It’s been a tough couple of years for Nintendo. While the 3DS continues to sell well and gamers the world over salivate like Pavlov’s dog every time they are drip-fed another snippet of information about the forthcoming Smash Bros. games, Wii U sales are dismal, and even Super Mario 3D World, which critics judged to be one of the greatest Mario outings of all time, was met with comparatively little fanfare from consumers.
Today, Nintendo’s company president Satoru Iwata made a number of announcements, hinting at new hardware that would focus on “health and welfare”, tapping into mobile gaming, giving solid launch dates for upcoming titles, and announcing the decision to bring Nintendo DS games to the Wii U. Here’s what we know so far, in one handy list!
Following underwhelming overall sales and the announcement that the company had lodged a US$15.3 million operating loss for the period April-December 2013, CEO Mr. Iwata vowed to take a 50 percent pay cut, effective from February this year. Shigeru Miyamoto, the famous creator of such IPs and Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, along with one other director at the company will be also docking their own pay by 30 percent in an effort to placate shareholders and assure them of their commitment to turning things around.
There were a number of topics on Mr. Iwata’s agenda today, much of it he only touched upon briefly and which we’ll have to wait to hear more about. In the meantime, though, here are nine things we know the Big N has up its sleeve and is hoping will reverse its recent spell of misfortune.
1. Nintendo has vowed to make better use of smartphone technology in order to “establish greater ties” with audiences. Although we won’t be seeing any Super Mario Bros. running on iOS or Android any time soon, the company has assured shareholders that it already has a dedicated team working on content that will help promote its games.
2. With this in mind, an official Nintendo smartphone application is scheduled to arrive sometime this year.
3. Nintendo Network IDs – which work like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network’s gamer tags but until now have been tied to specific consoles unlike Microsoft and Sony’s own – will be freed up for use with mobile devices. It is also likely that owners of both 3DS and Wii U consoles will be able to use the same ID on both, and take it with them should they trade in their hardware.
4. Mr Iwata also teased a new “quality of life” initiative that the company is working on, hinting that future hardware – which is likely to be part of an entirely new and separate venture – would focus on users’ physical well-being. Details remain thin on the ground, but Mr. Iwata alluded to “non-wearable devices” that will monitor the user’s health in some way.
5. The Wii U will receive an update this coming summer to allow gamers to “quick start” into one of their most recently played games entirely via the console’s touchscreen-toting controller, thus circumventing the need to locate games from the console’s main menu using a TV screen.
6. Nintendo plans to bring its existing Nintendo DS software back-catalogue to Wii U. As well as bolstering the home console’s lacklustre software library, this will help Nintendo better promote the Wii U game pad, whose touch screen has to date been woefully underused by games appearing on the system.
7. Super Mario Kart 8 will be arriving on Wii U in May this year. <Happy dance>
8. Wii U won’t be getting a price cut any time soon. Nor does the company have any plans to export its software to other companies’ consoles or get out of the console business entirely.
9. This last one really depends on whether you’re a glass half full or half empty kind of person, but towards the end of the conference, Mr. Iwata revealed that Mario Kart Wii, which was released back in 2008 on the original Wii, is continuing to sell well each month, with a massive 35.26 million copies sold to date. If only the same could be said for Wii U-specific games, eh Nintendo?
What do you think, Rocketeers? Has any of this news piqued your interest, or do you think Nintendo is doomed to die a slow, painful death?