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Nintendo Outlines Company's "New" Strategy

Unsurprisingly, it's not quite as radical as some people were hoping.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata outlined its strategy for his company to stay relevant in the face of disappointing sales yesterday, and it's pretty clear Wii U isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Here are the basics of what Nintendo revealed, as per The Wall Street Journal.

  • There's no massive price cut coming to Wii U yet.
  • Wii U's GamePad is becoming a more important part of its games, not less.
  • Nintendo Network ID is coming to phones and tablets, but not full-fledged games.
  • Mario Kart 8 will arrive in May.
  • Wii U's Virtual Console lineup will eventually be bolstered by DS games.
  • Nintendo's exploring new licensing opportunities for its characters.

Perhaps the most "radical" of Nintendo's announcements was its decision to begin development on a health-focused initiative. It's unclear what Nintendo has plans for, but it's not going to be a wearable device. More details on this are expected later this year, but Wii Fit's past success clearly has it thinking bigger.

There were rumors Nintendo would unveil a plan to publish mini-games on other devices as a means of promoting its own hardware and software, but either that's not happening or Nintendo wasn't comfortable announcing that move quite yet.

Either way, the typically conservative and slow moving giant that is Nintendo isn't making any big waves yet. It's sticking to its guns the same way it has in the past, but this is unlikely to be the last we hear about Nintendo and its struggles until (if?) sales turn around for them more broadly.

117 Comments
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Posted by Haruko

Sad that they aren't pushing a little harder on the virtual console but here's hoping they do better this year.

Posted by Gold_Skulltulla

Nintendo's gonna do as they will, and good on 'em.

Posted by Senate4242

I did not expect them to publish on other platforms, but I expected at least a price cut. Mario Kart in May is good news at least, as well as DS on Virtual Console.

Posted by AlexGBRO

They nead a feb direct to talk about dates, also what is going on with FE X SMT is that game still in dev?

what about SSB 4 when will that come(June, later?), new ip maybe?

Posted by Trondood

I really hope their VC release strategy is far less watered down and extended than their past.

Posted by Atwa

I don't see why DS games are on the Wii U, put them digitally on the DS. There are quite a few old DS games that are hard to find or expensive, just put all of them there. On Wii U I wish they would instead dump as many gamecube games as possible.

Edited by confideration

So, they decline to compete. Very well then.

Posted by GunslingerPanda

Wii Fit is stupid in that it doesn't use Mario, Luigi, et al. I wanna work out with Mario, not a faceless void with arms.

MARIO YOGA!

Posted by IronScimitar

I dont even think that long buried franchises like F-Zero, Star Fox, or Wave Race could spark an interest anymore for the console. I think Patrick said that Nintendo finally needs to break open the "Pokemon MMO" emergency container.

Posted by RE_Player1

Wii U's GamePad is becoming a more important part of its games, not less.

Like how in Mario Kart 8 the entire screen is a horn or how in Donkey Kong Retro confirmed it displays absolutely nothing.

Edited by Illuminosopher

@gunslingerpanda: If I heard mario tell me to breath slowly in his mario voice I might have nightmares.

Edited by MonkeyKing1969

Not enough. Everything they said is what they shodul be doing, except on thing. Nintendo needs more development teams that work exclusively on NEW properties. They need to start developing the next platformers, they next action jrpgs, the next collection/battle game, and the next building open world game.

From 1983 to 1993 Nintendo built an empire and portfolio of games from scratch. Before Mario there was nothing so they had to invenet that they had to innovate and take what they did have aht worked and make something new. They had to try and build everything in the beginning because they had nothing except a few arcades games that were okay.

Why are they so conservative now? Why are they unwilling to spend a dime to build new games or try new things? They have the war chest of money to experiment without dire conseqnesse, but they are too locked up in the past. What was the last new 'idea' or 'property' they put out with any effort - Wii Music? That was years ago, and since they they have just pump out past hit and tiny shifts from what they produced a year before.

