'Nintendo's Doomed, They Should Go Third-Party!'—Said Everyone, Ever.

Yesterday, former Epic Games designer and Dead Space aficionado Cliff Bleszinski was quoted by GamesIndustry International about what he perceived as the worst turmoil the industry's experienced since the eighties. The situation was so bad, he suggested, that even Nintendo might throw in the towel and go software-only, like Sega did after the Dreamcast's meager performance.

Of course, Bleszinski's not the first to predict the end of Nintendo's hardware days — not even close. People have been saying this for at least a decade. Some of these prophets and pundits said that weak hardware held Nintendo's games back, and kept other developers away. All of them thought that putting out consoles hurt someone, be it the company or the consumer. So with that in mind, let's look at some of the theories and arguments that popped up over the years.

  • "The research released by Strategy Analytics concludes that Nintendo must abandon its current console hardware strategy, and instead "do a Sega" by focusing on third party development instead. The group predicts that the GameCube will face a serious decline in 2003, with sales falling by 4 per cent while sales of the rival Xbox rise by 12 per cent."
    Analysts squabble over Nintendo's future; GamesIndustry International (via The Register), February 27, 2003.
  • "Don't get me wrong, I am still getting a Revolution simply for a sequel to SSBM, hell I am still playing it (I don't know if that shows how good the game is or how shitty the GC lineup is). But god damn Nintendo completely sucks for third parties. I don't think that third parties will come even if they removed royalty fees all together, that's how hard they suck."
  • "This is particularly relevant now, proponents of [going third-party] argue, because the astonishing cost of the new generation of consoles has forced Nintendo out of the arms race, leaving its games confined to an innovative but underpowered system."
    Rob Fahey: The Nintendo Difference; GamesIndustry International, December 14, 2006.
  • "Undoubtedly, going third party would have been a bad move on the part of Nintendo(the company), but I think it would have been better for gamers and the gaming industry. What Nintendo is doing with the Wii might just change the face of the industry and us hardcore gamers will be left at the way side like we were at Nintendo's E3 conference."
    ElectronicMagic: Do you think Nintendo should have gone third party after the Gamecube?; GameSpot Forums, August 21, 2008.
  • "Look, it's this simple: if at first you don't succeed, try a different tact. Nintendo outstrips the world in terms of game design, but in my eye falls short when it comes to machinery. I know that the Wii's sold more units than the Bible, but how many of them are now just gathering dust? And if that's the case then what's the point at all?"
    Adam Bunker: Debate: Should Nintendo Stop Making Hardware?; Electricpig, December 13, 2011.
  • "At the end of the day, I think that the Wii U will be a flop unless Nintendo makes some changes. (...) Unfortunately, Nintendo decided they wanted to be totally different with the Wii U and I believe that that decision, while beneficial at the time, is going to screw them over hard."
    Syndicat3: Prediction: Nintendo will become a 3rd Party Developer; IGN Forums, January 29, 2012.
  • "It's really interesting — I'm a massive Nintendo fan, and they've got a big, hardcore fanbase, but I do wonder if it's enough to sell a fairly expensive machine to people. You just see every TV advert, it's tablets and phones, tablets and phones. The general population is just going, 'I can play games on these sexy devices. It's coming round to Christmas where I can get a device and once I've got it, I can get all these games for free or nearly free'. I think that's skewed things so massively."
    Andrew Oliver, 2013: The State of the Games Industry; GamesIndustry International, January 2, 2013.

People keep expecting Nintendo to get out of hardware and to just make games. Nintendo keeps ignoring these experts and, at worst, hangs in there — at best, thrives. So, ladies and gents, when's Nintendo going under? Place your bets below.

Top pic: Nintendo's chief game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, in 1997. Credit: AP.


Comments

    Doesn't Nintendo have enough money to exist for another 25 years without making another dime? I seem to recall reading that somewhere....

      What if they do a "U Draw" like THQ did? Existing and trying to innovate to make more profit are different. (not that U Draw was really innovative....)

      Their shareholders might not like that plan much though...

      I read it too and it's actually 50+ years, operating at a loss for each of those years. Nintendo would be stupid to pull a SEGA and go software only. There's a special and unique way they do things, and it wouldn't be the same playing a Nintendo franchise on an Xbox or Playstation.

