There’s a special place in my heart for Nintendo, and I know I’m not alone. I grew up with Mario, made friends over my N64 and stood in line for a Wii. With the launch of the Wii U this Christmas, Nintendo should be rolling in bank - and yet, despite outdoing the Wii’s release, last year wasn’t the greatest for them.
Why? Marketing, says DFC Intelligence’s David Cole. “Nintendo's performance the last year was a disaster. It was almost like they rolled over and played dead with less than zero marketing for both the Wii U and the 3DSXL.” It’s true; unless you hail from the internet, hype for the Wii U was nil. Think of the ratio of commercials for Black Ops 2 versus the Wii U - a console should get more ad time (and celebrity sponsors - thanks, Robert Downey Jr.!) than a game, even if it is one of the biggest-selling franchises around. "In a negative scenario, Nintendo will be forced to prematurely lower the Wii U price,” says RW Baird analyst Colin Sebastian.
Another option? Drop the console and go platform agnostic, in the footsteps of Sega. Of course, this kind of naysaying has been around since the days of the Gamecube, and Nintendo soldiers on. Their handheld consoles own the market at present, especially after the price drop for the 3DS. Of course, the rise of tablets - especially with big games like Minecraft and Skylanders making their way to the iPad - could change all of that.
Nintendo’s importance in the gaming market can’t be underplayed; after all, without the Wii, we wouldn’t have the Kinect. And if you ask most folks, Nintendo is a solid company. After all, a Japanese internet survey listing ideal employers for a potential spouse gave Nintendo the number one spot. Why? Because they’re seen as the top of the industry, and stable.
Personally, I think Nintendo holds a place in the market that is unique, and without them gaming would experience a nasty void. Nintendo provides family friendly content, and online experience that won’t teach your kids about tea bagging and a sort of innocent free space where plumbers are the greatest superheroes around. And let's not forget that the Wii U is the only console on the market that allows gamers to play on the toilet.