As expected, yesterday Nintendo’s stock plunged by 18% after the news that they were cutting their Wii U and 3DS forecasts by huge margins as the fiscal year draws to a close in a few months. I wrote about how their own warped perception of their success is almost more dangerous to the company than the actual numbers, and they need a reality check to get back on track. This has to be it.
And as much as I love discussing grand theories about what Nintendo needs to do to turn things around, they’re not always practical. As much as we would like them too, Nintendo isn’t going to announce a “Super Wii” project this morning, a new console to compete with the Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PS4. Nor, as per my suggestion, are we going to hear they’re ceasing production of the Wii U and starting to make software for competitor systems. Perhaps someday, but not today, and not tomorrow for either of these ideas.
So, what can they announce right now that will have an impact on investors and make fans think that they’ve at least learned something in this mess? Here are a few ideas.
I really don’t need to write an entire essay on why this needs to happen, because VG247′s Matt Martin has done it for me. The long and short of it is that this missed prediction lands squarely on Iwata. He had time and time again to revise the 9 million forecast for Wii U sales, but waited until three months before the deadline to admit it was off by more than 300%, and really only 2.8M Wii Us will be sold (hopefully, at this rate). The same goes for the 3DS forecast, which even as the system sells well, was still off by 5 million or so. This is inexcusable, as is pretty much everything that’s happened with the Wii U’s marketing and development since its inception, all under Iwata’s watch. But the missed forecast is probably his most egregious offense, and it’s dangerously close to almost misleading investors. Nintendo needs new leadership for a lot of reasons, and I think it’s Iwata’s time to step down.
Though Nintendo has promised that unified accounts are coming down the road to link 3DS and Wii U purchases, many of their most devoted fans are starting to become skeptical of the company because of how poorly they manage their digital sales. Something as simple as a software glitch or a hardware failure forces players to rebuy games they’ve already bought, as Nintendo simply doesn’t seem to care the games were already purchased once. If you say, lose your entire 3DS by accident, you wouldn’t just lose your save games, you’d lose your entire game library, and would have to repurchase everything unless you successfully barter with Nintendo for a refund credit. Imagine if your iPad or Kindle broke and your had to repurchase all of your apps or ebooks. Sounds silly, but that’s the world Nintendo is living in right now, and it’s unacceptable.
Back Catalog Unleashed
This may sound like the most ambitious project on the list, but Nintendo could at least announce they’re working on such an idea. If emulator makers can do it in their spare time, Nintendo should be able to replicate the process as an actual company with actual R&D funding. For as much as Nintendo likes remaking the same eight series over and over, they have been astonishingly stubborn when it comes to making their full back catalog of old games available for download. Not to say they need to make their own iOS or Android emulator app, but at the very least, they need to have such a thing for their own hardware, the Wii U and 3DS. There are so many more games out there they could bring out of retirement, and they simply choose not to most of the time. For their non-first party titles, it would require a bit of negotiation, but a full emulator-ish back catalog for NES, SNES, N64 and even Gamecube would go a long way to giving their hardware something their competition doesn’t have. Problem is, even someone like Sony is starting to work on something like that with the ambitious PlayStation Now, and Nintendo doesn’t want to be beaten to the punch.
Firm Release Dates
Here are all the great Wii U games coming out in the future: Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, Yarn Yoshi, Super Smash Bros. Wii U, Hyrule Warriors, X, Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei.
Here are all the release dates for each of those games: (…)
For as much as Nintendo fans love to point out all the potentially great games that are coming for the system, that’s not terribly helpful when there’s no telling if an anticipated game is coming out in two months or two years. I realize Nintendo doesn’t want to commit to a release date and then miss it, as that would only make their situation worse, but to have that level of AAA games in the pipeline with not a single release date among them is wrong, and they need to start doing better than doling out a new Super Smash Bros. combatant as an announcement every few weeks.
Price Drop Ahead
It’s becoming clear that the Wii U is going to have to get so cheap with games so good, players simply can’t afford not to own one. Cutting from $350 to $300 was a good start, but the ideal price range is going to be around $200-$250 at the very least, that much is clear. I don’t know if I can agree that cutting out the gamepad entirely is the correct way to get to that point. Without the gamepad, the Wii U is simply a last-generation console that plays new Nintendo games, and almost nothing else. Nintendo has to find a way to get costs down without sacrificing the originality of the gamepad. In a related note, they also need to find better ways to prove the gamepad is a worthwhile innovation, which hasn’t really happened yet. But most importantly, there has to be another price cut, and Nintendo needs to let everyone know that it’s at least on the horizon.
I want Nintendo to succeed, but they need to make some big changes quickly. Here’s to hoping this was the wake up call they needed.