Is Nintendo content to be a chaos candidate, or do they have a real plan for the future?
While the company was once a source of magic and wonder during the early days of console gaming, I’m now convinced Nintendo just wants to watch the world burn. Bear with me. I know it’s hard to imagine Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima sitting atop a Wii-white tower, waving a Wiimote like a baton as the world beneath him goes up in a puff of purple smoke like a dead Octorok in The Legend of Zelda. But there’s very obviously something insidious going on inside the House That Mario Built.
Whether it’s intentionally limiting the release of their latest goodies like Amiibos and the NES Classic Mini to create an artificial demand, or refusing to listen to their consumers as they release more and more unconventional hardware that’s bound to limit their appeal to AAA developers, the company seems to revel in getting a rise out of all but their most stalwart supporters. Either Nintendo is determined to go wherever the road takes them regardless of rhyme or reason, or they simply have resigned to being a chaos candidate that gets their kicks out of turning the industry upside down at every opportunity.
This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon for the company, mind you. If you’re a fellow gamer with a few grays like myself, surely you’ll remember the insane shortage of N64 titles alongside the console’s release back in 1996. Store shelves were barren for months after the system’s release, leaving many hoping to get their mitts on Super Mario 64 or Pilotwings 64 stuck with a console and little more. Flash forward to today, and Nintendo is still doing the same thing. I can’t even begin to count how many of my friends and fellow HPP editors gave up on the Amiibo craze due to Nintendo’s stinginess with releasing their products in sufficient numbers, forcing them to resort to paying exorbitant sums to scalpers mere hours after their release.
For a company who could seemingly print money with their every effort (sans maybe the Wii U’s hardware), it’s mind boggling to see what Nintendo gets from keeping their products out of the hands of their eager consumers. As by the time the products are readily accessible, more often than not the fad has subsided and those who initially boarded the hype train are eager to move onto greener pastures (typically on platforms where they can enjoy the latest releases without resorting to selling vital organs).
The upcoming release of the Nintendo Switch also underscores self-defeating and militantly secretive nature. We’re now just a few months from the release of the console/handheld hybrid and just recently got our first glimpse at the device. And though we finally understand what the Switch is, Nintendo has yet to announce a single launch game, and all signs seem to point to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the hugely anticipated title that was seemingly seemingly missed its 2016 launch on the Wii U to line up with the release of the new system, being absent from the hardware’s launch lineup. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Remastered was shown in the system’s debut sizzle reel, but Bethesda has been careful to stress the title has yet to be confirmed for the console, leaving doubts it could end up on the Switch at all. The rest of the games shown in the footage largely titles we’ve already seen on the Wii U. Suffice to say, the reveal almost seemed like a huge middle finger to fans hoping for something different from the one-time hardware giant.
At this point, it’s really hard to make sense of what Nintendo’s end game is. You’d think with just a few months until their latest flagship console releases that they’d be doing everything they can to garner interest by showing off some fresh new IP, but they’ve done nothing. The only marketing they’ve done is showcase the Switch’s considerable portability and networking features and little else. These are features that should be secondary to what’s most important on any console – the games!
I gave up trying to make sense of Nintendo’s way of doing things a long time ago, but these days I have to admit I feel that the company is just having one giant dig at their consumers. After a handful of difficult console generations for the company that cost them much of their third party support and customer base, you’d think they’d be working in earnest to rebuild those relationships. And while they’ve made some slight inroads in recent years, I can’t help but picture a dapper Shigeru Miyamoto doing his best Nero impersonation, tooting away on his golden ocarina as the company’s 30-year legacy burns to ash.
So, do you think Nintendo thrives in the kind of constant uncertainty they sow? Is there some master plan we’re not seeing, or is Nintendo totally off the rails these days? Be sure to let us know your take in the comments section below.