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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Raising the Bar: Reading into Nintendo's Investor Briefing

So if you've been following the latest news, you may have noticed there has been a fair share of Nintendo doom and gloom as of late. This is because the Wii U has not done well. There has been a significant markdown in predicted sales for this fiscal year because Nintendo has not been able to move units- not, 3D World, not Wind Waker, not the meager third party releases, nothing has been able to cause the Wii U to reach a steady rate of sales, or demand. There's a lot of reasons to this, just as there are many reasons the Wii was successful. but that's a story for another time.

The recent Third Quarter Earnings investor briefing happened last night, where President Iwata discussed the direction the company is going to take in light of recent events. This was not the sort of thing where games would be announced, only a vague description of the marketing and planning for another year- and the years beyond. Needless to say, this meeting was certainly pivotal.

Nintendo discussed entering into a new field of business, something certainly unexpected. Promising announcements based on a "quality of life" program that would entail non-wearable devices in the coming years. The effects of this business won't be felt until the 2016 fiscal year, but there will be plenty of stuff to talk about until then.

As for the Wii U, Iwata was not pessimistic. He believes that the focus on the device has not be direct enough, with people still believing it is a peripheral to the Wii. The way he believes this can change is through its only truly unique feature- the NFC device in every Gamepad. The focus on this ability will be highlighted at this year's E3.

Iwata also remarked on the Nintendo Network ID, which is a huge step forward for the company. Merging this with a smart-device like program, Iwata discussed the benefits of having a more personal relationship with consumers and adapting to the way they play games.

Finally, there was brief discussion on how further Nintendo hardware will utilize these IDs and what they will do with consoles moving forward, wanting to create devices that possess synergy far beyond that of what the Wii U and 3DS do now.

So, what does this tell us?

Nintendo clearly understands how crucial the implementation of the Nintendo Network ID is, especially in moving forward with a digital mindset. They have acknowledged that digital pricing needs to be altered and want to create a service that adapts to the player, which is really very nice, though we'll have to see how that pans out. We know what to expect as Nintendo continues developing games for Wii U, and NFC certainly has some very unique applications. We can only hope that the games reflect this variety and not just a bland "scan this, get a bonus". Incentive is key. I personally believe that Pokemon Rumble U was a fantastic idea and its approach was interesting, but I think the NFC idea can expand beyond "figures" and go into other areas.

It also tells us that Nintendo is expanding- in a way that may bode well for gamers or not. With their new health-based program, they intend to cross over with existing Nintendo products, though one can assume this would be focused more on titles like Wii Sports and Wii Fit. Still, approaching a different market could potentially be more lucrative. This means greater income for the company and the ability to use that to benefit the gaming community. However, as we've learned with Sony and Microsoft, different areas of profit can have mixed results, sometimes helping, sometimes hurting. Nintendo needs to have a solid idea in mind for this new platform, or else they might end up hurting their original cause. It is interesting to see the entertainment company attempting new things but it is also worrisome that gaming might become a thing of the past- or maybe that Nintendo does not see gaming as a profitable venture any longer.

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