Nintendo performed an excellent disruptive strategy when it released the Wii. But it didn’t follow through the entire Wii generation, and continued to fail in the Wii U generation.
If we are generous and assume Nintendo learned the right lesson, is it too late? If they make the console that is a worthy successor to the Wii (and NES) that we love, I’m sure their sales will go up.
But can their build on their disruptive success? To get mainstream, casual, and lapsed gamers and non-gamers to buy a console after the Wii U? I am biased to try it out. But would the 100 million who bought Wiis return?
If they make a good console, and if they have good games coming out, I would love to buy a console after skipping the Wii U. But how hard will Nitnendo have to work to convince people who bought the Wii to buy yet another gaming system if that’s not a big motivator in their lives?
Can Nintendo regain disruptive momentum?
That is the wrong question.
The question I am asking is whether Nintendo wants disruptive momentum.
Nintendo was only interested in disruptive growth IF it created growth in the games Nintendo developers wish to make. These games would be Gamecube-esque, OMG 3d games, and even Virtual Reality. This is where Nintendo wants to go.
But where did disruption lead the Nintendo market? It did not lead to greater growth of 3d Mario or Sakamoto Metroid. One can argue if it grew Aonuma Zelda, I say it didn’t seeing the sales of Zelda DS and the awful art style. The growth was in sports games from Wii Sports to various EA sports. The growth was in fitness games like Wii Fit. The growth was in racing games like Mario Kart. The growth was in platform games like 2d Mario. This is NOT what Nintendo wanted. Nintendo was stunned that 2d Mario would sell so much, and they tried very hard to convert 2d Mario gamers to 3d Mario gamers (even giving out instructional DVDs in Japan and Europe on how to play 3d Mario. No joke!).
My hypothesis: Nintendo drops all disruption because disruption doesn’t lead to Nintendo making the games it wants to make. Iwata had to fight this. Nintendo developers didn’t want to make Brain Age and games like Nintendogs.
Is it any wonder that the handheld and console following the DS and Wii high was 3DS (OMG 3d!) and Wii U (OMG Gamecube games in HD!)? It cannot be any accident. I think Nintendo thought many of the Wii market would move to Wii U which Nintendo could transmute to sales of the games they want to make.
Does anyone want Pikmin 4? Anyone? Pikmin 3 came because Miyamoto declared it after a poor E3 2008 conference (where development hadn’t even started). I know this because there was no Iwata Asks for Pikmin 3 because it would have all come out.
No one wanted Metroid Other M except Sakamoto.
No one wanted Zelda: Skyward Sword of Aonuma-ized ‘world is a puzzle’ garbage.
Did anyone really want another Mario Galaxy? Come on.
I believe Nintendo will exist in two ways. One side will be the sell out part which makes mobile games, merchandising, or whatever it is to make money. The other side will keep continuing their 3d/virtual reality mission and making Gamecube/Wii U games. NX will have sequels to Wii U games, not sequel to Wii games. I guarantee it.
Has Nintendo made any declaration of market growth? No. Just ‘profits’. There is zero emphasis on growing the market because those are the WRONG TYPE OF GAMERS. Those gamers do not buy 3d Mario and Sakamoto Metroid.
Nintendo consoles are at the risk of joining pinball machines. Sure, there are new ones made and there are fans, but they no longer have a connection to mainstream society.