Nintendo Considers Pulling A Sega

Dave Zatz —  January 18, 2014


As Wii U sales plummet, despite price cuts, it appears the Japanese gaming pioneer may finally be ready to embrace third-party hardware. From Nintendo President Satoru Iwata:

If we stay in one place, we will become outdated. We are 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.

While Nintendo has produced all sorts of compelling hardware (Virtualboy!) over the years, they haven’t always found sales success and aren’t nearly as relevant as Microsoft and Sony in the console space… which I attribute to their slow embrace of HD. In portables, Nintendo has always done well. Yet, thinking ahead, how many families will invest in multiple smaller form factor devices? Not to mention app ecosystem pricing may seriously turn the market on its head. There’s clearly risk in cannibalizing hardware sales, but there may be more longterm upside in porting their highly bankable portfolio onto other platforms. I know I have no desire to invest in Nintendo hardware… but I’d certainly gobble up Nintendo titles for Xbox, PS3, iOS, and/or Android.

11 responses to Nintendo Considers Pulling A Sega

  1. How about iOS Mario Kart… with network play. Plus, I’ll need some Link and Samus.

    Beyond the HD thing, more mature titles are on other consoles – so Xbox/Playstation can better serve both young ones and the older crowd. Plus Kinect implementation obliterated the Wii’s motion control hook. My niece and nephew never turned on their Wii again after Dad got them an Xbox. Will be interesting to see is PS Vita TV comes to the US to compete on the low end against the non-motion control Wii. And, again, it’ll probably better serve both young and old.

  2. I don’t know if they have it in them to do it.

    Let’s say they do embrace mobile, go to iOS and Android (maybe Windows Phone), and then what? Are they going to be happy charging $4.99 (tops) for an app download? Will they build (utilize) a proper infrastructure to allow saved games to go device-to-device (a la iCloud)? Will they embrace Game Center on iOS while also creating their own ranking/profile system?

    Here’s what I think happens: The dribble vintage content into mobile (mostly iOS), find a way to overcharge for an app, overcharge for in app purchases (thinking akin to Square Enix’s “Bloodmasque” here), and then come out with a proprietary Bluetooth controller that doesn’t follow MFi specs Apple has put out.

    What they should be doing is contacting Apple, working with them to create a Nintendo channel on the Apple TV, and pushing decently-priced games to the channel and the mobile devices, all of which can utilize the MFi controller specs (which, of course, Nintendo should release the granddaddy of, make sure it works with other games, and charge no more than $50 for). All the while, they connect your AppleID with your Nintendo profile and make sure your games sync between not just iOS devices, but any current Nintendo ones (2DS, 3DS, Wii U), too.

    But Nintendo is lazy. Jumping into mobile is nothing more than the logical next step to them – it’s not something I trust they’ll think out. They’ll just lazily drop mobile apps out there, not update them for years, and reap very short term rewards.

  3. I’ve been a Nintendo fan since day one years ago. Finally jumped shipped after the Gamecube to the Xbox. I would love for them to release games on the Xbox One… Zelda, Mario Kart, Mario Brothers, etc…

  4. Geoffrey, I think you’re right in however Nintendo changes it up it’ll most certainly start in some sort of hybrid fashion rather than Sega’s dramatic exit from hardware. An exclusive is also a great idea.

  5. Nintendo is NEVER going to publish games for Playstation and Xbox consoles. Iwata is speaking specifically within the context of smart devices. Contrary to what some may think, casuals were responsible for a lot of PS2, PS3, and 360 sales too. If the casual demographic is mostly serviced by smart devices, XB1 and PS4 will be mostly servicing the core gamer demographic and there will be a massive contraction in hardware sales for dedicated consoles this generation. This audience mostly has no history with Nintendo games and Nintendo has no real appeal with this audience either.

    Smart devices are a much larger opportunity. The demographic which Nintendo is after also happens to be the smart device-owning audience. This is where Nintendo will wind up in the future. I can’t seem them competing on hardware though but I can see them partnering with Apple.

  6. Nintendo will end up building another console jointly with Sega. It’s the only way.
    Shenmue 3 could save the Wii U but I don’t see Nintendo spending anymore cash on a failing system. I love the console and it’s a shame it’s gone down this way. They really should have named it something else.

  7. Sega have become a third-rate, ignored, soulless publisher since exiting hardware. Most of their talent has left; Yu Suzuki, the man who pretty much created the Sega brand, and was the prime source of innovation, is gone.

    Why people think what has happened to Sega is a good thing is baffling…and the risk for Nintendo is the same…I think few PC, XBox, or PS gamers would touch their games.

  8. Nintendo should have done this years ago. They’ve been leaving money on the table by not embracing third-party mobile platforms. Lack of HD AND never really embracing online gaming in a way that made sense. But I guess better late than never.

  9. @ Geoffrey Sperl you’re ideas are brilliant, but you’re wrong about their motivation. Seriously Apple would totally do it, and Nintendo should do it. The reason it will not happen is not because Nintendo is lazy its because they are old, old school Japanese (not meant as an insult). Any time a product fails they blame the product. They think the Wii U was just not good enough. They do not believe in the shifting landscape (which is the real reason for the failure).

  10. Well, honestly while the long term trend doesn’t favor the console, the Wii U failure IS a problem with the hardware/idea/execution. Its a stupid followup to the Wii. They could have just done an HD Wii with PS3 higher precision controllers and maybe had a shot. An expensive but not competitive console with an oddball screen that nobody could understand? It was obvious it would be a failure from the start.

    I don’t see this ending well. They certainly should take another shot at hardware while they have a chance, even while considering Geoffrey Sperl’s suggestions.

  11. Don’t over-read what Iwata is saying: you’ll end up disappointed. Nintendo is not considering ‘doing a Sega’. Iwata is very non-committal in those statements, but what he’s mostly suggesting, I’d wager, is an extension of their VERY LIMITED smart device initiatives. They will likely try to use those devices to augment their existing software, not directly compete and harm their own products.

    To wit: “During a news conference, he said, “The spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles. It’s not that simple. The key is to figure out a way to use smartphones to make people aware of Nintendo’s games, and encourage them to try out the console version of the games.”
    He then concluded by saying, “It doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones.””