Hearing Nintendo talk about decreasing Wii U and 3DS production for 2014 is surprising to hear. It's not good for fan or shareholder morale, and the DreamCast/Wii U parallels sadly echo Sega's fall from grace. Just before they reluctantly made these disappointing announcements to shareholders, the Wii U had been selling well for Christmas 2013. A lot can change in a month, though, and with the 2014 New Year came media misfortune. The media is a powerful tool, and the forces that be must have been paying big media outlets quite a bit to force Nintendo's fall from grace. However, Nintendo still has time, and they don't have to follow the same path Sega did. Nintendo admitting Wii U difficulties and business restructuring doesn't mean that they are rushing to exit hardware development.
Wii U
Not To Be Like Sega

Many forget hardware is just one part of this; there are different sides to it all. Yeah, it sucks to hear they have fallen on tough times, but but it doesn't spell the end for Nintendo. We're talking about a company that almost single-handedly supported their own Nintendo 64 hardware in the face of immense loss (developers, revenue, etc.). It may sound unbelievable to the new school, but Nintendo's been around the block, and they've been through worse. Already, there have been loads of naysayers telling Nintendo to pull out of hardware development. I really hope Nintendo ignores them, because I can think of several reasons why Nintendo should stick it out with the Wii U...

This really almost goes without saying, but there's one big reason Nintendo probably shouldn't make any rash decisions. That reason is not to be like Sega. Don't get me wrong; I support Sega and their games (I'm one of four I know who buy even their recent titles). However, the chain of events leading up to the DreamCast (and its untimely demise) are all still fresh in the minds of many who buy video games today. For this reason alone, Nintendo needs be steadfast in resisting the urge to develop new hardware too early. Developing new hardware before the next generation is what turned many against Sega as they sold hardware like the Sega Genesis, Sega CD, and Sega 32X simultaneously. Everyone knows how it turned-out, and those of us who were around back then can remember seeing games for these machines hitting bargain bins almost as soon as they were released. Some of us were intrigued and amazed at all the new technology, but the majority looked only at the bottom line. It was that bottom line mentality that sealed Sega's fate. Consumers were (for lack of a better term) traumatized by Sega's multi-system approach. Some of us are willing to buy hardware just to play certain games, and have accepted that it's just a part of gaming; not every game can be on every machine or re-released on every machine.

If Nintendo develops and releases a new machine before the Wii U finishes its battle with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, all those subconscious, dormant memories of Sega all come back. To Nintendo, it might seem like a new beginning, but it may seem like an all-too-familiar-scenario to the traumatized, "bottom line" consumer. What may seem like cutting losses for Nintendo could have an adverse effect on the fragile psyche of the average consumer who can forgive nor forget. Likewise, Nintendo should absolutely not exit hardware development. It's great that Sega is still around in all their iconic glory, but it cannot be denied that they shed a great deal of "fans" in the transition to being a third-party developer. Nintendo has fans, too. Lots of fans. Lots of loyal fans, worldwide. Fans that will buy Nintendo systems for Zelda, or Mario, or Metroid, regardless. These fans will buy Nintendo's systems as long as these games are available for them. Lack of these IPs is part of the reason the Wii U has been slow getting up. Slumps with Nintendo hardware sales between big first-party releases is nothing new; this happened as far back as the Nintendo 64! The point is, Wii U systems will sell...as soon as the Nintendo-branded IPs for it are released. It's not like there were a ton of games for PlayStation 4 and XBox One right out of the gates, either, though. Consumers like Johnny GameStop and Troy GameFly don't see quality. They see only numbers, and unfortunately represent a majority that would rather see piles of dogshit titles on shelves than fewer that actually matter. Nintendo just needs to stick to their own strategy and resist the urge for new hardware development until the time is right. With so much history under their belt, they can do it!

