Could Nintendo Be Forced to Go iOS, Android?
The Boy Genius Report has an interesting article about the future of Nintendo. It actually starts as a hands-on impression of the new Wii U console, but moves on to suggest that Nintendo may be forced to port its games to Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile platforms, following the likes of Sega, Electronic Arts, Square Enix and other popular developers making loads of money in the mobile sector.
The hands-on report of the Wii U isn't flattering whatsoever, saying that the new console "clearly demonstrates how far Nintendo has fallen and how out of touch the company is." Investors seemingly felt the same way when Nintendo revealed the console during E3 2011, saying that the company needed to focus more on mobile rather than another TV-grounded gaming device because that's where customers have gone.
But here we are in December 2012 with another gaming platform that tries to bridge the typical living room gaming hardware set with the mobility of a tablet. "The fact that Nintendo actually decided to ship this joke of a controller called the GamePad with a 6.2-inch touchscreen in the middle says it all," the report reads. "It only lasted for around two hours per charge over the week I’ve used it, and it’s big, clunky and made of glossy Nintendo plastic."
Ouch. The report goes on to state that this new controller has no charm, it feels "thrown together" as if Nintendo is stating that it can address mobility without actually entering the mobile market. Even more, the console's UI is reportedly "a mess" and looks blatantly Japanese, reportedly a bad move in a world full of iOS and Android devices that don't typically reveal a country of origin.
"It lacks any and all sophistication," the report states. "It’s like all of Nintendo’s designers just gave up and are living in a time when Apple’s iOS devices and Google’s Android devices don’t exist, blissfully ignoring the threat that their company is facing from all angles."
Granted this is just one opinion, and sales figures will dictate how well Nintendo will succeed with this next-generation product. But the gaming industry itself has been worried about the overall direction the market will take in the next yew years. Gamers in general have become accustomed to purchasing smaller bits for a cheaper price, able to port their gaming habit on a multi-functional device. Plus the rising cost of AAA development and the declining sales of high-dollar games have led to speculation that another great Video Game Crash will soon take place.
"The Wii U experience is so terrible that it took over an hour to update the software on the console recently, and apparently that wasn’t that bad," the report adds. "People have told me their updates took over 4 hours when performed closer to Christmas. Do you know what that 7-year-old is doing during those 4 hours you’re making him wait? Playing Temple Run or Angry Birds on his iPad mini. Way to go Nintendo."
Nintendo is probably the only major old-school game developer still rejecting the smartphone and tablet market. The company even publicly rejected any thought of a mobile move when stocks began to rise once rumor began to spread that a Pokemon game was coming to iOS. If anything, the old-school console as we know it, despite what gimmick Nintendo can muster up to generate sales, is likely ready to retire.
Unless Nintendo embraces change more so than it has with the Wii U, it will be forced to bring its popular IPs like Mario, Pokemon and Zelda to the mobile platforms. Just look at Sega, Activision, EA and Square Enix: they're not only sitting on mountains of cash, but likely in the pockets and hands of every gamer who owns an iPad, iPhone, Android smartphone and tablet. That's a LOT of missed revenue for Nintendo.