    I'm gonna go buy a Wii U now :P

    They're pretty good at making new consoles and then making us wait forever for any new games for the thing. But if they went software-only I think I'd miss seeing what zany piece of hardware they come up with next.

    I'd prefer continuing to live in a world where Nintendo make handhelds personally.

      AMEN, BROTHER!

        Definitely support them continuing to make handhelds, but I’d also be happy to see them throw in the console towel after this generation (if not sooner).

        It’s just not their bag anymore, consoles have developed into massive multi-media devices and Nintendo’s lack of experience in covering the non-game related bits is showing.
        The hardware is underwhelming, the online features are a mess, the OS is amazingly slow for what it’s doing….. all this combines with Nintendo’s terrible management of 3rd party software and you’ve got ANOTHER Nintendo console which is underwhelming.

        In my mind Nintendo makes the best games on the planet, but their hardware SUCKS these days.

    I doubt Nintendo would ever consider taking Business advice from Independant News & Review gaming sites.

    As to Nintendo's future? I can't imagine Nintendo leaving the hardware industry.

    I would miss Nintendo too much. They are thr most creative when it comes to hardware and alot of the time other companies follow suit with what they produce.

    So far, leaving luck to heaven seems to be working out for the Big N. I think they're just fine where they are right now.

      Agree,

      i would be checking Sonys "Profit" from the PS3.......in my mind, if they don't have a win with the PS4 they are gone.

    This is one of those debates that goes no where. I would argue Nintendo is in a better position financially then Sony's entertainment department (or Sony in general). I guess it's one of those things that people will keep saying.

      They are also in a better position than microsofts console division, which ran at a huge loss for a long time.

      I think most of the discussion occurs because Nintendo only do games. Whereas sony and microsoft have other business.

    They should keep making hand-helds but negotiate a really sweet exclusivity agreement with Sony for console games.

    Unfortunately after the monster success of the original Wii that is unlikely to happen, not to mention the bad blood between the two companies.

    Then again Micro-Soft have deep pockets and Nintendo exclusivity could finally give them the a segment of the Japanese market.

    The days of Nintendo actually making money from console hardware are gone, they even lose money on the Wii-U , cutting an exclusive zero or very low platform owners royalty fee with Sony/MS would make them more money.

    Unfortunately pride and the hope of catching the Wii lightning in the bottle again will stop that.
    Fuck pride.
    The Wii was in my opinion a freak occurrence of the right console at the right time and will not happen again.Game-cube and at best N64 type success will be the best they will manage from now on, the market now has three major players.

      ...pride...

      You've just summed up one of the biggest issues with business and in particular what we are seeing with game development in Japan...
      Combined with "tradition", there's a particularly nasty mix in an industry that is rapidly[!!!!] changing.

      Pride first, tradition second, profit/quality/common sense wherever there's room...

    Never, well not for another good decade or so.

    Where is all this "Nintendo is Doomed" crap coming from. The 3DS recently passed the 20 Million mark, thats almost the Gamecube's ENTIRE! LIFETIME! SALES! and the 3DS passes it in 2 years.

    Ok lets ignore for a fact that Nintendo has like 800 Billion Yen or 10 Billion US in the bank, who exactly would benefit from Nintendo going third party? Why would Xbox and Playstation fanboys who have run down Nintendo for years honestly buy a Mario, Metroid or Zelda?

    But answer the bigger question, Why is everyone saying this? Oh cause Sega did it.

    Let me make this perfectly clear, NINTENDO ISN'T SEGA, if Nintendo releases a succession of failed systems one after the after for a good half of a decade then we may have a problem but until then there is no comparison.

    But lastly consider this, if Nintendo went third party the amount of revenue, assets and just plain cash would destroy any other third party company out there and with Nintendo no longer needing to play nice that could go nuts and just absorb developers and publishers and with Sony & Microsoft the only games in town they'd have to answer to the Big N and when those two decided to shut down their game divisions (which I guarantee is going to happen) Nintendo will reemerge as the only game in town. Well there is also Apple, but w2hatever.....

