As the talks about the underperforming Wii U and Nintendo’s two consecutive years in a row of bringing in losses permeates through the online gaming community there seems to be one topic that keeps popping up, either explicit or implied; the death of Nintendo. Even when there is no mention of Nintendo’s “death,” fans tend to raise their defenses to proclaim that Nintendo will never die, while declaring anyone who discusses Nintendo’s recent shortcomings as “haters.” With this out of the way, Nintendo has had a few serious bumps in the road, and eventually the conversation might arise within Nintendo to abandon the ever-volatile home console market.
While sales of the Wii U haven’t been awful, by any stretch of the imagination, they are not in line with what Nintendo wants to see. You could quote historic console sales, but it has to be remembered that this current global economy is different, as is how businesses operate. Nintendo has still sold almost 4 million Wii U consoles no matter how you slice it, but the reality of that is that it hasn’t equated into raw profits for the company, which is what they, and their investors and creditors, are looking for.
Of course, it is still far too early to predict if the Nintendo Wii U will be a failure or a runaway success like the original Wii was, as it has only been on the market since November. That being said, the Wii U is being outsold by the competition, which is considered “last generation” consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, all the while the original Wii’s sales have dropped off as well. For Nintendo to operate as a profitable company in the market space right now it doesn’t seem to align with whatever their current business plan is. When you analyze what isn’t working for Nintendo right now, all signs point to Wii U’s struggling sales.
Now, if — and I do mean a loose “if” here — Nintendo were to no longer support the home console market after the Wii U (no matter what I still find this unlikely), there is still a very small chance of Nintendo actually “dying.” Would it be a hit to their reputation and ego? Absolutely. Would it mean the death of the beloved company? No. The key to why Nintendo will be around for a very long time rests in their best-selling game franchises, some of which have been around for over thirty years now.
Characters like Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Samus, Link, Zelda and many more can ensure the continued success of Nintendo’s brand. If Nintendo has done one thing beyond anyone’s expectations over their lifespan, it has been to create characters that fans will never grow tired of playing as. Mario is still Nintendo’s best-seller across their platforms and there are always guarantees within games like Mario Kart, Legend of Zelda, Metroid and others. Those characters and games will always be in demand from fans and I don’t see Nintendo ever riding off into the sunset as long as these characters and games exist.
The Wii U might be seeing some tough times right now, but things could still turn around for it. Even if Nintendo did “skip” a “generation” of consoles in the future, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, nor would extending their game licenses to other platforms in the future, although I don’t see them giving up their stranglehold on the handheld market as long as it exists and smartphones haven’t completely overtaken the market. Honestly, there might not even be a home console market after this next generation.