Nintendo is in trouble this holiday season. There. I said it. After all, someone had to, right?
With the gaming industry abuzz over the launch of not one, but two consoles in the course of a week, Nintendo has been trying to get at least some attention from the media. Like the person in the back row trying to be seen in a picture, there’s no getting out of the way of Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. And Nintendo doesn’t appear to have the firepower to change that.
I know the Wii U had a stronger October, thanks to the console’s price cut, but I don’t see much in the way of success for the game company this holiday season.
Let’s start with the hardware. The Wii U is simply too underpowered to impress anyone in the hard-core segment. What’s worse for Nintendo, it appears that many kids and casual users – the core segment of the company’s last market – don’t seem to be jumping on the Wii U bandwagon like they did with the previous hardware.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve spoken to several kids in Nintendo’s key demographic and asked them if they wanted a Wii U. I also asked them if any of their friends wanted a Wii U. On every occasion, those kids said that they want an iPod touch and play games like Minecraft, not Mario.
Granted, my evidence is anecdotal, at best, but it proves a point. Years ago, those same kids were the ones who wanted a Wii and thought it was a must-have. Now, there are other products on store shelves that peer pressure has determined are best.
[aquote]Where does Nintendo fit into the average life of its core market?[/aquote]
I’m also not sure where Nintendo and the Wii U fits into the average life of those who would be considered its core market. After all, Nintendo’s customers are casual gamers – the kind of folks that won’t want to sit in front of a television for hours on end. Casual gamers want to be able to play a fun game for a little while and go about their day.
When the Wii launched, it was the only show in town for such gaming. But now that devices like the iPad, iPod touch, and others are available, the Wii U is facing a tidal wave of competition. And as its sales have shown, it can’t quite keep up.
So, as we sit on the precipice of what is promising to be a huge holiday shopping season for retailers, I can’t help but wonder what will come of Nintendo. The company doesn’t have the hardware firepower to stand out and Sony and Microsoft are getting all the headlines right now. What’s worse, Nintendo’s software is being ignored by those it needs the most.
While I can see Nintendo revenue going up this holiday season, I think that’ll be the result of it being the holidays and nothing else. The Wii U appears destined to be in third place this generation, and as of this writing, I don’t think that will change.