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Why Nintendo Needs To Launch A New Console In 2016

by on March 16, 2015
 

Since this is the internet, and fans get very sensitive about these things, I’ll start by saying that I enjoy my Wii U.  It is the only current gen console I own as of now, and its 2014 lineup wreaked havoc on my wallet.  My personal enjoyment aside, the Wii U is clearly not a success.  Sure Nintendo will make money off of it in the long run, but after the tremendous success of the Wii, it’s hard to put a positive spin on this harsh decline.  While its opponents want to extend this console generation as much as possible, Nintendo needs to move on, and they need to do it in the holiday of 2016.

No Need For A Hardware Cycle

It has been the case, in recent history, for consoles to all launch within a year of each other, there is no reason that has to be the case.  If Nintendo wants to launch a console way before their competition, why not?

The argument could be made that the cutting the Wii U’s lifespan so short will be detrimental to Nintendo.  While there is some truth to this, the Wii U’s lifespan would not be all that short.  Setting aside the long lives of the XBox 360 and the PS3, most console cycles have been about five years long.  If Nintendo’s next console launches in 2016, it will have had 4 years on the market.  A short life, but not outlandishly so.  Some fans will be irked by the decision, but Nintendo Nintendo needs to move on, with or without those fans.

This move will actually allow Nintendo to sync up with their rivals.  Sony and Microsoft are in no rush to launch new products.  The PS4 and XBox One should last till the end of the decade.  If Nintendo launches new hardware in 2016, they’ll have 4 or 5 years of hardware that will be relatively on par with their rivals, and could launch another console when Sony and Microsoft are ready for their next generation.

Why is 2016 such a crucial time to launch?

Headsets Provide Nintendo an Opportunity

While I don’t think Nintendo needs to follow the hardware cycle, there are benefits to that model.  Competition between new products means headlines and hype for both parties, and a huge reward for the victor.  Sony expertly rode the wave of anti-XBox One sentiment to a hugely successful launch.  Years ago, Nintendo pushed the Wii as the fun and inviting alternative to its intimidating HD rivals.  The best time to launch a new device is when your opponents are launching, and the internet is creating a frenzy.

Of course, Sony and Microsoft are not launching new consoles in 2016.  They will however be launching hardware.  Project Morpheus is confirmed for 2016, and I doubt Microsoft will want Hololens to be left in the dust. Inevitably, Hololens vs Morpheus will be a hot topic in the gaming world for 2016’s holiday season.  Like the Kinect, both will probably launch with a console sized marketing blitz..  The gaming media and the internet in general will be abuzz with Hololens vs Morpheus discussion, and Nintendo needs to make sure they’re a part of that of that discussion.

Price also will play a factor in this.  Sony and Microsoft will still be pushing their $300-400 systems at that time.  However, they’ll be more interested in pushing bundles including their fancy new headsets, which will likely run between $500 to $600.  This will allow Nintendo to offer a system that may be slightly more expensive than the PS4 or XBox One without having their system viewed as overpriced.

The Price Of Waiting

To put it simply, Nintendo can’t ride out this hardware cycle with the Wii U.  Doing so will prevent them from rebuilding their fanbase, prevent them from rebuilding relationships with third parties, will cause their relevance to further diminish, and will keep their earnings low.  Nintendo clearly needs to launch a new console long before their rivals, and 2016 provides a unique opportunity.  If Nintendo is smart, they’ll take it.

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  • March 16, 2015 at 1:51 PM

    I respectfully disagree with this.

    Nintendo rocked 2014, and with even bigger first party titles coming out this year and 2016 if they release a new console they will alienate half of their customers. They have a gold mine right now and we probably shouldn’t need to see a new console until 2018 at the earliest. The XBox 360 after their first major year pumped out great games for half a decade. So should the Wii U.

    ReplyReport user

    • March 16, 2015 at 2:08 PM

      I respectfully disagree with your respectful disagreement :). While 2014’s lineup was certainly amazing (Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8, and Smash were among the best games of the year), they didn’t boost Wii U hardware enough to compete with its rivals. The 2015 lineup does not look as strong in terms of system selling potential, even if it may be superior from a quality perspective (of course E3 may bring some new announcements). I’m not so sure that Nintendo has a gold mine. They are making money, yes, but I believe that money is coming mainly from the handheld side.

