NIN­TENDO’S

T R I A L S A N D T R I B U L AT I O N S

GAX (Malaysia) - - FEATURE - By Peter Chu

It’s Al­ways Dark­est Be­fore The Dawn

ALL FROM GRACE

Un­less you were com­pletely de­prived of your child­hood (you poor, poor thing), you prob­a­bly would know the Ja­panese video game com­pany, Nin­tendo, like the back of your hand. As a mat­ter of fact, we’re pretty sure that they de­fined your child­hood even, with ev­er­green video game fran­chises such as Poké­mon, Zelda, and Mario, as well as hand­held gam­ing con­soles such as the Game Boy.

But even with such iconic fran­chises and prod­ucts un­der their belt, Nin­tendo has still re­gret­tably man­aged to lose its lus­ter over the re­cent cou­ple of years, and they have been strug­gling to get back on the right foot up ever since.

One could say that Nin­tendo’s fall from grace be­gan in 2012, when the com­pany re­ported their first an­nual loss in three decades, which amounted to 43.2 bil­lion yen (ap­prox. RM1.6 bil­lion). Nin­tendo at­trib­uted the loss to a weak Ja­panese yen, and vouched to com­pen­sate for it in the fol­low­ing fis­cal year, which, of course, didn’t ac­tu­ally hap­pen. In­stead, Nin­tendo con­tin­ued post­ing fi­nan­cial losses un­til 2015 came along, when they fi­nally man­aged to gen­er­ate 24.8 bil­lion yen (ap­prox. RM925 mil­lion) in op­er­at­ing prof­its, and con­se­quently end their four-year los­ing streak.

But that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily in­di­cate that Nin­tendo is in the clear, though, as their flag­ship con­sole, the Wii U, has been strug­gling to rise up against its di­rect com­peti­tors – namely Mi­crosoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayS­ta­tion 4 – since its launch in 2012.

As of De­cem­ber 31, 2015, Nin­tendo has shipped more than 12.6 mil­lion Wii U con­soles in­ter­na­tion­ally, which is a laud­able feat, no doubt – un­til you re­al­ize that Mi­crosoft, in com­par­i­son, has man­aged to move 18 mil­lion units of the Xbox One, while Sony has man­aged to dou­ble that amount, by sell­ing more than 35.9 mil­lion PlayS­ta­tion 4 sys­tems.

There are plenty of con­tribut­ing fac­tors be­hind the Wii U’s lack­lus­ter re­cep­tion: it has a lim­ited se­lec­tion of games, it’s fit­ted with medi­ocre hard­ware, and the GamePad that came with it was widely con­sid­ered as a gim­mick more than any­thing else.

RE­BUILD­ING THE FAITH

But not all hope is lost for Nin­tendo, as they still havee a num­ber of key prod­ucts that are do­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well in the mar­ket, with their amibo fig­urines be­ing the prime ex­am­ple. More than 31.5 mil­lion of them have been sold world­wide since they made their de­but in Novem­bermber 2014. Nin­tendo’s plas­tic ami­ibo fig­urines are so pop­u­lar, in fact, that 10 mil­lion of them were shipped within Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber 2015 alone. The card-type ami­i­bos are pretty pop­u­lar as well: more than 21.5 mil­lion of them were sold glob­ally since they launched in July 2015. At thehe rate that things are go­ing, you shouldn’t be too sur­prised to find Nin­tendo cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the global de­mand emand for their ami­ibo col­lectibles in the months and years to come – pos­si­bly through flood­ing the mar­ket with even more of them.

