If you asked me to sit down and list some of my favorite video games of all time, chances are that a good portion of those games I would have played on a Nintendo console. Games like Fire Emblem, Smash Bros, Twilight Princess, Paper Mario and Metroid are all games that I absolutely adored. I even went out and bought a Gamecube originally so I could play Resident Evil 4 if you want to count that as well. Now ask me how many Nintendo consoles I currently own, none, zero, one minus one. I was one of the thousands upon thousands who got the Wii at midnight on launch day yet three years later I dusted it off and sold it to a guy at work for $75. So why is it with so many great franchises, loved by many, would I not choose to buy a Nintendo made console anymore?
Part of that answer is fairly simple, the average lifespan of a Nintendo console in recent years hovers around six years. In those six years Nintendo may release one Zelda game, one Fire Emblem game or in the case of the Wii one re-release of Metroid Prime. Nintendo also has a very bad track record when it comes to third party support and development with most games just not bothering making a port for a Nintendo system. And even in those cases when a port is released on a Nintendo console, it’s a subpar experience vs. the other versions of the game. So while I’m waiting for the next great Nintendo game that isn’t a casual sport with Mario in it, I will be missing out on a bunch of regularly released games.
For as popular and loved as Nintendo’s IPs are they don’t exactly translate to console sales . While selling 32 million N64 consoles, 21 million Gamecube consoles, and 101 million Wii consoles, take in to account those numbers are over the life of the console. Plus, with the PS4 selling roughly 20 million units and the Xbox one close behind in little over a year, those numbers don’t look that great by comparison. The Wii-U, which released in 2012 has barely cracked 10 million units sold.
Everyone knows that consoles barely make companies money if in the unlikely event they actually don’t sell them for a loss. Companies bank the inevitable loss they take on producing and selling consoles on the fact that they will more than make up for it when people purchase the software to go along with them. How can you justify all cost to design, produce and market a new console when in the end you’re only going to sell ten million units and bank on your beloved I.P’s to make the difference up, especially when there may be only a handful released in the shortened life cycle. That’s not to say that Nintendo is struggling. Even though they had a dip in revenue as of late, the demand for their handhelds is simply unmatched and more than enough to keep them going through whatever outdated console they wish to release next. Plus, Nintendo has more than enough money in the bank to weather a couple more failures before even beginning to sweat. But why rest on the sales of one area? Wouldn’t it be great to take incredible games like Ocarina of Time or Super Smash Bros. and offer them to the homes of nearly 40 million people? To me that makes financial sense and I can live with the dream of one day playing a truly next gen Metroid on either a Sony or Microsoft console.