Switch-ing Up the Rankings

A funny thing happened in the video game industry in 2017. No it wasn’t anything to do with Augmented Reality and/or VR. Let’s be honest. Resident Evil 7’s VR mode is terribad and Capcom should feel bad about it. No the funny thing is… that sad sorry little Number 3 of 3 ranked console maker. It released a new console ahead of the other two. And it has been #GLORIOUS! (sorry Bobby Roode)

Thanks to the Nintendo Switch and the SNES Classic, the tenured professor of the gaming industry has made a profit for the first time in years. Gaming industry journalists want to give the year to Nintendo for the first time in a long time. Funny thing is Nintendo is just getting started with Switch Awesomeness.

How? This can’t happen I hear you cry out as you clutch your Xbox One (or S or X). They can never be number one again you bellow as you proudly show off your PS4 (or Slim or Pro). Look I’m not a blind hater, both of those consoles have a lot of advantages and great things going for them. Well it’s a simple answer: Nintendo plays a different game altogether. They always have and that’s why Nintendoes what Atari, Sega, NEC, SNK, and Phillips no longer do.

Nintendo is in the video game industry. That’s it. Nintendo doesn’t make DVD players, desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones. Sony and Microsoft are electronics companies with video game console divisions. If the division flounders, the top CEOs don’t much care. They have other profitable divisions to balance it out. Why make our own games with iconic mascot characters that drive a franchise and merchandise sales? They can just buy studios and sign them to exclusive deals. Nintendo can’t afford that though. When the Virtual Boy bombed hard, Nintendo had to recover and bust out a hit. When the GameCube floundered, Nintendo changed the game with the Wii and watched as long-term sales convinced the competition to belatedly work in motion-based gameplay. After mocking the Wii for motion controls… Oopsie!

Hey gamers when was the last time you played a really great Kinect game that was so Game Of The Year? How often do you play with your Move controller? Begrudgingly joining a market tends to bite back doesn’t it?

Has Nintendo lost money in recent years? Sure. The Wii U was poorly marketed and it’s innovations weren’t optimized by the software. The Wii had a strong start and finish but it’s middle was a bit muddled. The GameCube had a core of great games but seemed out of place and too obsolete compared to it’s competitors. Even the N64 had some legendary games but as a whole didn’t live up to the legacy of the SNES and NES.

But during that era little things were put together. Smash Bros debuted and Mario Kart cemented itself as a franchise that was must-play. Zelda went 3D and has become better than ever as well as continuously raising the bar for 3D world-exploring adventure games. That goofy Wii motion control has evolved through the Wii U and Switch. The Wii U’s big clunky poorly explained tablet controller? Gave birth to the hybrid Switch that no one denies is a beautiful piece of art.

More importantly the Game Boy and it’s Color child and Advanced grand-child passed the torch to the DS and 3DS which kept the portable console market so strong it took the coming of tablet and smartphone “casual mobile” gaming to reinvent the entire sub-market to the point Nintendo noticed. PSP and Vita didn’t do it. Xbox won’t even try. The portable market has been strong for many years for Nintendo and kept them in the fight long enough to put it all together. Experimenting and getting a little cute with marketing and major release games (hey Kirby and Pikachu) may scare off the “hardcore, macho” gamers with their MLG CoD Lets Plays but Nintendo is taking back their respect. If the Switch keeps knocking out hits like Breath Of The Wild and Mario Odyssey as well as welcoming back Megaman while giving a platform to revived franchises like Bomberman and PuyoPop… Number 3 may belong to someone else in 2018.

Nintendo has never been dead. Mistakes were made in the past several years, but never company-breaking mistakes. Take what works and keep evolving. Failures only happen when you quit fighting. Nintendoes keep fighting.

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