Nintendo Losing Tons of Money, Plans New Business Model
Warning: May Contain Feelings
Nintendo announced yesterday that they are forecasting a loss of over $240 million thanks to the WiiU not doing as well as they had anticipated. This has been chalked up to a number of factors ranging from late games to gamers migrating to mobile devices. It’s Nintendo’s largest decline in nearly 13 years, and as a result, the gaming powerhouse is considering a new way of doing business. But will that change what fans love about this staple of gaming for the last 30ish years?
Nintendo’s President, Satoru Iwata, said at a press conference yesterday, “We are thinking about a new business structure. Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.” Iwata is definitely correct there – the idea of Nintendo putting Mario games on the iPhone seems both weird and as if it eliminates one of the incentives to buy their console. But they need to do something because the business has drastically changed from what it’s been for most of Nintendo’s existence.
Over at Wired, Chris Kohler had this to say about Nintendo shifting its business plan:
But it’s primarily Nintendo, in the short term, that needs to shake things up. I disagree that it should put its games on phones or PS4 for a quick hit to revenues. That would be giving up a long-term advantage for short-term returns. But it does need to consider that maybe it’s okay if a game sells for a dollar. That maybe it’s okay to let anyone — literally anyone — publish games on 3DS and Wii U. That maybe it is not using its back catalog in the most efficient way.
Nintendo does have one of the most impressive back catalogues in all of gaming. While they need to push forward and learn to compete more capably in the modern marketplace, they should also learn to monetize more of the assets they already own. The Virtual Console is a great start but there has to be a way for them to update their business plan without damaging what makes them so unique.
For most of my life, I was what would be considered a “hardcore” gamer. I picked up an Atari controller before I can even remember and when I wasn’t reading, I was gaming. I’m a passionate Squaresoft fangirl, specifically of the Super Nintendo-era Final Fantasy games, and so many of my fondest memories were spent with a Nintendo console. I gamed constantly well into my 20s and owned most of the consoles at one point or another. I once spent an entire evening playing Soulcalibur III against 8 of my guy friends because none of them could beat me and it infuriated them. But in my mid-20s, a crappy thing happened – I developed severe motion sickness that was aggravated by many games. First person shooters had always made me a little ill but suddenly, as the PS3 and XBox 360 launched, I couldn’t play almost any console games other than Little Big Planet. The rotating cameras and 3D graphics made me completely ill sometimes within 5 minutes of playing. (Don’t get me started on how I feel about being told I’m not a “real” gamer because of this…) The Wii was my savior. Consistently it was the only console where I could buy new games for and play old games I loved. I play games on my computer (The Sims 3, Civilization V) and on my iPad (the My Little Pony game, mostly), but the only consoles I’m interested in owning anymore are Nintendo’s because they feel like the only company making games or offering a place for gamers like me. I’d hate to see them go away but it’s true that this gaming world isn’t even what it was when they debuted the Wii in 2006. Businesses must adapt when their markets change.
So often, in gaming, the misogynist gamers out there consider female gamers to only be “casual” gamers, giving them an extra point on which to dismiss the place of women in gaming. Even the Wii and WiiU often get dismissed by gamers that consider themselves hardcore because of the technological advantages Sony and Microsoft’s consoles have over Nintendo’s. I’d imagine if Nintendo ever got out of the console business, we’d see the divide between “real” gamers and “casual” gamers becoming even more marked – after all, Nintendo’s consoles are sort of the happy medium between the two. It would probably take a great deal more of a loss for them to stop creating consoles, though, thankfully. It’ll be interesting to see where Nintendo goes from here, but here’s hoping that they don’t change anything that makes them so fundamentally great as a company.
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