Working Title

February 19, 2014

Nintendo has been around for a long time; since September 23, 1889, when it was founded as Nintendo Koppai. They have existed for much longer than what is commonly considered their competition. Sony was started in 1946, and Mircosoft has only been around since 1975. You could easily look at these much younger companies and applaud them for all they have been able to accomplish is a much shorter time, but it is Nintendo’s humbleness that I think sets them aside from some many other companies and is one of the things that I believe will keep Nintendo around for generations to come. Where Nintendo has succeeded is in bringing joy to people’s lives. Nintendo started off making Hanafuda cards. These cards cards became popular and the company expanded. Many people know this and even today Nintendo manufactures playing cards including Hanafuda.

But it was in 1965 when Nintendo’s Hiroshi Yamauchi visited America to speak with the United States Playing Card Company, and seeing how small the company was, that would forever change the direction of Nintendo. Mr. Yamauchi saw in order to survive in the long term and keep his Grand Father’s business alive Nintendo would need to expand beyond playing cards.

Following the 1965 American visit Nintendo dabbled in a taxi service, love hotels, a TV network, a food company, and various other business. All of these were unable to expand the Nintendo company. It wasn’t until 1966 when Nintendo released the Ultra Hand, that the company found a new niche in the toy market. Designed by Gunpei Yokoi; this simple extending arm toy was able to sell millions. Nintendo released several toys in this period but they could not keep up with more established toy manufactures.

In 1973 Nintendo started manufacturing the Laser Clay Shooting System that were put into vacant bowling alley properties. Eventually variations such as the Mini Laser Clay and Wild Gunman were created. This move marked move from toys to the video game. In 1980 Nintendo released the Game & Watch series from designer Gunpei Yokoi. Nintendo’s original handheld gave the company great success. The next year under the creative design of Shigeru Miyamoto, Donkey Kong was released.

In the following decades saw incredible growth with the popularity of the Famicom/NES, the Super Famicom/NES, and the Game Boy. Within the period of those systems Nintendo continued it’s tradition of trying new things. While Nintendo’s handhelds have remained relatively strong, their home consoles haven’t always retained as strong a hold on the market. This is in some way do to handheld devices being better accommodating to Gunpei Yokoi’s philosophy of, Lateral Thinking with Seasoned Technology. With the 64 and GameCube, and the even worse the Virtual Boy; Nintendo struggled with sales and attracting outside development of software. The Wii gave Nintendo incredibly high hardware sales but with the Wii’s seasoned technology, and two similarly more powerful competitors; Nintendo failed to attract the same attention from software developers.

Nintendo openly had a goal to gain back a great amount of outside software development with the release of the Wii U in 2012. Unfortunately the company failed to the momentum of that idea.  They misread the market in several ways. Nintendo underestimated the importance of their own software, and at the same time overestimated other companies’ ability to provide compelling and relevant software to the Wii U.

I would say for a launch Nintendo put some pretty good and varied cards on the table. Nintendo Land, Super Mario Bros. U, and and an in-house improved, re-release of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. While that isn’t a massive showing it is at least a collection of enjoyable games. In the meantime EA offered a full-priced Mass Effect 3 when a same-priced Mass Effect Trilogy was known to be shortly released on other systems, and a Fifa and Madden game on last years game engines and not including the most popular Ultimate Teams mode. Ubisoft offered a pretty good idea with Zombi U, a game with a good premiss, but with a lack of play testing and a overly harsh review on an influential gaming site. Activision released a Call of Duty with awesome split-screen multiplayer, but no downloadable addons

Since launch there has been a mediocre at best showing from the likes of EA, Ubisoft, Activison, Bandai Namco, WB Games, and 2K Sports. Large studios such as Bethesda, 2K Games, and Rockstar have been complete no shows. This problem has been compacted by poor sales of slapped together games and an oddly overestimated sales of the Wii U system. The estimation of Wii level sales on the Wii U was idiotic, and was likely done to appease share holders. Nintendo got lucky with the Wii system sales. Sure, I think it’s a great system, but it just happened to be the right system at the right time. Given this information, surely the sales could be better, but they could be worse.

I have seen many articles asking questions or making suggestions on how to fix the Wii U problem. That is not my goal with this collection of words. I had high hopes for the Wii U last year. I thought that a remake of the best Zelda game would help more than it did. I thought that Super Mario 3D World was more of a system seller that it ended up being. Now in 214 I am more humble. I think if Nintendo pulls amazing out of e3, that Mario Kart and Smash do well but fail to draw in audiences the same way that their Wii counterpart did in the past, that even with things staying they same way that they were last year; Nintendo will end up making a profit this year. They may not be at the top as they have been with the NES and Super NES or the first years of the Wii, but I think that everything will be okay.