Despite being on a roll since last year, Nintendo seems to be in everyone’s crosshairs right now. The company’s stocks have dropped significantly since E3, signaling that investors are concerned about the future of the Switch. This has led to reactions from quite a number of folks, and the “Nintendoom and Gloom” train has started rolling yet again. Personally, I’m not all that concerned, but why does the industry still seem to have it out for the Big N?
In recent years, Nintendo has been known for being the wildcard of the console industry due to its insistence on banking on abstract ideas. However, when looking at the company’s history since it got into gaming, it can be said that Nintendo has pretty much always played by its own rules. This is what propelled the company to the top in the ’80s and ’90s when it brought about a renaissance to the entire gaming industry. Nevertheless, it’s this trademark attitude of the company that has also led to it being in this current situation.
One thing to note is that the aforementioned stock drops are nothing out of the ordinary. As some others have pointed out already, stocks rise and fall all the time for most companies. On top of that, investors tend to be very reactionary in general. The reality is that the vast majority of them simply don’t care about anything other than the money involved. So, as soon as they believe there’s either something happening or that there’s something that could happen to threaten their investment, they will react quickly by pulling out. That’s basically what we’re seeing right now as some believe that Nintendo’s E3 showing was too lightweight.
Personally, none of the games shown during Nintendo’s E3 2018 presentation appealed to me. (And before you lynch me, I’m very selective with the type of games I play, but that’s another topic.) Nevertheless, I wasn’t surprised by Nintendo’s lack of surprises. Nintendo hasn’t treated E3 as a big deal in several years now. Nothing proves this better than how it handled the announcement of the Switch. Remember, the Switch didn’t come to E3 in any real capacity until after it was already on store shelves last year. Instead, Nintendo teased its existence, announced the release date, and revealed and launched the console at points in the calendar far away from E3 over the span of about two years. So much for taking advantage of the biggest trade show in the industry. Still, this was a pretty bold move, albeit one that isn’t that surprising. Like I said before, Nintendo is a wildcard. But it’s stuff like this that makes investors wary of the company, and they aren’t the only ones.
Nintendo has never been shy about doing things its own way, and that has led to the majority of folks in the industry to treat them with caution, like a fire.
While many indie studios have been flocking to the Switch en masse, there are still many big third-party companies that seem to be tip-toeing around the system. This behavior was understandable for the first few months, but it’s continuing despite the Switch selling well in markets all over the world–even breaking records in some cases–since it launched. For instance, we have a behemoth like EA that’s only halfheartedly supporting the system, releasing a single game so far this year (FIFA 18).
It’s become a rather sad, yet common occurrence in the Switch community for an infamous question to be asked when the majority of new titles are announced: “Where’s the Switch version?” It’s become so prevalent that overzealous members of other fan communities tend to mock Switch owners with this question, accusing them of “port-begging.” Considering how successful the platform has proven to be, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher why this question even needs to be asked in the first place. But, again, this is likely to do with Nintendo’s unpredictable nature.
If there’s one group that’s wary of Nintendo’s antics, it’s the developers. Nintendo’s stubbornness rubbed a lot of companies the wrong way during the aforementioned golden era of the ’80s and ’90s. Nintendo wasn’t just strange; it was also strict too. After all, it was the top dog. But it’s this attitude that ended up biting them back when Sony swooped onto the scene with the PS1 and wooed over a lot of Nintendo’s biggest supporters. As we know, the rest is history. Since then, Nintendo has had a hard time garnering proper third-party support on its home consoles. That’s another reason why the Switch is such a spectacle. While it’s still dealing with the consequences of Nintendo’s past, it is helping the company forge a new path to try and restore some of that former glory. But that change, as we can see, isn’t going to happen overnight.
The Switch still has a lot to do in order to sit totally cozy next to the other systems.
The fact of the matter is that while the Switch is a great system, it’s also kind of an embodiment of Nintendo’s wildcard attitude. As the first true hybrid system in the history, it’s captured the attention of many gamers, which has led to strong sales. But all because this is a Nintendo system and not an Xbox or PlayStation, the industry is seemingly scared to get too comfortable despite things looking good. While we’ve established that this has a lot to do with Nintendo’s strange strategies, what’s probably the biggest influencer in this whole situation is the Switch’s predecessor—the Wii U.
Remember, the Wii U is Nintendo’s lowest-selling home system ever. As the follow-up to the company’s best-selling home console ever and one of the best-selling systems period, the Wii, this was a massive fall from grace for the company. Not only that, it was the ultimate shake-up for this long-running contender in the industry. Nintendo had its back against the wall like never before. That’s why the tension was so high prior to the Switch’s launch. Nobody really knew what to expect, and apparently, not even some at Nintendo itself were sure that the new system would actually prosper, like the CEO of the Pokemon Company. Wow, think about that—an executive affiliated with the company known for being unpredictable wasn’t even sure its own new product would catch on. This probably makes it easier to understand why investors and developers still seem to be playing hot potato with the Switch. So, will this change in the future?
It’s really hard to say for sure. The Switch’s stellar sales performance up until now has been surprising for most, and it’s still unclear if it will be able to maintain this momentum. The biggest challenge the system faces is the incoming reveal and launch of the next-gen Xbox and PlayStation systems. It’s still hard to say when those new consoles will arrive, but it’s likely to be before the Switch is formally succeeded, which will put it in an even tougher spot than it is now with it already having to deal with technical limitations. Still, what this all boils down to is basically business as usual for a company like Nintendo. Its new president, Shuntaro Furukawa, will have to do a lot to create a more stable environment for the Big N. In the meantime, the most we can do is sit back, enjoy the games, and observe how this whole roller coaster ride continues to unfold.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the next few years will unfold in the console world.
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.