I’m a huge Nintendo fan. I have been ever since I popped my first Mario game cartridge into my Super NES and started bopping those Goombas. I loved the seemingly endless levels, the crazy colors, and the kooky music. All of which is why it makes me sad that Nintendo is struggling. The company just posted its first annual loss.
Nintendo says it’s been hurt by a strong yen and by price cuts for its Wii console and handheld 3DS. But many people are commenting on other factors that might be having an impact, and in some cases, I’m inclined to agree.
For one thing, the proliferation of connected devices means people have a gaming device with them at all times—their smartphone and/or tablet. They may spend hours on these devices playing games they downloaded for little or no money. When it comes time to spend $50 on a brand-new Wii game, players may begin to balk at the price.
But I think other factors are also at work. The Wii console came to market in 2006. It’s now 2012 and there has not been another new console released. The Wii U is on the horizon, but there is still no official release date. I also think Nintendo has been very slow to release additional game titles in its flagship lines. I have a specific source of irritation here, and it’s Pikmin. Pikmin and Pikmin 2 were very successful games for Nintendo, but the market has been waiting for a Pikmin 3 for years! Pikmin 2 came out in 2004, for gosh sakes. (If you are unfamiliar with Pikmin, it’s a game where you control an army of tiny plant-like creatures to accomplish tasks and vanquish enemies.)
Yes, I am in a froth about Pikmin. But I believe dedicated Nintendo gamers—who aren’t necessarily the same kind of gamers who buy the latest Call of Duty the day it comes out—will still buy expensive games, if they think they’re worth it. I know I would buy Pikmin 3 in a heartbeat. But during the last few years Nintendo hasn’t given us a whole lot to get excited about. Nintendo needs to capitalize on game titles that have been successful.
I hope the Wii U will change that. I’m looking forward to the cool new motion-control features, and to the tablet-style controller. But, perhaps most of all, I’m excited because rumor has it Pikmin 3 will be available for the Wii U. Here’s hoping.