Tearing From The Obsolete

Think tanks at Microsoft, Sony, and around the web have done a great job in making the Wii U look obsolete. Sure, Nintendo hasn't marketed it too well, but the Wii U is far, far from being obsolete technology. I can't say anything new to praise the GamePad that hasn't already been said, but I can say that the hardware itself doesn't seem to have been accurately presented by most sources (print or digital). The majority of the public is ignorant, impulsive, and only receptive to what is seen first. Therefore, it's no surprise that nearly everyone is under the impression that the Wii U is weaker simply based on selected spec comparisons. Not all hardware can be compared side-by-side under the same conditions, but the average consumer will not go the extra mile to research and check what they have seen or read. It's that immediate headline on one of the big three media outlet sites that shape their views, and they have. Some analysts point out that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are more easily compared to each other than to the Wii U, due to its unique, IBM-branded PowerPC architecture. While this is so, there are still Wii U games that are on-par with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 games. The Wii U, while seemingly lacking in some specs on paper, functions much differently than the Xbox One and PlayStation 4; the chipset Nintendo had IBM make for it is powerful and efficient. This just goes to show that the machine not only belongs in the next generation battle with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but that it is a legitimate contender.

Decreasing Disparity

The graphical and processing disparity of the Wii U in comparison with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 once seemed very large. The disparity was like a great expanse created by the widely-assumed notion that the Wii U was incapable of anything near that of the Xbox One and/or PlayStation 4. Time reveals a lot, though, and time has almost made the Wii U more of an enigma than anything. Now that developers and players alike have had time to spend with it, more and more sources have taken a second look at the Wii U's potential and processing. Several articles have been written on how the machine's potential was misunderstood, miscalculated, and is higher than originally thought. Every time an educated article is written with solid, reputable sources in the industry, more of the gap between the Wii U and the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 is bridged. In particular, developers bridge even more of the gap between the Wii U and Xbox One when they disclose information about 1080 resolution issues on Xbox One. "Anonymous" development sources may claim otherwise, but I can't recall hearing much of the sort about Wii U. If the Wii U is so weak and so far below the Xbox One, then why don't we hear anything about developers struggling with resolution on it? After all, it's important to remember that the Wii U was made for video games (not cable TV and picture-in-picture). This is a key area to look at when considering the power of these machines.

Players and developers alike have talked about how the Wii U looks weaker than the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, crunching raw numbers and specs while paying no mind to the fact that official Wii U specs are merely approximate. Not having access to the type of specs they wanted to see, the media assumed the Wii U was weaker and continued their smear campaign from there. Ever noticed how all of the biggest names in the media have worked in concert, perfectly orchestrating the decrease in Wii U's popularity? Nintendo has always been careful disclosing specs on their hardware, so exact Wii U specs were never made public by Nintendo. Wii U developers are even under a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits them from discussing the system's specs, and it's supposed to be this way. There's nothing odd or sneaky about this. Most companies don't reveal their secrets. Nintendo pours a lot into R&D, so of course they don't want competitors seeing how they get such impressive performance from such efficient hardware. Hey, if Sony and Microsoft are fine with giving out all of their specs and secrets, that's their thing; Nintendo still values the mysteries of custom architecture that make video games interesting.

Iconic Familiarity

Nintendo's wide variety of IPs are absolutely iconic. IPs like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid have stood the test of time, holding their ground for years against any first-party opposition. Since Sega withdrew from first-party development, though, nobody even comes close to rivaling Nintendo on the first-party front. Sure, Gran Turismo and Halo are synonimous with Sony and Microsoft respectively, but they have nowhere near the iconic power of Nintendo's IPs. Compared to Mario, Zelda, and the rest of Nintendo's IPs, Sony and Microsoft's first-party efforts seem uninspired and bland. Uncharted and The Last of Us brighten Sony's first-party future, but still, they lack the nostalgia and established reputation of IPs like Mario and Zelda that make the consumer comfortable. It's this familiarity that moves units and hardware; consumers know what they're getting into when they buy a Mario, Zelda, or Pokemon game. Nobody's grandma knows what "a Halo" is, or who "Grand Tereatz Moe" is, but they sure know what Mario is! And it's not just about kids, either.

