Nintendo put themselves in a tough spot, with dwindling Wii sales they were left with the choice of having no Console choice or having one with no games(very few). It can be argued which is the better option, obviously both suck.
I do not consider Nintendo in trouble, there base(as has been proven time and time again) will always be there(mainly because they stick to there guns, for better or worse). Point & case of this is the 3DS, when this was release for a good 7-8 months it was considered a horrible console, with its best game being a remake of "The Legend of Zelda OOT"(arguably). Look at it now it is considered to be the best running console available. Granted it some good games in this 7-8 month period, but not much.
My point is, when it comes down to it, games sell consoles, and the WiiU has no games, at all really. Once they come, and they will, the console will be in at least fine shape. I personally have not bought one, but it is on my list above both the xbox1 and the ps4.
My 2 cents...
They are still the king of mobile console gaming ... sort of. Tablet and smartphones are eating away their bottom line, and the trend will continue (the minute that Apple and Google decide to focus on mobile gaming in earnest will spell the end of Nintendo). The problem for Nintendo is that mobile gaming is an afterthought for Apple and Google. They don't need to do well in that area to survive, however every point of marketshare that Nintendo loses because little Johnny is fine enough playing games on his iPad instead of buying a 3DS hurts Nintendo incredibly. Everyone will have a smartphone or a tablet, so justifying a 3DS purchase is that much harder.
They make good games, yes, but it won't change the fact that they are in a lot of trouble.
Can anyone honestly look at these numbers and tell me Nintendo is doing "just fine?" I can see, "might be OK," or, "will not definitely die," but "just fine," is a total self-deception, especially with the recognition that the bump at the start of this year includes the sales of a new console.
(The Wii did not have staying power -- many people bought it because it was neat but then didn't use it. That's not a recipe for long-term success. The WiiU doesn't even have the mass appeal the Wii had, and its staying power has yet to be proven.)
I could see this if it were some random company faltering after a big hit propelled them into the spotlight, but this is no random company pulled from obscurity. Nintendo has a history of pulling through.
I read the same claims about poor staying power for the Gamecube and N64 too. The only difference with the Wii is a lot more people use the Wii as a paperweight than did for the N64 and Gamecube.
NTDOY, Net income, JPY (Billions), as of March for each year:
The end of 2006 was the launch of the Wii, the end of 2012 was the launch of the Wii-U. The DS launched at the end of 2004 (the DS lite mid 2006). Nintendo is in unprecedented financial trouble. It doesn't mean their dying by any means, but considering that an increasing number of next gen. console competitors are headed to market over the next year, it's hardly enough to say "Nintendo has been on the ropes before, they'll pull through!" They've never been on the ropes this badly.
Niche or not, hardcore market or not, the question is can Nintendo sell 30-50 million WiiUs? If they can, they'll have a viable platform that will at least be a good enough vehicle for Mario games. If they can't, they're done on the console side.
Gaming, and specifically console gaming, is a different business than it was in the 90s.
You've got to be kidding me.
People don't go around put an iPhone with an app, in places where they need a $5 embedded system.
For example, COD(yes i know this is the obvious dead horse, but it is so for a reason). It is a fact, that every game since COD4 till present is running on the SAME GAME ENGINE, updated yes, but the same game engine. Virtually the exact same game mechanics. Same for games like "Madden".
But then you have Nintendo. Lets look at Mario. Every console has had a different style of Mario, platforms all, but incredibly different and yet people love them for the same reasons.
THAT is what makes Nintendo awesome, its that they can make games that both the aspects of being different and the same add to the game. Zelda, while not as much the same recipe, is mostly the same.
For single player, sure, but COD is a multiplayer focused game. The meta game in Black Ops 2 (the pick 10 system) is new to COD and has really changed up the game mechanics. You see a lot of diversity in player load-outs and strategies, making the game on the whole a lot more entertaining and have a lot of replay value.
Yes I have. In the last 5 years, Nintendo released 30 Mario games* across their systems. By and large, it's an assembly line.
Fortunately for them the 3DS is doing great, gathering dozens and dozens of great games, and probably makes a tidy profit margin too. They did a wonderful job pivoting the console; people pretty quickly lost interest in the 3D aspect, but there was no reason they had to market the console on those merits to begin with, so as far as I can tell they've mostly de-emphasized that aspect of the device (and nobody I know even uses it!)
It's also cheap enough that even as the Vita does finally pick up sales and actual games (and it's happening, finally), it probably won't hurt the 3DS' sales -- their game lists seem more mutually exclusive than not and if someone can afford a Vita, they probably already have a 3DS if they ever wanted one.
