It's 2001 all over again. Only this time, Nintendo doesn't
have anything to fall back on. In the late '90s and early 2000s,
) attempted to run its console business into the ground by
releasing a lackluster follow-up, GameCube, to a lackluster
system, Nintendo 64. At that time, Nintendo owned the handheld
gaming market. The Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance
provided Nintendo with billions of dollars in profit. As a
result, Nintendo was able to relinquish its spot at the top of
console gaming and
become one of the industry's most profitable companies.
By releasing the Nintendo 3DS without any good games, and by
charging a price ($249.99) far beyond the system's worth,
Nintendo was forced to cut the price
several months (years!?) ahead of schedule. In what seemed like
an instant, the company lost its cash cow -- the handheld market
-- and saw its market cap drop 50% in the following months.
Following the price cut, sales of the Nintendo 3DS began to
pick up. But unlike the original Nintendo DS (and the various
Game Boys before it), the 3DS still lacks a wide range of quality
software. Did it improve last Christmas? Yes. But it pales in
comparison to the original DS.
With fewer games on the market, Nintendo has not been able to
make up for the lack of hardware sales with software sales.
Leading up to Nintendo's E3 2012 press event,
was riding on the company's ability to impress consumers with its
next console. It wasn't just Nintendo's own bottom line that was
at stake; Nintendo had essentially been tasked with saving the
entire console industry.
Year after year, Sony (NYSE:
) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:
) continue to drag their feet, staying the course instead of
releasing new and innovative hardware. New consoles keep our
industry young. They reinvigorate the masses and inspire mass
sales. But in an effort to stretch the profitability of
PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, their respective makers have decided
to wait to release their next consoles.
In essence, this made Nintendo our only hope.
It's no secret that the media wants consoles to die so that
tablets can take their place as…what, exactly? The new leaders of
lackluster gaming? Nintendo is eager to help them, it seems.
Instead of fighting like a champion against the toughest of
competitors, and instead of reminding consumers why console
gaming is and should always be a cherished form of entertainment,
Nintendo has done nothing to ensure the success of its next game
Rather, the Mario maker has done the opposite.
In addition to the official unveiling of NEW Super Mario Bros.
U (the official title for the silly Mii-themed Mario game
unveiled last year), and the breathtaking demonstration for
Pikmin 3 (a lifetime classic, to be certain), Nintendo unveiled
Sing, a silly karaoke game; a new version of Wii Fit (shows
promise, but it's essentially more of the same); and a ridiculous
mini-game compilation called Nintendo Land.
None of these games scream "system-seller." None of them were
on par with Super Mario Galaxy or The Legend of Zelda: Twilight
Princess -- just two of the impressive games that accompanied the
original Wii's unveiling in 2006. Yes, Zelda was a holdover from
GameCube. But Mario Galaxy was a fresh and exciting chapter in
the long-running series.
In 2006, Nintendo also showed off Metroid Prime 3: Corruption,
a spectacular first-person adventure that introduced unique
motion control elements. And let's not forget about Wii Sports,
the creative motion-controlled game that helped Nintendo sell
millions of Wii consoles.
Six years ago, third-party developers brought a handful of
creative concepts to Wii, including a motion-controlled Tony
Hawk-themed racing game from Activision (NASDAQ:
), and an innovative shooter/adventure game from Konami (NYSE:
) called Elebits.
This year, third-party developers brought a cornucopia of crap
to Wii U, including first-person shooters that are destined to
suck (ZombiU*? Are you kidding me!?), a little too much hype for
the next Darksiders, an obsessively long discussion on Batman:
Arkham City, and teasers for other games that will appear on
other consoles, such as Assassin's Creed III. (*If you think
ZombiU won't suck, go back and play Ubisoft's last over-hyped FPS
I have said a thousand times -- and will say a thousand more,
if I must -- multi-platform games are not enough to sell a
console. By wasting several minutes on third-party games,
Nintendo has showed that it doesn't have the first-party content
necessary to make Wii U a true success.
I am a diehard Pikmin fan; one of the biggest you will ever
meet. I cannot wait to play through the third edition. I would
buy a Wii U for that game alone. But I am the minority. Most
consumers don't care about that series, as proven by the
disappointing sales figures
. With only 780,000 units moved in North America, 560,000 in
Japan, and only 250,000 in Europe, Pikmin isn't a strong enough
brand to sell Wii U.
NEW Super Mario Bros. U will be fun, but it's the same-old
thing. Don't get me wrong; I love Mario. I think
proves that. (If not, then you should know that I wore that red
hat -- and that green mushroom shirt -- to work at this time last
year.) But while it was cool to see a new 2D Mario on the
original DS, and while it was nice to see another chapter on Wii,
Nintendo is beginning to beat a dead horse. We don't need
additional 2D Mario games, but that's what we're getting -- one
on Wii U and one on the 3DS. How about another Galaxy instead, or
an entirely new kind of Mario game? Nope. Not from Nintendo.
Nintendo could have used E3 to unveil a new Mario Kart for Wii
U, the next Zelda, a future Metroid, or some other great game
that will excite the masses. Nope. Not this year. We have to
And wait we will. When the Wii U is released, consumers will
respond with the
same level of excitement
that they had for the Nintendo 3DS when it was released.
(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.