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Nintendo needs to pull a Sega

I grew up on the NES but then gave up on Nintendo until the Wii came out…and as most of us Wii-owners know, that didn’t turn out so great. Nintendo continues to have problems selling hardware as better consoles, mobile devices and the old PC continue to lure more developers to build better games. It’s time Nintendo throws in the towel on hardware and just focuses on making great games. It’s time for Nintendo to follow Sega.

After the Dreamcast console failed to change the world, Sega decided it was done with hardware. Historically speaking, Sega is a game company. Some of the best, most iconic arcade titles are owned by Sega. Sega knows games and to this day when a title is released by Sega it gets my attention. It’s not to say the Genesis was’t a good console nor was the Dreamcast not underrated, but Sega got the message and adjusted accordingly.

Nintendo needs to start taking notes and follow Sega’s lead. Nintendo has some of the most loved video games of all time…some of the biggest franchise names ever. Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon…we all have our favorites but many of us can’t play them because we don’t own a Nintendo device and we don’t want to because a single, high-price purchase isn’t worth what ultimately becomes a single-game machine. Just imagine how much Nintendo would sell if they released a Zelda game for iOS or Android…or even on Playstation or Xbox…it would be staggering. People would line up in the digital queue and drop coin like hot coals.

Nintendo seems to have the business plan of traditional media, of which I have some first-hand knowledge. One reason newspapers are hurting (amongst other things) is that they’re still trying to sell physical papers, even online. A digital subscription to a newspaper is designed to have you to get home delivery of the actual paper. It’s not unlike how HBO requires you to be cable subscriber to get access to their streaming, you can’t just buy the streaming. I know the old sales model gets turned upside down in these cases but that’s okay because that’s what needs to happen. It’s clear the old model isn’t working, not even for a global super-company like Nintendo.

Know your role

We’re all good at different things. Some companies are good at making hardware (Sony) and some companies are good at making software (Sega). Much like the cruel game of life, you need to know your role, play along and everything will turn out fine. We all know what we’re good at and what we love doing, so do that and let the others do what they do best. Nintendo’s first-party games are wonderful but when they’re console-locked they’re only hurting themselves. Gone are the days of device exclusivity, especially when it comes to AAA franchises and games. We’ll see timed exclusives but ultimately every game will be available on every platform because they can just make more money that way. Sega learned a long time ago what they’re really good at, and you don’t see them hurting like Nintendo is now.

Plus, Nintendo’s games aren’t generally known for their leading-edge tech or graphics, they’re known for good stories and great characters. Nintendo does that better than almost anyone maybe shy of Disney. They own that niche in video games and they need to just bite the bullet, release those games to everyone and then start raking in the cash again. They don’t need to sell hardware to make money so while keep going down that road?

(And maybe if Nintendo would release titles on other platforms people would stop trying to pirate/emulate them as much. They can take a page out of Apple’s book too.)