The Vita is really its own interesting story of a console with (initially) almost no games -- a lot of more minor and independent developers have found that they can get great sales on the Vita since the market is much less saturated. Amazingly, a few months ago, the top selling Vita game was actually a rather niche title that was released with no prior announcement on the e-shop and no marketing whatsoever. I kind of wonder if the Wii U will have a year or two (or ten??) of the same kind of thing -- it definitely could be an interesting platform for indie devs.
Games that can be played on an iphone/android can almost always be played on a 3ds/vita. Games that can be played on a 3ds/vita can almost never be played on an iphone/android. Is the mobile phone market exploding? Absolutely, but that doesnt mean its taking away from the mobile console market. Frankly it never will. They are two different mediums, there is some overlap, but very little.
This mainly comes down to controls. Because phones are primarily limited to touch screens, so is the kind of games you can effectively play on them.
Phones are great for casual games, but move to anything that require even the smallest amount of control and they start failing bad.
"The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks" and "Kirby: Canvas Curse" are Nintendo DS games that are using touch controls for about 99% of the the game. From a hardware perspective, there's nothing stopping a developer to create a game as good for iOS or Android.
And yet, imho, there are none. I've tried out about 2k iOS games in the past 5 years. There are about 10 or so that are pretty good (Carcasonne, Real Racing 2, Sword & Sworcery, Orbital, Cut the Rope, Dark Nebula, Beat Sneak Bandit, Hundreds, Infinity Blade, The Room, Horn, Ridiculous Fishing, Tiny Wings), but _none_ of them really reach the breadth and artfulness of Super Mario 3D Land, Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 7 or Spirit Tracks. They're not even in the same league.
On public transit, or an airplane, I tend to use my 3DS for gaming.
The fact that Apple has announced APIs for game controllers on iOS means that this will change with iOS 7, and that could be a big problem for Nintendo.
And developers will design for said standard and that will be that.
That seems much easier (if not entirely inevitable) than Nintendo discovering some way to halt and/or reverse the trend away from dedicated gaming devices.
 a standard along the lines of the modern console: "dual analog sticks, d-pad, shoulder buttons, four face buttons"; or stand-up arcade fighter's: "analog stick + 6 buttons", etc. It doesn't have to be one-true-piece of hardware, just a general arrangement of inputs that developers can design for.
Android and iOS already "have" the larger slice of the market. (The "touch gaming" slice) My point is that they're a very short step away from essentially taking "all" of it. (Not literally all -- focused devices may still live on -- but enough that Sony and Nintendo's current model can't sustain itself.)
Also, I think you're "off" on the size estimate.
Extend a hypothetical mobi-style battery case an inch-and-a-half on the 'head' and 'chin' of an iPhone. D-pad on the left, some buttons on the right -- maybe even shoulder buttons if you're feeling saucy.
The result is still pocketable and smaller than a Vita or 3DS. (Similarly for any number of popular Android phones -- though phones with 5" screens would push the arrangement directly into Vita-ish dimensions.)
Stand-alone controllers are an important part, but they'd be something that provides consistency on the TV-screen side, with things like GameStick, Ouya and/or Apple's rumored AppleTV gamepad play.
Something that looks like this, for instance: http://www.cellphones.ca/images/news/2008/11/iphone_keyboard...
I predict mobile gaming is going to get very crowded for them if they stick to just their own hardware and don't go down the path that Sega did.
The actual "on the go" use for a handheld is for people that are regularly stuck in transportation for long periods of time -- mostly children in the US, but public transportation is more common elsewhere. If you were going to be stuck in a car or other vehicle for hours on a trip, you'd probably want something more involving than Angry Birds to occupy your time. You simply can't offer that kind of gameplay experience with just a touch screen (with the possible exception of menu-driven games like RPGs, which I'm surprised there aren't more of on smartphones... probably because it's harder to make a good RPG than it is to lock a tired old flash game in a Vegas casino for a few hours and drape a nice coat of fur over whatever stumbles out...), and the moment you bolt a more game-friendly input device onto a phone, it stops being a fashion accessory and becomes a "toy" that no adult wants to be seen carrying around in public (I'm not immune to this effect, but it's still ironic since smartphones are mostly glorified toys in the same way that expensive cars are)
The other main use (and the way I've enjoyed Nintendo consoles for years) is for lounging around the house. There's something really nice about curling up in bed or on the couch on a lazy day and getting lost in Animal Crossing or whatever for an hour or so. Or, uh, taking it into the bathroom and spending more time than you expected to...