    So I ask again, who is this REALLY benefiting?

      I was going to reply but then I got to "Sony & Microsoft ... decided to shut down their game divisions (which I guarantee is going to happen) " and realised it would be a waste of time.

      Last edited 27/02/13 12:58 pm

        The idea of an only Nintendo gaming world really wouldn't come to pass. The Wii was a fluke that worked out amazinly well for them. It's success was kind of an "Oprah" approved one; great kids toy, parents could use it, cheap hardware (to produce) and seemed very innovative for the first year. It was the console you bought and then kind of forgot about it as so many games just never came down in price.
        As for first party games, well I, like many others just never sat there frothing at the mouth to play them, or re-play them. Sure they weren't bad, but not amazing.
        If Nintendo was the only console gaming developer, I would forget about consoles. They just dont tailor their games to the broad demographic. While the thirdparty studios really have.
        Even though Im not a much of a Ninty fan. There are times when some of their tittles are fun, eg party and multiplayer titles. Just not that hooked on the plumber.

          TBH There were some great first party Wii games, they were just years apart so people had moved on. I still remember the desperate scramble to find my Wii (untouched for 3 years previous) in order to play Skyward Sword - and while it was worth it, I can only wonder at the logic of releasing Skyward Sword a year before the Wii U on a system the majority of us were no longer using - when you could just as easily make it a launch title on the Wii U and actually get some momentum out of the gate.

    Different times then back in 2006. Yes Nintendo did expect to much with the Wii U sales, but so far its still got a good strong sales start, with a current slump, which is due to a lack of games. I might add every console to date has experienced only 3+ months after a launch. Someone commented to be back at the PS3 release two years after that there were no games, and look Sony has announced the PS4, but look at the world today. The US and Europe are in a mess, high un-employment, less expendable cash, less sales. Nintendo is far from doomed, they have key king maker first party titles that are much sort after, to which when SSM or Zelda are released there will be Zero Wii U's on the shelves.

    The Wii U like the DS will be a massive success, no doubt. As I will expect everyone to keep this running 'Doom and Gloom' going up until a big title release. Then I bet there will be nothing but praise on it being revolutionary and the best thing since the coming of Christ.

    But to Cliff Bleszinski you have created one game in 10 years, yes successful, but still only one. When you get some titles like Nintendo has created under your belt, then I will then listen.

    Just my 2c.

    Last edited 27/02/13 12:15 pm

    I just thought I'd add this in.

    The reason people keep spouting all this "Nintendo is doomed" stuff? People like to see things fail. And when the message starts catching on, it only makes their voice and their excitement to see failure actually happen stronger.

    It happens ALL THE TIME. Facebook? Shares dropped, suddenly people start buzzing over the "failure" of the IPO. Sony's been through it, Zynga, hell there's even been a few articles on Apple becoming a bit of a failure over their share price.

    Nintendo are smart. They know where the industry is headed, which is why they're not worried about AAA titles that have budgets of $100 million and up. Alot of people just don't know what they want from them. If they emphasise first-party titles, people get upset. If they try and bring third-party titles into the picture, people get upset. If they try and make a more cost-effective console and take into account people won't spend $600 AUD on a console anymore, people get upset.

    I feel sorry for them to be honest. No matter what they do, people get upset and write them off. The Wii U will probably be the best selling console of this gen seeing how restrictive Sony and MS can be.

      Actually, Ninty proved one point. HD graphics arent the key to success. A little more gameplay and a little less HD. We spent way too much money of the gameboy even when the tech didn't really get updated frequently. The last two consoles aren't direct generation rivals for the the current Xbox and PS. Yet consumers happily bought them.
      Make a good game and people will buy it at launch, then further down the road. Make it pretty, but short, you better have a great advertising campaign because it just might do well on sales in the long run.
      I have only ever bought one Nintedo console. But have purchased many games for most of their devices at one point. Even if to play on a housemates 64 or to console swap so I could play early snes games.
      If the hardware was considered the main point of loss to console manufacturer, then there was no loss in this case. Lock the disc to console and push away the casual gaming experience that as a kid or a student, I use to enjoy.

    Does this not include handhelds? Has Ninty always dominated the handheld market? Since the Game& Watch?

