Why Nintendo Has Never Been DOOMED: But So Many Want Them to Be

If you’ve been around the Nintendo community long enough, I am sure you have ran across the phrase “Nintendo is doomed”. Out of all of the negativity, criticism, hate, and anything else that can be lobbied towards a community or a company on the whole from detractors, naysayers, and even former fans of said products, it’s that one everlasting phrase.

It is often spoken out of sheer hilarity of a situation. No local voice chat on Switch? Nintendo is doomed! It is also spoken when folks don’t like the direction of things. Nintendo Switch has motion controls and is a tablet? Nintendo is Doomed! Sometimes, it’s out of an innate jealousy – Nintendo is Doomed, not because they actually are, but because you want them to be. That way, you get their games on your “superior” platform.

It’s a phrase that is synonymous with whole of the hate, criticism, and downright silly things often lobbed Nintendo’s way. I have been a fan of Nintendo’s products for decades, but as possibly one of their harshest critics that still considers himself to be a pretty big fan, there was never a real time in the history of Nintendo where they were, ultimately, doomed.

Sure, there are failures in their past. The virtual boy, Gameboy micro, and Wii U just to name a few. Nintendo does not hit a homerun every time they step to the video game hardware plate, and often times this is true of their software too. For every Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, there is a 1 2 Switch or, dare I say it, a Mario Tennis Aces. Games full of promise, that don’t deliver on the overall experience.

They have shifted trends from a card maker and toy company, to a video game megahouse starting with arcades before moving into the home console space and handhelds. Of course, if you ask Nintendo, nothing really changed beyond no longer focusing on making cards. They are still a toy company, and video games to them happen to be the biggest toys of them all.

Nintendo is known as a video game company, but in fact, it is also a toy company. Toys must make consumers feel a “sense of wonder.” In that sense, with video game software, we can think about many different ways to emulate that feeling by creating virtual experiences for the users. – Shigeru Miyamoto

Gamnesia

They went away from advancing with the medium and trends of competitors after the GameCube and GameBoy Advance era to shifting almost back into that toylike mentality with Wii and DS. Systems aimed, truly, at everyone. A phrase many say, but often never mean. This shift too, is often pointed at as the beginning of the end.

At least, for many’s fandom. They loved Nintendo of yesteryear. The one pushing cutting edge visual fidelity and shaping the entire landscape with ground breaking games and new IP. When Super Mario 64 was a technical marvel and Ocarina of Time became a basis and inspiration for so many games that came after.  When owning a GameBoy or a Super Nintendo felt like something to be proud of, rather than something that… feels like settling for less.

Switch turned so of those folks around that felt abandoned, but even then this wasn’t Nintendo of old. Where is that system that goes punch for punch with the Xbox One X? It’s just not there.

This is important to recognize because, we have to understand why so many, for so long, have been saying Nintendo is doomed. They do make questionable business decisions at times, sure. The late Satoru Iwata made many mistakes as CEO, but also had almost as many triumphs. Same with Shigeru Miyamoto, who I think will always be respected for what he did in decades gone by regardless of any perceived mistakes like Star Fox Zero he may do today. Or Wii Music, or the vitality sensor… wait was that him? Who knows.

The thing is, for all the mistakes, for all the shifting of the sands of time within the company, Nintendo has never actually been doomed. In the 30+ years they have been in the console business, Nintendo has only not turned a net profit at the end of the fiscal year twice. Sony on just the playstation brand? 5 years. Sure it was all during the PS3 era, but considering Sony has only been at this since 1994, they have been doing it for 6+ years less than Nintendo but have more than 200% of the bad fiscal years to go along with it. Technically worse, if we look at how the rest of the company performed over the past 20 years. But, we can’t fault the PlayStation brand for that.

Everyone is doomed!

Was Sony doomed? Hardly. And no one thought they were either. They made mistakes. They did things they shouldn’t have. They cost themselves billions due to those mistakes. 5 billion, to be exact during the PS3 era alone. But no one ever felt they were doomed.

