April 29th, 2019, 18:04 Posted By: wraggster
I was never a Nintendo kid. Game consoles weren't allowed in my household growing up, so my formative gaming moments all took place on hardware with more "educational value" -- specifically a series of Amstrad CPC home computers followed, much later, by a Gateway 2000 PC.
When I first started writing about games, Nintendo wasn't having a particularly great time in the home console market. It was the late 1990s, and while Pokémon was keeping the Game Boy comfortably afloat, PlayStation ruled the living room with the N64 so far behind that "second place" felt like a charitable turn of phrase. In the next generation, as much as I liked the GameCube, there would be no question about where it stood relative to the all-conquering PlayStation 2.
Without the deep love of the company's franchises that informed many of my colleagues, I found it hard to understand why everyone maintained that Nintendo was an important and vital industry player. Yet as I found my feet and learned my way around the industry, meeting people who were experienced veterans, movers and shakers who'd make time to impart a bit of knowledge to a wet behind the ears writer working on a declining industry trade newspaper, I heard one piece of wisdom echoed over and over again. In the long-term, nobody won by betting against Nintendo.
"The moments when everyone assumes Nintendo's on the ropes are when it comes swinging out of left-field with a product nobody sees coming" Around 20 years later, I feel that Nintendo has proved this point fairly comprehensively. The company goes through rough patches, but they are never more than temporary declines; the moments when everyone assumes that it's on the ropes are the moments when it comes swinging out of left-field with a product that nobody sees coming.
When Game Boy had clearly reached the end of the line and Sony had unveiled a sleek, beautiful and powerful handheld which looked set to dominate the portable gaming market just as PlayStation had the living room, Nintendo swerved hard and created the DS -- a device that was roundly mocked at its reveal for being weird, and ugly, and clunky, and turned out to be a singularly visionary design that secured Nintendo's hold on handheld gaming for another decade. When Microsoft and Sony's escalating contest over graphical prowess and media functionality threatened to make the console market simply too expensive for a pure gaming company to compete in, Nintendo created the Wii; a low-powered console that couldn't even utilise high-definition displays and replaced the standard joypad with a weird little motion-sensing wand. It proceeded to outsell both of its rivals.
This week, Nintendo announced its financial results for the year ended March 31 and its early projections for the upcoming year; only a few days previously, NPD's data for US game and hardware sales in the first quarter appeared. Taken in concert, they tell a robust story: Nintendo has done it again. Coming off the disastrous failure of the Wii U and the steady (albeit relatively well-managed) decline of the 3DS handheld, the Switch console might have looked like a bit of a Hail Mary; if so, Kyoto's fervent prayers for intercession have been answered.
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