Nintendo Chief: ‘We Failed’

The storied video game maker is reconsidering its focus on hardware as gaming goes mobile

  • Share
  • Read Later

Like TIME on Facebook for more breaking news and current events from around the globe!

AFP/Getty Images / AFP/Getty Images

Video game maker Nintendo is doing some soul searching after cutting forecasted sales of its new Wii U gaming system by almost 70 percent, forcing the company to radically reassess its strategy in a changing gaming industry.

The company’s president, Satoru Iwata, told reporters Friday there would be a “major management shake-up” at the company but that he would not resign, Reuters reports. He also promised the company is “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,” Iwata said. “It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.

“We failed to reach our target for hardware sales during the year-end, when revenues are the highest,” he said.

Nintendo’s disappointing sales have pushed it to a third consecutive annual loss, Reuters reports. The company has steadfastly declined to allow its games—many including some of the biggest brand names in gaming, like Mario—to be played on competitive game systems or on the mobile devices to which gamers are increasingly turning.

[Reuters]

40 comments
Elliander
Elliander

The larger issue has less to do with Smartphone competition and more to do with 2 mistakes.

1.) The cost of the console is kept high by a special controller which only one player can use so isn't suitable for party games. (and some games that use it just have a black screen when playing on the TV and only offer a remote play feature which is nice, but still not worth it especially when other controller types feel more natural.) They should have instead planned on pairing with the 3DS or at least offered that controller separately and then label the games that require it or do best with it. If that hardware inflates the console price by $100 as I suspect it's just dragging the console down.

2.) The removal of gamecube mode was a huge mistake and one they didn't have to make. I know the Gamecube hardware is in there because modders were able to access GC mode, so the big issue was the lack of GC controller support. Considering how many people prefer GC controllers with some wii games like Smash Bros it would have bern easy for them to release a bluetooth GC style controller to be used in Wii games and to access Wii mode. I know that doesn't seem like a big deal, but I would never be able to fully replace a Wii with a Wii U if I don't have GC controllers for Wii games and access to my large GC game collection. People still buy Wavebird controllers for that reason. Since it wouldn't have cost much for Nintendo to do this and would have increased customer base it was stupid of them not to.

Both of these ideas can still be employed by Nintendo. They can still sell the Wii U without requiring it's special controller to bring price down and it can still release an update with a new controller to unlock GC mode - before the modders figure it out first and release their own hardware.

I will buy the Wii U if and when it is affordable.

lizhellerart
lizhellerart

Sort of surprised that they glossed over the fact that Final Fantasy VII sold Sony's Play Station console like no other game.

HateToSayItbut
HateToSayItbut

Did anyone else hear the Mario death sound when they read this headline?

TanmayLololAnaisPradhan
TanmayLololAnaisPradhan

I worked for Nintendo. They were a weird and cranky ensemble. There were some nice people, but too many anti social types.

Anyway, when the Wii came out, I was testing. One look at the specs, it was basically a gamecube with a moderate touch over, being sold at 2x the price.

I was dumbfounded that this machine was supposed to compete against the PS3 and the 360.

The hardware was 5 year old crap when it was released, to be honest.

The Wii still beat the 360 and PS3 handily. It was because of the casual gaming that no one else had tried so far.

Working at Nintendo taught me something important. They suck b**ls at making shoddy overpriced hardware. But their real talent are the game makers who create for them.

So, yes, I agree that they should get out of the console business and become a publisher like Ubisoft or EA. That's what they are good at.

I play Wii and GC games on my PC with emulators. No way I would pay for that junk hardware. And I worked for them !!!

KenHorowitz
KenHorowitz

That video at the bottom of the article is horrible. They make a point to say that "Nintendo mopped the floor with the Master System" but never mention the facist licensing policies that gave them a monopoly and had to be reversed in court. And since when was Mario the first video gaming mascot? Have these guys never heard of Pac-Man? Revisionist Nintendo fanboy history at its best.

aaron_holmeCBD
aaron_holmeCBD

No sorry it's because the PS4 and Xbox One are more for gaming and have more adult friendly games that everyone wants to play. It's not too difficult to figure out, Nintendo.

seventizz
seventizz

Nintendo needs to go multi-platform to introduce and re-introduce gamers to their franchises.  Get these gamers hooked and boom - release a relevant console where their franchises are exclusively moved over.

eagle11772
eagle11772

I've been using computers since the 70's, and I used my first pc, an 8086, in 1982.  I've never played a video game.  Just not for me.

cici_weezil_96
cici_weezil_96

I don't think people realize that Nintendo really doesn't care. To them Sony and Microsoft are little specks in the universe.Unlike Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo is based in Japan, and therefore, Nintendo markets towards Japan. They care what Japan thinks, and if you notice, Japan gets special treatment. Games are always released first in Japan, THEN worldwide (with some exceptions, of course, one most recently being PKMN X). Pop culture in Japan is vastly different from other developed countries such as those in Western Europe and North America. They like the childish and anime style games (such as Pokemon, Mario, and Legend of Zelda) Nintendo releases, while we outside Japan would prefer Saint's Row and Grand Theft Auto. Besides that, if Nintendo withdrew from world wide release, it wouldn't hurt them much. It has no competition in Japan, whereas Microsoft and Sony, which often release the same games, are constantly competing with each other. 


