The Nintendo Problem.

Nintendo has problems, that isnít a surprise to anyone. But with their latest E3 Nintendo Direct they become painfully clear and make me wonder about their future in the console industry.

Nintendo Directs

Whilst initially a novel concept to keep fans of the brand up to date on the goings-on with Nintendo - but they are a giant misstep, when it comes to E3. One single moment within a year; more gamers, press and investors eyes, from around the world are engaged in single spot - with what amounts to an hour long advert at an E3 conference. Nintendo in their infinite wisdom somehow believe they are above that, that they somehow donít need to be part of it - instead, it makes them look like the redheaded step-child of gaming. By ostracizing themselves from their direct competitors, theyíre no longer perceived to be on a level-playing field from the consumers perspective - and perceptions are what matter.

Next E3 they need to ramp it up, announce the NX (their next system) on stage, with all the fanfare, more marketing than ever before and actually attempt to make people care again. Streaming a pre-made video with puppets, interspersed with short documentary segments is the antithesis of that.

Nintendo Directs

The Target Audience

This latest E3 Nintendo Direct was abysmal, it was. The reason you see so many third-parties clamouring for attention at Sony and Microsoft's E3 conference's, is they understand - millions of eyes on your game helps sell it - that 60+ minute segment, holds more marketing power than you can possibly buy. The Nintendo Wii U actually has titles coming out in 2015, games that you have most likely never heard of. Why? Because Nintendo didn't show them. Games such as Devilís Third (by Tomonobu Itagaki known for Dead Or Alive and Ninja Gaiden) and the latest installment of the Fatal Frame (Project Zero in Europe) franchise. These games are being sent out to die, instead of being shown to potential consumers as a reason why they should even care about picking up a Wii U. If Nintendo doesnít care about selling their Wii U, then why should consumers even consider buying the thing? Knowing their audience, is a fault of Nintendo that is going to haunt them into their next (and if unsuccessful, last) console. And itís a problem that stems from up top.

The Devil's Third


For as long as Nintendo have been around, you have heard horror stories from game developers and press alike. Stories of Shigeru Miyamoto and his ego. Thereís an old adage in fighting sports, where the entire focus is on one personís potential to perform. Thus when a fighter becomes successful - or even a champion - they tend to lose. They stop doing the things that brought them to the level they were at, they surround themselves with Ďyes mení and begin to run their own training camps - instead of being told what to do, pushed and disciplined - they grow an ego and ultimately face defeat. Game developers can be the same - giant unfettered egoís running wild - with those around them afraid to speak out and put the Ďgeniusí back into the bottle.

Itís painfully clear Miyamoto loves to mold Nintendoís creative output to his own liking, signing-off on projects he personally deems fit for purpose, inline with his vision of what Nintendo should be. Miyamoto may indeed be a creative genius, but a genius stuck in time. Gaming has evolved and like the embodiment of Nintendo itself - he is refusing to evolve with it.

Shigeru Miyamoto


For as fantastic a success as Amiibo is for Nintendo, they are also a complete distraction. Introduced as an extension of your gameplay, they set gaming journalists abuzz on their potential, with games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity hinting at a possible future. The result? Glorified toys, taking up time in every Nintendo Direct aimed at gamers. They donít do anything, there is no ĎNintendo Universeí game in which all these glorified, overpriced and meticulously under-produced toys inhabit. Nintendo know exactly what they are doing - just like every gaming product they create - they under-produce, driving up prices from zealous consumers. A crying child unable to get their favourite Amiibo toy is a plus for Nintendo, it shows they are on the right track and itís what makes all their gaming titles stick around RRP (recommended retail price) for so long - at least the good ones anyway.

The problem is Nintendo is meant to be a gaming company, distracting focus from that, only hurts their games - not only on their creative side - as they have to half-ass some gimmick to add to their games, for their latest line of Amiibo toys - but from the marketing angle too. For as great as Amiiboís are selling, it isnít crossing over into success for the Wii U. Toys donít help the Wii U - games do.


New ideas

For as creative as a company Nintendo is, they are are currently bereft of ideas. A walled garden always looking within for their solutions, instead they need to look at others. PlayStation for example is a platform that doesnít have a large fanbase in any one particular game or genre, but how they have so many fans is through sheer diversity. A myriad of studios all with their own ideas, their own auteurs and working methods, like music artists each unique and doing their own thing. Comparatively Nintendo feels like itís all produced through the same brush, the same feel, the same ideology.

The future is not in the same, itís in different. Look no further than the newly announced Star Fox Zero hampered by the Wii U gamepad gimmick, halving any graphical output and in turn shackling the potential of it being more - looking like nothing more than a higher resolution PlayStation 2 game (and rumoured to currently play much worse). Nintendo need to think bigger, have studios bring forward their own ideas, for those teams to be their own masters and form their own workflow, without the overseer of Miyamoto. Nintendo need diversity if they are to survive going forward in the gaming console industry.

Star Fox Zero

What are your thoughts on Nintendo and their future? Let us know in the comments below.


Nintendo is a company that formed from humble roots as a playing card company. In 1983 Nintendo released the Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System) in Japan to massive success, this system was released in the West in 1985.

Since, Nintendo have released the multiple consoles and handheld devices over the decades, their latest being the Nintendo Wii U in 2012.

Opinion of: David Robinson
Twitter: @5ypher

Posted on 18th June 2015