It’s safe to say at this point that the Wii U is a flop. Unless Nintendo can figure something out in 2014, it may even end up doing worse than the Gamecube. The company acknowledged this last week when it updated its financial forecast for FY 2013 by decreasing the number of Wii U units it was expecting to sell by more than 70 percent.
As you would expect, the Wii U’s performance has some Nintendo fans concerned that the game maker is finally going to throw in the towel. After all, Sega did the same thing after the Dreamcast suffered a similar fate after launching in 1999. Despite calls from investors and analysts to abandon the hardware market and focus exclusively on software, Nintendo is going to fight it out.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata held a press conference on Friday to address the company’s future plans in light of its FY 2013 predictions. Those plans do not include making games for mobile devices. Iwata stated that it wasn’t “that simple” and that poor Wii U sales “doesn’t mean [Nintendo] should put Mario on smartphones.”
Despite his resistance to putting Nintendo properties on mobile devices, Iwata is not entirely against using said mobile devices. In fact, he said that the company is now looking into using mobile devices as a way to draw people into their hardware/software ecosystem. As an example, he points to the success of Puzzles & Dragons on the 3DS – a port of the popular mobile title that at times pulled in over $3.5 million a day last year. While the 3DS port would never have the 13 million players that its mobile sibling has, it still sold a respectable 1 million units in Japan alone. What makes that particular feat extraordinary is that the mobile game is free-to-play yet it spurred players to spend $40 to purchase a version of the game for the 3DS.
It’s phenomena like this that has Nintendo convinced that it can stay in the hardware market. As long as the company utilizes mobile devices effectively to draw in the modern consumer, it can still make the hardware that it needs for its software to shine.
Nintendo has already taken steps towards this kind of marketing by releasing a mobile Web app version of Miiverse. The social network is easily one of the best features on the Wii U and 3DS, and letting users get a taste of it on mobile devices might draw them into the Wii U/3DS ecosystem where Miiverse truly shines.
Looking to the future, Nintendo could take a cue from developers like Ubisoft who are building companion mobile apps for their console games. Players quickly find that the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag companion app is an indispensable resource once they start to use it alongside the main game. If Nintendo were to release such an app for one of their core titles, it could lead to better engagement with players. Hell, Nintendo could just release a Pokewalker app for Pokemon X/Y and rake in the dough with IAPs.
Whatever Nintendo decides to do, it’s going to be surprising. Whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen, but the company has pulled miracles out of nowhere before.
Image via Nintendo/YouTube