      The difference between the Wii U and the XBox 360 is that the XBox 360 had third party support. The Wii U’s third party support is thin, to put it gently. I have no doubt Nintendo will continue to produce great games. I do doubt however that Nintendo can support the Wii U practically singlehandedly.

      It’s possible, nay probably, that some of Nintendo’s fans will be upset about the Wii U being cut off so soon, but I think that’s the lesser of two evils for Nintendo at this point. If 2015 sees a huge surge in Wii U sales, I’ll happily admit I’m wrong, but the current sales trajectory isn’t looking good.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      ReplyReport user

      • March 16, 2015 at 2:42 PM

        And would Nintendo get third party support if they up and create a new console thus forcing developers that want to be on Nintendo to learn how to make games on a different engine. If Nintendo releases a new console and keeps the same core engine of the Wii U then Nintendo will be castrated with people asking ‘Why did you create a new console if you are using the same engine?’

        I guess what I’m asking.

        Do you really want Nintendo to make the EXACT same mistake Sega did fifteen years ago?

        ReplyReport user

        • March 16, 2015 at 3:06 PM

          The major developers will generally design for a new platform, just to test it. Ubisoft at least would definitely try it, because they’ve supported basically every machine at launch.

          Assuming the power was in line with other systems, it would be easier to develop for. Nintendo could also switch their system’s architecture to be more similar to the XBox One and PS4, which would gain them some support.

          Obviously, I can’t guarantee that Nintendo would get third party support with a new system, but that’s far more likely then getting third parties to support the Wii U.

          As for the Sega analogy, I don’t think that’s apt here. Sega launched a year before the PS4. Nintendo, if they launched it in 2016, would probably have at least 4 years of hardware parity with their rivals. If Nintendo launches in 2018, then they’ll be launching about 2 years before their rivals, which would be more akin to the Dreamcast situation, where people are willing to wait for the next big thing on the horizon. Furthermore, Sega’s management was in turmoil, and the system never really had support from SOA. And the Dreamcast, in the US, was only supported for about 2 years. In 2016, the Wii U would have 4 full years on the market.

          ReplyReport user

          • March 16, 2015 at 3:53 PM

            While other consoles had six or more years of full support. Developers are now looking at the Nintendo for potential of growth since the Xbox One and PS4 can’t do a release without completely failing. Most consoles take one or two years to start up anyways then they get three to four years of good sales. The Dreamcast was pulled right when it was starting to get good. If Nintendo releases a new console too soon, it will blow up in their faces.


          • Smashbrolink
            March 16, 2015 at 11:15 PM

            Pretty much what Kuchiri-san said; pulling out some new hardware sooner than a normal cycle would be a very suicidal move.
            Everyone, EVERYONE, who is a core gamer knows that that’s exactly why Sega failed; pulling out of their consoles far too soon, and thus shattering any faith that potential buyers [not just loyal fans] would have in the products surviving long enough for them to get their money’s worth out of them.

            The cycle is a necessary thing. Nintendo home consoles aren’t like I-Phones; you can’t just pull out mid-gen and expect everyone to buy it because it’s the newest thing, and that’s not a business model that Nintendo could sustain monetarily anyways, not to mention all of the damage it would do to their reputation.
            Hell, it would only increase the calls for Nintendo to drop consoles altogether and just start developing for phones, if they start adhering to a hardware release schedule that’s as rapid as new phones have become.

            To put this even more simply; no one is going to trust Nintendo to be able to support new fans, when they are perfectly willing and able to abandon their oldest ones by switching home console hardware on them mid-gen.

            Abandoning their loyal fans would be a stupid move that would only do more harm to their publicity, and thus their long-term sales, than sticking it out.

            And regardless of what you think, Nintendo CAN ride this generation out with the Wii U.
            They’ve been doing so since the N64 era. It has never stopped Nintendo from surviving from gen to gen, and in case you had not noticed, the Wii U’s sales have been on a slow but steady up-tick lately.


          • March 17, 2015 at 1:21 PM

            @Smashbroslink If everyone knows that Sega went out of hardware because of trying to buck the console cycle, everyone would be wrong. At least partially.

