Before Microsoft, before Sony even, SEGA was once of the primary gaming platform holders, locked in to a battle against Nintendo for world domination. That all ended after the SEGA Dreamcast (quite arguably one of the most revolutionary home consoles, and a forerunner to the Xbox) which failed as a result of lack of developer support, and ridiculously easy piracy. SEGA, now, exists primarily as a software developer – releasing its titles on just about every other platform available. Is Nintendo headed the same way?
Industry vet and former EA COO Bing Gordon certainly believes that Nintendo is on its way to becoming a software provider – abandoning the hardware race.
“I think Nintendo’s already on track to become primarily a software company,” he told GI.biz. “We saw that with Sega back in the day; Sega made some missteps and became primarily a software company.”
He doesn’t actually think Nintendo’s made any mistakes though, and went on to praise the company’s leadership and creativity.
“Nintendo hasn’t really made missteps,” he said. “Nintendo probably has better creative talent and better leadership now than Sega did. It’s got the most robust business model, the best creative talent; Miyamoto’s still the best in the business.”
So how then does he think Nintendo will end up giving up on hardware? By making apps for Apple and Android devices – particularly if, somehow, Miyamoto stops working for the company.
“Apple’s most directly competitive with Nintendo. So far, when Miyamoto makes a perfect game, in his career he makes games worth $200 – it’s worth buying a system for. I think the handheld is going to be under a lot of pressure. I can imagine a day when Nintendo wonders – and maybe it’s generational change – when Nintendo wonders if they ought to take some of their best games and make them apps.”
“I think if you’re Nintendo, as long as Miyamoto’s coming to work, you can sustain a proprietary platform. He’s that good,” Gordon said.
I don’t think Nintendo, as a hardware platform holder, is going anywhere any time soon. People have been saying things like about Nintendo since the relatively unsuccessful N64 days – and it’s easy to forget that this generation, before 3DS and Wii U R&D started eating their cash, that they were the only hardware manufacturer to actually make any money. I do, however, agree with him in that Nintendo quite probably relies too much on Miyamoto to shape the company’s creative direction – and they might end up lost without him.
Nintendo’s next console, the Wii U, is set for release before the end of this year. I doubt it’ll be their last.
Besides, I’m a veritable Nintendo fanboy; In school, I used to punch kids who said Sonic was better than Mario. It’s why I’m no longer a teacher