You thought Nintendo wasn’t thinking about making new platforms? Well, you were wrong! The Wii U and 3DS aren’t the only pieces of hardware Nintendo has up its sleeve at the moment, but the catch is that these new consoles are probably not for you.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata explained the company’s desire to start tapping “emerging markets” with new and cheaper consoles developed with a target audience’s budget in mind.
“We want to make new things, with new thinking rather than a cheaper version of what we currently have,” Iwata explained. “The product and price balance must be made from scratch.”
The idea is mind-boggling for the modern Nintendo, which has a very focused and firm grip on its marketing and hardware unity all over the world. However, it is not a completely foreign idea for Nintendo to re-brand or repackage a console based on region either. Granted we’re talking about the 80s here, before we could ever fathom the size that games would grow to, but you only need to look at the differences between the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System to see that Nintendo has done this in the past.
Since the Nintendo 64, every Nintendo console and handheld has remained relatively the same no matter the region it was released in. In terms of region locking, consoles have always suffered, but only with the Nintendo 3DS has Nintendo clamped down on global importing.
What has changed recently for Nintendo to take this new approach? That’s an easy answer. China has just lifted a 13 year ban on video game consoles, meaning Nintendo has a massive 1.3 billion person market that it is aiming for. With a large portion of the country somewhat poor and making up its “emerging market,” Nintendo isn’t going to make as much money exclusively selling top-of-the-line hardware, is it?
Cheaper Nintendo products just makes sense in some parts of the world.
The idea of unique consoles in China could even lead to unique games in China. Sure, Nintendo is set to make a lot of money, since the company is still quite popular over there, but another interesting side of this story is that new consoles open a whole new stage for import gaming. How much would you pay to import a cheap version of the Wii U? What would it take to nab and play some China exclusive games?
Gaming enthusiasts, especially Nintendo enthusiasts, aren’t going to sit back and let China have all the fun with a new Nintendo console. This could get interesting if Nintendo follows through on the idea.