Nintendo has been making lots of headlines lately, for better or for worse.
The company posted a huge net loss of $228 million for the past fiscal year, as sales of the beleaguered Wii U continue to slump. The system just isn’t selling like its Microsoft and Sony competitors. But there are a few things Nintendo might do to reverse its fortunes.
Nintendo still has a pool of heavy-hitting IPs to work with: Star Fox, F-Zero, Fire Emblem, Zelda -- and E3 is around the corner. Don’t be surprised if Nintendo announces something big. And much to my personal delight, Nintendo has given us proof of new Pokemon games.The new titles are called Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire; they’re remakes of the decade-old third generation Pokemon games, Ruby and Sapphire.
Also, something President Satoru Iwata mentioned in Nintendo’s most recent investors meeting is branching out:
“We are seeing possibilities in licensing character IP in areas Nintendo has never worked before.”
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Iwata offered no elaboration. So what does that statement mean? Will Nintendo farm out some IPs to third-party developers? Will it develop more games with unorthodox premises, like the Zelda/Dynasty Warriors hybrid, Hyrule Warriors? Or maybe use the characters in places outside of gaming, like the old Mario movies?
Another admittedly more disheartening possibility is that Nintendo is planning to cut its losses on the Wii U, ending the system’s life cycle early. That would be a shame, but I think it’s also a bit premature; Mario Kart 8 will be out in a few weeks, and if any game can sell Nintendo consoles, it’s Mario Kart.
But Iwata made a striking statement about new hardware this week:
"We want to make new things, with new thinking rather than a cheaper version of what we currently have. The product and price balance must be made from scratch."
Iwata was referring to emerging markets, which is code for China. Thanks to its recent lift of the console ban, game companies can now legally sell their creations in The Middle Kingdom. So Nintendo is apparently looking into new hardware for China - meaning no scaled-down version of the Wii U, if Iwata is to be believed. This would be an entirely new console.
Maybe this is all smart PR timing by Nintendo. The company has a lot to fix if it expects to garner more sales this generation.