Friday, September 14, 2012

Nintendo, They Did It Again

It used to be charming, when Nintendo was against the flow of popular opinion. They always strove to make great games, and as the only one of the Big Three who was entirely a games company they charmed us for decades. Nintendo released details of their latest console, the Wii U and… it’s disappointing.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

It was somewhat cute when years ago their CEO, Satoru Iwata, said online doesn’t matter but these days and the days ahead, online revenue streams are likely to be the only area of gaming growing year to year. The idea that Nintendo would release a console, that many consider inferior to what Sony and Microsoft are releasing next year, and completely ignore online gaming is befuddling. It’s not just the lack of foresight for a company that lives and dies on gaming; it’s the lack of real business sense. Consider that more than 10 years ago Microsoft released the original Xbox with the same features that the Nintendo Wii U has, and with online capabilities right out of the box built into every single console.
Say it ain't so Iwata, Say it ain't So

Nintendo is coming out with something they are calling the Nintendo Network Premium Subscription. However from their press release this is little more than what they currently do for the Wii a shop to sell older, smaller games. Their GamePad controller, a tablet-like, innovative controller is reported to be $173 in Nintendo’s native Japan, it’s likely that Nintendo would seek to have the price be as low as possible to deal with sticker shock, but the idea that consumers aren’t going to balk at such a high price tag is na├»ve.
The GamePad

Nintendo hasn’t released all the details and perhaps they’ve hidden features, in case they can’t make them happen by launch. But the idea that Nintendo would ignore the online sphere of gaming from word go is slightly sickening. The Wii was largely seen as a toy by most consumers, and it’s hard to say that Nintendo has a better brand name then they did five years ago. More people know it perhaps, but it’s unclear how well they are perceived. While it’s true that having a nice profit margin on consoles is a necessity for a gaming only company like Nintendo, the idea that an internet adapter in the console would cost Nintendo profits is ludicrous. Attach rates for peripherals is always lower than the number of consoles sold, which means that Nintendo can’t count on every console sold as a consumer of its online material which is lost revenue. Time will tell who laughs last, but somehow I don’t see that being Nintendo.

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