Let’s be honest—2013 and 2014 haven’t been the kindest couple of years to Nintendo, the former console giant currently relegated to the role of little brother in the modern console wars between Sony and Microsoft. Between developers taking potshots at the company’s most recent console—the Wii U—and their latest fiscal results citing nearly a half-billion dollars in losses due largely to poor Wii U sales, Nintendo has had a rough go of it, resulting in an inevitable slew of speculation questioning their hardware’s viability in the modern market. There are certainly some mitigating factors to consider, but it’s clear that the company’s current path may lead to treacherous waters. So what does the future hold for Nintendo? Will they continue with hardware development? Can they absorb their current losses? CEO Satoru Iwata shed some light on these questions in an Investor Q&A this week.
Iwata placed considerable emphasis on the fact that 2013’s Wii U projections were based on conservative estimates, but even so, acknowledged that actual sales fell well short of the anticipated 9 million units projected at the start of the year. However, he also noted the ability of hit titles to move consoles off of shelves—a fair point to raise, considering that the Wii U’s most popular titles are likely yet to come. Once games such as Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 8, Zelda, or Bayonetta 2 launch, it’s entirely possible that the maligned console could experience a resurgence in sales. Nintendo’s trademarked titles have always been of the utmost quality, and it’s not inconceivable that they could lead the Wii U out of the doldrums in the next few years.
Part of Nintendo’s strategy will apparently also include the development of new, customized consoles for emerging markets. This is a departure from the company’s prior philosophy of repurposing existing hardware across the globe. These consoles would be built and designed from scratch, tailor-made for specific markets and with varying price points based on location and production cost. Iwata sees this as a way to create and innovate in new ways, rather than recycling the same hardware in cheaper ways. The success of Nintendo’s future endeavors remains to be seen, but it’s difficult to bet against a company with such a storied history in the field.
In other gaming news this week, the Xbox One gets a price drop, a new Unreal Tournament is en route, and we move closer to seeing footage from the Warcraft movie. Read on!
- The upcoming World of Warcraft movie—simply titled Warcraft—will reveal its first trailer at this year’s Comic-Con. The film, helmed by Moon director Duncan Jones, will place the focus on two as-of-yet-unidentified tribes out of WoW’s many.
- In case you missed it, Microsoft’s Xbox One will now be available without the Kinect at a $399 price point—a move designed to make their product more competitively priced against Sony’s PS4. MS will also detach streaming services such as Netflix from Xbox Gold membership, and is offering partial Xbox Gold refunds to those who subscribed only to access streaming services.
- The developers of the fabulous-looking Witcher 3 feel that users make far too much of which game is pumped out at which resolution on which system. A fair point—while it’s pretty much a given that their game will push next-gen consoles to their limits, top-shelf graphics are increasingly becoming par for the course in AAA games.
- Over on the other side of the fence, Sony confirmed last week that PlanetSide 2 will run in 1080p resolution on the PS4.
- Clementine returns in Telltale’s Walking Dead s2e3. Check out the trailer below.
- Sony once again displayed their ability to listen to their fans this week, walking back a controversial game upgrade plan for PlayStation Plus users that enabled them to purchase games at a $10 discount, but then lose access to the game once their PlayStation Plus account expired.
- Halo 4’s former senior art director has joined the Oculus development team to help shape VR in the coming years.
- If you’ve ever had any modicum of interest in the 90s console war between Nintendo and Sega, check out the book Console Wars (complete with accompanying movie, coming soon) for a detailed, engaging read on Sega’s rise and fall in the early to mid 90s.
- Check out the heavily Adult Swim-influenced (take that how you will) launch trailer for Super Time Force below. For what it’s worth, the game itself actually looks pretty cool.
- Developer Epic Games is doing something pretty cool that should make throwback gamers happy. Epic is developing a free Unreal Tournament reboot. The game itself will be free; any profit generated will be via custom content after the fact. An interesting concept...