“I think Nintendo is here to stay as a hardware developer.”
Andy Nealen is a man totally in tune with the intricacies of the gaming world- he was the developer of Osmos, which was a breakout hit on PC and especially iOS devices. He also specializes in computer graphics and is a consultant at Hemisphere Games. Andy also handles his day to day responsibilities as a professor of Game Engineering and Design at NYU Poly.
Some time ago, Nealen and I had the chance to discuss video games, and trends pertaining to them. One of the things I asked him about was Nintendo- or more specifically, Nintendo as a hardware company. While the quality of Nintendo’s games continues to be impeccable as always, on the hardware front, they are taking a beating, with the Wii U and 3DS on track to become their lowest selling console and handheld ever respectively, and with the Wii U especially having been so toxic for them – in terms of public perception, install base, audience retention, third party support, and of course, finances – that they are going to have to undergo the ignominy of having to discontinue it after just four years on the market and introduce a new console, which is currently known as the NX.
What does Nealen think, I asked him? Will the Nintendo NX do well? Does Nintendo actually have a future in the market as a console manufacturer?
“Nintendo is the most out of the left field game developer company that I know of,” Nealen said, laughing. “It’s- predicting them is like predicting the stock market! It’s like, if I say anything about Nintendo right now, it’s probably going to be wrong. I mean yeah, every now and then they’ll make a piece of hardware that’s goofy and doesn’t succeed… and then they’ll come out with a new piece of hardware that just prints money. So I think Nintendo is here to stay even as a hardware developer. That’s what my gut feeling says. They must have a war chest that’s the size of a small country. Because they made so much money off of the 3DS- 3DS has printed so much money, right? There’s that funny viral GIF that goes ‘It prints money,’ right? So yeah, they spend a fortune on development- and every now and then, they put out hardware that doesn’t sell close to what they need for it to have been worth their time. But then they put out something that’s so successful, that they probably have enough money to do another 20 years of research and development.
He went on to say that a gaming market without Nintendo hardware would be almost less magical- because Nintendo designs its hardware and software in tandem, and because its hardware tends to be so quirky and unlike anything else out there.
“Because of all the designs that they do being so intricately tied to their hardware, I really doubt that Nintendo is- I mean, I don’t know, because I have no insider information whatsoever, but I can’t see… it would sadden me greatly to see Nintendo move out of the hardware business. I mean, the New 3DS XL, with the eye tracking, that has stable 3D, is amazing. I love that so much- I can actually play Super Smash Bros. on my 3DS, with the 3D turned on, and it works! No flickering, no headaches. I am so in love with it. And- yeah, it’s magical.”
So yes, that’s another member of the development community who seems to be bullish on Nintendo, going forward. On the whole, it seems like developers are actually excited for whatever it is Nintendo is concocting this time around. As for what exactly it might turn out to be? We don’t know yet, but we should find out soon, hopefully.