Over recent years Nintendo has found itself overshadowed in a console gaming market largely dominated by Sony and Microsoft. Several years on though and it appears Nintendo are preparing themselves for a comeback with the recently announced Switch, but how will they pull it off? and more to the point, can they pull it off?
Earlier this year the Japanese electronics juggernaut managed to pull off something of a coup that no other game has ever pulled off with the launch of Pokèmon Go. Love it or hate it, there is no denying that the mobile game captivated the world, with players from all across the globe making new friends whilst hunting down Pokèmon out in the real world.
In mid-September of this year, it was estimated that Pokèmon Go had reached a total of 500 million downloads, and that is insane figure when you consider that a significant percentage of those 500 million downloads most likely consist of players new to the franchise. Whether or not you enjoy Pokèmon Go there is no doubting that Nintendo managed to once again captivate the world once more, which must’ve come as a relief to the company after their launch of their first venture into mobile gaming Miitomo ended up quite the disappointment. Whilst Pokèmon Go was not developed by Nintendo, without the company, the game would not exist, its release also drummed up an immense amount of support for one of its leading franchises, followed the successful release of Pokèmon Sun and Moon for the 3DS.
This past week saw the launch of Super Mario Run on IOS, and I have to say personally how impressed I was by the game, so much so that I put down the £7.99 for the full game despite not being a huge fan of mobile games. Mario Run offers so much to please long-term fans of the franchise, from the iconic level design to the sound effects and animations, everything about the game screams Mario, the only real negative I have with Super Mario Run is simply how short it is, which is not a bad complaint for a game to leave a player wanting more.
If you were to tell me two years ago that Nintendo would be capturing the entire world’s attention with a Pokèmon mobile game, and that there would be a Mario game arriving on mobile in the not too distant future, I would most likely have laughed in your face, but now it seems anything is possible for a company that has spent far too long lingering in the shadows of its competitors. We’ve seen Microsoft try to capture the mobile market with games like Halo: Spartan Assault and then there’s Sony with their phones focused around gaming, and yet neither of them made a major impact on the market, neither could do what Nintendo has done so effortlessly over the past year. But how does mobile gaming tie into Nintendo’s console efforts?
For me, 2016 represents Nintendo finally listening to and understanding its fanbase. Take Nintendo Switch for example, when I first showed that unique Switch reveal trailer to family, I was asked if it was another Wii? and that to me spoke volumes, had Nintendo not done well enough in its marketing efforts to separate the Wii from the Wii U? However, when I spoke about the very same trailer with friends who have been a part of the gaming community for almost two decades, they and I got it instantly. To us, Switch showed that Nintendo had finally realised that its fans were no longer simply a young audience but gamers that had grown up with those iconic characters and have gone on to become invested in so many more characters and franchises, hence Nintendo finally building relationships with third party developers.
Nintendo knows that as a company it cannot rely solely on its own exclusives anymore and that once in a while it will need to rely more on third party games. Another example of this is the rumoured report that a new version of Pokèmon Sun and Moon, titled Pokèmon Stars is currently in development for Switch. For too long gamers have begged Nintendo to bring the acclaimed RPG to console in its pure form rather than spin off titles like Pokèmon Stadium or Battle Revolution, and with the power that the Switch could potentially supply, Nintendo surely will not pass up the opportunity again to bring a true Pokèmon game to players living rooms.
Nintendo Switch might not boast the power of an Xbox One S or a PS4 Pro but that will not matter as long as the company truly listens to its fans and provides the games they’ve been begging for; A Mario 64 sequel or similar vein, a true Metroid or Pokèmon title on a home console and standard console features from a party feature to an achievements/trophy system. To answer my original question “Can Nintendo make a comeback?” I believe they already have begun to, with their enormous stake in mobile gaming I feel that the comeback is well and truly underway, and 2017’s release of the Nintendo Switch will either fully restore Nintendo to their past glory or cause dire times for the beloved company.
The opinions in this featured editorial are that of the author and do not represent PressA2Join as a company.