Nintendo would release games on other platforms aside from their own, he claimed not, still unconvinced to take the same route as SEGA. Personally, I feel this is a good move, because the host of quality games that come with each Nintendo console is essentially a platform selling strategy in itself.
Overall then, Iwata made very good points about Nintendo’s aims, that will likely serve true in the future. Perhaps then, in light of current struggles for Nintendo, they could have something up their sleeve fairly soon, that may revolutionise the way we think of gaming.