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Bushnell doubts Wii U success

Bushnell doubts Wii U success

Mon 26 Nov 2012 8:33am GMT / 3:33am EST / 12:33am PST
PeopleHardware

“I actually am baffled by it,” Atari founder tells US press

Atari founder and industry veteran Nolan Bushnell has questioned the possibility of success for the Wii U, even as American shoppers queued overnight to secure the new Nintendo console.

“I actually am baffled by it,” Nolan Bushnell, told the New York Times of the Wii U.

“I don't think it's going to be a big success,” he continued, suggesting that only hardcore gamers would be interested in purchasing a new games machine when the current-gen is still delivering great games.

“These things will continue to sputter along, but I really don't think they'll be of major import ever again. It feels like the end of an era to me.”

The article also featured Robbie Bach, former president of entertainment and devices at Microsoft, who addressed Nintendo's decision not to feature its games on other devices like the iPhone.

“It's the hardest strategic decision Nintendo has had to face in a long time. Would Mario on an iPhone be an interesting property? I think yes, it would.”

And he was more positive about the future of the Wii U and the Japanese company.

“I've learned not to count the Nintendo guys out,” he added.

Last week NoA president Reggie Fils-Aime revealed the company only needs to sell one game with each Wii U.

"The business model doesn't change dramatically, in that as soon as we get the consumer to buy one piece of software, then that entire transaction becomes profit positive," he said.

"In the end, the business model is still to drive the install base of hardware, and then to drive a strong tie ratio with all of the other software and experiences for the consumer. And if we're able to do that, then we will create significant profit for the company."

25 Comments

Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor

411 213 0.5
I wish Bushnell would have qualified his statements about why the Wii U wouldn't sell. It would have given quite a bit of insight into why one of the founders of Atari (who have done so well) could be baffled by concepts such as brand loyalty, market data from pre-orders and quality games coming from design not horsepower.

As for Robbie Bach, I'm sure that he's well aware that Nintendo would never put their games on anything else apart from their own hardware. Their games sell their hardware, putting them on anything else dilutes that demand. What he means to say is that he wishes Nintendo would do it.

Posted:2 years ago

#1
Nintendo have just taken their first steps towards making their games available on iOS.

http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2012/11/pokemon-pokedex-ios/

Posted:2 years ago

#2
Is this linked to Atari being removed from the Wii-U SDK list? Would like to see GI.biz cover the situation at Atari, especially linked to the current rumors regarding the Lyon Investment group.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Jamie Read Junior 3D Artist, Neon Play Ltd

131 76 0.6
I can't see Nintendo ever putting their IP onto iOS; it would completely devalue their software, as people expect everything for 69p these days. Nintendo loves to create innovative hardware and the games they create is a massive part of shifting that hardware. Bringing those games to other platforms would kill their console development dead.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,287 2,507 1.1
Andrew, please read my comment on the Gi.biz article. Nintendo had nothing to do with that.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-11-16-nintendo-launches-first-paid-for-ios-app

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University

436 497 1.1
If Nintendo were to put anything on iOS or Android it would be their legacy games--but even that is extremely unlikely. For a business dedicated to selling videogames hardware, making your only consistently exclusive content available on other systems is an insane business practise. Why would you give your consumers one less (highly significant) reason to buy your videogames machine? It makes sense that Nintendo make complimentary apps available on smartphones; as they've identified recently, smartphones can be an ally for conventional gaming systems if the right methods are pursued.

As for doubting Wii U, that's natural. We should not be assured about the success of any system at launch, especially one that is so different and one that launches without a 'killer app'. But like I've said before, I'm not sure a Wii Sports killer app is possible because the Wii was a uniquely simple and approachable system, which yes, allowed Nintendo to sell tens of millions of systems and create some fantastic mass-market games, but it was a market that was unsustainable and unhealthy in the long-term. If Wii U is a slower seller that develops a stronger digital business, better third party support and more consistent first party support, Nintendo will have done very well for themselves. If they can do that over six years consistently, Wii U may do as well as Wii in terms of raw unit install base, but with a healthier sales curve. putting less pressure on Nintendo during the next transitional period.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 26th November 2012 12:59pm

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
The U will not sell as well as the original Wii, that is self evident because there are so many gaming platforms competing for people's time now.
But it will succeed to the extent that it will be the only way to get the latest iteration of all those fantastic Nintendo gaming properties.

Hardware wise Nintendo have been outflanked. This is all about marginal propensities and demand elasticities.

Posted:2 years ago

#7
@Bruce, can you really bet against Nintendo?
I am not a fan of what the Wii-U has become, with the whole issue of the uncompleted online component that could make or break the system (looking forward to that Christmas day update download)! I still can not write off the machine or the company so quickly - smacks of wish fulfillment?

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@kevin williams

I am not writing them off. Far from it, they own many of the greatest franchises in gaming.
It is just that they have peaked as a manufacturer of game dedicated hardware.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
I think Nintendo will rather take their IP to it's grave before selling it on iOS for 99 cents. They still sell 20 year old games for 5 euros in their online shops, as the 3rd re-release, and people pay for it.
Their games are barely losing value over time and the used prices on gamestop are just a hair below new.
If they ever need to partake in these kind of races to the bottom, they must be in real deep trouble.