            Did Sega’s 32X and CD hurt consumer confidence? Yes, but not enough to prevent the Dreamcast from having a successful launch. There were many other factors that led to Sega dropping out of hardware. One of the important one was a change in management to a person who wanted Sega to back out of the console business. This is combined with a low advertising budget, which led to an inability to counteract the hype of the PS2. That’s combined with a history of bad decisions (like Saturnday) and company debt. Sega’s add ons were a part of the problem, yes, but far from the whole thing.

            Furthermore, the cycle wouldn’t be nearly as short as Sega’s hardware, and the support would be far less limited. Assuming Nintendo dropped the Wii U cold turkey in 2016, that’d be four years. That would be a year less than the Gamecube. So, short yes, but not excessively so. It would also be 4 months MORE than the GBA. The short lifespan of the GBA certainly didn’t hurt the DS.

            And, I think you’re overestimating customers’ memory. Customers didn’t even hold a grudge against Microsoft for basically selling a defective product. If Nintendo’s next system (which was sort of announced today fittingly enough) is awesome, people will buy it.

            Anyway, even if you disagree, I thank you for taking the time to comment intelligently. Time will tell who is right.


      • Jonathan
        March 16, 2015 at 10:55 PM

        Your arguments are very strong. However, Nintendo supposedly has a good amount of money left in the bank, which means, this is clearly not their biggest concern. They always take a different road and most of they time they get it right. By saying this, I’m not saying they won’t launch a new console, but all I’m saying is that, looking back at history the way they do things has worked well. I have bought a ps4 and had 4 decent games on it.. I wasn’t convinced to buy a wii u excuse of their lack of performance.. at the end, I took the risk, and I ended up selling my ps4 to buy all the amazing first party games thee wii u has to offer. I came to realize that they are the alternative.. the experience from ps4 to Xbox one it’s not a big one.. while from those two to a wii u its huge..as.much as I like good realistic graphics, both, ps4 and Xbox one need to pay more effort in the gameplay they actually offer.. Destiny looks great.. the story is kinda bad, I played a lot online and was ok.. the order 1886, amazing graphics.. 7 ours campaign.. evolve.. etc I could go on.. at least 6 wii u games are rated higher than 8.5 out of 10.. quality.. gameplay and fun.. I don’t really think they need more graphics.. more kart and mario 3d world look pretty good. What they need to do is put more effort on taking advantage of the game pad. And a new metroid game won’t hurt. Zelda is coming.. ato this point I’m happy that they respect me as a costumer and don’t fall in the trend of giving half-finished games.. they do offer good looking games with an amazing gameplay.. I would rather prefFer quality over quantity.. until ps4 doesn’t show that.. I would hold onto my ps3..

        Reply

        • March 17, 2015 at 1:26 PM

          The problem with the money in the bank argument is that stockholders expect the company to be making money. If they don’t make money, people at the top lose their jobs. The company will not go out of business if they continue on their current path, but people will be fired.

          As for the rest of your comments, I mostly agree. I bought the Wii U and currently have little desire for a PS4 of XBox One. But, the market as a whole disagrees. As a fan and a gamer, I have no particular desire to see Nintendo drop the Wii U. From a business perspective though, it’s a necessity.

          Thanks for reading and commenting.

          Reply

          • March 17, 2015 at 5:11 PM

            The market as a whole right now is going all for Wii U because Xbox One and PS4 haven’t had a hit yet that wasn’t marked with any negatives.

            The Wii U is currently king of this console war. It’s starting to feel like you are talking about the original Wii against the Xbox 360 and PS3. If not that, your mindset is stuck back there.


          • March 18, 2015 at 7:25 PM

            @Kuchiri That’s just absolutely and 100% false. Look up the sales data provided by Nintendo in their quarterly reports, and the sales figures from Sony and Microsoft. The market is most definitely not going for the Wii U.

            Does the Wii U have the best exclusives? Possibly. But the system is not selling well. Even Iwata has stated as much in recent interviews. The Wii on the other hand, outsold its opponents regardless of what you may have thought of its games lineup (which for the record was stronger than the Wii U’s in my opinion). You can argue against my opinions, but you can’t argue against facts.


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