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But if the time of the game console is not yet at an end (handheld or otherwise), then Nintendo has a lot of work to do. It needs to get better at all of the game-related things that iOS is good at. It needs to produce software that clearly demonstrates the value of its hardware—or, if that’s not possible, then it needs to make new hardware.
Any advice that leads in a different direction is a distraction.
A lot has been written about Nintendo this week, and I feel like several articles and tweets miss the point of understanding Nintendo for what it is: not Apple. Not a software company, not a regular game company, and certainly not a company that likes ceding control of its destiny to others. I think that viewing Nintendo through the lens of Apple and just as another company that could make games for the App Store is the wrong approach.
John understands Nintendo. Here's an excerpt from my interview with him published earlier this year:
Second, in my own experience with my 8-year-old son, Nintendo games still have an unmatched ability to capture the hearts and minds of kids. My son has been exposed to a ton of iOS games, on the iPod and iPad, plus PS2, PS3, and even PC/Mac games. But he chooses to spend the vast majority of his gaming time on a Nintendo console, playing both “casual” games (Wii Sports, Nintendoland) and long, deep games (Zelda, Mario).
This is not to minimize Nintendo’s woes. The threat from iOS gaming is very real. But it is heartening to know that the things we love about Nintendo are not entirely based on nostalgia.
A common argument that I've also read this week is that Nintendo isn't making good games anymore. My experience mirrors John's: I know children and teenagers who play iOS games but also own Nintendo consoles to play Mario, Luigi's Mansion, Fire Emblem, or Mario Kart. There is something about the magic of Nintendo games that is unmatched by the App Store.
Nintendo has work to do – I even said as much in November 2011. Their problems aren't new but they have been exacerbated by the Wii U's failure and it's time to fix them. For instance, refusing to launch a Wii U Ambassador Program is confusing, as Nintendo should cater to its most loyal fanbase, and reward those who bought a Wii U in times of crisis, like they did for the 3DS.
I believe that applying the same standards of the tech industry to Nintendo is a flawed process; Nintendo should face the threat of mobile gaming by being Nintendo at its best. I'd like to see more articles about this, not the App Store.