As journalists, bloggers and pundits prescribe poorly thought-out solutions for Nintendo’s woes, the gaming giant continues to chug forward, although at a much slower speed than it did in the last console generation. Despite disastrous sales figures for the Wii U, software sales remain relatively strong and the 3DS took advantage of slowing hardware sales to top the charts in 2013. Nintendo has countless issues that it needs to address, but while the doomsayers of the Internet continue to prophesy the downfall of the company, it’s important to understand just how destructive Nintendo’s death could be.
Erik Kain, a Forbes contributor, argues that without Nintendo the entire industry could suffer a major setback in creatively and quality.
As Kain notes in his piece, it has become increasingly common for games to ship before they have been thoroughly tested. Some of the best-selling games of the past few years have had save-corrupting bugs, broken online infrastructure and ridiculous graphical glitches, in spite of multi-million dollar budgets and years of development.
On the contrary, Nintendo’s first-party titles are nearly unbreakable. Although the occasional bug can’t be avoided, the quality control at Nintendo is second-to-none. When I played through Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Super Mario 3D World last year, I was reminded just how polished Nintendo games could be. The experience was in stark contrast to playing Battlefield 4, a game that has struggled with countless bugs and subsequent DLC delays since it launched.
Nintendo is also venturing into uncharted territory that no other console maker will approach. The Xbox One and PS4 are fresh, exciting game systems, but they feel all too familiar. The Wii U is a new beast entirely, and had the market taken to it as ravenously as they did the Wii, developers might have been more willing to learn how to utilize the monstrous GamePad.
Herein lies the problem: Nintendo’s relationships have become far too strained. Nintendo fans have been slighted time and time again by a company that is unwilling to keep up with the rest of the industry. Developers have finally accepted that Nintendo’s hardware will never match the competition. If Nintendo can’t start giving gamers and developers a reason to return to its console, the Wii U could suffer the same fate as Sega’s Dreamcast. The games we listed last month are a great start, but Nintendo is well aware that 2014 could be a make or break year.
“Ultimately, I’m not sure how Nintendo succeeds in this market,” says Kain. “But it’s important that they do, if only to keep the competition honest and hold the industry to a higher bar.”