After much thought and discussion, I have come to realize that Nintendo’s most recent move with the Wii U is actually quite smart.
I believe that Nintendo is actually quite calculated with the Wii U release; this is actually a smart move that will keep them relevant in the gaming world. I have been doing
a lot zero research on the situation and surmise that this strategy is actually a long term move that sets the stage for the future of console gaming. With Valve confirming the long-rumored Steambox, it occurred to me that the home gaming space is long overdue for an upset. Well, actually, I’ve been saying that the Steambox would be the long-con on the podcast for a while now, but I digress. Valve has been innovating and molding the way we play pc games for years and their home console/pc hybrid has the potential to be the catalyst that rips a hole in traditional gaming.
Now, we don’t actually have any hard details on how the Steambox will actually fit in the gaming space other than it could potentially blend the raw power of a gaming pc with the ease of use of a home console gaming unit. (No hints on pricing either.) However, the flexibility of the pc could allow for a lot of leeway when it comes to upgrading to newer tech when games require more power (read: hardware and money) to run. Backward-compatibility and an existing expansive and diverse library are already built into Steam’s ecosystem. With that said, the Steambox could turn out to be very popular with both the hardcore and casual gaming crowds.
Anyway, back to Nintendo…
With the Steambox threatening to be a pc gaming powerhouse, this could deflate any wind left in the sails/sales of the Xbox and Playstation brands. The current consoles have to compete with the Wii U’s dual screen and motion gaming platform in addition to the price disparity and lack of exclusivity on the pc gaming side. The follow-up consoles from Microsoft and Sony will have to compete with the (hopefully) more fleshed out lineup of Nintendo titles as well as a (also, hopefully) more refined dual-screen experience. Yes, Microsoft and Sony both have motion controls (I guess they are here to stay), and Microsoft has SmartGlass for the augmented experience, but they are, more or less, bolt on experiences for most games.
Nintendo has firmly planted itself well within current-gen graphics as a move to expand and refine the Wii U’s other features. Rather than requiring developers to spend millions of dollars to focus on graphics, they can focus on creating a more unique gaming experience. This keeps Nintendo on par with the current gen for a couple more years until developers really learn how to push the system’s limits graphically. By the time the 2013/2014 consoles get into people’s hands we will find that the more unique and fun experience on the Nintendo platform is more desirable. People will start to question the 2013/2014 Microsoft and Sony consoles as they showcase games that look just as good if not better on the Steambox.
And then what…?
The popularity of the Steambox with its ease of use, flexibility, library of games, and aggressive pricing model will turn heads for serious gamers and force Microsoft and Sony to drastically change their business models, and, frankly, question their relevance in the market. Nintendo will regain their market dominance with their consoles that promote a unique experience that isn’t easily duplicated on any other platform. Their seemingly quirky strategy will payoff as the family gaming console is portrayed as a viable option for people seeking that cool new media centric gaming device… especially since you can’t find Mario anywhere else.