Yesterday, former Epic Games designer and Dead Space aficionado Cliff Bleszinski was quoted by GamesIndustry International about what he perceived as the worst turmoil the industry's experienced since the eighties. The situation was so bad, he suggested, that even Nintendo might throw in the towel and go software-only, like Sega did after the Dreamcast's meager performance.
Of course, Bleszinski's not the first to predict the end of Nintendo's hardware days—not even close. People have been saying this for at least a decade. Some of these prophets and pundits said that weak hardware held Nintendo's games back, and kept other developers away. All of them thought that putting out consoles hurt someone, be it the company or the consumer. So with that in mind, let's look at some of the theories and arguments that popped up over the years.
- "The research released by Strategy Analytics concludes that Nintendo must abandon its current console hardware strategy, and instead "do a Sega" by focusing on third party development instead. The group predicts that the GameCube will face a serious decline in 2003, with sales falling by 4 per cent while sales of the rival Xbox rise by 12 per cent."
- Analysts squabble over Nintendo's future; GamesIndustry International (via The Register), February 27, 2003.
- "Don't get me wrong, I am still getting a Revolution simply for a sequel to SSBM, hell I am still playing it (I don't know if that shows how good the game is or how shitty the GC lineup is). But god damn Nintendo completely sucks for third parties. I don't think that third parties will come even if they removed royalty fees all together, that's how hard they suck."
- Monk: I give up, Nintendo should go third party. One console future here we come.; NeoGAF, April 10, 2005.
- "This is particularly relevant now, proponents of [going third-party] argue, because the astonishing cost of the new generation of consoles has forced Nintendo out of the arms race, leaving its games confined to an innovative but underpowered system."
- Rob Fahey: The Nintendo Difference; GamesIndustry International, December 14, 2006.
- "Undoubtedly, going third party would have been a bad move on the part of Nintendo(the company), but I think it would have been better for gamers and the gaming industry. What Nintendo is doing with the Wii might just change the face of the industry and us hardcore gamers will be left at the way side like we were at Nintendo's E3 conference."
- ElectronicMagic: Do you think Nintendo should have gone third party after the Gamecube?; GameSpot Forums, August 21, 2008.
- "Look, it's this simple: if at first you don't succeed, try a different tact. Nintendo outstrips the world in terms of game design, but in my eye falls short when it comes to machinery. I know that the Wii's sold more units than the Bible, but how many of them are now just gathering dust? And if that's the case then what's the point at all?"
- Adam Bunker: Debate: Should Nintendo Stop Making Hardware?; Electricpig, December 13, 2011.
- "At the end of the day, I think that the Wii U will be a flop unless Nintendo makes some changes. (...) Unfortunately, Nintendo decided they wanted to be totally different with the Wii U and I believe that that decision, while beneficial at the time, is going to screw them over hard."
- Syndicat3: Prediction: Nintendo will become a 3rd Party Developer; IGN Forums, January 29, 2012.
- "It's really interesting—I'm a massive Nintendo fan, and they've got a big, hardcore fanbase, but I do wonder if it's enough to sell a fairly expensive machine to people. You just see every TV advert, it's tablets and phones, tablets and phones. The general population is just going, 'I can play games on these sexy devices. It's coming round to Christmas where I can get a device and once I've got it, I can get all these games for free or nearly free'. I think that's skewed things so massively."
- Andrew Oliver, 2013: The State of the Games Industry; GamesIndustry International, January 2, 2013.
People keep expecting Nintendo to get out of hardware and to just make games. Nintendo keeps ignoring these experts and, at worst, hangs in there—at best, thrives.
So, ladies and gents, when's Nintendo going under? Place your bets below.
Top pic: Nintendo's chief game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, in 1997. Credit: AP.