A New Nintendo Game System--A Mixed Blessing?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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A New Nintendo Game System--A Mixed Blessing?

About a month ago, word started emerging about a whole new breed of system for Nintendo. It was a strange idea, but the word continued to circulate that Nintendo was indeed planning a whole new next-gen title just as the participants of the current next generation had only just started. It was an idea that was staggering in its scope and in its potential implications. Though not much has been heard out of it lately, I still thought it'd be a good time to settle in and hash over the idea. Because this is a huge idea, for reasons that some may not have even considered.

Basically, the word goes something like this: Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata, noted that, as should be expected, once one hardware platform has been released, the next one inevitably starts development. Makes sense enough, right? And the company's had about a year so far to do some development work, so it should be fairly far along the track, so to speak. But Iwata went on to say that the replacement for the Wii U wouldn't launch until the current crop of Wii U owners were “satisfied” with the “great value in our software.”

All of this sounds pretty standard, but when we last looked at Nintendo, we found out that even some of its developers were wondering if maybe, marketing-wise, Nintendo had dropped the ball, marketing something that sounded less like an actual gaming system and more like an accessory for the previous system. Thus, for some to consider the idea that maybe Nintendo would do well to bump up its product life cycle a bit and start fresh with a new system wasn't necessarily out of line.

That's what got me thinking. What if Nintendo short-circuits the product life cycle? Normally, we know that systems come out about the same time; the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 came out within days of each other, but the Wii U came out fully one year prior. What if this time around, Nintendo brings out its new system a few years ahead of its competitors? What if the next generation starts in three to four years...and only the Wii Next or whatever is in place? Naturally, it's the kind of move that will lose Nintendo some fans. Shorting the Wii U isn't a way to make people feel confident about their investment, and making any future investment will be harder to justify. What if THIS one only lasts five years, people will say, and not without cause. But if Nintendo can offer a little extra inducement—a free game or two right out of the box, for example—then there's some wiggle room in terms of getting users to justify purchases.

This may do more harm than good. But it also may throw off the Microsoft and Sony camps to such a degree that it would almost force the two to follow along. That's a serious hit in the innovation camp, and look at the target. Essentially, Microsoft and Sony would be imitating Nintendo, and that's a development no one thought would come to pass.

It's a risky maneuver, and one that may never actually happen. But it certainly would be a bold move, and one that really shakes up the wider picture. I'm eager to find out if this actually comes to pass, or if Nintendo will keep up the slightly weaker new generation of Nintendo console for a while longer.

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