Nintendo: The Bad and the Ugly
The good's coming next time, I promise
Nintendo is behind the times.
Like Cranky, Nintendo's consoles and infrastructure are old, slow, and not very strong.
The Wii's success saved Nintendo's home consoles from their downward trend, each had sold less than the one before it, but it separated them from the rest of the pack. While Sony and Microsoft were locked in a struggle for supremacy, constantly upping their game, Nintendo was too busy making its victory lap to learn anything. Just look at everything that went wrong because of their self-isolation.
The Wii was a casual machine, and Nintendo was slow with digital adoption. The Wii owners couldn't download anything but Wii Ware and virtual console titles, and the Wii U came with a disgustingly paltry 8 gigs of storage space in its basic model. That can't even hold all the software updates and DLC for a sizable collection of physical releases. Nintendo has published a digital-only game that takes more space than that, making a large portion of their audience unable to purchase said game.
Not to mention the eShop is the worst of all the current generation digital distribution platforms. It's usually slower and the layout requires users to scroll through and load new pages while browsing a single category. Games, accounts, and consoles are also tied together in a clumsy mess, requiring customers to jump through hoops in order to move their games if they get a new system. It's a pain in the ass.
Online gaming itself is another area Nintendo has completely failed at, save for a handful of games. Playing Wii games online was horrible, the Wii U doesn't come with a built in Ethernet port, and even when Nintendo does have good online they don't offer industry standards like basic voice chat, a decent friends list, and in game notifications, among other things,
Take a moment and think about that voice chat thing too. Nintendo built a fucking microphone into the Wii U's game pad, and then used it to move platforms in Mario games by blowing into it. What the actual fuck were they thinking making this bulky ass controller with tons of bells and whistles, if they were just going to turn around and say they didn't want to include voice or video chat in their games?
Stupid hardware decisions are a driving force behind Nintendo's current state of failure too. One would think Nintendo had learned their lesson about working with third parties to make sure game development on their hardware was easy and they could rely on third party support. I mean Sony usurped them and now holds the crown as king of console gaming because Nintendo was a giant knob end to third parties and the PlayStation was so easy to develop for, but Nintendo didn't learn a damn thing: They stuck with cartridges and got burned. Two decades later and we're talking about Nintendo getting burned again because they clung to PowerPC while the rest of the world moved to x86.
After alienating the larger developers once more, Nintendo started reaching out to indie devs. It's been a nice exchange and things like Shovel Knight, Runbow, and the SteamWorld games have done wonderful on Nintendo platforms. It makes you wonder, how long until Nintendo throws indie devs under the bus in order to court “real developers” again? It's like Nintendo is the real life equivalent of Sterling Archer when he found out he had cancer. Just replace cancer with Wii U, which admittedly isn't very hard when talking sales.
Nintendo has done a decent job of carrying the dead weight Wii U, and I fully believe that they're the only console maker capable of supporting a console with virtually no third party assistance, but they're showing a lot of their weaknesses in this struggle. Nintendo is just now learning how to do HD development. They're only a generation late to that party, and the industry standard has already moved beyond the lackluster standards they've been struggling with.
Be it online, HD development, hardware, or simple developer relationships, Nintendo's roughly a decade behind the rest of the industry. However, all of those sins could be forgiven if they weren't lacking in the absolute most important area for a video game's success….