Mario and Luigi in illegal back-alley drag races, Princess Peach turning tricks to support the Mushroom Kingdom, and Donkey Kong on Celebrity Big Brother. Could this be the future for some of Nintendo's most iconic characters?
The 3D revolution of 3DS didn't happen. Despite an impressive launch with Nintendo shifting 303,000 units across Europe in its opening weekend and 3.6million units in its first month - even with a hefty £200+ price tag - Nintendo 3DS sales April-June only reached 710,000, a significant clanger in their target of 16 million by the end of the year.
The first question is: Why is the 3DS failing to sell? From a technical perspective 3D without glasses is genius and could be the advancement to restart the heart of 3D entertainment. I was lucky (or should I say unlucky) enough to have a play with a 3DS recently and I have to admit I was not impressed. Whereas the 3D technology we are all familiar with requires 3D glasses to trick the brain, the 3DS uses angle and distance; you have to hold the device at a certain distance and angle to see the 3D properly. In principle this works very well but from a practical point of view it's a bit of a pain. I found that you have to compromise a comfortable gaming position to use the 3D. The same compromise between comfort and viewing experience has been made with 3DTV which is, in my opinion, is why it is failing. Because of this flaw, even though I am a massive Nintendo fan, I choose not to buy a 3DS.
Nintendo are in a slump, so the second question is: What are they going to do about it? I see two options for Nintendo:
- Struggle through this low patch and hope that the Wii U will sell well; its big reveal at this year's E3 was definitely impressive enough to generate interest
- Expand their markets to tide themselves over until the financial waters calm.
Nintendo appear to have chosen option 1. About a month ago, Nintendo expressed its view on porting its games onto the Apple mobile operating system (iOS) and Android platforms. According to the report, investors want the company to explore this avenue as they believe it will generate some much needed yen. Unfortunately, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata's response roughly translates into 'over my dead body'.
The videogame industry is moving away from the parameters of the videogame console: Playstation®Certified devices like the SonyEricsson Experia Play and the new Sony P and Sony S tablet PCs allow users to play classic Playstation games ported to the Andriod platform; ex-console maker Sega are publishing games such as Brick People and Samurai Bloodshow exclusively for iOS. This is because there is a new gamer on the landscape: The commuter-gamer. This new gamer is armed with a tablet PC and a Smartphone and the bright colours and simplified controls of traditional Nintendo games would work really well in this software environment. Saturo Iwata is living in denial if he thinks that a new range of 3DS games and the imminent launch of the Wii U will keep his company competitive. Yes, Nintendo as a brand has a large group of loyal followers, I'm one of them, but I am not convinced that the future of gaming lies with a bulky console.