But Nin­tendo isn’t just a one-trick pony, as their re­cent game of­fer­ings have also been con­sid­er­ably suc­cess­ful too. Su­per Mario Maker, the Mario game for the Wii U that al­lows play­ers from around the globe to cre­ate and share their own in­tri­cate Mario lev­els, man­aged to sell 3.34 mil­lion copies as of De­cem­ber 31, 2015. An im­pres­sive achieve­ment, con­sid­er­ing that the game was launched in Septem­ber that same year. But what’s even more im­pres­sive, is that the game now fea­tures more than 6.2 mil­lion dif­fer­ent user-gen­er­ated playable cour­ses, which in to­tal have bee­nen played more than 400 mil­lion times as of Jan­uary 27, 2016. Hardly any sur­prise, then, that Su­per Mario Maker ended up be­ing nom­i­nated and awarded the Game of the Year ti­tle by sev­eral es­teemed gam­ing pub­li­ca­tions

But not all hope is lost for Nin­tendo, as they still have a num­ber of key prod­ucts that are do­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well in the mar­ket, with their ami­ibo fig­urines be­ing the prime ex­am­ple. More than 31.5 mil­lion of them have been sold world­wide since they made their de­but in Novem­ber 2014.

Shar­ing the lime­light along­side Su­per Mario Maker is the car­toon­ish third-per­son (ink) shooter, Spla­toon, which is like­wise ex­clu­sive to the Wii U. As far as sales fig­ures are con­cerned, Spla­toon has shipped more than 4.06 mil­lion copies world­wide within the first seven months of its re­lease in May 2015 – more than Mario Kart 8 did in the ex­act same pe­riod the year be­fore. It has also gar­nered rave re­views from the gam­ing com­mu­nity, win­ning the ti­tle of Best Shooter at the Game Awards 2015, beat­ing the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3; Star Wars Bat­tle­front, and Halo 5: Guardians in the process. Nin­tendo in­tends to con­tinue their suc­cess­ful soft­ware streak with the re­lease of The Leg­end of Zelda: Twi­light Princess HD on March 4, 2016. The game, which is es­sen­tially the re­mas­tered ver­sion of the GameCube/Wii clas­sic, will fea­ture new and im­proved graph­ics, off-screen com­pat­i­bil­ity with the Wii U’s GamePad, a new chal­leng­ing game­play mode called ‘Hero Mode’, and new items such as the ‘Ghost Lan­tern’ for se­ries pro­tag­o­nist, Link, to put to good use. See­ing that The Leg­end of Zelda se­ries has al­ways been well­re­ceived by both fans and crit­ics alike, we’re pretty con­vinced that Nin­tendo will be strik­ing gold with their up­com­ing Zelda re­lease.

Also sched­uled for a March launch is Nin­tendo’s first-ever mo­bile app, Mi­it­omo, which will let play­ers com­mu­ni­cate and in­ter­act with one an­other in-game through their ‘Mii’ avatars. While the game it­self will be free-to-play, it will in­clude op­tional in-app pur­chases that will al­low you to fur­ther cus­tom­ize your ‘Mii’ char­ac­ter. Suf­fice to say, Mi­it­omo’s suc­cess is go­ing to play a very im­por­tant role in de­cid­ing whether Nin­tendo should con­tinue in­vest­ing their re­sources in the mo­bile gam­ing mar­ket.

That’s not all that Nin­tendo has up their sleeves for 2016. Should ev­ery­thing go ac­cord­ing to plan, the com­pany will be drop­ping a ma­jor bomb­shell in the form of the Nin­tendo NX con­sole be­fore the year draws to a close. While not much about the NX has ac­tu­ally been re­vealed thus far, Nin­tendo’s Pres­i­dent, Tat­sumi Kimishima, did men­tion to TIME Mag­a­zine that it won’t be shar­ing any re­sem­blance with the not-so-well-re­ceived Wii U.

“As far as NX goes, I’ve said it’s dif­fer­ent and ob­vi­ously a new ex­pe­ri­ence. I can as­sure you we’re not build­ing the next ver­sion of Wii or Wii U. It’s some­thing unique and dif­fer­ent. It’s some­thing where we have to move away from those plat­forms in or­der to make it some­thing that will ap­peal to our con­sumer base,” he said.

With so many ground­break­ing new prod­ucts in the pipe­line, it cer­tainly looks like Nin­tendo might just have what it takes to bring them­selves back to their for­mer glory. It will def­i­nitely be an ac­com­plish­ment that their late pres­i­dent, Satoru Iwata, will be ex­ceed­ingly proud of.

Spla­toon

The Leg­end of Zelda: Twi­light Princess HD

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