I am Jason Venter. I run HonestGamers and Gameroni. I am a gamer, a webmaster, a freelance game critic, a guide writer and a hobby novelist. I am fond of starting sentences with 'I' because I like talking about myself. Count the number of times that I used 'I' in this paragraph. You will see what I mean.
I have grown to hate the words "in denial" and "delusional," because people often misapply them to me and others like me for one simple reason: I don't think that the Wii U platform is doomed, doomed, DOOMED!
Look around the Internet right about now and you'll find that I am in the minority. That doesn't mean that I'm wrong to hold out some optimism for the Wii U platform's future, though. Examine the company's record to date and you might even wind up agreeing with my own stance, which is that betting against Nintendo at this early stage is... well, to borrow that phrase I find so tiresome, it's just plain delusional.
I've been playing Nintendo's games since the NES era. I was in my early teens when the Super Nintendo arrived, and then I was about to graduate high school by the time the Nintendo 64 was struggling against the PlayStation. One thing that history has provided me with--besides a mountain of great gaming memories, of course--is the luxury to know that people will regularly bet against Nintendo. Each time a new console arrives, those same folks are lining up to predict that we'd better enjoy this last hurrah while it lasts because Nintendo won't be in business for much longer.
People said those things about the GameCube (which made a decent profit for Nintendo), and I remember their glee as they celebrated the Wii's almost certain demise. Then that system actually launched and it was a massive success, so Nintendo's detractors were forced to put their dreams on hold for six more torturous years. With Wii U, though, Nintendo is finally stumbling straight out the gate... and so you see those people returning to their seats in the peanut gallery with hopes that they'll witness the event that they've long dreamed would finally happen: Nintendo's exit from the hardware business.
The bad news for those people is that Nintendo is not actually on the ropes, so to speak, not in the way that Sega was when it finally gave up on the Dreamcast and (arguably) not even in the way that Sony is as it works to reclaim market share with the PlayStatoin 4. In fact, Nintendo is sitting on a monstrous mountain of cash and beloved IP that continues to sell like crazy.
I don't think that the people who are cheering for Nintendo's failure are ignoring those facts, and yet I start hearing the harsh adjectives the second I try to introduce such points to the conversation. I gave the matter some thought, and I reached a conclusion: people expect this to be the end for Nintendo because they have "outgrown" the experience that Nintendo provides and they think everyone else should too. They're predicting the future that they want to see, and perhaps the future that would actually happen if they were representative of consumers at large... but it's not the future that is actually the most credible.
Nintendo's games have been hugely successful, even the recent ones. I'm not entirely sure how people manage to forget that so easily. Critics loved Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel, for instance. Those titles rank as two of the top three most favorably reviewed games of all time, according to GameRankings. Also, Wii Sports, Wii Fit and Wii Play feature prominently on any accurate list of the best-selling video games of all time. It's clear that many consumers continue to respond favorably to the specific breed of game that Nintendo offers, and yet I'm told that I'm delusional if I think that something like Nintendo's (insert a derogatory adjective of your choice right here) software is going to help the company's newest console perform well in the future.
Apparently, I'm also delusional if I suggest that Nintendo's biggest problem right now is the fact that so many consumers still have no idea the system even exists. I don't see how that lack of consumer awareness could not be an issue, though, since consumers have to know something exists before they can... consume. Far too many people still believe that Wii U is just a new gimmicky tablet device that you hook up with your existing Wii. That view is held by the people who are sort of paying attention. There are many, many consumers who still don't know even that much! I feel like if Nintendo can turn that situation around, it'll make a real difference.
And then there's Nintendo's financial situation. Look at Sony and you'll find a company that is struggling to regain a portion of its former dominance. Perhaps it will succeed. Look at Microsoft and you'll see a company that is pouring resources into making the Windows 8 operating system a success in a world that has turned to smartphones that run on iOS and Android. Maybe Microsoft will succeed in that effort. In any event, what you see in Microsoft and Sony are two companies for which games are not the entire business model. Neither company is in a position to invest all of its resources in that future, which means that Nintendo's pile of cash puts it in a position with some real options.
Oh, and there's also the possibility of a price drop. Nintendo has steered away from that for now, which I think is probably a mistake, but that doesn't mean an adjustment won't come a few months from now... or tomorrow, for that matter. Sometimes, Nintendo likes to announce big changes almost overnight. If a price drop actually does happen, that could have some real impact. It's absolutely not proof that I'm in denial if I point to the positive impact that a price drop and quality software had on the 3DS. And although I realize that 3DS was facing different opposition than Wii U faces, a price drop of $50 to $100 could put Nintendo in a very attractive position when cash-strapped parents look around for a console this holiday season or beyond. For that matter, even a bundle with a game or two could make a significant difference. Those are two weapons that Nintendo hasn't even had to use, but I bet it will use one or both of them sometime in the not-so-distant future.
In the end, I'm not saying that Nintendo will definitely turn the Wii U into a dominant force this generation. I know that it very possibly will not. However, I don't see this as the generation when Nintendo becomes a third-party publisher, struggling to survive after releasing a string of bad games and poor business decisions. The fact that the people who do see the company in that light are calling me delusional is one that I frankly find galling, since they're the ones that are ignoring so much of the available data in order to nourish their view of the probable future.
You don't have to like Nintendo, and I'm not asking you to go around saying that Wii U is about to make a comeback. But if I do make those predictions that you won't, that doesn't make me delusional and it doesn't mean I'm in denial. It just means that I've taken the time to look at the big picture and I see a bunch of ways that Nintendo could easily survive and thrive in the coming console generation. Please have the courtesy to stick to the facts, rather than calling me names.