Nintendo is an icon in the gaming community, and with good reason. They helped bring back the industry after the crash of 1983. They made the mobile gaming community a thing, and have been on the tongues of gamers for decades. Yet, they have had dark times. Low sales, stock prices plummeting, and more. Things have gone up a bit recently, but the current generations of consoles is a reminder that Nintendo does fail at times. With the Wii U being dead last in sales, all Nintendo Fanboys and Fangirls are hoping that their next project, the NX, will be something truly special.
But what will it take for the NX to be successful? Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime admits that Nintendo has to do better with the launch, and the titles on it, but is that all? Here is my thoughts on what the NX needs to do in order to be a hit console, and have a chance of winning the next console war.
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1. Come Out Of The Gate Swinging
They say you never get a first chance at a second impression, and that's true. For many new consoles, and the handhelds too, once they're available to the public, the judgement begins. To really make an impact, you have to show off what you have right at the start. This usually means having a killer app or two right out of the gate.
For the Wii, we had two in a way. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Wii Sports. The latter was free, and the former had been ported from the Gamecube to the Wii in order to not only show off the Wii Motion Controller, but also have an all-star in the lineup, and it worked. Impactfully in fact.
Then for the Wii U, we didn't really get that. Yeah, we had Nintendoland, but it didn't shine like Wii Sports did. As for the "killer app", we got Super Mario Bros. U, a good title, but not one that utilized the Wii U to its full potential.
For both consoles, there was a drought of good games after the launches, Nintendo can't do that with the NX or risk another failure. The difference for the Wii was that there were a ton of casual games to tide us over, and that worked. For Wii U, we didn't have that. To calm the minds of fans, they need to have a lineup of games to make the first year of the NX one to remember, not one they wish they could forget.
2. Make It Clear What It Is And Why It's Good
If you look at the success of Wii, and the failure of Wii U, you'll see some clear differences. Key among them, was the advertisement of what they were, and what they weren't. When the Wii was announced, Nintendo heavily emphasized the use of Motion Controls. While first deemed silly, once people saw what the Wii could do, they were interested. Then once they got the games and the console in their hands, they became VERY interested. There's a reason the Wii was the second most sold console of all-time, because it worked with what it was meant to do.
In contrast, the Wii U wasn't really advertised for what it was. the name itself didn't help. And when they first unveiled the Wii U, they just showed the controller and not the console itself. While many did understand that it was the successor to the Wii, the casual fan looked at it and thought, "Is that an accessory for my Wii?"
Add to that, while the second screen controller was good, and it worked well when used properly, a lot of games didn't take advantage of it. Because of that, it failed to live to its full potential. Even some Nintendo 1st party games didn't make full use of the second screen. Plenty of 3rd party games didn't. When you add these all up, it leads to bad things, and in this case, poor sales.
Whatever the "gimmick" the NX will have, and it should have one, it needs to be made clear not only why it's on the console, but why both gamers should play it, and developers should develop for it. Then, market the heck out of the console and show why it is special. We're not idiots, but we do need to be told why we should like this shiny new thing.
3. A Name That Resonates
Naming a device can be hard. If it doesn't hit with the people you're selling to, it's not going to sell. This goes especially for gaming devices and the games that go with them. As you're trying to hit a broad demographic and show off your latest creation.
Sometimes names can be simple, and simply added upon for the next generation. This is part of the success of the PlayStation in my opinion. Everyone knows what the next generation will likely be called, and it works! For Nintendo, they've often tried to tie their names to the console. The first was the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, and that worked. The next was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and that worked too. The N64 was named because of its 64-bit graphics card, the GameCube was...well, cubical. The Wii was about everyone playing, and the Wii U...well, they said it was about asking what "you" wanted to play next, but it didn't really work.
Like the topic above, the Wii U failed in part because of its name. For the NX, they really can't have that happen again. Every console has a codename, the Wii was "the revolution", and then the Wii U was "stream". The NX is not the name of the next console, but it should be an indication of what Nintendo should name it. The name of the next console should be one that every gamer will love saying. Honestly, NX works, and it's creating a lot of buzz because we don't know much about it. So when the name of the console get revealed, if it has have the pizzazz of NX, they'll be off on the right foot.
