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Are you going to buy an Xbox One X This Holiday Season?

Hope to Receive it as a Gift

 Written by David Taylor  on May 04, 2007

Special: If Superman can do it, so can Nintendo.

Today is an exciting time for Nintendo fans. This statement is arguably one that could not be made without reservation since the Super Nintendo. With the Nintendo 64 and GameCube's lack of third party support and dwindling popularity during their life cycles, many thought Nintendo would be relegated to pure software development like its one time rival Sega. Others thought Nintendo would retire from the home console market in favor of focusing on its successful portable systems. As the PS2 gained a significant lead on the GameCube and the Xbox ate away at market share in the last generation, this reality seemed to be uncomfortably coming to fruition. The Wii was thought of as Nintendo's last chance at the home console market. Fortunately it seems the gamble paid off. If hardware sales are any indication, things are coming together for the Big N.

The Associated Press reports that Nintendo's profits are up 77% from Wii and DS sales. Nintendo has sold nearly 6 million Wii consoles worldwide since November. Sony by comparison only sold a little under 2 million PS3s worldwide. In Japan the Wii outsold the PS3 by a 3 to 1 margin.

What caused this incredible resurgence? It is a combination of Nintendo's innovative market strategy together with the missteps of its competition.

Nintendo's success is due in no small part to its strategy of catering to the casual game player. This tactic is clearly visible in the games released thus far. A large majority of games, from Trauma Center to WarioWare, are simple to pick up and control while also being challenging. Nintendo also played to its strengths by developing the Virtual Console with its long line-up of classic games. This was arguably a bigger selling point for veteran gamers than the Wii's new titles.

However, perhaps the biggest draw is the Wii itself. Nintendo has always been the greatest innovator in terms of hardware. While it is true they were the last to jump on the disc bandwagon, and everyone has purposely forgotten the Virtual Boy, in almost every other way the company has set the standard for the industry. The Big N was the first to implement the rumble feature in their controllers, provide four controller ports without an adaptor, and introduce the analog stick.

With the Wii, Nintendo cleverly made the new hardware a key component of its aforementioned strategy. This is evident by Nintendo's choice to model the Wii's controller after a traditional TV remote. It is something that everyone is familiar with. It also helped that the tilt technology was seen as revolutionary compared to the competition. The Wii is seen as something new while Microsoft and Sony's consoles are maintaining the status quo. This new degree of interactivity attracted a larger demographic than the typical young male adults.

Nintendo did not achieve its newfound success through their marketing strategy alone. The competition has also helped Nintendo along. Historically, when one group holds power for too long, it becomes complacent and easy to overthrow. Such is the case with Sony. Since 1995 Sony has been the industry leader. They earned this title because of Sega and Nintendo's missteps in the market. The Sega Saturn was $400 at launch and possessed few stellar launch titles. Meanwhile, Nintendo took forever to release the Nintendo 64, and erred in retaining the cartridge format. It is important to note that no company has ever been able to hold on to the top spot for more than two generations.

Ironically, with the PS3, Sony has repeated Sega's mistake. With the PS3 running $500-$600 and the PSP released at $300, it is no small wonder why more gamers bought cheaper Nintendo systems. Additionally, none of the launch titles for either system screamed, ?buy me? like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess or New Super Mario Bros.

These outrageous prices can be attributed to Sony fashioning both consoles into universal multimedia machines with their own proprietary formats ? UMD and Blu-Ray -- instead on focusing on video games. It also doesn't help that Sony seems content in driving fan-favored companies like Lik-Sang out of business. These factors served to alienate Sony from both casual and hardcore gamers. The sales figures reflect this alienation.

Needless to say, Nintendo is riding high right now. The company recently announced that it is developing 45 titles for the Wii and 79 for the DS. These include high profile games like Smash Brothers Brawl, Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3. Nintendo has also recently acquired Monolith Studios, the creators of the Xenosaga and Baten Kaitos series. This will no doubt ensure a hefty RPG presence on the Wii. Classic series like Sega's Nights are also beginning to make an appearance on the console, which will serve to attract older gamers.

However, it remains to be seen if Nintendo can retain this popularity. For Nintendo to secure its place in the industry and compete with Microsoft and Sony the company needs to correct some of the Wii's apparent foibles. Here are some of the issues Nintendo must address:

- Create more online capable games. SNK Playmore USA president Ben Herman revealed that Nintendo is largely not allowing third party developers include online capability in their games. It seems that Nintendo wants its first party games to be the first to include this feature. This is a bad move for two reasons. One, it causes gamers to favor the competition like Xbox Live. Secondly, it alienates third party developers.

- More and better first person shooters (FPS). First person shooters are perhaps the most popular game genre. At first the Wiimote and Nunchuk seemed perfect for FPS. Unfortunately the results so far have been less than stellar. Red Steel was like trying to control an epileptic at a rave. Nintendo has said Metroid Prime 3 will fully demonstrate the controller's capabilities. Even if this promise is fulfilled, one game does not make a significant genre showing. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but wouldn't it be great to see System Shock style games on the Wii?

- Cut down on the mini-game centric titles. How many of these does the Wii have so far? Rayman Raving Rabbids, WarioWare, Cooking Mama, and soon Mario Party 8. These might be appealing to the casual gamer, but sooner or later the law of diminishing returns will set in.

- New game franchises. While one of Nintendo's biggest strengths is in its exclusives, the company should also expand its line-up and develop new franchises rather than simply creating sequels to old favorites. Everyone loves Mario and Zelda, but as Mario Sunshine and Twilight Princess show, even a great idea can become somewhat stale. No matter what one might think of Pikmin, it was a step in this regard.

Batman, Superman and James Bond have all returned in style recently. If Nintendo can keep up their momentum, we won't be discussing whether Nintendo's back, but saying Nintendo is here to stay.

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