May 15 2014 5:00pm

Gaming Roundup: What Does the Future Hold for Nintendo?

Super Mario Bros Wii U

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...

If there are games you’d like us to cover or blogs you think we should be following for more news, please let us know @tdelucci or @pritpaulbains.

Walker White
1. Walker
Downloaded Super Time Force yesterday. It would have been better if they had not decided to go retro on the control scheme. It is much easier to jump and fire when fire is the trigger, inset of X. But the time rewinding mechanics work well.
j p
2. sps49
Nintendo is, to me, for those who have friends go to their house and play games together, while the other two are all about online play (and money. Especially MS).
Pritpaul Bains
3. Kickpuncher
@1 - Cool! Will have to give it a whirl. Sounds/looks promising.

@2 - Pretty much nailed it. Nintendo consoles have always been at their best in games like Super Smash Bros, Wii Sports, Mario Soccer, Mario Kart, Wario Party, etc., where you have a few friends over, a few drinks, a late night, and a good time. Sony and MS certainly have more of an individualist appeal, to be sure.
Nathan Martin
4. lerris
Warcraft is a franchise. World of Warcraft is just one of four games within the shared setting, so the title of the movie makes perfect sense.
Chris Nelly
5. Aeryl
Bayonettea 2? When?!?! I hope it's not Nintendo only?

I decided to keep my Gold membership, just because the two free games a month aren't bad. It's because of that I started playing Assassin's Creed.

It IS going to be exclusive for the Wii U, which sucks. And is kind of stupid, considering I don't think it was originally released on Nintendo consoles at all
Eric Wyatt
6. SunDriedRainbow
Once again, a video games thread about Nintendo that doesn't recognize the recent announcement of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby. I'm not saying the Wii U isn't a really weird thing and that Nintendo's hardware is not like Sony's blah blah blah but really, you have got to acknowledge something that's going to be such a massive seller. X and Y sold over 12 million copies, and 12 million 3DSes sold in 2013.
Sky Thibedeau
7. SkylarkThibedeau
My Wii has become like my Atari 800XL. Works great with what I have and what I can find on Ebay but nothing new is coming out.
8. elvensnow
@2 What he said. I bought a Wii U because it has some great games to play when you have a couple friends over. It also does the netflix and other streaming too so that helps. I'm really looking forward to the Mario Kart release.

And now I'm sad because I won't get my refund - I already cancelled my Xbox one membership a few months ago since I only used it for streaming netflix and replaced the xbox with the Wii U. But I guess I cancelled too early. After paying for 2 years of service just for Netflix when Sony and Nintendo offer it for free, I wish I could get some back...
Pritpaul Bains
9. Kickpuncher
@5 Sadly yes, Wii U exclusive, which I found a little odd as well given how pretty it looked on the 360/PS3. I believe the exclusive licensing had something to do with an ongoing push to be seen as a console for hardcore gamers as well as casual, but success TBD, I guess. There have been some crazy sales on the Wii U lately but I can't see getting one before a Sony or MS next-gen yet.

@6 Fair point. I wanted to keep the discussion centered around the Wii U in this case as the central issue, but Nintendo's financials will certainly see an uptick as they release some more bread-and-butter titles (touched on this specifically in regard to the Wii U, but 3DS launches warrant a mention.)
Chris Nelly
10. Aeryl
@9, It did look pretty. It was the first fight game I ever found playable, to be honest, dodging worked so elegantly. Plus, the hair boot stomping of enemies never got old.
11. Fuzzy_Dunlop
Lol I made up an excuse to leave work early when I saw TWD episode 3 was out. Thanks for the lovely afternoon!
Pritpaul Bains
12. Kickpuncher
@11 Straight from our legalese...

" accepts no responsibility for productivity lost in pursuit of immediate enjoyment, including but not limited to newly-released and/or classic games for consoles or PC."

...just kidding. We'll gladly take responsibility for that. Enjoy!

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