Top 10 Failures in Nintendo History


5. Shunning Third Parties


With all the third-party game developers out there, it’s sound business sense to make it as easy as possible for prospective developers to put together games for your console, right? More titles equals more interest in the console, even if you haven’t worked out a kickback deal. Nintendo started muscling out independent developers and ticking off third-party groups with the release of the NES way back when. If you wanted to publish a Nintendo console game, you needed to buy the cartridges for the game from Nintendo directly, with a minimum order size of 10,000 units. Later, as prices rose, Nintendo was able to offer their own titles at the old prices while developers who were still dealing with the overhead of the cartridges had to bump their prices up, making them seem greedy in the public eye. This backward way of doing things continued on to the N64 in a day and age where other consoles were switching to CDs, which had much better memory capacity. Even now, Nintendo insists in ensuring its consoles are only capable of reading a convoluted programming language which, combined with its relatively low processing power and memory capacity, forces developers to jump through hoop after flaming hoop to produce titles for the console when they would be tripling their return if they were to program for Sony/Microsoft/PC.


4. Gamecube Meant for Children


Shortly after the release of the Gamecube Nintendo CEO Shigeru Miyamoto went on record saying they were not interested in catering to the current fanbase, referring to gamers that had been with the company since childhood and were now approaching the age where they had plenty of expendable income. On the one hand, Nintendo had been pressured heavily to produce titles and a console that did not censor themselves from adult concepts. And while that challenged their business plan, there was also the problem of catering to gamers who were more critical in their old age and had begun to expect more from game releases. Considering Nintendo’s business model seems to have been remaking several tried and true IPs and then throwing out hundreds of casual titles since then, it can be guessed that their decision has been unequivocally made. This is reinforced by current President Satoru Iwata blaming their current sagging sales figures on the company not having done enough to target children. The problem that they don’t see is that children have not developed a sense of loyalty to the company or attachment to its intellectual properties. I was raised with Mario Brothers. A child now might be raised with Candy Crush and Angry Birds and be just as happy without owning a console which can only be used to play games, all to save the pocketbook of today’s parent. In short, Nintendo repeatedly turns its back on the generations of gamers that it has in its pocket in favor of new generations that don’t care.


3. Virtual Boy


I have invoked the name in the title for lack of options, but henceforth shall it be known as You Know What (YKW). Released in 1995 when the SNES was still very successful, the intent of YKW was to keep Nintendo’s fanbase fed and happy prior to the release of the N64 and in hopes of preventing the purchase of the upcoming Playstation produced by Sony. It was advertised as offering a portable system with “true 3D graphics.” Of course the system wasn’t really portable and the 3D impression was caused by a red LED field in one eyepiece and a secondary blue field in the other. The red tinge was thanks to Nintendo deeming a full color display too expensive despite the $180 price tag being pretty close to what a console was costing. That proved to be a bother to many. The games were subpar for the cost, they did not make use of what the YKW was trying to offer, the wireframe holding the goggle set led to stiff necks and headaches, and while you may have felt the need to turn your head to track objects on your field of vision that would only tear your eyes away from the screens. Think of it like this. The N64 was considered a step up.


About The Author

John Richard "Chrysophase" Albers
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John Richard Albers, an author, armchair psychologist, amateur historian, freelance, peacemaker, dragonslayer, warmaster, and part-time herald of the apocalypse, hunts ghosts when he isn't hunting crazy people. He holds dual bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and English Literature, is working toward a degree in parapsychology, and is acting CEO of Prior to Print Proofreading LLC, where he gets to torture editors instead of them torturing him for once.

24 Responses to Top 10 Failures in Nintendo History

  1. Midori says:

    Creating the PlayStation is a fail for Nintendo but… OMG, isn’t it a win for the gaming industry and us, the consumer?
    Also… I wouldn’t really put “The Nintendo 3DS”… I’d instead list “Nintendo 3DS’ Launch” That makes more sense. The 3DS is such a killer system right now. It was just that awful launch.

  2. Ross says:

    the nintendo 64 was amazing, I still play it to this day

  3. First i would like to thanks for this useful guide. I really liked the 2nd, 3rd and 7th points.What i recommend to other bloggers is that first pick up niche in which you are experienced. Learn the main things about that particular niche, do some keyword research, get ideas and write down then in form of blog posts. Then start link buidlding,promote articles on social media. When you are able to gain decent traffic towards your blog then start monetizing it with any advertisement network that is best according to your blog niche. cat mario online

  4. KG says:

    Lmfao… The Nintendo 3DS is not a failure at all. The 3DS is a successful handheld. Just because the 3DS hasn’t passed it’s powerhouse predecessor the Nintendo DS in sales in the same time length doesn’t make it a failure. The 3DS is still the best selling video game device other than the PS4. Kids all know about the 3DS. The part where you put the average kid doesn’t know what Nintendo is made me laugh so hard. That’s a fat lie lol. Most kids are into the Nintendo 3DS. I expect another huge holiday season this year with the 3DS also.

    • For the ease of reading I didn’t bother presenting my bibliography, but I expect I’m going to have to do so in future just so I don’t have to respond to asinine comments which don’t understand the difference between anecdotal evidence and peer-reviewed studies individually.

      Simply because a company has sold a large number of units does not make that product a financial success, what with the significant overhead to consider. And comparing the sales of one product to another and claiming that one is a success because it has sold more is equally as fallacious.

