In an investor’s briefing over night, Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata outlined the company’s plan to come back from an incredibly poor performance in 2013. Nintendo plans on improving the Wii U, nailing down a launch window for one of their biggest 2014 releases, and pushing their business into other areas. However, I don’t know if the Big N is heading in quite the right direction.
First off – and most importantly for those who already own a Wii U – Mario Kart 8 is finding its way to shelves this May. That’s not just a Japanese release date either; that is worldwide. This newest entry in the series introduces anti-gravity courses, allowing races to move to the walls and ceilings.
In other Wii U news, DS titles are coming to the system’s Virtual Console service. Iwata said that the firm had “overcome technical hurdles” to allow the portable games to work on the big screen. “The dual-screen Nintendo DS, one of which is a touch screen, has a very strong software lineup, and so we plan to add the Virtual Console titles from Nintendo DS software to the future Virtual Console lineup for Wii U,” confirmed the boss. No titles or launch dates have been offered up so far. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t Nintendo also bring DS titles to 3DS and not the other way around. Anyway…
The Wii U is going to get a “Quick Start” menu this Summer. Iwata stated that the 20-30 second boot time for the Wii U impairs the system’s simplicity of use. To solve this – because system firmware updates have not in the past – another firmware update will patch in a new, faster start-up menu that will enable instant game access.
The new boot-up sequence, which is featured in a video on Nintendo’s site, will immediately display a simple menu of recently played icons on the GamePad screen. Tap the game you wish to play, then select your Mii, and the system bypasses the slow main menu and directly loads the game.
Nintendo wasn’t done yet.
Iwata then went on to talk about how Nintendo could discount game prices for regular buyers. “Until now it has been taken for granted that software is offered to users at the same price regardless of how many titles they purchase in a year, be it one, five or even ten titles,” said Iwata. “Based on our account system, if we can offer flexible price points to consumers who meet certain conditions, we can create a situation where these consumers can enjoy our software at cheaper price points when they purchase more.”
I hope he keeps talking, as these are not big issues but he is saying the right things. Iwata continued: “Under the current situation where the company has to report an operating loss, simply executing a price reduction as a way to defuse the situation is not an option. In the short-term, Nintendo will focus on thoroughly enriching the value of the most significant feature of Wii U, the Wii U GamePad.” Excuse me for a moment while I go and bang my head against a wall.
Iwata also intends on rebranding Nintendo in multiple areas. The Wii U marketing will change, as people still think that the GamePad is a Wii accessory. The firm also intends to license out characters to third-party developers as they did with the recently announced Hyrule Warriors. And historically, Sega made F-Zero GX, so this move cannot be a bad thing when done right. Finally, Iwata stated that while mobile is important, you will not be seeing Mario for sale on iOS. However, a new Nintendo service that enables the company to connect with consumers on a consistent basis will arrive this year.
It feels like Nintendo is treading the same path they were before their financial news broke. The aforemenioned Hyrule Warriors, The Wonderful 101, and Bayonetta 2 are all being developed by third-party developers. GamePad focus was a thing in 2011. A firmware update was supposed to speed up the system last year. And as for the regular discounts, way to give retailers another reason not to stock your console.
At the moment, it just seems like nothing has changed over in the Mushroom Kingdom.