If you compare Nintendo's 3 least selling home consoles, N64, GameCube, and Wii U, you notice they all have one thing in common. The lack of first party variety. The Nintendo 64 had some of the greatest games of its generation from Super Mario 64, to The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. But compared to other Nintendo consoles, it's first party lineup lacks both variety and quantity. The console would often go months without a single first party release, and Most of Nintendo's own games were either the tried and trues (Mario & Zelda), Sequels to SNES games (Star Fox and F-Zero), or riding off of popular sports trends at the time (1080 Snowboarding, NBA Courtside). Rare and their games helped make the N64's first party lineup look a lot better than it actually was, and even then, Rare actually self-published most of their N64 catalog. Honestly, it's a miracle that something as creatively risky and niche as Sin & Punishment, came out of an otherwise, mostly risk-averse first party roster.
The GameCube was better, but not by a whole lot. Nintendo started finding new western partners in the wake of Rare's sale to Microsoft such as Retro Studios, Silicon Knights, n-space, Next Level Games, and Kuju Entertainment, but none of them could quite fill the void. With Iwata becoming president, and sub-sequentially restructuring Nintendo's internal development, the console did start to get more unique and Mature first party games towards the end of its life. But most of its early years were filled with an eco friendly Mario, Cartoon Zelda, Ghost-busting Luigi, Animal Town simulator, and Gardening RTS. While not as risk-averse as the N64, Nintendo simply didn't have the variety or number of games that other publishers did. And unlike the N64, they seemed hell bent on not giving the GameCube the types of games it needed to survive.
Then there's the Wii U, which IMO, was the worst aspects of both the N64 and GameCube rolled into one. Not only was Nintendo giving the Wii U games it didn't need, but they also seemed hell bent on doing almost nothing new for most of the generation. We got lots of Wii, and 3DS sequels, software droughts out the ass, a seemingly endless stream of cute mascot platformers, and no real groundbreaking game, or new ideas for most of its life. Sure, Nintendo did try to turn ship around towards the end with Bayo 2, Splatoon, and Devil's Third (bad of a game as it may be). But by that point, it was too little, too late. This stuff should've arrived early in the Wii U's life, not when the writing was on the wall.
Compare this to Nintendo's more successful consoles, where there's more thematic, conceptual, and genre variety since with a large user-base, there's bound to be somebody out there that'll like different types of games. In my opinion, Nintendo's at its most banal, and risk-averse when their platforms aren't doing well in sales. Since Nintendo depends so heavily on its own first party properties to move systems, that means they have to double down on safe, guaranteed hits whenever one of their consoles isn't doing so hot.Last edited by TheMisterManGuy - on 15 October 2019