      As to clear evidence regarding console familiarity, you could read through “Reality is Broken” by Dr. Jane McGonigal for a good overview (with plenty of citations for your perusal. Or you can hunt down the following condensed list of studies for your own edification:

      1. “An Analysis of of Europe’s 100 Million Active Gamers.” Strategy Analytics, September 2008.
      2. “Games Market Intelligence: Russia.” Piers Harding-Rolls for Screen Digest, June 2010.
      3. “Insights on Mobile Gaming in India.” Vital Analytics, March 2009.
      4. “Games Segmentation 2012 Market Research Report.” The NPD Group. May 2012

      • Cathy Wheeler says:

        “Simply because a company has sold a large number of units does not make that product a financial success, what with the significant overhead to consider.” By your own admission then, the PS3 is a colossal failure. I look forward to your list of Top Sony failures. I’ll get you started. By your standards, you already have the PS3. If the 3DS is a failure, the PSP must have been one as well. Play Station move (the controller looks like a female pleasure device). The PSP Go was a bigger failure than Virtual Boy. And the Vita is DOA.

        • Excellent idea! Since this seems to be getting so much attention I’d better start researching for the next list of gaming company failures. It’s guaranteed to cause controversy regardless of the statement.

      • J says:

        uh what over head are you talking about Nintendo is know as the only video game company who is able to sell there console for a profit

  5. FC360 says:

    I just want to point out that The original PS2 did not include a network slot until the slim, you had to use an adapter for the none slim consoles. Also gamecube had online capabilities however only a few games supported it and it too required a network adapter. The thing is back then online gaming wasn’t a very big thing.

  6. Cathy Wheeler says:

    The PS3 did not achieve more console profits than the Wii. Also, despite selling less hardware in the Gamecube era, Nintendo made more pure profit than its competitors.

  7. bramax says:

    “Nintendo repeatedly turns its back on the generations of gamers that it has in its pocket in favor of new generations that don’t care. ”

    That’s brilliant! Perfect explanation for the actual situation of Nintendo.

  8. Jackie OMG says:

    Third Party lockout is what saved the NES from Atari’s glut of shit third party games. In the days of the 2600 every company had a games department, even Quaker Oats had a video game division.

    • What an excellent point! Quaker Oats produced 14 games in a year prior to closing down their video game production subsidiary.

      It saved Nintendo way back when, but now one wonders if it might be hindering them. It’s just speculation of course, but after their board saying the Wii U was dead in the water as it was (If I recall that article correctly) it occurs to me that I haven’t really enjoyed a console by Nintendo since the SNES. The selection of titles for Sony and Microsoft consoles just isn’t available for the Wii U (most of it), and since most consumers must make the purchase which is most economical (getting as much console for your buck) you’d naturally gravitate toward the console that hosts more the titles that have caught your eye. Seems that’s Nintendo less and less these days.

  9. Nick says:

    This blogger is a hipster god.

  10. Fruitklep says:

    Philips is Dutch, not American.

  11. Ninmast says:

    You probably get this question a lot, but I’m curious as to why you have such immense dislike for the Nintendo 64. It was quite successful and gave us many things that we didn’t have before. Many seem to view the controller as one of the best in console history, the games were high-quality and many times revolutionary and still seen with great fondness, and while true that the cartridges couldn’t hold as much, the advantage at the time was that cartridges had faster transfer rates, I believe, than optical media, which meant that few 64 games had the infamous Loading screens that Playstation did.

    In short and to reiterate, I’m curious why you seem so vitriolic toward the system.

    • I’m primarily vitriolic toward the N64 because the only reason I bought one was to play Earthbound64, which was scrapped.

      Personal feelings aside, the N64 was the first example of Nintendo’s choices made more for the sake of profit than entertainment value. They budgeted massive amounts toward marketing, but development received a comparatively meager sum. And the reason that Nintendo maintained their cartridge-based design was not to maintain faster loading times. Since the NDA expired it’s been outed that they went the cartridge route, knowing full well that it would reduce memory capacity considerably, because it would prevent piracy. It would also create a pinch-point among third-party developers since they had to purchase proprietary hardware from Nintendo at a stiff markup before they could produce their own titles. This is all indicative of a change in policy and corporate mindset which is detrimental to the image they built up and which made them successful.

  12. Rogerio Andrade says:

    3DS a failure? Yeah…. specially when you consider its popularity compared to Sony´s Vita.

    • Nintendo is blaming their 229 million dollar loss this year on lower than projected sales of the WiiU and 3DS, considering their actual sales versus projected sales, the 3DS is responsible for a 70 million dollar loss this year alone.

  13. Sean says:

    Most of these are marketing failures, not technology failures.. 3DS, N64 (and its controller), and the WiiU are by no means technological failures. One of their BIGGEST failures you failed to mention – The Power Glove. I was so excited for that thing, then when I got it I was so p’ssed off. It was terrible. You’re a very smart dude, but I think your bias shows in this blog. Yes, I know what a blog is. But you present this article as objective, and it is teeming with subjectivity.

  14. Jeff Ross says:

    And hows the wiiu and 3ds looking now?

    • I stated elsewhere: “Nintendo is blaming their 229 million dollar loss this year on lower than projected sales of the WiiU and 3DS, considering their actual sales versus projected sales, the 3DS is responsible for a 70 million dollar loss this year alone.”

      • Why is this so mean about the Nintendo 3ds, I’m f#ckin’ 12 and I own a Gameboy Pocket Edition, Gameboy Advance, Gameboy Advance SP, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, and a Nintendo 2DS, and that’s just as of now, and this goes out to all the bastards at After Gamer!

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