What I'm getting at is that the main competitor for Nintendo's handhelds is actually the iPad: Something you can pick up at home, hop right into a game/web browser/whatever without tedious load times or a serious commitment, and put away at a moment's notice: just close the lid/hit the lock button and it'll all be waiting for you when you feel like it. Only, they aren't really competitors, because people don't surf the web and watch videos on their handhelds, and they don't sit down with their iPads for hours playing Fire Emblem. Neither has the right form factor or input method for the other use case, so neither can completely replace the other.
Nintendo and to a lesser extent Sony are the only ones that seem to get the appeal of this kind of experience, so I'll keep buying their handhelds 'til they stop making them. As will a lot of other people who grew up with various iterations of the Game Boy. Really, my only complaint is that their platforms aren't more open to indie developers, though I get why they don't want to harm the reputation of their consoles with an app store free-for-all. At least Sony seems to be moving in the right direction on that front.
It'd be interesting to see a Mario clone reworked to include common monetization strategies. (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6005493) (http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RaminShokrizade/20130626/1949...)
> Fortunately for them the 3DS is doing great
31.09 million units sold.
It might be better to compare the N64 to other consoles of the time, like the Playstation.
1. Fun games.
(Okay, I'm ignoring a few things, like cost. But no one gives a hoot about a zillion pentagons per second. They care about fun games. If those zillion pentagons make the game more fun, then win.)
It looks like they have plenty of cash in the bank as well as zero debt.
A Wii U is also on my list. I have no interest in Xbox One or Playstation 4. Almost all the games are multiplatform now and many are now coming to Steam. There are also so many games coming out and the fact I have limited time to go around I'm limiting my options this generation to Nintendo and Steam. That gives me plenty of gaming. I don't need to play everything, but I do need to play Mario, Zelda, and Metroid.
Does Nintendo really need to bother competing with Sony and MSFT? Especially with almost all games being multiplatform now. Isn't the main reason to buy a console for the exclusives and content it provides?
I've been waiting nine years to accidentally kill me some more Pikmins!!
I don't own a Wii U, either. It's way too expensive and I don't find any of the titles compelling. That, and when I played with one at Toys R Us I found the controller cheap to hold.
First off, it always sold everything at a per-product profit from day one. Games, consoles, everything. That made it hard for them to lose money unless they failed to cover development costs by selling too few consoles, for example.
Second, they had the only portable gaming system that was extremely popular worldwide and just as profitable.
Third, they had a huge 1st party game lineup that always brought a lot of fans.
Fourth, they were able to make a different kind of game than the rest of the industry. Generally gameplay and character based games instead of visual appeal / physics based games like many of the traditional major AAA games. This dramatically lowered their production costs. Add to that the lure of motion controls during the glory years of the Wii.
Compare, for example, titles such as Halo 3 or Call of Duty: MW2 vs Super Smash Brothers Brawl or New Super Mario Bros Wii. Halo 3 sold something like 12 million copies and MW2 sold about 22 million. Those are impressive numbers, pushing gross revenue up near the billion dollar range. However, these are also very expensive games to produce, due to all the art assets, voice acting, the complexity of the game, and so forth. In contrast Brawl sold about 12 million copies and New SMB Wii sold about 28 million. But what's the development budget on Smash Bros. or even New SMB Wii in comparison? They don't have the same high-def 3D rendered immersive, interactive environment requirements as a modern AAA FPS or adventure game, they have a pitiful amount of voice acting, and typically so little that internationalization is comparatively trivial, and they just aren't as complicated of games overall.
Nintendo was able to sell its quirky little gameplay centric games and earn AAA revenue on the back of fractional development costs compared to most AAA titles. That translated into, as they say, "printing money".
But there are some problems. People stopped buying Wiis and playing Wii games. So Nintendo felt they needed to come out with a new console to try to deal with the competition. Unfortunately, the Wii-U isn't a coherent or inspired design, it's just designed by a committee who has no conception of what's happening in gaming right now. The result is a sort of weird little HD Wii with a questionably useful tablet controller.
Meanwhile, the rest of the gaming industry has been changing a great deal. Digital distribution has become not just a part of the industry but has gained enough momentum to seem like it will be the future core of the industry. And partly because of that indie games have had a renaissance. Additionally, smartphones and tablets have inserted themselves as pillars of the mobile gaming market. And both Microsoft and Sony have produced better motion control hardware schemes than Nintendo has managed to develop.