What about Xbox? Around since 2002, the Xbox brand itself… well it’s easier to count the years it made money than lost. Xbox itself, as a platform, has been a money sink for Microsoft for a long, long time. Of course, Xbox was never stated to be doomed. Maybe because Microsoft’s other avenues are so profitable they can afford to not care if Xbox makes money? I don’t know.

The point isn’t however to bash the competitors for, financially, doing worse than Nintendo in the same industry. No. The point is to point out that if those other companies, despite all of that, weren’t doomed at least on the platform level, why is Nintendo?

Is it because their systems sell less, traditionally, since PS1 released? Sure that’s a nice argument, but if they keep pulling profits out of that, is it really a failure?

Nintendo is a shrewd company. While everyone else blew up their budgets to 100+ million for a AAA game, Nintendo sat back and built some of the best sellers on a very modest few million dollar budget. Nintendo, regardless of any hyperbole and fan praises or hate, is a very intelligent company. At one point, they had 9 billion dollars just sitting in the bank. A warchest unlike any other major video game company out there. Enough to lose 300+ million dollars yearly for 50 years before worrying about bankruptcy.

But they are doomed.

Look, people aren’t going to stop calling for Nintendo’s death as a platform holder and some, as a game maker. Some may even call for the company itself to no longer exist. The Nintendo is Doomed moniker is never, ever, going away. Nintendo may never recapture the magic for them it maybe once did so long ago.

If this isn’t for you, it’s okay to simply let go and enjoy something else.

But Nintendo also isn’t doomed. They have themeparks being added and expanded too already at Universal Studios. The Switch itself is still on pace to be one of Nintendo’s best ever selling platforms. Their games continue to dominate top 10 charts the world over, even when they released over a year ago. Their war chest is back to expanding in big ways. Their stock prices are jumping. They are making games for phones now with modest budgets and large profit margins. They successfully, so it seems, launched an online paid subscription despite my own criticisms of such a thing.

Nintendo isn’t doomed. Not now. Not during the two down years during Wii U and early 3DS era. Not during the 50’s and 60’s, and certainly not now. Nintendo may no longer be for you. Maybe you outgrew their style of games. Maybe their new, innovative IP’s like ARMS and Splatoon 1/2 don’t do it for you. Maybe Breath of the Wild, to you, is overhyped garbage. Odyssey a poor mans platformer and even 3rd party offerings like Octopath Traveler, completely overblown and on the level of an alright indie game.

All of this can be true for you. Nintendo cannot, nor have they really ever, pleased everyone. They maybe pleased you one day, and now they don’t. 

The only thing that really needs to change in this equation isn’t Nintendo.

It’s you.

It’s okay to no longer like Nintendo platforms and Nintendo games. It’s okay to wish things were like they once were. Hell, I’m 32 – I’d love to be 17 again. Heck I’d love to wish away 100lbs on this body of mine too.

But life is funny like that. We grow older. Our tastes change. I once didn’t like cheese on my burger. Now I can’t remember the last time I had a burger without it. I once upon a time really loved the WWE/WWF. Today? I can barely stand it when I do pass by it while channel surfing. People change. Companies change. You are not obligated to change with that company, or to like a direction of a company. You are free to be openly critical and wish for the days of yesteryear. Everyone does that, especially as we get older, and heck, maybe more so when we reach a point where maybe, there are more years behind us now than ahead before our time ends.

And that’s all okay. Nintendo can simply be no longer for you, and that’s alright. Because for millions of others, it’s still for them. It is for them for the first time. Kids, parents, teachers, teens – somewhere every day someone new touches a Nintendo game for the first time. Some of them love it. Some hate it. But it’s all okay.

We live in a time of infinite options for this spectrum. Simply find the one that best fits you, if you are even interested in such a thing anymore, and just let the past go. Be critical, be demanding, but also be reasonable.

Nintendo has never, truly, been doomed. Your connection to them however? Probably, irreparably for some, so. So move on to greener pasture and let the rest of us who are enamored even to this day playing a game on a Nintendo platform be. Because honestly? We’re happy, and we truly want you to be happy too.