3 Ways Nintendo Can Save Mario From Certain Death

And three it should absolutely avoid

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The house that Mario built is in a lot of trouble right now. Nintendo, which has been making hit games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda for more than three decades, announced last week that it will face its third straight year of operating losses for the fiscal year of 2013. Even worse, the company was forced to cut annual sales projections for its flagship Wii U console by a whopping two-thirds, down to just 2.8 million systems as well as projections for its more successful 3DS handheld. The company’s stock price tumbled as a result of the news, and investors and analysts are now clamoring for dramatic change at the company.

Nintendo once led gaming trends, from handheld gaming with the Game Boy to motion-controlled innovations with the Wii. But the company has been caught flat-footed by tectonic shifts in the gaming industry. These devices that have grabbed the attention of the kids and casual gamers that used to flock to Nintendo titles. President Satoru Iwata has said the company needs to change and is considering a new business structure , but it’s not clear exactly what path Nintendo will take to try to turn things around. Here are three drastically different strategies worth exploring, and three that might sound good at first but could actually send the company down an even darker path:

3 Solid Strategies

Embrace smartphone and tablet games – Investors and media pundits are saying that the quickest path to a turnaround is through mobile devices, the fastest-growing gaming platforms out there. But it’s unlikely that Nintendo will release full-fledged titles for iOS or Android anytime soon. A typical retail Wii U game is $60, while hit mobile games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds are free, at least initially. Instead, the company might release smaller games that promote their mascots and somehow entice players to upgrade to Wii U or 3DS versions. (Competitors Microsoft and Sony have already released simple games based on their flagship franchises on iOS and Android.) Nintendo might also consider developing a tablet for kids and selling original games through that platform.

(MORE: Sony’s Plan to Squash Game Retailers Is a Longshot—for Now)

Get rid of home consoles and focus on handhelds - While the Wii U is giving Nintendo headaches, the company’s 3DS handheld was actually the best-selling video game system of 2013 and is projected to sell 13.5 million units for the fiscal year. Nintendo’s handhelds have consistently outsold its home consoles ever since the Game Boy was introduced in 1989. It might be time to entirely eliminate the bulky home systems, which are expensive to produce and rarely get robust support from third-party developers. By focusing on a single console, Nintendo could create a game lineup strong enough to turn the heads of both casual iPhone gamers and core Xbox fans who might want some quality gaming on the go. Nintendo could even include connectivity to allow these games to be beamed to the big screen when players are at home, similar to Google’s Chromecast device.

Launch a game streaming service – This is an ambitious proposition, but it’s plausible. Sony is already prepping a video game streaming service, through which players will be able to rent and play old PS3 and PS2 games without having to purchase a physical console. Nintendo, which has the most prolific back catalogue of games in the industry, could corner this market. Seeding the service with hard-to-find classic games and providing a way for gamers to play them in high-definition on their TV screens could be an appealing sell to old-school fans and parents looking for an affordable way to entertain the kids. Through a streaming service, Nintendo could get its content onto hot mobile products like the iPhone without having to share 30 percent of each game download with Apple.

3 Disastrous Plans

Stay the Course – With the Wii now projected to sell worse in the 12 months of fiscal year 2013 than it did in its first five months on the market, weathering the storm isn’t really an option for Nintendo. The Xbox One and PS4 are already on the market and enjoyed successful launches. Another head-to-head matchup with Sony and Microsoft with a new line of consoles in a few years would just lead Nintendo to sink more R&D money into an expensive system that appeals to neither casual nor hardcore gamers. If the company chooses to release another home console, it will require a differentiating factor truly out of left field, like the original Wii’s motion controller.

(MORE: The One Killer Feature Netflix Is Still Missing)

Develop Big-Budget Games for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – This is the dream scenario for a lot of gamers, but it’s a dangerous proposition for Nintendo. The company has never had too much trouble creating the games with the largest budgets and best reviews on its own consoles. On the other systems, though, Nintendo would face stiff competition from gaming giants like Activision, which publishes the Call of Duty series, and Take-Two Interactive, which just spent an estimated $160 million on Grand Theft Auto 5. Nintendo president Iwata has already admitted that managing the expense of high-definition games has been a challenge for the company. It wouldn’t be any easier on systems that are considerably more powerful than the Wii U, as the new Xbox and PlayStation both are. What’s worse, there’s no guarantee big-budget Nintendo games would find the same success on competing consoles. Action games developed by Western companies have usurped Japanese-developed titles as the era’s most popular games.

