Nintendo have put themselves in a precarious position in terms of hardware releases. With the Wii and now the Wii U looking to be well weaker than their generational counterparts, Nintendo are forcing gamers to buy more than one console to appreciate a good variety of gaming. This could be a dangerous path, as many gamers will instead opt to purchase the platform with more variety and third party developers than the more focused first party platform.
The Wii’s strength came from casual gamers more into Wii Fit than Zelda. Casuals who prefer party games than a long single adventure. Even with the Wii, the casual gamer was seen as unreliable with a pretty mediocre software attach ratio to number of Wiis sold. By being exhausted of third party games as well, the Wii never struck the fancy of the more hardcore gamer. Sure, Nintendo can still rely on their core fanbase that love games like Mario and Zelda, but that wouldn’t get you much more than Gamecube numbers.
With the Wii U out now, hardcore gamers have once again voted with their wallets. It looks like they prefer to wait for true next-gen consoles from Sony and/or Microsoft for their future gaming needs. Granted, the Wii U hasn’t seen any real core games that would help it sell more numbers (I’ve never understood not having killer launch titles for any console), but even then, third party developers are looking to be pushing aside Wii U versions of their games until the Wii U becomes relevant.
Nintendo should definitely consider becoming a pure third party developer. Perhaps not now, as it would kill the Wii U, but perhaps in the future. By being out of favour with hardcore gamers, there’ll now be 2-3 generations of gamers who probably have never touched a Mario or Zelda game, purely because Nintendo has chosen to release weak consoles rather than push technical boundaries. Well, they can probably keep their handheld hardware division at least. The danger is that Nintendo is continuously alienating gamers who purchase a Nintendo console. The core fanbase of Nintendo have to purchase other consoles too(or a PC), while other hardcore gamers will just skip the Nintendo console.
By going third party, Nintendo will again be able to reach a large majority of hardcore gamers with their franchises. Even if it is just for one generation before resuming hardware sales. By putting their first party titles into more hands, they will attract more gamers with their renowned quality. Essentially bait gamers with their games.
There is no doubt Nintendo games would sell on other consoles. Whether it be by Nintendo fans or by willing new gamers, there will be an audience for their games. Nintendo, as a company, has been argued as a company for the gamers. Perhaps it is time to give back to gamers by promoting their games on a larger scale, rather than holding it hostage on their own console, and thus terms. The main danger for Nintendo is that they will continuously lose gamers the more they focus on hardware that isn’t up-to-date.
What do you think? Should Nintendo stubbornly stay a first party software developer for their own consoles, or should they broaden their horizon?