In a recent interview, Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, talked about the future of their consoles, both current and future, and Nintendo’s plans to not only stay in the console wars, but to stay ahead. How he plans on doing that might surprise you.
The Wii U is going to be ready later this year, before any other next-generation competition. But Iwata repeatedly denies that “being first” is going to keep his company in the running, or that it’s even important. Instead, he plans to keep doing what his company has always done: do things differently, and do them cheaply.
Considering that Sony is about to release a PS3 “Super Slim” with a much smaller price tag, cheaply means a lot. Even though the Wii U will be considered next-gen, it will still be competing with current gen systems which will be as powerful, and now cheaper than ever. But Iwata isn’t worried. Instead he’s confident that the competitive price of the Wii U (which has yet to be disclosed) will be the deciding factor on its success.
And he’s completely right. If the PS3 was the first of the current generation consoles to be released, with that same abhorrent starting price, it would have only done slightly better in sales. After the initial hype went away, everything would have carried on as normal. It’s not about being first, it’s about being best. If you change the video game industry again and again (which Nintendo’s getting good at), but also do it cheaper than everyone else, then you are the best. the first on the market is only the icing.
It’s not surprising Iwata is focused on price. Nintendo recently reported their first corporate loss, but Iwata isn’t worried. He’s confident that they can immediately turn things around, using not one, but both of their systems.
It’s a well known fact that tablet gaming is taking the world by storm. However, tablets can be very expensive, so those that want to and those that can be a part of it are two different groups. That’s where the Wii U comes in, to fill in the gaps. Sporting a touchpad right on the controller, there’s little secret that Nintendo hopes to maintain not only their strong, occasionally rabid fan base, but pick up tablet gaming’s leftovers with a cheaper alternative.
Iwata also believes he can still market the Wii after the Wii U is released later this year. There’s precedent for it, after all. For years, the PS2 was outselling the PS3, and there’s little reason to believe the Wii isn’t capable of the same. Again, though, this all depends on price. Which no one knows yet.
Nintendo hasn’t changed their focus on innovation, rather than horsepower, for their consoles. And as long as that means an innovative price, they’ve got the right idea. They’re not going to compete against more powerful systems; they can’t, and they don’t want to. We’ll just have to see how the Wii U holds up to increasing expectations.
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