Nintendo is synonymous with positive childhood memories, family connectivity, and wholesome fun. But despite its mainstream image, it’s also known to some diehard fans as a disrespectful money machine. The poor performance of the Wii U, which is the company’s biggest console failure with only 13 million units sold worldwide, was a direct result of its lack of respect for consumers; misleading information, bastardization of beloved series, and withholding stock are reasons why some may look to cut ties with the Japanese-based company.
For its next product, the Nintendo Switch, to succeed, Nintendo must develop and demonstrate a heightened level of respect for fans.
In an industry with many moving parts and contributing factors, unmet release dates for games are a common outcome. Because of the strenuous process of finishing projects, leeway is often given for both major and independent developers. However, Nintendo has abused the compassion of gamers and mislead them with false release dates to extend the “consumer contract.”
The “Big-N” revealed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (then untitled) in January 2013 with the project scheduled to arrive on Wii U two years later. Those who purchased the console specifically for the game have yet to be rewarded. Many have hit forum boards and social media to express their anger with not only the unreleased game, but with the revealed upgraded version set to arrive on their next console less than a year after – whenever that may be. Although there was never an official date given, Nintendo must earn back consumers’ trust if they want elevate the sales of the Nintendo Switch.
For years, fans of the company have expressed a deep desire for certain franchises to return, but historically, Nintendo’s response has been to take a half-measure approach. This is most evident with the community’s desire for Metroid on Wii U. Instead, Nintendo released Metroid Prime: Federation Force on 3DS. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Amié told online news outlet Game Rant the spinoff title was something gamers would be pleasantly surprised with, however, the audience did the talking with under 4,000 copies sold after its initial Japanese launch in August. If Nintendo expects those gamers to make the jump to its next console, they must begin listening to fan outcry.
Games aside, Nintendo supporters are on low battery after trying to find their systems in stores. A lack of production and distribution of its products has been a trend for the company, with many consumers left to wonder if the shortages of the Wii in 2006, Wii U in 2013, as well as amiibo and NES Classic Edition this past year are schemes to manufacture hype. Nintendo has not confirmed the validity of these claims, but whether the lack of product is deliberate or coincidental, consumers are now pessimistic about the launch and availability of the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo must learn from the commercial failure of the Wii U. The company mislead its audience with false information about the release of highly-anticipated games, refused to develop desired projects, and could not keep up with retail demand. If Nintendo continues to show a lack of respect for its loyal supporters, it risks further alienating consumers who decide if the Nintendo Switch will be a commercial failure.