Let’s not much about here, Nintendo didn’t have a very good 2011, I don’t think that they even had a very good 2010 either which makes things even worse. The Wii has gone from the tiny all conquering box to utter vapor in the space of 18 months and the 360 and PS3 have utterly over taken it, lapped it, run over it twice and widdled on it just for good measure. I mean come on name, just NAME a good Wii game that has come out since the end of 2010? Oh and make that an exception of Skyward sword, as even that got a little crushed by another fantasy RPG behemoth that also had SKY as it’s title.
Just as bleak are things on the handheld front, once the big N’s private playground is now all up for grabs as the waves of Apple and Android SmartPhones and tablets have been slowly taking over the traditional handheld console market. So the 3DS having a very poor launch year was never going to be a good thing. A high price, a price drop fiasco, and a range of titles that mostly at this time suck with the good sounding games very much still in development still (despite the fact that they were promised with in the launch time frame). At least one good thing happened, it did outsell the Vita in Japan raining a little on Sony’s parade a bit though that still isn’t much.
The combo of a bad previous year is compounded by the fact that they are bringing out at some time this year the Wii’s successor the oh so imaginatively titled “Wii U” (Yeah I can tell that when it comes to naming consoles the tradition at Nintendo is to write down the first thing that springs to mind on a post it note and fucking roll with it). As I said that puts them in the spotlight this year as with any company launching a new full console system, the fact that it’s also more than likely dictate the companies fate is indeed extra pressure.
I don’t want to say that this will be a make or break year, I doubt that another bad single year is likely to floor the big N, after all their once rivals SEGA have had it worse in the past and they are still about, if in a somewhat smaller state.
Now I will
I will start with the positive that yes it is quite likely that the 3DS will bounce back, it already has slightly against the vita, and I am sure that there will be a further price drop and the library of titles will improve featuring more games that people want to play. It is what a lot of pundits have been saying will happen, since it’s the same thing that happened with the DS. What a lot of Pundits haven’t said however is the likely hood that the 3DS is suffering from an “Osborne effect”. Now for those that aren't familiar with the term it’s mostly used to describe consumer hold out for a new or better product that cripples the sales of the product currently on offer, and to the point that it hurts the company or product in question.
It’s true that most gamers know about the evolution of the previous two handhelds by the company. Both the GBA and the DS launched with units filled with technical issues, and no doubt many see the current 3DS as the same, launching a add on for a second tumbstick has only really aggravated the issue. Honestly the 3DS will still be very sluggish in sales through 2012, but 2013 things might get better provided that an updated system is in the wings, that however I doubt slightly.
Refocusing to the Wii U, and the Big N’s main offering this year is the main focus of speculation. It’s the first, or has been branded as the first 8th gen system. No doubt that it will be good, more powerful than the current PS3 and 360 and the controller, while my feelings are mixed about it, might be the start of a good marriage of traditional controllers and the casual motion controllers. However I still have a few doubts about it.
1.It falls in between generations.
Let’s face it while Wikipedia lists the start of the 8th gen “unique” it is far from it. At the mid point in the 90’s there where a lot of “early start” 32bit/64bit systems (Atari Jaguar, 3DO), and the 6th gen of systems was kick started by the early arrival of the SEGA Deamcast in 1998/99, a year ahead of the the PS2. Oh and if you are thinking that all these systems failed, then indeed you are right.
Yes the Wii U will look better than the 360 and the PS3, it will be able to do games by far better than those two, but at the same time by the time that it will take to come on the market the 360 might well recive price drops on top of already having an established presence, and extensive games listing. The Wii U will have to climb over that obstacle right from the start.
Then there are the successors to the PS3 and 360, they are still some way off yet but long term they will arrive and when they do the will more than likely make the Wii U look old and clanky by comparison. It won't be fatal but it could be crippling if it fails to draw people in from those two current formats.
2.The controller is a mixed bag.
The Wii U’s controller has potential both as a game changer at the way that we look at gaming controllers, or a monolithic unwieldy POS. The video show at E3 2011 showed the controller being used in more than one way with more than a few interesting ideas patterned to it, from motion movements to the touch screen, to the ability to switch from the main screen to the one on the controller, the ability for maps and inventories to be displayed on the controller screen, and that’s just the half of it. However they did forget to mention that this thing will connect via battery sucking bluetooth, and who knows what the (lower res than advertised) screen will do to the battery time to. Oh and it just looks like it could be one of the most bulky controllers since the Atari Jaguar and the original Xbox ‘Duke’ Controller, two of the worst controllers ever devised.
However I do see that if the thing at least works as well as they claim I could see it sidelining the Kinect, but a slimming down and ergonomics trim would be waiting in the wings.
3.NO HARD DISK!
Sod the controller, or the awkward timing, those can be worked on this is the area where the Wii U gets floored after a heavy swipe to the shins. After all this seems to be a Nintendo design taint to ignore at least ignore ONE recent good or sensible design choice with next generation systems. Why no hard disk? Why only 8GB of internal memory? Why the reliance on memory sticks?
No offense Nintendo, but times have changed. No longer do you use memory cards or small blocks of data. Sure it worked for the gamecube and the first Wii, but those where or at heart 6th gen systems with NO or little internet connectivity, but this is a 8th gen system! The interact will dictate everything. Online gaming, services, and most importantly DLC!
Some DLC that I’ve had for Xbox titles alone can reach over a gigabyte or near enough. Even recently some of the Patches for games have needed 500mb+. What makes Nintendo think that a tiny 8GB hard disk is enough?
What happens if DLC is passed over on Wii U and yet arrives on the 360 or PS3 for certain titles, and what happens when the successors arrive for the 360 and PS3, No doubt with hard disks (possibly from 500GB to 1TB in size)? How will the Wii U cope if console gaming leans toward steam style downloading?
I am sure that Nintendo will look silly if and when the 8th gen fully kicks off in full swing sometime 2015.
3DS will continue to suffer over the next 12 to 18 months, due to competition, indifference and consumers holding out for the improved next version.
Wii U will be initially successful, but might get pounded 3 years along the line when bigger and better things come along, with Hard Drives.