I think nintendo is a reassuring example of how high quality can command high prices. I also doubt their creative teams run out of cool ideas any time soon.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Felix Leyendecker on 26th November 2012 4:36pm

Posted:2 years ago

#10
Right. Ask any of the hundreds of thousands of consumers queueing for their Wii-U what they think about Atari and I bet half won't even know who they are! The other half will be the parents making the purchase and their only memory will be from a few decades ago.

It's amazing that someone from Atari even has the gall to speak about another brands hardware after such massive failures as the Atari Lynx and Jaguar. Really, if anything, this has just made me think the Wii-U will be a success. :P

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor

411 213 0.5
@Andrew Eades: I fail to see how a 2nd party releasing an accessory to one of the most successful game franchises of all time on a phone is anything more than an indicator that most people have phones and that makes phones the best platform for boosting awareness of your game and enhancing the gamers enjoyment. Just like how there will be a Miiverse app in the future... it's really just publicity and removing the opportunities for the fans to stop thinking about the games.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
All I can think about when reading Nolan's remarks is that Jaguar ad that had the kid vomiting while playing Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy. Kid probably had some of that mouse-flavored pizza. Eh, whatever - I'm a pretty happy Wii U owner.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University

436 497 1.1
Bruce, with the number of people playing games increasing every year, it's foolish to make that assumption. Yes, people are being drawn in by smartphones and tablets, we don't need reminding--but that doesn't mean they will game exclusively on those systems. If more people buy games, if more people accept games as a hobby, the potential market is bigger, even if the percentage share declines. Nintendo's percentage share with Wii is half what it was with NES, yet Nintendo have sold 40 million more Wii's than NES systems. Is that really the sign of a company past their peak? They can't dominate the market, they definitely can't replicate GC to Wii growth, but they can sell a hundred million systems in six years.

Nintendo understood when they launched DS and Wii that if you could take a piece of an expanding pie, you'd do pretty damn well for them. Absolute predictions of their peak when gaming is so young is very, very naive.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 26th November 2012 5:56pm

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University

436 497 1.1
Kevin, if you are serious about a Christmas Wii U, refuse the update when the option comes up. You'll then be able to access your system options and switch on background downloading, meaning you can play games while the patch downloads. I think you still have to install the patch, but it avoids the box becoming useless during a potentially lengthy download time. Google it for more detail and walk-throughs online, I don't own a Wii U myself but saw this story on a couple of sites.

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,255 421 0.3
To be fair to Nolan Bushnell, the problems at Atari started when the went public, when Nolan stepped down to allow a more corporate type to be CEO. The Jaguar and Lynx were after Jack Tremail bought the consumer business. So is Steve Jobs responsible for John Sculley's bad decisions, beyond appointing him?
That's not saying he's right, it's to early to call, but it's not fair to blame him for his successors' balls-ups.

Posted:2 years ago

#16
@Bruce - appropriate your clarification of your position, and would agree that like Disney, Nintendo sits on enough IP to allow for a few failed attempts. Even as the Wii-U is being called Nintendo's Saturn, I still feel they are able to weather most storms.

@Daniel - thanks for that, just wonder how many 'core customers' of the Wii-U Christmas morning will have the smarts to do that?

Just saw Eurogamers Side-by-side comparison of the the X360 and Wii-U CoD port, very interesting - worth a watch.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Paul Jace Merchandiser

955 1,449 1.5
While I don't doubt the WIi U will be successful, I do doubt it will reach the status achieved by the Wii. First, I saw several systems sitting in my Best Buy today. Normally that wouldn't be no big deal but considering this is a new system that came out a week ago....and this is/was Black Friday weekend. You can also still buy new Wii U's(both regular and deluxe) on gamestop.com, no bundled items required. So this system won't hit the "sold out" levels the Wii reached but Nintendo will still make money off of it.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange

238 185 0.8
Paul, they' re "basic" units. The deluxe is essentially sold out or backordered. It's not surprising that the basic package is readily available since it's more practical to buy the deluxe sku.

By comparison, the Wii launched with a single sku.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andy Samson on 27th November 2012 6:39am

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Paul Jace Merchandiser

955 1,449 1.5
You are correct about the deluxe edition Andy, thats still hard to find and is indeed backordered.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games

363 208 0.6
damned tablet. there are times that i criticize nintendo too, for helping to make touch interfaces popular! :) but on the topic, it is a typical reception for every nintendo hardware project. people laugh about it because they do not understand it, then it becomes popular and they try to exploit it, then they fail because they still can't understand it, and then they are bitter. oh well.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,287 2,507 1.1
Yiannis, that was a very astute depiction of the situation.

Posted:2 years ago

#22
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has apologised to early Wii U adopters for the system's initial firmware update and the unavailability of some features at launch.
The exec told IGN he was sympathetic to users experiencing firmware download issues and regretted there being restrictions on console features.

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,287 2,507 1.1
Why do you keep posting that, Kevin?

Posted:2 years ago

#24
it just seems so apt... but will stop now.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

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