WiiU Stamina

As you likely know by now, Nintendo is once again making money. Apparently, they haven’t done that since 2011. Surprisingly, the earnings are coming from lower than expected sales:

  • Wii U sales totaled 3.4 million, expected 3.6 million.
  • 3DS sales totaled 8.7 million, expected 9 million (despite the New 3DS).
  • 63 million 3DS games, expected 67 million.
  • 24.4 million Wii U games, expected 25 million (up from initial prediction of 20 million).

The sales of the best Mario Kart in the franchise, and well received Super Smash Bros, clearly helped these numbers. Furthermore, Nintendo reported a 30% increase in digital sales, which obviously made them more money than physical disks.

However, I’m surprised digital sales didn’t increase more. Digital distribution makes environmental sense, in addition to the personal advantages that I think by far outweigh the benefits of physical disks: they don’t break, get lost or outdated; are instantly available, and finally encourages impulsive gaming. I guess Nintendo doesn’t push digital sales more aggressively by lowering their prices on the eShop as Nintendo as a brand benefit from being visible and available in stores both on- and offline.

Anyway, if Nintendo can keep this going, the WiiU should stick around for at least another two years:

We know that Nintendo will focus on WiiU and 3DS at E3 in June, which makes it obvious that both the WiiU and (New) 3DS will last well into 2016. Which is the year Nintendo will launch their first mobile games and likely some Quality of Life products, as well as reveal the Nintendo NX, and finally get Zelda in the hands of impatiently waiting WiiU players.

Meanwhile Nintendo will keep increase their lucrative Amiibo collection and extend in-game Amiibo support; and publish Splatoon, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Mario Maker and Star Fox.

Nintendo NX

When high quality games are discussed, it doesn’t take long for a Nintendo game to become part of the conversation. To my knowledge, Nintendo have been creating high quality games since Jumpman was introduced in Donkey Kong (1981).

My first thought when I think about Nintendo is how delightfully playful their games feel. The entire screen is filled with playful polygons dressed in familiar saturated colours. The use of high contrasting colors was initially a consequence of hardware limitations, but eventually a deliberate and consistent choice to remain energetic, lively and family friendly.

The family friendly appeal however, doesn’t explain the enduring perception of high quality. This of course, relates more to game feel and mechanics. A classic Nintendo game feels tight, responsive and immediate, and the mechanics are brilliant – and is in my opinion, where the game truly shines. The player is given a limited repertoire of actions to manage, which the player quickly learns to master. But just as the player feels in control, the environment changes, forcing the player to relearn and adapt. This creates a rapid loop of skill mastery, which stimulates our brain and basically makes us feel good. Few games manage to do this as successfully and efficiently as Nintendo.

These good feelings associated with playing a Nintendo game is why we keep coming back, and also why their games are still appreciated more than 30 years later. Which brings me to Nintendos superior dedication to backwards compatibility, Virtual Consoles, and finally to the Nintendo NX.

I consider the Wii U to be the most complete game system available. It can play the entire catalogue of Wii games, several of which are truly classics! It supports all the controllers made for the Wii, and adds the GamePad which opened the door for assymmetric gameplay. Currently, the Wii U Virtual Console supports games for Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64 and recently the Nintendo DS.

If the Wii U wasn’t launched when and how it was, it might have sold better. But primarily I think consumers were a but weary of buying a second underpowered Nintendo console; especially as rumours about the new Playstation and Xbox were so completely focusing on processing power.

Nintendo’s next console, nicknamed NX, could fix this.

Nintendo NX to the Rescue!

This is what I’m thinking about the NX which we’ll likely see in 2017, or if they rush development, already for Christmas 2016, but I doubt it.

How the Nintendo NX system might look like.

A dual screen GamePad that works as a 3DS when out of the house? Sign me up!

The NX will be given enough polygon pushing power to match the PS4. It might have an overlapping hardware architecture with an “NX Portable” widescreen gaming system to enable code sharing and speed up cross-platform development.

For the NX to retain backwards compatibility with the Wii U, which it has to in my opinion, it needs to support all the official game controllers. Personally I love the GamePad, and I hate the idea of seeing it dethroned and made optional, but if replaced by a dual-retina clamshelled NXP, then I’m all for it!

I’m also hoping that the NX will support multiple NXPs being used simultaneously. This should be possible as the NXP will be a client running the game itself, not a streaming device with game controls.

I’m hoping that the NX has native support for Wii U games, and that the Wii Virtual Console is available at launch – with several classic titles.

Finally, Nintendo should focus on getting third party involved from the get go, with at least a couple of high quality games in the launch lineup. The games don’t have to be exclusive to the platform; the important thing is that developers can target the NX without cutting corners, and show their dedication at launch.

I hate to see the Wii U go, but I love the idea of the NX having the power to support the fidelity seen on the Xbox On and PS4 at a time when both of them should have found their groove.