Nintendo is struggling to bring back its glory days but its future still remains uncertain
The 1980s witnessed both the crash and eventual revival of the gaming industry. Nintendo, whose Family Computer (Famicom) gaming system has been enjoyed locally in Japan since 1983, finally launched the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the United States (U.S.) in 1985 and it was practically Nintendo's golden decade from then.
Fast forward to the present, 31 years after its initial launch in the U.S., and consumers can say that Nintendo has definitely been suffering an arduous uphill climb for the past decade, especially since local tech giants have expanded to the gaming industry and outshined Nintendo's consoles.
Innovation is key when dealing with technology and, as Nintendo improved its consoles, so did its competitors-and they somehow do a better job of addressing criticism and exploring opportunities.
That is not to say that Nintendo has been clinging solely on the accomplishments of its NES because the company also improved its own consoles and garnered commercial success, especially with the Super NES (SNES), Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii and Wii U. Then there are also the different iterations of its Gameboy, DS, and 3DS handheld consoles, which proved to be a good platform to improve and re-release its classic games, as well as add to its roster of titles.
Things could have gone well for Nintendo but troubles with its controllers and the somewhat repetitive and conservative themes of its games have left the more "adventurous" players unsatisfied. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with wanting to keep game themes as clean and conservative as possible but in the business of game development, it is difficult to survive with sentiment alone.
Microsoft and Sony quickly overshadowed Nintendo's accomplishments when their own consoles were launched in the 2000's and it did not help that both companies have more game developers wanting to release their games on the Xbox and Playstation consoles. After all, unlike Nintendo's desire to control much of the game production and licensing, developers have more freedom in both the number of games they release annually and the thematic content of their games if they make the release on Xbox or Playstation. Creativity does not like limits.
Nintendo has been in a downward spiral for some time, with short-lived spikes of success whenever something new comes out, only to for the excitement to fizzle quickly, leading to its market shares plummeting once again.
2016 has seen the most recent proofs of this trend with the release of the tiny version of the NES classic gaming system this November, and which quickly went out of stock. Executives say that the demand was unexpected and that the company will ensure that shelves will be restocked for the holidays but between the initial release and the long wait for the new stocks to arrive, much of the excitement has gone down, especially since the tiny NES only includes 30 games.
This is also the case with Pokémon Go, which Nintendo dabbled in with Niantic Labs. Pokémon Go may have been the hottest and most-awaited game during its Summer launch but a survey released in October showed that the location-based game already suffered a 60% user decline. After all, unlike Ash Ketchum who has remained a 10 year old boy and has yet to "catch 'em all," real-world Pokémon "trainers" are quicker when it comes to accomplishing their goals.
Then there's Mario Run which has already joined the sad trend despite being only released for a few days.
Mario Run(s), Nintendo Falters
Perhaps another one of Nintendo's attempts to compete in the gaming world is its foray into the mobile games industry with the release of Super Mario Run on Dec. 15.
Despite being excited for the game, many players were not too happy with Nintendo's choice of a one-time purchase model for the Super Mario Run. Nintendo's chosen strategy for the game received a lot of criticism and the company's stock prices have begun to decline since then.
Nintendo presently remains afloat despite practically being drowned out by its competitors but it will take much more from company to be considered a part of the competition again.
"I hope people will continue to recognize the areas where Nintendo has taken that first step," Super Mario Bros. creator Shigeru Miyamoto said in a recent interview. However, if Nintendo continues on its sad trend, its first steps may be the only big things it would be recognized for.