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This is why the Nintendo NX has to succeed [EDITORIAL]

The constant rumor mill surrounding the Nintendo NX has given the as-of-yet unannounced console mythical status among Nintendo fans. Will this be the year that Nintendo finally gets console gaming right? One could argue that Nintendo has been off its game since the release of the GameCube in 2001, in terms of the console business. Sure the Wii was the best-selling console of its generation, but that was lightning in a bottle.

Nintendo’s Blue Ocean Strategy actually worked, until it didn’t and Wii sales cratered. Saturation happened and the blue ocean strategy that president Satoru Iwata had embraced to make both the Nintendo DS and the Wii products everyone should own was no longer a compelling reason to purchase another console. Many saw the Wii U as a half-baked response to the upcoming hardware refresh among Sony and Microsoft and flagging Wii sales, and the name didn’t help matters.

Despite the woes of its past few years of the Wii U’s life cycle, the Nintendo 3DS has propped the business up, but now that’s not even sustainable as sales for it continue to decline among a software drought that only sees one or two significant releases every few months. This is the cycle that is so familiar to Nintendo gamers, especially as third-party support from major publishers has all but dried up for both console and handheld.

Now the same thing that happened to Nintendo’s console business is happening to its handheld business. The handheld business is responsible for keeping the ship afloat amid Nintendo’s blunders in the console space as Wii sales peaked two years after release and then started a slow decline to almost nothing in 2013. Have a look at this sales chart:

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 12.53.00 PM

As you can see, the Wii U has not been the success that Nintendo hoped. A look at the sales charts of Nintendo’s handheld business shows something similar, but more predictable with the rise of mobile gaming. As you can see sales for the GBA and Nintendo DS achieved record results for the company, similarly to what the Wii did in the console space.


Iwata hoped to replicate that success with the Nintendo 3DS, but like the Wii U it featured a gimmick no one was sure they wanted and as a result, while launch sales were strong between year one and two, the Nintendo 3DS has quickly seen its sales peak and continues to decline. With both handheld and console sales flagging now, it’s absolutely crucial that Nintendo succeeds with the Nintendo NX.

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