Another Mario Cart is not enough...how about a Nintendo themed 'sim race' game? How about an action-adventure traversal game where the player never fire a weapon, but rather solve puzzles, argue with opponents...an Uncharted without the body count. Nintendo wants to be family friendly, which is great and is very hard, but imagine if they did it - I've dreamed of such a modern game for adults that isn't about a body count. If anyone could make an 'Uncharted' without any guns it would be the smart people at Nintendo, right?

But bottomline they need to start innovating again, they need to throw away the old playbook while keeping their values. Nobody is asking them to make the next Call of Duty, but would it kill them to explore how to make something better...more meaningful...and new for today's gamer?

Posted by chrissedoff

"Golly gee, we're going to try extra hard this time, you'll see" - Nintendo to shareholders.

Online
Posted by Bollard

It was obvious when they said "it's not as simple as making Mario move on a smart phone" that they weren't gunna just make games on there. Was always gunna be some companion app like thing - like the PS4 and Xbox Live apps.

Still, a Nintendo ID app isnot particularly interesting. I still haven't even set up my ID on my 3DS. I don't care that much about "MiiVerse".

Posted by PresidentOfJellybeans

There's "a" first party game out in May! With all their third party support the WiiU will be fine!...

Posted by EXTomar

Call me out on this but I don't think Nintendo understands what "new strategy" means. The only "new strategy" I see here is the announcement that they are doing licensing deals for characters.

I see part of the problem is that no one outside "Nintendo Faithful" knows about the things Nintendo is doing. Mario Kart 8 maybe a lot of fun but no one knows about it where I fully expect in June one of my friends will go "Man, do you remember those Mario Kart games we played in college....does Nintendo make those any more?"

Edited by DinosaurCanada

Didn't Iwata take paycuts recently, too? Also, the fitness market may seem safe (Wii fit sold boats), but it may be what they need to do at this point.

Posted by RazielCuts

@msavo said:

Wii U's GamePad is becoming a more important part of its games, not less.

Like how in Mario Kart 8 the entire screen is a horn or how in Donkey Kong Retro confirmed it displays absolutely nothing.

Exactly. And why wasn't the GamePad 'important' from the get go? It's your unique selling point, Nintendo. Other games like Lego City and Zombi U made a better showcase for the GamePad than the platform holders.

Posted by Deathpooky

Those seem like a boring Nintendo Direct update, not a new strategy for the company. Some of those have even been announced before. This is just placating shareholders by saying something.

Fully embracing online, a modern digital account system that makes good use of their library and allows for crossplay between their systems, services and prices competitive with Sony or Steam, and honest-to-god new games for the WiiU. That would be a new strategy.

Posted by McDayman

@atwa: I'm with you on that. Why not have DS games and more GBA games on 3DS? I understand wanting to put more content on WiiU, but it makes so much more sense shopping for handheld games on a handheld.

Edited by LustRazor

I don't know if someone who dresses so stuffy should be running a game company, but I still like Nintendo. Needs more pieces of flare.

Edited by Viking_Funeral

@monkeyking1969: Damn. You already said everything I wanted to say.

Nintendo was an innovator as recently as their Wii console. The problem is that they need to innovate on the games, which one could argue they haven't done since Pokémon, and they need to figure out this whole internet thing. They're almost a decade behind on it at this point, and they show no signs of catching up.

Posted by Quarters

And the car wreck continues.

