Who am I kidding? I love to say that. But while I’m happy about being correct, I’m sad for Nintendo. I love Nintendo. I really do. And so it pains me to see them in such a state.
But I come bearing gifts. Rather than being the millionth person to advise them to move their games to smartphones, I thought I’d offer another alternative. It’s one I’ve laid out previously, and the response to it seemed positive enough that I thought it was worth elaborating upon. Because again, I want Nintendo to survive. And thrive.
What Nintendo needs to do right now is create another console. They can continue support for the Wii U through their current roadmap of games, but then it’s time to call a spade a spade and put all their resources behind this new system.
Here’s what I’m thinking: a $99 box built from the ground up to play retro Nintendo games. Mario. Zelda. Icarus. Donkey Kong. Pokemon. You name it. Have a bunch of titles ready to go at launch to ensure a blow-out. Release more as time goes on. But not in stores, entirely online.
This device would not have any physical media. No cartridges. No optical drives. Only a hard drive and an online store. Games would be $5 to $15 depending on the title. Hundreds of titles would be available within months of launch. Thousands within the year. Stagger them.
And that’s just step one.
Step two of my strategy would involve updating old classics to run with updated HD graphics and new levels. New Mario. New Zelda. New Icarus. New Donkey Kong. New Pokemon. Same idea. Updated graphics. New levels. These games would be $15 to $25 depending on the game. Stagger them.
There’s more: step three.
Strike deals with other “retro” game makers such as Atari and Sega to license their old games and give them the same treatment. Updated graphics, new levels. Sell the games through your online store at $15 to $25 a pop. Watch the money roll in.
Does anyone in their right mind doubt that such a box would be an immediate best seller? It would be massive. It would blow all the other consoles out of the water. $99!
The Wii offered some of this via the Virtual Console. But it wasn’t nearly good enough. It was too slow. Too unintuitive. And it was tied to an albatross. This should be the main selling point of a device. Set it free.
Nintendo’s strength is in nostalgia. They should be playing to that rather than trying to compete with the likes of Sony and Microsoft. I guarantee you that if Nintendo made such a move, those companies would have another “Wii moment” and drop everything to emulate Nintendo’s strategy. Except they wouldn’t be able to without Nintendo’s IP.
And in the moment when the competition is dizzied, that’s when the upper-cut comes.
Announce that this new Nintendo box is opening up its SDK to all developers. Both the bigger game studios and more importantly, independent game makers. They will all be treated equally as long as they’re willing to create fun, simple games for the new Nintendo box. Such titles will sell anywhere from $5 to $25. Nintendo will take a 30 percent cut, the developers will get 70 percent.
I almost feel silly writing all of this. Of course this is what Nintendo should do. They probably won’t — instead, they’ll dick around with lame smartphone marketing apps and licensing characters for fitness something or whatever. But they should do this. How do they not see it?
It’s because they’re proud. And that’s too bad. Because the end game if they do continue down the current route is to be a maker of smartphone games. They can still be a successful company doing that — but they’d be a shadow of their former selves. Atari. Sega.
My $99 Nintendo box in an era of $500 consoles is a clear winner. ARM chips are good enough now. Have you seen recent iOS games? Nintendo needs but make a great controller. A really great controller. They can do it.
And once that box is a huge success, they should release a mobile device that can play all the same games. Cheap. Easy. Fun. Don’t worry about beating the iPhone or Android. Play to your strengths.
And that’s the key. Nintendo is not Sony or Microsoft or Apple or Google. They are a gaming company with the best gaming IP in the business. They’re losing an arms race right now because they’ve tried to enter it. They’ve created a box in an attempt to compete with the Xbox or Playstation with a controller to compete with the iPad. They’ve failed in both regards.
It’s time to try something different. It’s time to use what others perceive to be a weakness and turn it into a strength. The Wii gave a glimpse of how this should be done. It’s time for a new Nintendo box to drive the point home.
Take this, Nintendo. It’s dangerous to go alone.