Saturday, January 31, 2015

What's next for Nintendo?

If you've seen any of the news regarding Nintendo lately, you've probably come away with a dim view for the future of the House that Mario Built. Recent headlines have called the Wii U the "slowest selling console in Nintendo history" and that Nintendo is "looking into" the successor to the Wii U already. Some have even said that the Wii U is literally murdering children and eating their corpses.

While it might be easy (ok, it is easy) to mock Nintendo's stubborn unwillingness to get with the times, they've honestly done a great job with their core properties this generation. In fact, both Pat and I chose Wii U this generation over either the PS4 or the XBone. Admittedly, part of that may be the fact that Pat and I are easing into senility, and the Marios are just easier for us old fogeys.

As I write this, the Wii U has over 20 games with an average Metacritic score of 85 or higher. When you keep in mind that relatively small library of games available for the Wii U, this is really outstanding. Among these heavy hitters are first party standouts like Super Smash Bros., Super Mario 3D World, and Mario Kart 8. Of course, Nintendo always supplies the hits for their own machines, the real test for Nintendo consoles in their 3rd party support.

It might surprise you then, that 13 of these top 20 games are actually from developers other than Nintendo. Bayonetta 2 took home several Game of the Year awards for 2014, eShop hits Guacamelee and Shovel Knight have been sleepers, and even Ubisoft released some amazing ports, before scaling back their Wii U release schedule shortly after the system's launch. 

This being said, units just aren't moving the way they should be. Nintendo recently reduced their financial outlook, as both the Wii U and 3DS posted disappointing sales figures. Just a few weeks ago, the big N unveiled a Majora's Mask themed 3DS unit, which sold out immediatelySomeone out there wants to buy Nintendo hardware, it's just a matter of finding these customers, and creating new ones. I know, I know, easier said than done.

So how can Nintendo turn the ship around on this generation? Well, I think they're already on the right track. The Amiibo line of accessories have provided a big boost for the related games on the Wii U and 3DS. Everyone I know seems to have at least one or two of those little guys. Several of the Amiibo figures have sold out at retail, with some reaching crazy prices on eBay.  

Several sure to be hits are also slated for release very soon. New Kirby, Mario Party, Zelda, and Mario games are all expected to release in the next 12 months. Super Smash Bros, and Mario Kart will continue to be supported with DLC releases. New IPs like Splatoon look to make a big splash as well. The future is bright for Nintendo, and I'm sure eventually more and more games will begin to see the light.

Chris Linendoll loves that Mario!

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