Posted by Nomin

  • There's no massive price cut coming to Wii U yet.
    • I agree, it is not like a 30 to 50 dollar off its current prices will help its sales any, and right after a dismal Holiday season. Lower the price of GamePad itself, or lower the price of older games on eShop to the level comparable to what's available on iOS and Android, say, to the tune of 1 or 2 dollars.
  • Wii U's GamePad is becoming a more important part of its games, not less.
    • This is unfortunate since GamePad I found to be distracting oddity that competes for your attention with the game actually on the screen, thereby diminishing its immersive factor. The third party will stay away from whatever Nintendo plans for it anyways.
  • Nintendo Network ID is coming to phones and tablets, but not full-fledged games.
    • I have no idea what uses this would serve aside from another app with Nintendo emblazoned over it giving the company a bit more exposure across mobile platforms but not much else. This is just ancillary (to placate stockholders that they are finally taking notice?) and not indicative of any improvement in the network area for games where this feature would matter.
  • Mario Kart 8 will arrive in May.
    • There is a reason Mario Kart 64 was the highlight of the series. Upcoming Smash Bros holds more promise, though.
  • Wii U's Virtual Console lineup will eventually be bolstered by DS games.
    • Why is this even worthwhile, who wants to play DS games on a home console, pray tell? It is an extension of sad port jobs they are doing like that NES mix game they've released lately. Will it even be extrapolated to appropriate HD resolutions so gamers wouldn't be staring at messy pixel blobs?
  • Nintendo's exploring new licensing opportunities for its characters.
    • Now this is interesting, and potentially lucrative business opportunity. But there's also the danger of another bout of 'EXCUUUUUSE ME, PRINCESS!'
Posted by MrMuscle

They need to get that Monolith Software game out (i think its called X?). That might earn them some money.

Posted by McDayman

@monkeyking1969: I don't necessarily disagree with you. Nintendo's regular lineup of games has certainly grown stale. But I don't think announcing a direction towards new IP is a smart move at the moment, even if that is an avenue they head down. This "new strategy" announcement is aimed much more towards their investors than their fans, and in the current gaming market, a new IP direction comes off as risky. Investors are not so much fans of "risky". They like tried and true, guaranteed methods of making profit.

I really do hope Nintendo roles out some new ideas and games that are NOT seen through the eyes of plumbers or green garbed elvish dudes or pocket monsters. If that actually happens though, we won't see it until a game is announced.

Posted by Blitz_Kill

RIP Nintendo. You were good when i was like 8. Hopefully you'll do the smart thing and sell off your franchises before you crash and burn with all your money that you're never gonna use on new ideas or talent. Maybe microsoft has a use for Mario-themed avatar stuff, idk.

Edited by Fitzgerald

You sound kinda dismissive, Patrick. I'd say launching a separate, non-gaming hardware platform is a big fucking deal. Look between the lines, man.

Edit: I don't mean to sound mean or anything. I like Patrick. I just think it's a sign that Nintendo is shifting resources away from games, which could have larger implications. That's all.

Posted by ProfessorEss

I'm not quite sure how this adds up to a "New Strategy".

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Edited by qUaK3R

In just a few years: RIP Nintendo. People are getting tired of their franchises, game after game they innovate to little in my opinion. Launching game consoles like wii U doesn't help either. Then they try to do stuff that's completely useless without a proper gaming platform.

Edited by BenderUnit22

I think I spend too much time reading Reddit. My first thought was "huh, banana for scale"

Posted by LucidDreams117

Yup sounds about right. It's like watching a train speeding toward an inevitable crash from far away. It can turn and change tracks, but it's still coming. They need to stop and think, and change trains! When your CEO and other top suits take pay cuts, there's more cause for concern this this "new" strategy.

Posted by MeatSim

Stare intently at those bananas long enough and they will provide the answer to all of Nintendo's problems.

Posted by L33T_HAXOR

I'm interested in the Nintendo Network ID and could see that leading to good things. I'd love to carry my virtual console games from platform to platform. Everything else is just uggggghhhhh.....

This presentation was for their share-holders, correct? I wonder what the share-holders' reaction was overall. How much power do they actually have? Could they feasibly call for Iwata's resignation? I feel for the guy, I do. But this seems like desperate, wild flailing more than a well thought out strategy.

Posted by graf1k

So essentially Nintendo's strategy is to not address the problem. DS games added to VC is cool and all, but I cannot imagine there is a single WiiU owner who doesn't also own a DS/2DS/3DS. Mario Kart isn't going to grow their platforms any. It'll sell and help their bottom line but it's not going to move the needle in a meaningful way, just like increased licensing of their characters. Call me crazy, but I would feel more weird about seeing Mario hock a breakfast cereal than I would about seeing a Mario game on iOS or XBO/PS4.