Also, the fact that Japan DOES market towards kids and families is one of its greatest advantages. Neither Microsoft nor Sony release child-friendly games (the only games I would let my little brother play outside Nintendo, that I can think of, are Little Big Planet, Katamari, and Final Fantasy). Nintendo has never made "mature" games, because it doesn't need to. It started off marketing to kids and it will continue to market towards kids. After all, if they don't, there would be way more idiotic ten year olds playing Halo and other online games (therefore annoying the crap out of the "mature" gamers). Anyways, Nintendo has no need to change it's market audience (as there will always be 40 year old men playing Legend of Zelda, whether he's as cute as a button on Wind Waker or somewhat realistic on Twilight Princess), because it's true market audience is Japanese pop culture, not the kids and families worldwide (though it's commercials outside make it SEEM that way - this was just clever marketing).

dethstarrmusic
dethstarrmusic

The problem with Nintendo is that they are out of touch with reality. Consoles need to be made and marketed towards a mature audience. Leave the 3DS/handhelds for the kids. Nintendo is actually in the position right now to dominate the market if they were to release a console within the next 3-5 yrs. What Nintendo needs to do is make a console that DIRECTLY competes or SUPERIOR to that of the PS4/Xbox One when it comes to the software and hardware and also stay ahead of the curve and be the first console to have the ability to output in 4K/Ultra HD resolution. If they do this they will be a step ahead of the current next-gen consoles. There current library of games is great, my only advice will be that they need to start making some of their IP's a little more mature oriented like Zelda for example. They also need to stop with the  gimmicks and just release a regular controller.You can't try to be innovative just for the sake of it. Lastly, 3rd party support will be key to Nintendo's dominance. If Nintendo can just emulate and achieve the same thing they did with the SNES they will give Sony and Microsoft a run for their money

rashtaki
rashtaki

First off  "The storied video game maker is reconsidering its focus on hardware as gaming goes mobile" is not exactly what Iwata said. Secondly, if everyone thinks the Nintendo games are so good they would save the company if they could play them on another system, then why aren't those same people buying the console. So they want the games but don't want the system? Rubbish. Software sells hardware. Nintendo could "bleed" money from the Wii U this generation and still not be "doomed". Where are all the calls for Sony to release its IPs' because the Vita is a losing hardware platform? Or Microsoft to do the same cause the the Xbox has never made Microsoft money on the hardware.

iseeker
iseeker

I don't understand why Nintendo keeps making the same mistakes they made in the past.  First, they refuse to go from cartidges to disc based media.  The gamecube was a great console and I bought that over the ps2 and don't regret doing this because it had great games.  The problem with Nintendo is that they never release software on time when it matters for one.  They made that mistake in the 6th gen era and it cost them the 3rd party support from then on.  The Wii console while commercially successful was clearly something else we didn't see in the ps3 or 360.  The only problem is that it was clearly underpowered.  I think it was during this era that Nintendo became overconfident and then decided to look for something that would make lightning strike twice.  The problem with the Wii U is that it has every weakness the Wii had but none of its strengths in changing the way we play games using intuitive controls.  They decided to shove a controller that's not only a controller but also a semi gaming device down our throats whereas Sony is giving players the option.  The PS3 x Vita could essentially emulate the Wii U gamepad off tv play experience.  Not without a cost sure, but at least Sony doesn't have to worry about games not coming to its console because it won't be capable of performing or because the devs won't support them.  The Wii U has the advantage in the off tv play for cheap.  Then again, Nintendo should have realized that playing a game on a home console is not the same as playing it on the handheld.  They didn't try making games like Galaxy for the 3ds for this reason alone.  The game was just better played in the big screen.  What Nintendo should have done is allow for better interaction between the 3ds and the Wii U console even if off tv play was not an option.  This interaction coupled with a strong library in the 3ds would have made this strategy easier.  From what I notice, Nintendo really excels in the handheld gaming experience like no other.  Then again, power is not something that should matter as much here as it does with the grander experience offered by home consoles.  Nintendo doesn't fall behind in handheld console design for this reason alone and with great games, they are successful.

candidus.corvus
candidus.corvus

I love Nintendo and I miss their golden age, but they really haven't changed in ways that they need to. The Wii may have been an innovative breakthrough in hardware and interface, but it didn't keep up technologically with the superior games you could play on Sony and Microsoft systems. I think Nintendo has (rightly) kept an emphasis on fun games but (wrongly) neglected the need for more powerful technology under the console's hood. And now the console seems to be going away, as sad as I am to see that.