4. Use The Full Nintendo Gaming Roster
One of the big reasons Nintendo has lived so long, is because they have a vast gaming roster filled with characters of all shapes and sizes. Just look at Smash Bros. and you'll see exactly what I mean. Furthermore, if you look at the games themselves, you'll see that just about every franchise is a different genre or sub-genre. Mario is a platformer, Zelda is adventure, Metroid has been a first person or side scrolling shooter, Smash Bros. is fighting, Mario Kart and F-Zero are racing games, Star Fox is a space shooter, and so on.
Each game is meant for a different audience, but it's all for the Nintendo brand. Unfortunately, especially during the Wii and Wii U eras, many of these franchises have been missing.
Now yes, some did make a comeback on either the consoles or handhelds, Donkey Kong and Kid Icarus stand out in that regard, but, there were still casualties. Despite having a legendary set of games on Gamecube, and one on Wii, there's no indication that Metroid is coming back in pure form any time soon. Yes, Other M is to blame for part of this, but Nintendo more than anyone should know that while one game can kill a franchise, it just takes one good attempt to bring it back. That's what happened with Prime, so they should try and make it happen with another on NX. Especially since their "other attempt" with Federation Force didn't exactly work out.
Then there's F-Zero, a series that has one of the most popular Nintendo characters in Captain Falcon, yet hasn't had a game since GameCube. Where is it? Star Fox recently had a title on Wii U, but it was met with middle-of-the-road reviews. Fans weren't happy that the game didn't have online play, which is a huge oversight. Then there's series like Earthbound, Golden Sun, even Kid Icarus, these series are major fan desires, let's bring them back! Or how about Fire Emblem coming back to consoles? Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn brought a lot of fans to the series, myself included! With Fates being a major hit, maybe it's time for a return to the big screen.
Now yes, it would be nearly impossible for Nintendo to bring every franchise they have onto one console. But that's not to say they shouldn't try. This could be an opportunity to test out young studios to see if they can remake, or even rebuild, classic franchise for a new era. It worked for Metroid, why not for others?
If the NX can get a slew of 1st party games that aren't named Mario, they may have a chance to land several knockout blows to Sony and Microsoft. You have the roster, it's time to use it.
5. Reach Out To 3rd Party Developers
Ever since the N64, and the arrival of the PlayStation, and then later the Xbox, Nintendo has struggled to get major 3rd party support. This is in part a business decision, as the other consoles have had better graphics, and thus developers migrate to that. You always see 3rd party developers praise consoles when they're "unveiled", and there's nothing wrong with that, but that doesn't lead to games. Both the Wii and Wii U had major struggles with 3rd party games from certain major companies. While they did get exclusives for sure, they didn't get them to the caliber that Xbox and PlayStation did. This needs to change.
One of the big exclusives for Wii U was Bayonetta 2 from Platinum Studios. This was a HUGE get, and despite some initial reservations, the game was a masterpiece, even winning some Game Of The Year awards from websites, and being nominated for GOTY by many more. Heck, Bayonetta even got into Smash Bros. because of this! Nintendo should strive to do this in spades for the NX.
Now how can they do this? Well, one part is the console, they have to have something developers will WANT to develop for. But also, they need to know Nintendo will support them. To this end, I have two suggestions. One, offer a 1st party game for them to develop. Yes, this is how Metroid: Other M happened, but just because it didn't work then, doesn't mean it can't work now. It was reported that Criterion, who made the Burnout franchise, was contacted to help make F-Zero for Wii U, but it fell through. Imagine what it could've been though! And don't forget, Capcom made several Zelda games, and they were all big hits.
Imagine other major developers doing something like that. Like Bethesda making an open world Pokemon game. Or Bungie taking over Metroid for a game or two! The possibilities are there, Nintendo needs to reach out to make it happen though.
The other idea is for Nintendo to have an "open door" policy for 3rd party developers. By this I mean be open to ANY idea that ANY 3rd party might have. There are plenty of developers who want to make titles, but aren't sure if they'll be heard out. If Nintendo was to do that for the NX, it could lead to many exclusives, and a lot of good will towards the company.
