The Nintendo Wii was a huge surprise hit, catapulting the company back into the console game but many are questioning what exactly is next for Nintendo, with console and game sales stagnating. Recent sales for all consoles and game titles have slipped across the board nearly 25% from 2011 levels but the Nintendo Wii and DS have been particularly hard hit, without a substantial refresh in recent years to get gamers excited or to spur on new sales. That’s leaving many analysts and gamers alike scratching their heads and wondering just what — if anything — Nintendo has up its sleeve to generate new sales of both games and consoles, as far as trying a new spin on the gaming roulette wheel and hopefully coming up a big winner.
A look at the list of best-selling Wii games shows that titles such as Wii Sports, Wii Play, and wii Sports Resort dominating the top three slots with more than 125 combined units sold — add in over 40 million titles sold for various Wii Fit titles and it’s clear that much of Nintendo’s renaissance in recent years came largely due to the unique motion-control capabilities first offered in the Wii. Franchises such as Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart, Zelda, and Kingdom Hearts continue to sell well on both the Wii and DS, with various titles rounding out the best selling lists for Nintendo games in 2011 and 2012.
In some ways the Wii has been a victim of its own success, spawning competing motion control products from Microsoft and Sony and providing an excellent example for other competitors to copy, nipping away at sales. Gamers are also increasingly tapping into other multi-media uses for their PS3s and Xbox 360s — as far as using their more robust storage and media server options and add-ons — with Nintendo lagging in that area, more content to offer a lower-cost console with more games targeted at a core niche audience instead of chasing after gamers looking for the next big first-person shooter or movie-themed blockbuster game.
The rise of apps for the iPhone and iPad and Android devices have also cut into Nintendo’s sales, with more and more gamers downloading and playing apps and games instead of forking over $60+ for a new game title (not to mention the price of buying a console to play it on). Thousands of mobile games are now available, from simple ones that let you play casino games like slots and blackjack to robust first-person shooters and strategy games. With the few sneak peaks at the Wii U (Nintendo’s next generation console) leaving many underwhelmed, the company has another huge challenge facing it if it wants to continue to be a major player in the video game wars in years to come.