Agree to a Merger or Acquisition - Back when Nintendo’s GameCube console was floundering in the early 2000s, Microsoft considered buying the company. In more recent times some in the gaming industry have floated the idea of Disney snapping up Nintendo. But these scenarios are far-fetched. With a market capitalization of almost $17 billion, Nintendo would be an extremely expensive purchase (for comparison, Disney paid $4 billion for Marvel Entertainment in 2009). Moving under a larger company’s wing might not benefit Nintendo in the long run anyway. The game-maker has survived this long by consistently releasing odd products, some of which failed (remember the Virtual Boy?) while others became enormous successes, like the Wii controller. A buyout would likely lead to a drastic change in corporate structure and perhaps stifle the creativity that has helped Nintendo innovate its way out of trouble in the past.

On Jan. 30 Iwata is expected to discuss a new management strategy after Nintendo releases its full quarterly results. Whatever path he chooses, the year ahead will be tough for one of the world’s oldest video game companies.

17 comments
kereke123
kereke123

I can't believe what I'm reading?? Nintendo doesn't need to put there games on Mobile devices. What Nintendo needs to do is change the way they do things. Also how they do things, not put there games on Mobile devices. That's like Activison giving EA Call Of Duty. I'm pretty d*** sure the writer of this article knows what Call Of Duty is?? Wow!!!! This writer does not know anthing about Videogames.


CheenDogg
CheenDogg

Couldn't agree less with this article. Moving to the mobile market would negate the need for the 3DS which is currently their biggest asset. Staying the course in the handheld market is exactly what they need to do. The problem they have is with the WiiU! 


The Wii controller was a revelation but the novelty wore thin with an important core of gamers. It became a gimmick. Serious gamers wanted a controller. The WiiU is another novelty, but it's still not a controller. Combine this with a pathetic marketing strategy (The first time I heard about the WiiU, I thought it was an additional piece of hardware for the existing Wii!) and a piece of hardware that is massively out-gunned by it's competition, you have a recipe for disaster. 


What they should do is play to the WiiU's strengths, such as connectivity to the 3DS and Nintendos back catalog, market them properly, make the best of this bum note of a console, then come out with a proper 21st Century piece of kit. Something that can rival a PS4 or XBox as a piece of hardware, not just as a games console! 

Google+Suck
Google+Suck

Nintendo is stil a VERY Strong company. They're not gonna go anywhere until they wanted to. 

I'm a PC gamer btw, I don't own a Wii or Wii U but i have a respect with Nintendo, i grown up with GameCube and N64. Mario and Pokemon was my Childhood. The gameboy will forever be the best handheld gaming device of all time for me, they WERE the one that saved the gaming console and gaming industries in generals. So yeah, Have some respect will ya !!!

StevenHuang
StevenHuang

Yeah this article was pretty bad.  Clearly the writer doesn't have a clue about the video game industry at large.  Obviously the smart phone and tablet world is not a perfect place for gaming as that environment only caters to very simple games with very simple controls.  Maybe the writer should realize that console gaming is a little more sophisticated than Angry Birds and Minecraft.  Getting rid of home consoles is a joke as both Microsoft and Sony proved just two months ago that the console world is clearly alive and well.  Finally the suggestion of game streaming is a great idea in theory but there are too many factors that kill the idea from the starting gate.  Anti net neutrality issues make game streaming's future shaky at best not to mention the nature of streaming and the pricing models tied with it can be very scary for third parties to jump on board (ask yourself.. hmm... why can't I see new movies on Netflix?).

Seriously man... put some more thought into your article before you write it.

modshroom128
modshroom128

this article is beyond damaging. you clearly have no idea what you are talking about and are not fit to be an analyst.


whoever wrote this is literally a moron.

theapparchitect
theapparchitect

this article is terrible and the one who wrote this has no idea about hardware and software. 


"Embrace smartphone and tablet games"

"Get rid of home consoles and focus on handhelds"

A wise man once said: "If you are serious about software you need to make your own hardware."  

Mario and Nintendo would be doomed if they created a cheap smartphone version for short term revenue. 

Real gamers play in front of the tv for hours. 

Smart phones and tablets are cool add ons to the gaming experience. But the real gaming happens in the console.


- Nintendo has to catch up and provide a powerful console (even if it costs $400 - $500).

- Provide better network services for its online comunity. Nintendo is way behind the curve with syncing games and provide features similar to game parties and game invitations. 

- Nintendo developers in Japan requiere to learn english to provide better documentation better assistance  and sdk to third party companies.

