It’s no question that Nintendo has had a bit of a struggle with their latest console, the Wii U, since its launch in late 2012. Even the powerful sales of the great Mario Kart 8 are not enough to save the company from continuing financial losses this year. Initial problems can be traced to Nintendo’s poor marketing (i.e. confusing Wii U name choice) and premature release of the system, and some executives have even suggested the name to be a hindrance.
Addressing these issues, famed game creator Shigeru Miyamoto recently talked about the gaming corporation’s shift from attempting to appeal to all gamers to their specific core audience. Speaking to Edge Magazine, Miyamoto had some harsh words for casual gamers, saying:
“Their attitude is, ‘okay, I am the customer. You are supposed to entertain me.’ It’s kind of a passive attitude they’re taking, and to me it’s kind of a pathetic thing. They do not know how interesting it is if you move one step further and try to challenge yourself [with more advanced games].”
Miyamoto noted that the development and mass distribution of smart devices from companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon was a “good thing” for Nintendo since they “do not have to worry about making games something that are relevant to general people’s daily lives.”
Since the Wii U’s inception, third-party support from major “hardcore” game developers has not only dwindled, but has almost been eradicated entirely. EA is done with the Wii U and so is the Assassin’s Creed franchise from big supporter Ubisoft. Even this year’s Call of Duty isn’t coming to the Wii U. Last July alone, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot expressed disillusionment with the Wii U and blamed it for the low sales of the launch title ZombiiU over the game’s own poor reviews. Following close behind was Electronic Arts COO Peter Moore, who went so far as to say that the Wii U “out of sync with the future of EA.”
These losses certainly do not reflect all third-party companies, as Nintendo still holds strong ties with Monolith Soft (Xenoblade Chronicles X) and Koei Tecmo (Hyrule Warriors), but Miyamoto’s decision to shift Nintendo’s focus back to their core audience may be for the better, if not for the Wii U, for future platforms. Nintendo is a company that has built its reputation and success on their first-party titles, evidenced by the long-lasting appeal of franchises like Mario, Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong. The success of Mario Kart 8 is proof that Nintendo needs to stop concerning itself with the appeal of imported games and bring out what people buy Nintendo consoles for. The upcoming Super Smash Bros. is a start, but players are still waiting on news for not only the next Zelda, but the return of popular series like Star Fox, Metroid, and F-Zero. It’s taken too long but perhaps next year Nintendo will finally turn their sales deficit into a surplus.