Nintendo is now being threatened from every side. Its motion control advantage is now lost. Its quirky gameplay centric advantage is now under assault by a veritable army of indie game devs, some of whom can finance their games on kickstarter and sell them for $10 or less through digital channels. Its mobile gaming systems are finding it tough to compete with more advanced tablets and smartphones with burgeoning game libraries. And its persistent weakness in online communities and underlying game system OS technology has started to take its toll in an era where everyone is more connected than ever.
Almost nobody is seriously excited about the potential of the Wii-U hardware, it's boring and largely already obsoleted by other console hardware and by the Xbox One and PS4 hardware. Pretty much the only thing keeping Nintendo alive is their 1st party titles, but how much will that encourage people to buy into their console hardware, potentially at the cost of not being able to buy an iPad or either of the other 2 new consoles coming out this year?
The Wii-U has already had a huge price drop since launch about half a year ago and sales are still anemic, that's not a good sign considering that sales are unlikely to be better 6 months from now when the xbox and playstation next gen consoles are on the market, let alone after the next ipad rev. hits. If they were smart they'd transition into a software only company.
Edit: to add to this, I used to own a Wii (though I sold it after I realized I hadn't even bothered to turn it on for about a year), and I've used the Wii-U extensively. I love some of the games for the Wii-U but I'm not sure they have enough pull to get many gamers to buy a whole new console. Also, the Wii-U software is a nightmare. For a device that is entirely based on solid state storage it takes a remarkably long time to do anything. Also, the very first update for the console took an hour (literally, a full hour, regardless of internet connection speed). And the battery life on the gamepad is decidedly underwhelming, as is the lack of multi-touch. Overall these aren't good selling points to the average consumer, or even to the Nintendo enthusiast.
The Wii U hasn't had a price drop yet.
> Generally gameplay and character based games
> instead of visual appeal / physics based games
> like many of the traditional major AAA games.
> This dramatically lowered their production costs.
Refined gameplay is the result of many, many, many extra person-hours (and therefore money) of iteration, testing, refinement, and so forth.
It's one of the reasons (certainly not the only reason) there's (for example) a flagship Zelda game every 5+ years, not every single year like Madden 2013 or Call Of Medal Of Honorable Black Splinter Ops.
Their base "will always be there" is exactly the kind of statement that brought Sony down in the last generation. They thought they could sell PS3 at the price they wanted. Nintendo made the same mistake with the 3DS, by pricing it very high at launch timing and facing extremely disappointing sales until they cut the price and released more games for the system. It was one of the worst Nintendo launches EVER.
Even if the games come on WiiU, it's too late for Nintendo. There will be fantastic-looking games for the PS4 (and XBox one) which will catch the attention of gamers for a while. And the WiiU did not repeat the same thing as the Wii in the first place: most people dont "get" the concept, because it's not a very cool concept in the first place.
Another reason the WiiU is dead is that they have no 3rd party developer support. There's no games for it because most developers are working for other systems already. They don't bet on the WiiU. It will be obsolete in no time.
Doesn't this fit the definition of moving the goalposts? 
So does Playdead
So does Turn 10 Studios
So does BioWare
So does Bethesda
So does Dice
So does Team Meat
I could actually go on for a bit but I think I make my point that having Nintendo make good games consistently doesn't compare to a more open platform that has dozens of developers many of who consistently put out excellent games.
Nintendo is far behind in terms of hardware and completely relied on their blue ocean strategy to carry them last time. They tried again and it’s not looking too good. Sales will pick up I'm sure when games actually come out but between half the people I know thinking it’s a peripheral and it having to actually compete because people are not going crazy over a gimmick I don’t think its going to do well this generation.
Nintendo has made more great games in the last 10 years than all the above companies combined have made in their lifetimes. It's pretty disingenuous to dismiss them so lackadaisically.
It's not so different than their being dragged kicking-and-screaming into connected services and then introducing initial offerings that look and function as if none of them had ever even seen the Internet before, let alone used any connected services that had been on offer from the industry.
Also: their games are always slow to materialize. Despite SD resolutions, the Wii was a similar-scale software-wasteland for at least its first year. (or longer - depending on how generous you're feeling)
The only real difference is that its launch titles retained novelty and popularity as more and more people were being first-introduced to waggle-gaming. Now that it's old hat, and every visitor isn't demanding to try it out, no-one's logging a hundred hours on a launch title and the lack of software is more glaring.
What makes Nintendo unique among console makers--and what carries them through each generation--is focusing on making fun games, not abiding the latest trends. Nintendo does roughly what Apple does: let the competitors make all the big mistakes and take the PR hits, then come behind and release something that gets it right on the first try.