As for the debate on whether dropping the price on the WiiU would turn it's fortune or not, the only sure thing is nobody has ever sold less of a thing by dropping the price of it. The WiiU is a really hard sell for most people at $300 when for comparable graphics and an exponentially larger library you can get a PS3 or 360 for $100 less, or you could get exponentially better graphics, and a more future ready PS4 for only $100 more.

Essentially I'm of the same opinion that Jeff expressed on the most recent podcast in that as long as Nintendo makes fun and cool games, it doesn't really matter to me if they continue to make hardware. Honestly at this point, I can't imagine why they'd want to, at least in the home console market. The argument used to be that Nintendo made a profit on every piece of hardware, i.e. "It prints money!" in regards to the DS. That is clearly no longer the case for them, especially when they can't even move their hardware, so why continue to hold onto that dream? They surely can't be making any money on licensing fees considering the laughable 3rd party support the WiiU is getting, so is it just a pride thing at this point? Because we all know what pride comes right before...

Edited by Shortbreadtom

@graf1k: Is it success? It's success right?

Edited by WinterSnowblind

@quak3r: Yet they're still making a massive profit and the 3DS was the best selling system last year. "RIP Nintendo" is hilariously ignorant.

Not saying I don't think Nintendo needs to rethink certain things of course, but they still put out plenty of quality games and I don't think the fact they reuse franchises is any different from other consoles releasing nothing but slightly different first or third person shooters. What's coming out on other systems, besides indie games, that are amazingly new and innovative? And don't you dare say Titanfall.

Posted by Shortbreadtom

@wintersnowblind: Making a massive profit? Did you miss all the news stories saying Nintendo is making a $335 million loss?

Edited by MrBubbles

None of this makes me want to get a Wii U. What they need to do is come up with completely new franchises, maybe then I'll get one.

Posted by Johnny_Sailor

I think their VC service should be a monthly all you can eat subscription model like Netflix. I've purchased 3 games for the VC, netting Nintendo about $20 over my ownership of the Wii U for roughly a year. Now if they had their entire library available at the cost of $10 a month, I'd be all over that (and Nintendo would have $120 from me).

Posted by graf1k
Edited by WinterSnowblind

@shortbreadtom: Those loss were in regards to stock prices, not company profit, and those stock prices actually returned to normal after only a few days (something most sites didn't bother to report). They're still making a profit regardless of how badly the Wii U is underperforming.

Posted by graf1k

@wintersnowblind: You may want to re-read those stories. They not only missed their earnings projection by a mile, but they had projected a profit and they ended with a loss of ~$250-300m, and if I'm not mistaken is the third straight quarter they have had a loss. They are far from dead, but they are on the decline. As a result of all that, their stock took a hit, not the other way around.

Posted by sodapop7

I feel like I've been reading these comments for like 7 years now. The stale argument is pretty amusing to me since they just released two games that were pretty much universally acclaimed in Link Between Worlds and 3D World. Those games seem like they're on the right track to me and a good Super Smash Bros. game could go a long way I think.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news @graf1k but Mario hocked cereal like 25 years ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIQpok4IzpQ

Posted by Humanity

Slow and steady does it - this strategy has worked for years, so what if were bleeding money all over the place; hey, Mario Kart guys!

Edited by Claude

I've always wanted to play DS games. Never liked handhelds. Sounds good.

Edited by graf1k

@sodapop7: It wouldn't surprise me, and maybe cereal was a bad example. I just meant Mario or other Ninty characters schilling for things of that nature feels more like of a dilution of the Nintendo brand to me personally than if they put out their games on someone else's platform. A lot of people argue Nintendo games on non-Nintendo hardware would hurt the brand and my feeling is cheapening your mascots to sell cereal, car insurance, whatever hurts the brand more.

Posted by Elwoodan

Where is the goddamn Advanced Wars for the 3DS? and not one of the ones set in that grimdark reboot universe, hell at this point I would accept the original re-released on the virtual console....

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