6. Make New Franchises
One of the downsides of the massive gallery of franchises Nintendo has is the fact that they can at times become reliant on it. This goes especially for Mario, who is everywhere, and for good reason. But when there are several Mario games out for one console, yet not much that is "new", fans get irritated.
Now while bringing back the whole gallery is needed, Nintendo also needs to show they can continue to make new franchise. Easily two of the highlights of the Wii U was Splatoon and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Both new games that were made by Nintendo and their teams, and were big successes in many ways. Splatoon literally came out of nowhere at an E3, then in the course of a year, became a phenomenon that went long past its launch. It was a pure Nintendo approach to Multiplayer Gaming, and it worked! The Splatfests they did were popular right up until they ended.
For Xenoblade, it was an answer to the cult hit Xenoblade Chronicles, and proof that Nintendo could have a massive, and gorgeous, game on their console. Small issues aside, the game was magnificent, and many are hoping for a third game in this series.
Sadly, that's all that was really "new" for the console. The Wii wasn't much better. The "open door" policy I mentioned for 3rd party developers could easily work here as well. Imagine Nintendo going to all their inner development teams and their 2nd party places and going, "if you have an idea for a new franchise, draft it, and then pitch it to us." Think of the possibilities!
Now yes, it's unlikely we'll get more than a few on the NX, but that's ok! the initiative would be there, and throughout the course of it, and whatever handheld is there, the teams would know they have a chance. Also, if Nintendo told fans about this initiative, it would give them hope for the future, no matter what the generation.
Every company needs to grow, and Nintendo is no different.
7. Add Achievement System
Speaking of growing, Nintendo has actually been behind in many trends of gaming. They were last to the party in regards to online play, and only really got their legs in it with the Wii U thanks to games like Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and Splatoon among others. But another thing is that Nintendo doesn't have an achievement system.
The reason this is important, at least to some extent, is interaction with fans. Moreso, it allows more desire to both complete games, and get certain goals. It's seen as an accomplishment to get certain things that can only be gotten by going the extra mile.
Where Nintendo can separate themselves from Sony and Microsoft though, is by using to encourage fans to get more games. Imagine, if they used this "Nintendo Achievement System" and gave gamers rewards for getting them. It wouldn't be much per se, but added up? It could be huge. The new Nintendo Club program, called My Nintendo, uses points/coins to give gamers rewards like memorabilia, games, and more. Now imagine if every achievement gotten through the games, gave you points. 5 points, 20 points etc. This would give gamers a chance to potentially get more Nintendo titles by getting these achievements. Which could lead to more consoles being sold, and many more games being bought.
This is one of the few things Nintendo is truly lagging behind in, it's time to catch up, then blast by the competition!
8. Listen To The Fans
Last, but certainly not least, is the fanbase. Now yes, I'm not saying listen to EVERYTHING we say, but, it is nice to know that they're listening, and at least considering what we're saying.
Nintendo Fanboys and Fangirls are among the most passionate fans in the world, especially those who have been around for multiple generations. We want the Big N to win every console war, and we're up for giving advice when we think its necessary.
Not to mention, we make known what games we want, and why. We want Metroid and Samus, we DON'T want Federation Force! We want to see a true sequel to Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, not games like Sticker Star or potentially Color Splash, and on and on.
Again, Nintendo doesn't have to listen to everything we say, but it's clear that they are up for listening to us. They did the Smash Bros. poll to see what character we wanted in the game, imagine if they did that for franchises we want to see returned? Or sequels we wanted! It would lend to the relationship between developer and fan in a way that the other companies may not have. After all, we're the ones buying the stuff, why shouldn't we have a say?
Anyone who is a loyal fan of anything wants the thing they're loyal to to succeed. It's just the way it is. For gamers especially, they want their favorite games, developers, and publishers to do well. We're there in the good times and the bad, and we're there to hope and dream that the next generation will either be just as good or better than the previous one.
Nintendo has all the potential in the world to make the NX work. Will they make use of it is yet to be known. But, as a Fanboy who has been here since basically the beginning, I have hope. After all, they've had more successes than failures, and even when they're down...you NEVER count Nintendo out.