Reaching the goal pole

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Why Nintendo can’t afford to abandon the Wii U

Nintendo’s Wii U continues to underperform, its sales dwarfed by the massive successes of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, its losses eroding profits earned by the handheld 3DS. Fans and non-fans alike are wondering if Nintendo will support their console through this generation, or if Nintendo might be better off just abandoning the Wii U entirely to develop new hardware.

There’s an incredible amount of armchair analysis going on, so let me do some of my own: abandoning the Wii U is absolutely the dumbest thing Nintendo could do right now. Nintendo’s not in a hard place. They’ve turned around failing systems before (see the aforementioned 3DS), and they have the financial means to see this through, for better or worse. Nintendo can afford to prop up the Wii U — but they can’t afford to tarnish their reputation.

Nintendo has maintained a strong family-friendly image throughout the years. They’ve fostered consumer goodwill through publications like Nintendo Power and promotions like Club Nintendo. They’re represented by Shigeru Miyamoto, Reggie Fils-Aime, and Satoru Iwata, three of the world’s most recognizable and completely inoffensive corporate heads. Nintendo seems like a kindly grandfather next to an impersonal Sony and monolithic Microsoft.

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Nintendo’s very obviously a corporation, and every corporation needs to worry about its bottom line. But nothing could be worse for Nintendo’s bottom line than dropping support for the Wii U. This isn’t just a matter of being nice and wholesome; dropping the Wii U would undermine Nintendo’s entire image and every single one of their brands. They’d be untrustworthy and unreliable, a failure of a company that lets down consumers instead of trying to pull through. That loss of trust would be a loss of Nintendo’s strongest asset.

The idea that Nintendo could or should shelve the Wii U in favor of a new, cutting-edge, completely traditional console is crazy. There’s a name for a company like that: Sega. Sega makes fantastic games, but their continued release of quickly abandoned systems undermined consumer confidence. The Sega CD, 32X, and Saturn received minimal support. The genuinely revolutionary Dreamcast failed to find its footing, in part because consumers expected Sega to roll over and stop developing hardware. Eventually, they did.

Yes, it’ll be hard for Nintendo to stomach these losses in the short term — but it’d be much harder to gain back their reputation in the long term should they abandon the Wii U entirely. Right now, Nintendo’s doing what they should be doing: They’re developing great games.

Console generations aren’t won or lost right away, as was proved by the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Both consoles were reviled upon release, the latter being a meme-spawning industry laughingstock. Looking back, those initial hardships sound ridiculous. But strong libraries of games take years to build, and public opinion shifts dramatically over time.

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Nintendo seems to be over their growing pains. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros, Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem, and Monolith Soft’s X are all scheduled for release this year. With some effort, Nintendo could turn their fortune around. They’ve got the time and resources to do so.

But no matter what happens in the years ahead, Nintendo can’t afford to prematurely drop Wii U support. There’s much more at stake than short-term profits, and that potential cost is just too great.

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7 Responses to “Reaching the goal pole”

  1. Strawberry Says:

    Nintendo will always have at least some supporters, because, at the end of the day, fans can count on them to do their best on a game or console. Unfortunately, there will always be haters, but that’s just a fact of life. You can’t please everyone, no matter what you do. Why are Nintendo fans complaining anyway? At least they still get some stuff they want, I mean, they even got a new Kid Icarus game. Then there’s us poor Megaman fans, we haven’t gotten a new game in quite a while. Unless you count the Street Fighter crossover a Megaman game, because I sure don’t. And, somehow, I get this feeling that Capcom is never gonna give us Megaman X9, so we’ll never really know what happened to Axl.

    • catstronaut Says:

      Well, at least he’s gonna be in the new Smash Bros ;O

      I’ve actually been meaning to pick up some Mega Man Zero games, not that Mega Man’s really in those…

      • Strawberry Says:

        Yeah, that’s better than nothing. The fact that he’s in SSB suggests to me that Nintendo may be considering buying the copyrights for him, or that Capcom may be considering selling the rights to Nintendo. But that’s just my own personal theory. It would probably be a good thing if Nintendo did buy the rights, they’d probably get some new games out. Hopefully it would be good games, and not suck-y ones. What do you think?

        X is in the Megaman Zero games,so that kinda counts. Right?

      • catstronaut Says:

        I’d be really surprised if that happened, honestly. I think Capcom just knows that Mega Man fans are really pissed off, so they made a show of goodwill and allowed Nintendo to put him in Smash Bros. They’ll probably make a new Mega Man at some point, but who knows if it’ll be any good. There’s always Mighty No 9 to look forward to, at least.

        Yeah, that kinda counts. I honestly had no idea, since I’ve never played one more than briefly. If you’ve never played them, give Mega Man 4 and 5 on Gameboy a shot at some point. They’re actually some of the best Mega Man games, imo.

      • Strawberry Says:

        You’re probably right about there not being a big chance of that happening. But, if the rumors are correct, and Capcom is going bankrupt, it seems to me that they would sell off a character that they aren’t doing anything with first to see if that saved them. Personally, I’m not really looking forward to Mighty No 9, I mean I’ll probably still give it a shot when and if it comes out. But, right now, it just seems like too much of a Megaman ripoff to me.

        Oops, guess I should have put a spoiler alert. Hehe. I haven’t actually played any of the Megaman Zero games, but I have watched a walkthrough of all of them. I’m one of those fans that find something they like, and must know as much about it as they can, as quickly as they can. I still plan on playing the games sometime, though.

  2. Strawberry Says:

    Hey, Catstronaut! I don’t know if you’d be interested, but there is a fan project for making a sequel for Banjo Tooie going on right now. It’s called Project Imagination. But in order for the project to succeed, it needs some volunteers. The list of what the project needs can be found here:
    http://dinomacabre.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/project-imagination/

    If you don’t want to help with anything listed on that post, then the next best way to help is by getting the word out.The more people that now about it, the more likely the project will get volunteers. Of course, if you don’t want to help, that’s fine too. No one has to do something that they don’t want to!

    • catstronaut Says:

      Never really cared much about Banjo Kazooie, or most 3D platformers, really…

      Also these things tend to get shut down exactly as soon as they’re announced, so. Good luck ;O

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