RobertKiehn
RobertKiehn

If Nintendo allowed mature games on their consoles like Fallout 3, Skyrim and others they would have done better. I am a lifelong Nintendo fan btw.

JaredDecker
JaredDecker

Their problem is waiting too long to release any significant games. It wasn't until 1 year after release that they released the WindWaker remake. Half my friends, mostly gamers, didn't even realize the WiiU had been out for a year when I brought it over to pay Nintendoland (which is, as far as I can tell, the only good multiplayer game on there). Advertising the WiiU would only be helpful if you have games to play too. Nintendo would have done better to wait until they had SOMETHING worthwhile, and maybe if they had matched the Xbone and PS4 specs they could have more cross consol titles.

RickHunter
RickHunter

I always enjoyed Nintendo products because you didn't need to have an advanced degree in celestial mechanics to figure out how to play Mario without knowing the button mashing code combinations that are all too prevalent in this generation of machines.  I really hope they stick around long enough so that my 17 month old kids can play these games with me rather than the death and destruction games that the PS/XBOX crowd seems to favor so much.

DylerTurden
DylerTurden

Stop talking about Nintendo putting their games on other systems.  It isn't going to happen, just like Halo or Uncharted being on other systems.  Know what you're talking about before writing that kind of crap.  Very, very unprofessional.  And embarrassing.

As for their financial losses, well, they need to get with the program. Their advertising is garbage and there's been no hype.  I've seen Microsoft's and Sony's advertising pushed all in my face and I don't even have cable TV.  So, Nintendo, get it together.

CharlesAnderson1
CharlesAnderson1

@KenHorowitz You're kidding, right?  Pac-Man was not a system mascot.  Pac-Man the title may have helped sell a bunch of Atari 2600's in its waning days (as a bundled cart with "Combat!"), but Pac-Man the IP is not and was not ever a system mascot like Mario is and Sonic was for a while.  Others have tried and failed.  

JenniferBonin
JenniferBonin

@aaron_holmeCBD I agree, of course.

On the other hand, the PS4/Xbox-1 have the OPPOSITE problem from Nintendo:  they've got great "adult" games but nothing at all for kids/families.  Or for adults who aren't into realistic-looking racing games and blowing people's heads off.  Or for adults who enjoy such "realistic" games, but also want something to play casually with their friends at parties and such, or just to relax mindlessly with.

All three companies are doing the exact same thing: targetting one type of customer, and ONLY one type of customer.  And all the rest of us out here are getting really, really frustrated by it.  

HateToSayItbut
HateToSayItbut

@eagle11772I've played video games one PC's since the Tandy 1000EX. Never looked back. 386 era, 486, pentium, windows, 12.8 baud modems... etc

seventizz
seventizz

Nintendo has plenty of mature type games.  Metroid, Conker, and Eternal Darkness come to mind that were Nintendo exclusives.

seventizz
seventizz

@dethstarrmusicNintendo has been in this predicament for a while now - with 3rd party publishers.  They are too stubborn.  They really need a wake up call with their marketing and executive departments.

seventizz
seventizz

@RobertKiehnThere's plenty of Mature games for all Nintendo hardware.  There's GTA for the DS, CoD for the WiiU, Metroid for the Gamecube, among hundreds more over the years.  The problem is that they market so heavily to children, that gamers forget they are still a console for every gamer.  Well, not so much anymore as 3rd party support continues to dwindle.

ZackBuckley
ZackBuckley

@DylerTurden  you are wrong.. you are blinded by nostalgia just like every other Nintendo fanboy.  Muliplatform games make ions more then exclusives (with a few exceptions).  Do tell me how making MORE money is a bad business decision??

JenniferBonin
JenniferBonin

@DylerTurden Yeah, and that's worked out so well that people like me disappointedly avoided buying ANY of the previous generation's consoles.  Because some people like BOTH the ability to play first-person shooters AND the ability to play family-friendly games.  As recently as the PS2, we had that ability.  Today, we simply don't. 

I'd be very happy to buy EITHER a Nintendo system with adult-focused Xbox/PS games on it, or an Xbox/PS with family-focused Nintendo games on it.  But I'm getting really annoyed at having to buy TWO high-priced systems to play totally different styles of games.

