2014: Nintendo’s Year of Relief


It’s that time of the year again: reflecting on the gaming year, browsing through Game of the Year lists, and writing down the dates for 2015 games because gamers never rest.

2014 wasn’t so bad for Nintendo. After throwing a successful Smash/Christmas party that included a hilariously chaotic 8-player tournament, I realized happily: Nintendo is back on its feet. What a dark age, that was.

With the dust now having long settled from E3 2014 over the summer, I’ll say this before anything else: I have a soft spot for Nintendo. I’ll go back to the company with a cracked heart, even when my Wii U sat on its pathetic pedestal of unused games for a year—a remnant of its once-gleaming black surface slightly visible, having been under threat of fading under its blanket of dust.

Now it bears the scratches of being constantly removed from its place. It sees life again.

I think we all need to work on having a little bit more faith in Nintendo. (Remember our reaction when the 2DS was announced? I’ll admit, I bashed it. But it turned out to be a good fix for parents to placate their nagging children, and that was what Nintendo was after.) Two years after the Wii U’s launch, let me just remind everyone where we were on this company’s fate.

Since its launch in late 2012, the Wii U’s struggling sales have spawned endless discussions of its inevitable fade-out, exit from the industry, how it should work on mobile gaming, how they should ditch the Wii U, and so on—but at the same time, while ignoring the simple truth (or perhaps the optimistic of the more passionate Nintendo fans, like myself): Nintendo is a brand so synonymous with what it represents, it’s going to take a lot to bring that down. And it certainly isn’t going to be a faulty start on one of its consoles that brings about the 125-year-old company’s end.

In the same way that we ask for a Kleenex, a Coke, or a Band-Aid, Nintendo has irrefutable brand power. (A few of my less educated friends have seen my Wii U GamePad controller and asked, “Is that a Nintendo?”)

It’s odd. Not for a moment did I believe the company was in such serious trouble that they would exit the industry completely, but I was surprised at the flurry of genuine beliefs that Nintendo was in serious, irrecoverable trouble. Why?

A Mario Kart 8, a Bayonetta, and a Super Smash Bros. later, there is a lot to be optimistic about Nintendo. It’s as if gamers thought Nintendo didn’t have good games pending release for the Wii U or they didn’t have some innovative tricks up their sleeve (at this point, we’ll have to see how big the Amiibos get, but I’m predicting they’ll do well as people love tangible figurines to collect).

Nintendo did make a few mistakes. They didn’t market the Wii U effectively. They didn’t coincide the releases of big titles with the console’s release. They make you buy that silly, giant gamepad with the console.

But the company is on its way for making up for those mistakes now, aren’t they? Majora’s Mask is coming for the 3DS. Yoshi’s Woolly World had us at E3 with a collective “awww”. Splatoon made our ears perk up. And the gameplay for Zelda Wii U has our eyes sparkling. That’s the power of Nintendo; they have franchises that devoted gamers and casuals would pick up in a heartbeat.

I’m not saying Nintendo is out of its danger zone. The company has to start steering away from its rigid, traditional strategies, as we see the gaming frontier adapt in this era of quick fix gaming of Flappy Bird and Candy Crush (how is that game still popular?).

But it’s hard to make a ship, with the kind of authority that Nintendo has, go down. I’ll be going into 2015 with an “I told you so” attitude regarding Nintendo’s future—or just throw another Smash-themed party to nudge everyone over their “Should I get a Wii U, too?” musing.

The views expressed in this article explicitly belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, nor should be attributed to, GameSided as an organization. For more on our policy, click here.