- Nintendo has to look at the competition and not pretend they don't exist (XBOX1 and PS4). The last two provide great features that Nintendo is not aware that exist.





TuckerThaTruckr
TuckerThaTruckr

I know it has been analyzed to death, but I do think the biggest problem for the Wii-U was its name. A lot of Wii owners remember the Wii as something they dropped a couple hundred bucks on, played some Wii Sports on & then never played again. Then they release the follow-up console with no number behind it & an even more confusing name. This is a self-inflicted wound for the most part. It's sad to watch a company you love be so stupid. At least we can be sure this was the last of the Wii product line would be my guess. Also, is it too much to ask for a shake-up at NOA? They need more brains and less bluster from that branch of the company.

nico7821
nico7821

The picture in this article adds to my point that the Wii U has failed to advertise in the past.  When seen by Joe average consumer at a local store he sees the Wii U Gamepad but sees advertising for the original Wii, this creates confusion in the market with consumers thinking the Wii U must be a peripheral to the Wii hardware.  I feel if Nintendo had changed the name calling it "Super Wii" (in reference to the SNES compared to the NES) or something else unique Nintendo could have gotten away with little advertising and would probably have another million in sales at this point.  But the white Wii U shown has been phased out so I would guess this is an old stock photo, and hopefully a Nintendo sales rep has visited this store and updated it's display.

ScottGB
ScottGB

Guys.  The Wii U is gonna be fine.  Nintendo is gonna be fine.  These are all Click bait articles because the know they Wii U is a highly searched item on Google.  Sad that Time is doing this too.   Nintendo has enough cash in the bank to have another year like 2013 for another 30 years!  30 Years people!   But they won't.   2014 is gonna pick up for the system, just like the end of 2013 did. Why?  Because their heavy hitters are coming.  I mean seriously.  Wii U has sold almost 6 million units on the backs of 3 games!   Three!   I say that's pretty impressive!   Plus they already rule with the 3DS, outselling everything!   None of these stories mention this. Why?  Because it doesn't drive hits to their site and stir things up on their comments sections.   


Plus, it's funny.  Wii U is the only system for me that actually feels like a truly next-generation experience.   Once you pick up the gamepad, it's hard to go back to a regular controller.  And being able to play games on the TV or Gamepad is wonderful!  Not that the ONE or PS4 are bad, they're not.  But I actually get excited about the changes the Gamepad bring to games and the possibilities that have still yet to be exploited.   

nico7821
nico7821

Just because the Wii U is struggling doesn't mean Nintendo should bail ship.  NIntendo has set to release Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze next month, and then Mario Kart this Spring.  Super Smash Brothers should release sometime early this year as well.  The Wii U basically just needs more of it's big system selling franchise games (that we know for a fact are in development) to release.  This whole recent ordeal has to do with Nintendo adjusting their sales projections based on erroneous past projections that were bloated because of speculation from Wii sales of yesteryear.  Nintendo failed to advertise the Wii U, it has also been slow to release great content.  These both studder system sales and in turn third party developers.

I don't think iOS is the answer for Nintendo.  Freeware of Nintendo's major first party content would diminish it's value on consoles.  And getting rid of the Wii U completely... these ideas are like suggesting we amputate Nintendo's leg because it has a cut.  I think most of these ideas would work well if Nintendo's sole investment was the short term gain of it's investors, but in the long term Nintendo would end up exactly like Sega.  The biggest difference between the two then and now is that Nintendo still has Billions in reserve whereas Sega did not.  Sega had a few failed attempts at consoles, whereas Nintendo had failed with 3DS and then turned it around with great software.  The Wii U can be turned around.  It may or may not become as or more successful than PS4 or XOne, but it will be far from a failure.

Kirbydude900
Kirbydude900

Mario is going to be fine. Why are all the Wii U news articles, Doom and Gloom lately? It's been like this everyday.


Just wait until ALL of the new games come out and then we'll see what happens. 


Why don't you Talk about how PS4 is having a Saved game data deleting error? 

Kaihaku
Kaihaku

@TuckerThaTruckrEven the author of this article apparently doesn't realize that the Wii U is not the Wii.

Kirbydude900
Kirbydude900

@nico7821 I agree. I just wish more people would realize that. These articles are making the Wii U's situation, sound worse than it actually is

Google+Suck
Google+Suck

@Kirbydude900 They fixed. But how about the Machinima get sell out by Microsoft ??? Yeah, never heard of that right ?

But yes, i'm totally agreed with you. Nintendo is still a very strong company, they own others companies not being owned ... They're the Boss, not employees :).