Nintendo is a polarizing entity in the tech market. On one hand, the corporation is a highly experimental one; developing and selling devices with revolutionary quirks to an unsuspecting generation. On the other hand, the company has shown to be rather slow when it comes to embracing new and innovative ideas like the ones that helped its competition stay ahead of it.

It’s this juxtaposition that fuels many debates between fans of the company and naysayers across many online chat rooms. Is the company a clever innovator that the market can rely on for change? Or is it just too conceited with making smaller yet supplemental moves?

Unbelievably, the answer may prove as juxtaposed as the company’s dilemma. The truth about the Japanese tech giant is that it’s neither moving forward nor backward in the console market. Instead, Nintendo is merely reinventing the wheel with its hardware to appeal to gamers both new and old.

The moment Nintendo made history

When Nintendo decided its future lied in console gaming, the company managed to reignite the spark of a dying Western industry following a devastating market crash. It did so by bringing its console the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to Western storefronts in 1985 and it went on to set new standards for hardware and software.

Soon afterward, other Japanese companies like SEGA and Sony followed suit with their own offerings and a new console generation was at hand.

But along the way, Nintendo seemingly began to wind down on innovation and focused on refining the technology that helped it to set industry standards. The company even shied away from other standards that other companies had ushered, though not completely.

Nintendo’s dirty little secret

During the early 2000s, the minds at Nintendo had an epiphany that would change the company’s integral gaming business moving forward.

The company realized it could no longer supply the market with conventional gaming devices. But at the same time, it also realized its gaming concepts of the past still had significant value to the market.

Therefore, it would redevelop its patents to yield new features to integrate into its newer consoles and handhelds.

In fact, it would go as far as to design these devices around those features in hopes of providing consumers with new and memorable experiences.

Nintendo’s greatest hits and misses

This all started in the seventh console generation with the Nintendo DS handheld and Wii console. The handheld featured a design akin to Nintendo’s popular Game & Watch electronic games, complete with dual screens. The top screen showed the main gameplay while the lower screen provided touch-based and stylus-based controls for interactivity for in-game elements. Unsurprisingly, the handheld was a roaring success on the market and did so simply with an old concept.

The Wii was just as successful but more surprisingly so.

It featured a design that prioritized motion control centric gameplay. This too was part of a patent that Nintendo had already dabbled in across previous console generations. However, what made the Wii different was its peripheral that made the best use of this feature in the form of a remote control.

Like its peripheral predecessors, the Wii Remote wasn’t perfect but it worked for the most part and helped the somewhat graphically weak underdog outsell its competitors. It even went on to become the highest-selling console in the company’s history.

However, while Nintendo’s not-so-new approach to console gaming seemed like an instant home run for the company in some instances, there was also an unexpected miss.

That was the eight generation console the Nintendo Wii U.

This time, Nintendo opted for a basic console with a not-so-basic peripheral in the form of a tablet that could stream Video Games from the TV to its screen. Nintendo had done something similar with the GBA link but that involved tethering the Game Boy Advance handheld to the GameCube console. The results were the reverse since it brought the GBA titles to the TV.

Unfortunately, this revived concept wasn’t properly communicated to consumers due to an incredibly poor marketing campaign and the Wii U faltered. The sales of the console were quite abysmal and the library was left thin after third parties began pulling their software support out in response.

Retrospectively, the Wii U remains a huge embarrassment to the Nintendo company to this very day.

Now in the current ninth generation, we have the Nintendo Switch with a design that’s basically a combination of concepts taken from both its predecessors. Despite its complex design that combines a tablet with two detachable controllers and a dock, it’s incredibly intuitive and the message is more clear. Once again, Nintendo has struck gold as sales of the Switch have been sustainably meteoric since launch and may continue to rise throughout its life cycle.

It’s by this point that many have come to realize that Nintendo’s strategy is pretty much hit and miss. However, the big takeaway from this is that the company can find massive success in doing so.

Hence, Nintendo doesn’t always need to push the envelope with innovation and that’s why it seems slow when it comes to embracing new ideas.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Nintendo has struck a middle ground that serves its needs greatly for the most part. To the naysayers who argue that the tech giant isn’t innovative, the truth is it’s still evolving but strictly in its own niched way. And while it’s not possible for the company to perpetuate this trick for decades to come, the bright side is the company can still learn from its mistakes and does embrace new trends eventually.

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