My generation knows what to look forward to when they buy a Donkey Kong, Metroid, or Punch-Out!! game. Again, any time Nintendo doesn't make enough from one IP, they can just choose another from their long catalog of classics. This is what Nintendo's opposition lacks. Though their opposition gets pretty much any third-party classics that happen to be dug-up, it's not like they can channel or summon that first-party nostalgia like Nintendo can. Nobody can replicate Nintendo's iconic characters, and that's why they haven't really even tried. Sony and Microsoft haven't really tried much to do so (Motor Toon Grand Prix was garbage), and it's probably because they knew they couldn't beat Nintendo at first-party development from the start. There's a distinct quirkiness, a certain tackiness in Nintendo IPs (like Mario) that Sony and Microsoft have an incredibly difficult time emulating. Nintendo's got several generations up on their competition, and it shows.

So much, in fact, that Nintendo has made enough from re-releases to keep on doing them. Nintendo has always made money from NES and SNES re-releases of stuff like Mario and Zelda with each subsequent machine they release; GameBoy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii, Wii U, and whatever else they make in the future. The cycle will always continue, and whether critics like it or not, fans will continue to buy because that's what they like. That being said, Nintendo could easily fill Wii U shelves with quality titles that do not involve inflated budgets or indie development. The solution lies in NES Remix. The game uses characters already created, made, and already paid for by R&D. These characters already have reputations and a place in homes worldwide. Nintendo needs to shamelessly exploit them to create titles that are as fun and familiar as NES Remix. Such titles could easily fill the title void many claim is responsible for Wii U struggles. Come to think of it, Capcom, Konami, and other veterans from the NES and SNES era could easily follow suit and create something like NES Remix from their own charcater libraries! I would say to imagine the possibilities, but modern gaming heavily discourages imagining possibilities...

"The Pokeys"

Pokemon was a money-making machine for Nintendo on the Gameboy Color, it helped them keep their head above water through troubled Nintendo 64 times, and it's still helping them today. It's safe to say that Pokemon-generated revenue contributed largely to the reserves they set aside for times like this. Both kids and adults alike still love "the Pokeys" (as Headquarters would say). Critics can bash Nintendo for the post-SNES decisions they've made, but buying Pokemon was arguably the best decision they've ever made. Period. It's non-debatable. .

Accomplishments & Goals

Another highly-debated topic is the novelty concept of arbitrary numbers and scoring awarded for meeting specific in-game conditions. The PlayStation 4 has Trophies, the Xbox One has Achievements, and wide misconception says Nintendo has nothing. Contrary to that widespread belief, Nintendo actually does have a system for bragging rights, and they're called Accomplishments. The great thing about Wii U Accomplishments is that instead of preset goals (like with Achievements and Trophies), they're customizable as tags through MiiVerse. That's right, players can make Accomplishments any way they like! Beginners can post an Accomplishment to the Miiverse for getting past the options screen, an intermediate player can post for defeating bosses, and an expert for breaking records.

Nintendo doesn't force a unified Accomplishment system on the player or developers, either. Different games present them in different ways; Batman - Arkham Origins uses the typical "achievement" system, New Super Mario Bros. U posts Accomplishments in-game for others to see, and titles like Tekken Tag Tournament 2 - Wii U Edition leave it to the player to design their own. Batman - Arkham Origins even takes it a step further and takes a screen shot of the Accomplishment with the descriptor below it! Still don't believe it? If not, it takes a while to wipe all that shit from your eyes; big media brainwashing is an incredibly powerful force.

Nintendo's Accomplishments approach really makes for a more relaxed gaming experience. Ever had an achievement you hated? Ever been stressed-out by one that was either near-impossible or impossible due to offline servers? Make your own! As pointed out by Destructonaut, one could even argue that the Stamp system featured in some Wii U titles is a reward system in itself. Adding to that is that the player isn't just being rewarded with arbitrary numbers; the player is being rewarded with something they can actually use.

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