So instead, people like me said a pox on both houses, and play computer games on Steam instead, where I can get the variety I'm interested in at a lower price per game anyhow.  But I'd still be willing to buy one or the other couch gaming system... if anyone started providing the game selection I'm interested in.

stretch90
stretch90

@DylerTurden 

Finally somebody who knows what they're talking about. The PS4 and X1 don't have any compelling software and somehow everybody is bashing for Nintendo not having any games when they have the most right now. Yes I know it's been out longer but it's still a fact. 

X1 and PS4 sold well because of hype and marketing and Nintendo needs to improve on that big time.


Nintendo games moving to other platforms won't help them and they would never do it. It's such an idiotic idea that so many people are repeating. But I guess it's not surprising since so many of these people were saying that Nintendo is going to go under when they've been the most successful gaming company for so many years...

DavidHBrown
DavidHBrown

@DylerTurden You're wrong. Companies porting their products to other platforms is actually quite an intelligent strategy. For example, when Sega's last major console (Sega Dreamcast) did not perform well (like Nintendo is now), the company redirected its focus on what it did well - make fun games - disregarding the platform. We're now able to enjoy Sonic and other Sega titles on virtually all major platforms including: Android, iOS, Microsoft Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, etc.

KenHorowitz
KenHorowitz

@CharlesAnderson1 Watch the video again. He's not talking about SYSTEMS. He's referring to the industry in general, and to say that Mario was the first video game mascot is just plain wrong. Pac-Man was already synonymous with gaming when Mario was still chasing Donkey Kong, and by the time the NES had come out, Pac-Man had already sold millions of dollars in merchandise, had multiple arcade sequels, a Saturday Morning cartoon, and was recognized the world over. 


You can perhaps make the argument that Mario was the first console mascot, but he was not the first INDUSTRY mascot, not by far.

JenniferBonin
JenniferBonin

@aaron_holmeCBD @dethstarrmusic Perhaps, but what other options do they have, if their parents own a PS3/4 or Xbox?  Those systems HAVE no/few good family games, just as the Nintendo has no/few good adult-only games.  All three companies are being blindly stubborn about this.

chuckdm
chuckdm

@JenniferBonin @DylerTurden  Or just, yanno, emulators.  In fact, you don't even have to commit piracy to do it any more.  There's 360, PS3 and Wii emulators right now that don't require the system's BIOS to run, so you can buy legit games off the shelf and play them in an emulator.


Combine that with the fact that the DualShock3/4 are bluetooth (and the Wiimote too, idk about the 360 controller) and you even get console controls.


People keep complaining about the cost of the hardware.  Dude, stop buying the hardware then.  Sony and Microsoft sell the damn things at a loss anyway, so it's not like they care as long you're buying legit games.  You can buy a PC - a laptop even - that can run all current emulators for under $400 and play them all.  Want it on a TV?  Fine, $450 and get a laptop with a HDMI port.  Either way, there's no excuse to buy a physical console ever again.  There simply isn't.

stretch90
stretch90

@DavidHBrown @DylerTurden 

Do you realize that what Sega considers success is not what Nintendo considers it? Moving Mario to multi platform would be a damn stupid idea.


Just a side note, Nintendo perfects gameplay in all of their first party titles so making ports to stupid consoles, like smartphone, would ruin everything.

willy4967
willy4967

@DavidHBrown @DylerTurden It will still never happen even if the wii U is never bought again. Nintendo has a large amount of cash to sustain itself for a very long time. 

jasonbruck1
jasonbruck1

@DavidHBrown @DylerTurden Sega is floundering. The last home console to feature a critically acclaimed Sonic game was DreamCast. Both Sega and Atari failed to remain relevant after they went software only.     

bryanjturner
bryanjturner

@DavidHBrown @DylerTurden Remember the Game  Cube was a flop when compared to the 64 and the Wii; I bet you anything the next Nintendo Hardware either involves making a Smartphone type device or a Roku/Router types device.

HateToSayItbut
HateToSayItbut

@KenHorowitzNot even that Ken, there were dozens of mascots for the true first major console. The Atari had frogger for crying out loud. Just because these fanboys can't remember what is was like to play Pitfall for 30 hours until the plastic started to smell burnt doesn't mean anything. All Nintendo can claim is that they did the best at over marketing one character onto as many platforms as possible.


And OMG does no one else recognize that their "Mascot" was the second fiddle to one of the most famous "Mascots" of the Atari and arcade... Donkey Kong!

seventizz
seventizz

@jasonbruck1@DavidHBrown@DylerTurdenIt's not because they went software only that they are in trouble - it's because they have quality issues and a recession.  Nintendo wouldn't need to follow their path just because they went software only.