And the bit where you claim they release something that gets it right on the first try? That's the exact opposite of Nintendo history. Friend codes, the Wii shop, the Netflix-app-disc situation -- these were not examples of Nintendo "getting it right". These are counter-examples.
That said, I wasn't speaking to whether Nintendo-being-Nintendo was good or bad for them. I was just pointing out that the Wii U's situation isn't particularly surprising.
Even still: allowing some mute matchmaking and play, with friend codes required for anything involving trades or chat, is a superior solution to the same problem that was already available in the market to be co-opted , if only Nintendo ever considered what others had done and learned.
 basically what ToonTown Online was doing in the same space, for the same reasons, since 2003.
To put it another way: Nintendo basically expects people to want to play with their "real friends" over the net--as an extension of their older "sit around a console in the living room together" dynamic--and sees no benefit in letting people play with/against strangers. They assume that if a kid wants badly to find someone to play a game with, they'll go and find someone in the real world, convince them [to convince their parents] to buy the game, and play it with them. This also, as a side-benefit (from Nintendo's perspective), shunts the work of "moderation" in these games to the parents: deciding whether to let your child hang around with some other child is already a well-established thing that parents do, and making it a prerequisite to establishing a game-play link means that parents can't complain to Nintendo for exposing their children to "the wrong sorts"--the responsibility was effectively passed back to them.
I think that this part misses the point about the differences between Halo and Mario. Halo is and always has been aimed towards the types that have been long term gamers and has only been recently usurped by the likes of Call of Duty et al.
Mario and its entire universe has brand value with parents and is geared towards practically anyone who can figure out a d-pad.
While I think that most of the Mario franchise is just a rehash of a rehash (Mario Bros. Wii being the last rehash I liked), for as long as parents see the games that way, Nintendo can keep pumping them out.
I think parents will still choose Mario, but that number is going to get smaller and smaller as time goes on. Why spend $300 for a console that only has Mario games? That's not a good way forward for Nintendo.
Perhaps we can ask Disney the same question about Mickey Mouse.
And here's a redditor putting the Wii U game library in context: http://www.reddit.com/r/wiiu/comments/1gurfs/is_nintendo_pre... The Wii U receives slightly better than average third party support vs other Nintendo consoles.
No seriously, my only complaint about the Wii graphics was that they weren't very smooth on a 50 inch screen. They didn't need to be photo-realistic, but a bit less blocky would have been nice. Hence Dolphin.
It wasn't until Wii Sports created this group gaming that was accessible to everybody in the family that it really took off.
The place where Nintendo is not going to lose to Sony or Microsoft is the family friendly entertainment that you just can't get on the PS3 or 360 (or PS4 or XBOne). I've got young children and I can't play Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, Halo, etc. in front of them if I don't want to expose them to graphic violence, blood, etc.
Nintendo games biggest challenge is going to be on the dealing with "app" type consoles filled with tons of casual games that are cheap or free to play. Think Ouya or Apple TV or some other console with F2P or $1 games like Sonic, vs mario for $50+ and I think Nintendo's ability to create experiences people will pay a premium for is going to be harder, but not impossible.
If you can get such a controller for less than 50$ and already have a smartphone or iPod touch like device, then I just don't see why you'd want to buy yet another gaming device.
Now give me a good and comfortable controller for my iPad and I won't buy any console anymore.
Home console gaming currently offers gaming experiences that cannot be done on mobile devices. Mobile devices are only a threat to mobile consoles.
Remember Nintendo's investors threatened the board and wanted them to release Nintendo IP on Mobile appstores .
However it's good to note that GTA, Call of Duty, and Madden are all on the tablets and phones now. The publishers can't ignore the large casual gaming market.
Which, I'm hoping it comes across that I don't agree with said logic.
As it happens, I'm sitting about 26" from it - so I need about 50% more pixel depth. Even then, that only makes it 50% of 4K resolution.
A 4k screen at 22" is a retina display at 17". That doesn't sound comfortable - although I haven't played with an Oculus Rift yet...
Go to a store, e.g. Best Buy, and see. Obviously, the people with the standard 37-50" screens aren't going to see much of a change; but when you get large screens, it's pretty clear
Doesn't change the simple fact that you could run the most advanced games of the time at high resolutions. Everyone was saying the Wii was outdated at launch, and they were right.
Which is a real shame because historically they have been exceptional at competing on fun, but you can't justify a £200 console based on the possibility of 1 or 2 first party games a year.
My point was that these are irrelevant: we've been playing games at higher resolution than that for a while.
It was a rather pedantic jab, and for that I apologize. My point stands, however.
I just finished the audio version during workouts, while it was not _thrilling_ it was definitely interesting