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Author is Frederick Williams


Should Nintendo Stop Innovating And Make A Traditional Console?

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The original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was a pretty standard gaming console in its core design, but launched with a light gun (NES Zapper) and a robot (R.O.B.) that helped you play. [...] This innovative approach didn’t come as a result of evolving ideas through multiple iterations of consoles. It was in their DNA from the very beginning.


As most are aware, gaming peripherals do not have a great track record for success. [...]

Add-ons and accessories were not the only way Nintendo innovated with NES. [...] Nintendo was the first to offer a d-pad in lieu of a joystick. [...] The SNES added x and y buttons, as well as the first use of shoulder buttons. With the N64 we saw the introduction of two features that would become standard in future controllers from all console manufacturers, the analog stick and the rumble feature.


Many feel Nintendo should just give up on these “gimmicks” and make a traditional gaming console, with sufficient power to compete with Microsoft and Sony. This is an opinion I can understand, as I have often wondered the same thing. Not because I don’t like Nintendo’s unique approach to consoles, rather because I want to see Nintendo succeed.

This last point is the primary reason many feel Nintendo should leave behind their insistence on innovation. Although the Wii sold very well, its successor saw only 13.5 million in lifetime sales, making the Wii U Nintendo’s worst selling system to date. If this is an indication that consumers are not interested in unique styles of play or other “gimmicks”, and would prefer another console like the PS4, it could spell bad things for the Switch. [...]


As online multiplayer became more important to gaming, online communities grew-up around the Xbox and PlayStation. With Friends Lists and the introduction of Achievements and Trophies, where you play became immensely important to gamers. Moving to another platform would mean leaving behind your Gamer Score or Trophies, and possibly your friends, if they didn’t also move to the new console. All of this together has created a sense of allegiance to a particular console.

[...] How many consumers would be willing to leave behind all they have built to move to Nintendo? For the most part, if you currently play COD on Xbox you will continue to do so.

By charting a different path they have positioned themselves to almost require a “gimmick” to succeed. I personally feel Nintendo’s penchant for innovation is refreshing. I completely understand their strategy will not make them the Go-To console for multiplats, yet it brings to the market something different enough to carve out a niche for them.

The Switch in particular, is a very interesting product. There have been attempts similar to this, but not by a home console manufacturer. While products like the Nvidia Shield Tablet offered some of the same features, it did not offer Nintendo’s incredible portfolio of first party games or their distinctive personality. Switch will not replace Xbox or PlayStation. Though it may get some of the same games, those consoles provide a specific experience. Their emphases on power and big third party titles will result in something of a different character than Nintendo’s offering.


It is entirely possible for Nintendo to thrive with its unique approach to gaming. It is perhaps less likely they will succeed going head to head with their competitors with a traditional console. If Nintendo can garner 25 or 30 million in sales over the lifetime of the switch it will be a success. [...]

I feel a continued emphasis on innovative ways to play and unique experiences is Nintendo’s best roadmap to success. The market neither wants nor needs another PlayStation or Xbox. These two systems are great at what they do and compete well with one another. Nintendo is different. Not worse, just different. They always have been and I for one hope they will continue to be.



So, what do you think? Nintendo's approach has always been grounded in innovation? Should they go for a "traditional-esque" hardware design?