    They can take my stinkin' Nintendo hardware, when they can pry it from my cold dead hands.

    I don't think Nintendo will ever go third party. What I think might happen is Nintendo will decide to exit the stationary gaming (or console if you'd prefer) market to focus fully on their portable gaming (or handheld) devices. This future handheld might have a wireless or maybe wired controller accessory and HDMI out (or whatever the standard is in the future) so it can be hooked up to your TV and played like a console.

      Easily the most sensible prediction I've read on this entire page. Kudos.

      I'd be OK with that, their handhelds are awesome and being able to hook it up to TV would be cool I guess.

      A handheld but with a tv-out capability, sort of the opposite of the Wii-U, both a true portable and a console in one.

      Makes sense.

    I have the Wii U and the graphics are pretty good. Its not ALL about graphics anyway! Fun games are the way to go, to many FPS games out on the other consoles, I own ps3 and xbox 360 as well. they are all good for diff reasons. Never regretted buying Wii U. IMO Nintendo Started the whole kinect/psmove revolution when they brought in the original Wii, and the addiction of the Wii Board

    They got through Virtual Boy, they can get through this.

    They won't go 3rd party. They can't because SEGA already did it and advertising states that SEGA do what nintendon't

    That's pretty sad. The fact that the industry has to rely on - I hate to say it - 'gimmicks' in order to attract shareholders and thrive is the most tragic part. I miss the days when this industry wasn't so fucking jacked up on cash. People and companies used to just make games and that was good enough, now we have these companies trying to appeal to some temperamental subculture where the loudest are unfortunately the minority of us who take it way to seriously (Ocarina of Time is the best game ever made guys). So you get these dudes who don't play video games themselves involved in the industry, trying to market video games to what they think "gamers" are.

    The problem here though is, a company like Nintendo has to join in on the bullshit in order to survive. So what do we get as a result? Little white sticks to whack stuff with and ruined franchises to match, and even then, it's not enough.

    If they go third party, it's not going to change. The bullshit will just leak into the games, too.

    There is a reason there has been such an indie revolution. People are buying indie games because they're not satisfied with AAA titles. People have turned to crowd-funding, piracy, boycotts and exclusively gaming on Steam because Sony and Microsoft, two companies that are not exclusively gaming companies, keep trying to 'improve' and 'revolutionize' gaming with consoles that have a plethora of unnecessary and silly functions, and as a result? Gaming companies like Sega and Nintendo have to either adapt with equally useless, short lived, barely functional shit, or give up the console race all together. We don't want some social gaming nonsense, we don't want extra screens, we don't want motion controls or voice commands or disfigured controllers - we want to play a rewarding game on our fucking televisions with a perfectly functional controller. We buy your stupid gimmicks because there's no alternative, not because they're good ideas.

    No need to revolutionize something that's already working and perfect. I'd rather have no console dashboard, SNES style "turn on and play" than an overabundance of things that have nothing to do with playing a fucking game. Stop trying to assume what we want, just give us the ability to play games. The games will sell your console.

      You make a lot of assumptions in a post which realistically could have been summarised in about two sentences.

      I also find it odd that you are willing to dismiss Sony and Microsoft as companies trying to appeal to the minority when you are excluding the social market and younger players completely in your analysis of what gamers want. Seems a little hypocritical.

      Actually there are some good points in this. The Wii at least, you powered it on and could just you know, play a game quickly. When I fire up the xbox im scrolling past crap just to get to my games and going deeper to find XBLA titles. I have a PC and media PC for all the social junk( or Phone).

    Nintendo will keep on keeping on. The imminent arrival of the real next gen consoles will leave a big hole that nintendo can fill with their cutesy, twee-looking games..

    Don't they still sell a ridiculous amount of DS's and 3DS's?

      Over 150 million on the DS and coming up to 30 million on the 3DS, also now the Wii U is pushing 3.1 millions sold.

    Nintendo will cease to exist when consoles cease to exist.

      Sony will go out before Nintendo. with Sony's woes atm.

    Unless they release a wii U Zelda or Pokemon it will fail.

    Even though i havent owned a nintendo console since gameboy advance i'll still be saddened to see them go under.

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