Nintendo Is Not The New Sega
I’m sure that like me, many of you have read the flood of Nintendo is DOOMED articles that have made their way to the internet following the company’s downgrading and cut of potential Wii U’s sold forecast. Many of these articles have also compared Nintendo’s current predicament to that of Sega’s, stating that the Wii U and the Dreamcast are one and the same. That the Wii U is the downfall of the house that Mario built. To this I say, many of these writers are missing key points in video game history and of how Sega ended up dropping out of the console race.
True both the Wii U and Dreamcast did not sell as well as they should have during their first year but the same could be said about the PS3, least we forget the wave of articles criticizing Sony during that time. But I digress, the similarities in sales pretty much end there.
If you follow the logic of those who compare Nintendo to Sega of the time, then the comparison as I understand it essentially means that Nintendo will have no choice but to exit the console game and become a third party developer. Of course if all you read are the Nintendo is doomed articles that have been gracing the internet then I can understand how younger gamers may think that this is truly the Big N’s fate. So let me take it upon myself to explain some history.
There was lot going on in the late 90s/early 2000s that forced Sega out of the console making business. First, let me state that the Dreamcast itself was a great console. Truly one of the best of the era, but the poor sales were due to bad business practices on Sega’s part. They had alienated many retailers due to acts like dropping failed consoles and releasing a new one without informing retail stores. One of the most famous examples of the disarray in the company took place in 1995. When during E3, the president of Sega decided to announce that the Sega Saturn was launching that day. A console without games (since cute story, they didn’t tell any of the third party publishers that this was happening) and a move that left many stores without consoles to sell. In fact it lead one retailer, KB Toys, to refuse to carry anymore Sega systems ever again.
The comedy of errors didn’t stop there for Sega, they lost a ton of money because of the Saturn launch and also with the Nomad. their handheld system. So by the time the Dreamcast rolled around the company was in dire financial straits. The Dreamcast was their last chance to right the ship and it could have but I should mention that Sega had also released the Sega CD, 32X, and Saturn within 3 years. It was a move that not only angered retailers but also alienated the most important group in any products life, the consumers. Gamers were angry with Sega, and those who had purchased all the other consoles that the company had produced had washed their hands clean of Sega by the time that the Dreamcast finally made it’s debut. It also didn’t help matters that PS2 and original Xbox had made their way onto the scene.
All of this shows how different Nintendo is from Sega. Despite how badly the Wii U is currently performing, the entire world watched the implosion of Sega. And I highly doubt that Nintendo would ever state as Sega did in 1997, that the Wii U “wasn’t our future”. No, Nintendo will more than likely continue to release games for the Wii U and try to keep the console solvent until such a time that it makes sense to release another system. They are not going to make the same mistakes as their once mighty competitor did.
Frankly, Nintendo is in a far better financial situation than Sega was. The Wii was a massive success for them, they haven’t completely alienated retail stores worldwide, and the 3DS is no Sega Nomad.
Yes, the Wii U isn’t the smash hit that Nintendo was hoping for. But there is still time for the company to learn from their mistakes and fix it. They can still make the Wii U viable and they have the cash reserves to give them time. Nintendo can fail with the Wii U, and two or three other consoles before we can start to compare them to Sega. Until then, if the Wii U truly is a failure then it won’t be the new Dreamcast. It won’t be the console that destroyed Nintendo. It will simply be a blip in Nintendo’s storied history.