For my MBA strategy class, my husband and I decided to dissect the success of the little Japanese Company that redefined video games; the pioneer and innovator in an industry that is now run by Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo was once the destroyer of consoles, the end all behemoth that could not be annihilated but the quick rise and steady fall of the Wii and Wii U changed the story for Mario, Luigi and the gang. Nintendo needed to come up with something that could blow PlayStation and Xbox out of the water and keep then dry docked, but what?
For a company that based its success on proprietary hardware and accompanying software, Nintendo was backed into a corner. With the rise of personal entertainment portable devices, aka smartphones and tablets, the glory days of the 8 bit and 16 bit were long gone and not returning. They had already decimated legends Atari and Sega, who have all but resorted to creating emulators of their best-selling consoles and games, but were on the brink of bankruptcy at the close of 2014. I cannot imagine how distraught employees and developers for the company must have been. The end looked to be near, one mistake away from turning off the lights and handing in the boxing gloves for good.
Looking back to 2014, it was a genius move for the executives to find a way to fund the R&D needed to get back in the game: enter the app video game market and microtransaction world to pay for the design a portable home console that would become a tablet killer (when it came to video games). Pokémon Go changed the game for Nintendo who was able to use their advantage as software and popular IP developer to become ubiquitous without having to invest on hardware to make money. Clearly, the success of this strategy has the company thinking of creating more iOS and Android compatible games, something they would have not considered if they lacked the capital to herald the ninth generation of video games.
Enter the Switch, a hybrid console that marries the best of the 3DS and the Wii U, and gives another take on intuitive controls and convenience. Truth be known Nintendo is the only true innovator in this space, to which we can credit spearheading portability, augmented reality and 3D gameplay before any of its competitors could adapt and imitate them successfully. In a shocking twist, and to keep the console small and simple in term of integration, they went back to their cartridge days in the hopes to throw in some nostalgia to appeal to the older gamers. With a machine that has an HD screen, an Nvidia Tegra video chip, and intuitive to use Joy-Cons, they are poised to become the it console for 2017 and beyond. Tip of the hat to the engineers and third-party partners who made the Switch the envy of all consoles under the sun.
As we move into the era of virtual reality goggles and online steaming, the Switch enables Nintendo to sell gamers a hardware that can enhance video game content and the gaming experience without having to fully sell our or capitulate to iPhones and Samsung products, being able to expand their sovereignty to yet another entertainment market. This feat shows how Nintendo’s leadership was able to adapt with the times to take this little card trading and video game company back to its rightful place at the lead of the industry, and now into every screen near you with an app or the click of at the HDMI enabled docking station. Their gamble paid off, and now Zelda’s Breath of the Wild and Mario everything are back in the best rendering and imaging technology.
Your move Microsoft and Sony. There can only be one…
Photo obtained from the internet. Source unknown.