If there’s one thing to say about Nintendo, it’s that they constantly are going against the grain of mainstream gaming, for good or for ill. In the last generation, the Wii, complete with motion controls, saw itself the clear winner and sold over 100 million units, proving that top-tier graphics and a move towards becoming an “entertainment machine” weren’t what consumers wanted in a gaming console. The Wii U however, showed us that radicalizing that ideal can also be harmful to the console’s sales.
And as a result, Nintendo’s next console, tentatively named the NX, is under a lot of scrutiny. While it’s true that burning all of Nintendo’s money would create more smoke than a Colorado courthouse, the NX could decide how dedicated Nintendo stays at developing and producing a home gaming console. Here’s a few things that Nintendo could do to ensure the NX becomes successful.
1) What’s in a name?
One of the most harmful points for the Wii U was its name. It deeply suggested that it was some sort of upgrade for the Wii that you’d attach somewhere to play newer games and not being its own distinct console. As well, once the comparison between the Wii and Wii U was made, most began observing how similar they were, dissuading people who owned a Wii from make the jump to the next generation. While the name NX is just a placeholder, Nintendo should give some careful thought to the name of their next console. Hopefully it’s not called the Wii U 2.
The video games that feature Mario and Link are typically the placeholders of Nintendo development. When unsure of what game to develop next, searching for any interesting ideas to flesh out yet, or slowly shredding fan letters asking for more Waluigi, Nintendo gathers a few people together to create a Mario or Link-based game. And we get it. They’re generally not too bad either. But such games always just feel like something the developer does on their off hours, like they’re hiding the good game development in the back of the studio. Even while a great game, Super Mario Maker’s nostalgia-heavy foundation proves Nintendo is running out of ideas for the plumber’s platforming adventures.
Then there’s the other side of Nintendo. The one that stays up late, goes to the clubs on the wrong side of town, and makes Pokémon fighting games. Even with rumors constantly circulating about their next console and the bad rap the Wii U carries even this late in its lifetime, Nintendo saw a 151% increase in Wii U sales in Japan after the release of Pokken Tournament. A similar trend occurred when Hyrule Warriors was released. And while Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U (even with its awful name) did significantly help deflated console sales, it’s the oddball and experimental titles that serve to keep old IP alive, as well as give good reason for the console’s existence other than updated games from the last generation.
3) Independently Indie
Overall, Nintendo doesn’t seem like they enjoy making powerhouse game consoles, which is fine, but that means they tend to lose out on 3rd party games like Call of Duty. So rather than work towards building a console that could support more third-party games, a push towards indie exclusivity could do a lot for them.
There’s already the possibility that Undertale will be headed towards the Wii U. Making a dev kit more geared towards smaller development teams, or even making a version more suited towards porting games from PC, could help the NX a great deal. So many quality indie games are releasing constantly and having the NX become a Nintendo and indies machine could help bolster a typically bare library of games compared to its competition.