Nintendo is arguably the most beloved game company in the world. For years now, it has delivered lovable characters, like Mario and Link, outstanding hardware, like the SNES and Wii, and some of the best games to hit store shelves. Its fans are dedicated to the company, and with each new device it launches, they’re more than willing to stand in line to get one.
[Image credit: Pop Culture Geek]
However, after Nintendo launched the GameCube and gamers turned to Microsoft and Sony’s options for their gaming needs, some wondered if the venerable hardware maker was on its last leg. They questioned Nintendo’s ability to appeal to gamers in what was becoming a more adult-oriented industry.
And then the Wii launched, and all that changed. Nintendo’s console proved to be the top hardware around the world, and people warmed to the idea of flailing their arms around to play games. It was a hit, and it put Nintendo back at the top of the industry — a place that it had been kept away from for years.
But as the current generation continues to drag on, Nintendo’s market appeal is starting to wane once again. Wii sales have been on the decline and the company has dropped the price of the console to try and bolster demand. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which some thought when this generation started would end up at the bottom of the console heap, has been selling extremely well. In fact, the Xbox 360 has been the bestselling console of the past year.
Sony’s PlayStation 3 is performing better at retail, as well. And that has prompted some to wonder if Nintendo’s best days are behind it for this generation.
As one might expect, the company’s fans aren’t so quick to give up. They say that the Wii’s sales are declining simply because so many gamers already have the device in-house. And they point to the fact that the Wii is selling somewhat well historically at this point in its lifecycle to further bolster their argument.
But I have to say I’m worried for Nintendo. The company’s Wii looks rather outdated when compared to the competition. Even worse, its collection of games, outside of first-party titles, simply isn’t as compelling as those on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Combine that with the fact that Nintendo will likely wait a year before it gets a device on store shelves that can actually compete on the same graphical and feature level as its competitors, and I think it might be time to start speculation about how bad, not good, the next 12 months might be for Nintendo’s console.
There’s trouble in paradise on the portable side too. The company’s 3DS platform, while unique, has not been selling as well as some had hoped. And it’s having a hard time explaining to consumers why they should buy its device.
Plus, all that fails to mention that Nintendo has been disappointing investors. During its last fiscal year, Nintendo’s revenue was down 29 percent and its profits dropped by 66 percent.
So, when I look at Nintendo right now, I can’t help but wonder if there is trouble ahead for the game company. Its hardware is disappointing at retail, its software libraries are behind its competitors’, and its profits are sliding.
Hopefully Nintendo’s upcoming game console, which it plans to show off at E3 next week, will help turn things around. But if it falls short in any way or tries to do too much, like the 3DS, Nintendo’s future could be worse than the company wants to believe.
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear