The video gaming company that has brought us some of the most recognisable and industry-pushing games and series of said games in all of video gaming history. From the simple, but addictive platforming series, Super Mario Brothers to the vast and open world of action-adventure series, The Legend of Zelda. From the ever-evolving world of Role-playing series, Pokémon to the quiet and peaceful world where humans coincide with talking, civilized animals, Animal Crossing. Whether you’re a gamer or not, there’s a extremely high chance that you’ve played (and an almost impossible chance that you haven’t seen) at least one game where Nintendo was involved somehow.
But let’s be honest though, in recent years, Nintendo seems to have become a bit…out-of-touch with the pace that the rest of the gaming industry is currently headed. In the last fiscal year, Nintendo reported an annual loss overall and their biggest and newest console, The Wii U, is currently the least popular out of its main competitors, the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. So why and how did Nintendo fall from the fames of being the proclaimed by some to be the biggest video gaming company in the world to be struggling against companies like Sony and Microsoft? I feel it’s primarily because of two main factors…
Nintendo’s Recent Game History
Something that may surprise some of you who don’t follow Nintendo to the very point where you know all of their future releases (unlike myself) is that all but one of the games I mentioned in the first paragraph still have had games released under their series names within the last year, the odd one out having one released in 2012. Yet, all but one of these series’ first games were conceived before the 2000’s, the odd one out (once again) being released in 2001.
The last Mario game to be released was Mario Kart 8, released in May of last year, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, a game originally released on the Nintendo 64 in late 2000, is being re-remastered for the New Nintendo 3DS (I’ll come back to the awful naming of that later) and is being released on the same day as the New Nintendo 3DS’ launch, February 13th. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, remastered versions of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire released in November 2002, were released in late November of last year and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the fourth game in the Animal Crossing series, was released in late 2012.
Those of you who are keen-eyed may have noticed a small pattern within all of those games that make them all similar. That’s right , the fact that none of these games are original series…All of them were based/themed of of franchises and series that are already set up and established and quite frankly, it’s getting a bit boring now…
This is something I feel has been lacking in Nintendo for quite a few years right now within the creation of their games. Just to make you aware, the last fully original series that was solely Nintendo headed was Tomodachi Life, released in June 2013 and some of you may be thinking “Well, that wasn’t THAT long ago…” but take a look at the last fully original series before that…Wii Fit, the first game in said series was released in December 2007. Yea, there was a full 6 years where Nintendo released games within the same franchises over and over again and I imagine a lot of Nintendo enthusiasts (including myself) were sitting for those 6 years thinking “Ugh, another Mario/Pokémon/Zelda game that’s essentially the same as the last?”
The thing is, this is one of the primary factors that quite literally killed companies like THQ, a company that published the ever-popular Saints Row and WWE series of games, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012, even after selling far more copies of Saints Row: The Third than expected. This factor also dragged companies like Sega, best known for the Sonic The Hedgehog series of games, who were Nintendo’s main competitors back in the days of the SNES and Sega Genesis/Mega Drive but now, I don’t remember the last time I heard any significant news about them.
Judging by those two examples, Nintendo really need to step up their game in terms of originality. Especially considering they’re up against three of the currently biggest companies in the gaming industry, Sony and Microsoft in terms of the console gaming market with the Wii U and Apple in terms of the handheld/mobile gaming market with the Nintendo 3DS and soon to be released New Nintendo 3DS.
Innovation is the second factor that I believe Nintendo isn’t doing well with, specifically with the naming of their consoles.
First off, the Wii U. I mean, I know it’s the successor to the Wii and it’s supposed to represent that but the Wii U just doesn’t sound appealing to me. The Wii was all about interactivity and with the motion controls you got which were never really used properly in gaming, the name made sense. However, with the Wii U, that interactivity comes from the large, touchable screen on the Gamepad isn’t innovative at all. I can play my 3DS if I wanted a touchable screen, not a full-blown games console which in turn makes the name a bit less convincing.
Secondly, the New Nintendo 3DS and yes, you did read that correctly. The New Nintendo 3DS is the successor to the Nintendo 3DS and when I thought that the Wii U was a bad naming choice and thought that it was just a one-off, boy was I wrong. The issue I’m imagining is, the largest percent of people who will be buying the New Nintendo 3DS when it comes out will be adults or elderly people who don’t really understand video games or their consoles and will ask for the “Nintendo 3DS” thinking that the new part of it just means the latest one and isn’t actually part of the name. Then the child sees it and starts throwing a fit because “it’s not the right one, it’s the New 3DS not the 3DS” which would leave the adults reeling in confusion…My point is, it’s not a good name whatsoever.
Overall, Nintendo really needs to start “getting with the times”. It’s clear that the fact that they keep making games of the same franchises over and over again is not only getting boring for myself, but for other Nintendo customers as well and it’s only a matter of time before those sales start to drop more significantly and by that point, I imagine it will be too late for Nintendo.