Nintendo has always done things a little differently. Out of the ‘big three’, they’ve always stood a little to the side of Sony and Microsoft. They have a very specific style, creating a distinct brand for the company that has stood them in great stead in the past. When the Wii was first announced, the concept of a console firmly focused on motion controls was fairly radical to the community.
After selling like hot cakes and both of their major competitors adopting their own motion control implementation, it is fair to say it was a successful experiment. On the other hand, similarly radical ideas like the Virtual Boy turned out to be massive failures. One thing is for sure though, Nintendo is always distinct be that for better or for worse.
Talking at the B Dash Camp start-up conference (via VG24/7), Nintendo president Saturo Iwata spoke about exactly why they do things a little differently. Iwata made clear that he was not worried for the success or failure of the Wii U and spoke of how former Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi, who recently passed away, taught him that failure isn’t everything. He continued by saying:
“You always have good things and bad, and this reflects the history of Nintendo. If you do the same thing as others, it will wear you out. Nintendo is not good at competing so we always have to challenge [the status quo] by making something new, rather than competing in an existing market.”
It is astute reasoning as Nintendo has rarely followed the crowd, instead choosing to take risks with their hardware. This inevitably has lead to some massive game changing ideas for the whole industry, as well as more than its fair share of misfires. While some may point to Nintendo’s lack of new IPs as signs of unoriginality, the company has certainly changed the landscape of gaming with its hardware and refusing to follow what is popular.
The jury is still out on if the Wii U can be deemed a total failure, but things are looking a little bleak for the console. With major publishers beginning to pull their support for the system, it could have been cause for alarm. Although, taking Iwata’s words into account, perhaps Nintendo isn’t as worried as Microsoft or Sony would be in the same situation. One of the big draws about the Wii U was that it would be getting third party AAA experiences. While there is still some belief in the system, sales of these third party games haven’t matched competitors, proving that Nintendo isn’t very good at competing with the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360’s at their own game.
Nintendo does have a safety net though. Even if those publisher’s pulled their support for the Wii U, it wouldn’t be the end of the console as Nintendo still has a host of its own characters to fall back on. While things certainly look tough for the Wii U, it doesn’t mean the console is dead, and even if the console is deemed a failure in the future, it is clear Iwata believes Nintendo can bounce back as they have done many times in the past.