Jason Rubin, co-founder of game studio Naughty Dog, had some tough love for Nintendo recently, telling website GameTrailers that the big N is “irrelevant as a hardware manufacturer in the console business.”
Rubin is not exactly an unbiased party here, as Naughty Dog’s games have basically been Sony exclusives for decades now, but when looking at the numbers it’s hard to argue with him. Sales of the Wii U have been underwhelming at best, and with the recent release of the PS4 and Xbox One, Nintendo’s latest console is getting its ass handed to it. Although reduced prices and the introduction of a Wind Waker HD bundle helped dramatically increase sales of the Wii U, it hasn’t been enough to boost it out of a distant third place in the console wars.
Rubin didn’t have all bad things to say about Nintendo, though. He did praise the company for its IP, calling it a “worldwide treasure” and adding “It is a crime that we do not play those games on the systems that we have.” That’s a rather back-handed compliment, though, and undoubtedly little comfort to Nintendo execs trying to stop the company from a downward trajectory. It’s a bit like saying Nintendo may not be pretty but it has a great personality.
When it comes to the living room, there’s no denying that Nintendo has not exactly been leading the pack technology-wise. Although the Wii initially won a big following among casual gamers, it never really managed to win over the hardcore crowd that’s out there spending big bucks on games. A lack of third-party support seriously hurt that system, and so far that has been even more the case for the Wii U. However, Nintendo continues to dominate when it comes to handheld video game systems, with 3DS sales continuously outpacing all other systems, whether handheld or otherwise.
In other words, Nintendo is far from doomed at this point. While the Wii U has certainly been a disappointment, Nintendo is in it for the long haul, and those holding their breath for Mario or Link to make the jump to a Microsoft or Sony system will likely suffer extreme oxygen deprivation. And who knows, maybe the Wii U’s killer app is still out there somewhere, waiting to set the gaming world on fire.