Nintendo needs a kick in its “Big Balls”

So the current drought in the Wii is caused by the twin evils of Pokémon Black and White, and the 3DS; apparently Nintendo has more Wii games on the dock aside from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, but they didn’t want to cloud March with anymore, so they are holding off even talking about these unknown Wii games until after the 3DS’ launch.  This does make a lot of sense, you don’t want a major hardware release hampered by big releases elsewhere, as I mentioned the biggest threat to the 3DS is that the biggest game of the month is on the DS.  But I still have to say this…


When the Wii launched and sold out for two years straight, Nintendo proved something, they showed the world that they had what it takes to make and support a console, and to carry it to astronomical heights, almost completely by themselves.  In the two years since, they proved something else, that they are not perfect, and that when they stumble, they have no safety net.  Nintendo is by themselves, third parties are just not supporting the Wii, so when Nintendo’s games under-perform, the Wii goes down.

At E3 2008, Nintendo had virtually nothing for core gamers, supposedly they were preparing for Sony and Microsoft to storm the “casual shores” and take their market away; but whether the competition was coming or not, Nintendo left a huge gap in their lineup, banking everything on Animal Crossing: City Folk and WiiMusic.  Not only that, but both of those games failed to sell well.  Oh they sold a few million each, but for a console maker, they need 10+ million sellers; they need big hit games to push hardware.

The Wii still finished strong in 2008 thanks to big hits like WiiFit and Mario Kart Wii, but in early 2009, with the push from those early 2008 titles fading, the weakness of WiiMusic and Animal Crossing, and a lack of pickup titles in the new year, left the Wii sinking like a stone.

The story for 2009 and 2010 was when Nintendo released big games like New Super Mario Bros Wii, the Wii soared, the other times, it sank.

Nintendo may have a good excuse for why they don’t have many good games for the Wii right now, but it doesn’t change the fact that they don’t have many good games for the Wii right now.  The Wii sales are low, and they won’t pick up until Nintendo releases some big hits, and deliberately waiting until E3 to even announce anything is a big mistake; they need games now!

This is why I think Nintendo needs to bulk up, they need to increase it’s internal development capacity, by bringing on new developers to make more teams.  Don’t make the existing teams bigger, that just leads to you making bigger games, which take longer and cost more money to make, which can mean fewer games.  Also, you don’t want to ruin the dynamic of your existing teams by making them much, much bigger; seeding new teams allows you to increase capacity, while also giving you a fresh perspective that might reach out to gamers in a way your existing teams cannot.  Having more dev teams making more games give Nintendo some advantages.

  1. They can reach a wider audience, not everyone likes Pokémon or Mario, and increased variety leads to a larger audience.  Sony and Mircosoft’s biggest problem is that the high cost of HD games is forcing developers to focus on specific big ticket genres, while other genres, and by extension their fans, get left in the cold.
  2. If a game is delayed, another game can fill the void and maintain momentum.
  3. If a game isn’t turning out well, it can be canceled instead of releasing it to die, which can potentially turn off gamers who play it, and think that Nintendo is losing it.

Ultimately, all of these things lead to one important facet, Nintendo maintains its independence.  Sony and Microsoft’s games aren’t as big or as plentiful as Nintendo’s, so they can’t carry a console all by themselves, they need third party support.  Nintendo does have the games to carry a console, but when they screw up, third party support would cover their asses while they regroup and recover.  Nintendo doesn’t need third parties the way Sony and Microsoft do, but they can sure use the help once in a while.

Unless Nintendo wants to give in to third parties a lot more than they do now, they have to be independent enough that they can stand up on their own, which gives them the power to say “no” when someone tries to give them the bum’s rush.

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