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In a discussion recently with the media, Saturu Iwata has been chewing over some thoughts in his head about various things to do with Nintendo, the Wii U, the 3DS and lots more besides.
The console wars have begun to heat up once again, with the Wii sales now dipping dramatically and the 3DS struggling to compete with sales of the DS. But it’s not even just the wars between their own consoles- it’s the other two big guys trying to push them out of the market that Nintendo are also trying to keep an eye on. Microsoft have a year head start over Sony with their Xbox 360- which some people believe why Microsoft’s sales have been better for their console in the long term. So thinking of this business strategy- does this hold a bucket of golden coins for Nintendo?
The Wii U is due out this Christmas, which is way ahead of anything Sony and Microsoft have planned. This surely should mean that Nintendo can get the jump on the others by putting out their next-generation console first. But Iwata isn’t really that bothered. He says it’s a nice bragging right to be first in the queue, but when it comes to business matters- it’s pretty meaningless.
“Being first in the next generation race is not important at all, one of the reasons we believe this is the time for Nintendo to launch the Wii U is it’s going to be important for the world.”
Think back to when Nintendo launched every console they’ve ever designed for the home entertainment system. First was the NES, which bought with it the idea that families could get involved and play together with games like Duck Hunt. SNES advanced on that idea with a faster system and better graphics. Nintendo 64 was the first 64-bit console on the market. Gamecube was cute, compact and didn’t take up a whole lot of space- bringing with it classic games like Luigi’s Mansion and the Nintendo GameBoy Advance link-up to share information.
The Wii was the ground breaker for the company though. When it was released, HD video gaming was not common place and neither were HD television sets. Both Sony and Microsoft tried to play catch up with the motion-controls that Nintendo released to the public. But as successful as the Kinect system is, it was certainly never going to be a Wii system. Sony tried to join in the fun with the Playstation Move concept- but frankly, it fell a bit flat.
So they’re at it again with the revolutionary tactics. With the Wii U, the mini-tablet controller aims to be the Wii Remote with a touchscreen attached. Iwata states that devices like iPads and iPhones are expensive. Yes, they have the motion control sensors built into the machine, but if you don’t have that kind of cash to splash around- the Wii U is aiming to offer a cheaper, more fun alternative. I believe they are trying this tactic to take some of the money from the handheld, mobile market and redirect it back towards Nintendo.
The 3DS has been selling at a production loss for a few months now, and Iwata publicly declared that Nintendo had it’s first corporate loss as a company. But they don’t expect to repeat that next year, especially with the 3DS XL coming out in a matter of weeks and the Wii U in a matter of months.
The company is not dead in the water just yet though, even with all the naysayers and statements how Nintendo should cease making hardware and just license out their game titles instead. Iwata says that these spiteful comments have been circling since before the Wii was released, so how can they keep saying these things when the consoles that Nintendo are released just keep innovating and going from strength to strength.
“Even when we were going to launch the Wii system, there were a lot of voices saying ‘Nintendo should stop making hardware’,” he says. “The reasoning behind that was Nintendo would not have any chance against Microsoft and Sony. The fact of the matter was: I did not think Nintendo should compete against these companies with the same message and same entertainment options for people.
“We have not changed our strategy. In other words, we just do not care what kind of ‘more beef’ console Microsoft and Sony might produce in 2013. Our focus is on how we can make our new console different than [others].”
Innovation is the name of the game then, it seems. I for one, am excited!