T R I A L S A N D T R I B U L AT I O N S
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.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD