If you follow video game news, you must be aware that we are on the brink of the Nintendo apocalypse (or Nintendocalypse, if you will). The bad showing at E3, the lack of excitement for the Wii U, the falling popularity of Nicolas Cage, and clues hidden in the Mayan calendar are all signs pointing to the end of the Mushroom Kingdom.
News outlets scattered across the internet have all been eager to paint a solemn picture of Nintendo and the Wii U. Forbes has gone so far as to predict that the inevitable failure of Nintendo’s new hardware will lead to the death of all consoles everywhere. Of course, this is something we’ve heard many times before.
It seems like there have been more predictions about the Nintendocalypse than the real apocalypse, and yet, the Japanese game giant is still here.
There was a lot of similar talk back before the Wii came out. No one expected the console to succeed. People thought the name was beyond stupid, that not having third-party support would be disastrous, and that motion controllers were a gimmick. The most positive thing that people would say was that, while the Wii would eventually fail, Nintendo had probably designed the next controllers for Sony and Microsoft (which sort of happened, minus that stuff about the Wii failing).
No one in the gaming media really foresaw what happened next: The Wii outsold the competition and Nintendo made barrels full of bags of cash. If we rewind even further, to the launch of the DS, we’ll even see very similar story with that system. This is the cycle of skepticism and surprise that has been a part of Nintendo’s history for some time now. While the results aren’t always the miraculous underdog story of the Wii or the DS, Nintendo never actually goes anywhere. The company always perseveres through its hard times, through its Virtual Boys and its Power Gloves, and continues on to the next generation.
It can be argued that things are different now, that times are harder and tougher than before, that Nintendo has been hemorrhaging money and that the core gamer is more apathetic and harder to please than ever. All of these are sort-of true, but they’ve been true before. People seem to forget that the video game market is in constant flux. Things are always being reinvented. Companies that shy away from innovation and are unwilling to takes risks are the ones that tend to fail. A lot can be said about Nintendo, but no one can really say that they’re afraid of trying something new.
Now, nobody can know if the Wii U is going to be an unmitigated success or an absolute failure. It’s coming from a company that is known for surprises. There’s plenty working against it, sure, but it has more going for it than previous Nintendo consoles (for one, third party developers have actually acknowledged its existence). In the end, unless it’s obscenely overpriced, it’ll probably do fine.
Some people — especially those who work for any sort of news organization — always pretend that doom is perpetually around the corner. Let’s be honest, the apocalypse makes for interesting reading and throngs of the undead know how to have a good time. Still, I don’t think we are going to see Zombie Mario and the Nintendocalypse anytime soon.
Image via Deviant Art user ~littlenatnatz101