Now that E3 2015 has come to a close, and we are fully able to digest the amount of content to come from it, it is easy to see that Nintendo is going to have a difficult time keeping up with their competition. Having always been a part of the industry’s ‘Big Three’ console manufacturers, Daily Reaction discusses whether or not one of the staples of the industry is losing touch with the ever changing gaming landscape.
Dan: Much like many gamers my age, I grew up playing on Nintendo consoles and trying to save princesses located in other castles. So after having watched their E3 showcase this year, and saw what they had shown off, or more accurately had not, it started a conversation about the realities of whether or not Nintendo can really be put in the same category as either Sony’s or Microsoft’s consoles. This wasn’t a conversation about whether Nintendo would become the next SEGA, but more about whether we are now being left with the ‘Big Two’, instead of the ‘Big Three’. Has Nintendo lost its seat at that particular table?
To be quite honest, I think it might be a bit too early to fully count Nintendo out, as they have shown in the past that they can re-captivate gamers across multiple generations. But, I would be lying if I didn’t say that they really are starting to lose touch with pushing the industry forward, and instead rely on an existing fanbase to stay alive. This of course isn’t to say that there aren’t a significant number of gamers who are fine with the status-quo, but it does leave their competition to grow and expand far beyond what they are currently capable of, which in turn will force them to continually fall behind in a market that considers any product old only a month or two after release.
The big issue of course is simply Nintendo’s dated hardware. While yes, it is true that not everything in the industry is dependent on pixel counts, there is something to be said about something’s ability to process physics and AI. If we take a look at like games Portal, which isn’t even on a Nintendo platform, there is a level of prowess needed to create some unique and memorable experiences that Nintendo just cannot do currently. The same can be said given the fact that Nintendo lost Project CARS due to its inability to handle running the project without some major work, meaning that moving forward, there is great potential that they are going to lose out on more multi-platform titles.
The debate from here usually shifts to that there is simply more than one market, and Nintendo is simply competing on a different level. Then of course, I ask, if that is the case, isn’t that all the more reason why Nintendo isn’t a part of the ‘Big Three’ anymore? Wouldn’t it mean more that Nintendo had stepped out of the fight and started on its own path?
These are the questions that really do cause me to really think that they starting their descent away from their seat at the table to go sit by themselves. This doesn’t mean that they will go away, but much like mobile games, and PC games, they are just seated in a different section. The games industry doesn’t simply consist of the Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, there are many hardware manufacturers, but to group the three should mean that they are all at the least working towards the same goal.
Chandler: Simply put, no, I do not consider Nintendo to be one of the ‘Big Three’ anymore, however I want to be clear that I do not think Nintendo has in any way failed. In fact, if anything, Nintendo has succeeded in separating from the rat race of competition that plagues Sony and Microsoft, and subsequently, their fans. Where every game released on a PlayStation or Xbox console is analyze down to the last pixel and frame, Nintendo gamers are busy gathering their friends and families and having the simple fun that video games used to be. I know a number of people that used to play PlayStation religiously, but lately have to say “I really only play my Wii U with my kids anymore, with some occasional PlayStation games here and there.”
Nintendo has different hardware that many will argue cannot keep up with the current generation of consoles, but it’s like the difference between cars and go-karts. Though similar, they serve largely different purposes and end goals, and can live harmoniously instead of competitively. Nintendo has achieved an odd sort of zen in this case. They’ve broken from the release cycle of the other consoles, meaning that their next console release will likely be staggered and free from the competition of both Sony and Microsoft’s next — and especially their previous — console releases. They also dominate the handheld market, where nobody else can touch them. Sorry Vita.
Nintendo’s exclusive lineup and vastly recognizable character roster is quite staggering, and enough to keep them going without the need to worry about what the other two are doing. There will always be a market for the next Mario Party, Mario Kart, Legend of Zelda, etc. and even (perhaps especially) some of the more niche exclusive titles will ensure that plenty of people are at least keeping their eyes on Nintendo.
This year’s E3 saw lots of competition between Microsoft and Sony, but few people focused on adding Nintendo in the mix (we did!). Even if you do, there are not a lot of comparisons to make, because, as you said Dan, Nintendo is simply playing on a different field. I say all of this without mentioning sales numbers. If we were talking about their place in terms of sheer numbers, the Wii U couldn’t compete, although the popularity of the 3DS might be enough to guarantee their spot.
With all of that said, I may have to change my mind and say that Nintendo is actually a part of the ‘Big Three’ after all, and perhaps the most crucial part. Maybe we should stop looking at it as a competition and see the three main console manufacturers as the stability and backbone of the console games market. If we look at the ‘Big Three’ as a structure as opposed to a race, Nintendo did a lot to set the stage for gaming as we know it today, and lay the foundation for many people — core gamers and casuals alike — to take part in gaming in the living room and on the go, and for that, I’ll gladly reserve them a seat at the table.
Where do you consider Nintendo? What criteria would you put on ‘The Big Three’? Let us know in the comments below, send your thoughts to [email protected], or call us fanboys on Twitter @Foolsjoker and @Finchstrife.