Nintendo has historically always marched to the beat of their own drum. This is something they continue to do today. After all, some of their best ideas and most beloved games of all time were born of this mindset. New IPs like Splatoon and injecting fresh ideas into beloved series, as with Super Mario Odyssey, are recent examples demonstrating that mindset paying off for Nintendo. Nintendo’s way of thinking can also be proven successful by looking at the Switch. Nintendo can’t seem to keep its revolutionary new hybrid console on the shelves.
However, there are instances when Nintendo’s insistence to basically do whatever they want comes off as stubborn. Need I remind everyone of Mortal Kombat sweat from the SNES? In the N64 era, prices of games on that console were inflated because of Nintendo’s insistence on sticking with expensive cartridges when the competing PlayStation had moved on to compact discs. More recently, the Wii was so underpowered in comparison to the Xbox 360 and PS3 at the time that third parties completely abandoned it outside of some worthless shovelware titles.
In each of those eras, Nintendo’s efforts were successful despite their hard-headed ways. The SNES won its generation, and the N64 was a sales success as well. The Wii, in particular, went on to break numerous industry records.
There has been one example of the contrary, that being the Wii U. Because it received poor support from third-parties and was underpowered, the console was unsuccessful. Even Nintendo struggled with releasing games for the system. This resulted in the Wii U becoming one of Nintendo’s worst-selling consoles ever.
In 2017, it seems as though Nintendo may have reversed their misfortunes with the Wii U. The Switch is a runaway hit, placing no lower than second in the monthly NPD hardware charts since its launch. Nintendo is even expected to increase their sales forecast for the Switch in an upcoming earnings call. The big question with the Switch, then, is if the new console will be able to maintain its momentum despite Nintendo’s characteristic stubbornness.
Nintendo still has issues with maintaining retailer stock for the Switch worldwide. This is after the well-publicized NES Classic fiasco of late 2016. Now, it looks as though the Super NES Classic Edition set to release in September may face similar issues. Nintendo’s inability or unwillingness to meet consumer demand for their products is baffling. Gamers actively want to give you their money, Nintendo. Is making it more difficult for them to do so really best for your long-term success?
Again looking back to the Switch, one can best describe the console as unfinished, even in its current state. Some fantastic games have hit the system, and its lineup looks to become even more fleshed out by mid-2018. However, the console is still missing crucial features such as achievements and the Virtual Console. More recently, Nintendo’s confounding approach to voice chat in games like Splatoon 2 has frustrated gamers. How long can the platform continue to be successful with such basic features missing?
Nintendo’s attitude has already cost them dearly with the failure of the Wii U. Speculation was rampant as to when Nintendo would leave the hardware market and become a third-party developer, like Sega did years ago. The company seems to be in good financial shape, but another Wii U-esque performance would irreparably erode gamers’ confidence in the brand. I can only hope, for their own sake, that Nintendo realizes the error of their ways and makes some changes before that happens.