super_mario__nintendo_1280x960-650x0Of all the game companies, Nintendo will have the hardest time this fall.

A couple of days ago, I walked into a shop and saw Christmas advertisements. It was startling, and nevertheless expected, as the year comes to a close. The big stores tend to filter out their Christmastime ads just before the American “holiday” Black Friday, when desperate bodies pile into stores for extreme discounts and, essentially, risk their lives. Curiously, most American retailers begin select discount sales on November 22, the date Xbox One launches, but the full event convenes the next Friday. It’s a day where self-respect goes to die.

In the cesspool of the morning game of Hungry, Hungry Shoppers, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo hope to bank heavily. Videogaming merchandise is one of the most sought-after in Christmas, but one company may fall behind this December. Nintendo, behind already as the Wii U suffocates, could be forgotten in the swath of newer consoles, smartphones and other gadgets this holiday season.

It’s a regrettable and unfavourable position for Nintendo. The company has so far been swallowed whole by a multitude of complex issues that continue to plague the Wii U, from awkward advertising to the wonky name. On the console side, the big N looks and acts defeated with each passing day. Going into Christmas, too, what advertising the Wii U has may not save it as the PS4 and Xbox One inundate the market, and by extension, the conversation.

Saving Nintendo from complete ruin is the 3DS. Consistent sales and dominance of the handheld market could fuel Nintendo alone. But as the Wii U continues to struggle, the company can’t rely solely on one product to survive through wintertime. A new Zelda, Pokemon, Skylanders and Sonic will be enough to drive sales over Vita, but that awesome collection of upcoming games distracts from the Wii U.

The most recent data in October shows Nintendo sold 300,000 Wii U consoles and over two million 3DS systems. While the numbers precede Pokemon X & Y, November numbers might fall as consumers go elsewhere. Considering Sony sold one million PS4s in a 24-hour period, setting a record, and Xbox One launches on Friday, everyone forgets about the Wii U all over again.

One big name this Christmas for the Wii U is Super Mario 3D World. Reviews overwhelmingly adore the game, where hundreds or near-perfect scores adorn the Metacritic page. 3D World may be the first paramount title to help anchor the Wii U, as Mario games tend to do, but whether that translates into a major sales boost is a separate issue. For a console with an image problem, even mighty Mario might lose.

It remains an ongoing conundrum. Nintendo’s diversity keeps it relevant, but the console side is tanking. These questions will plague the Wii U throughout its lifetime, a possible decade of indecision, as Nintendo learns what works and what doesn’t. And right now, nothing is working.

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