Back in 2008 I started investing in the stock market. One of the cardinal rules of investing is to go with what you know and that’s what I did to some pretty spectacular results. In 2008, I was 27 years old and before I began investing I looked back at which companies I really knew something about from my life. For example, I invested in Barnes & Noble because I had been going to their bookstores since I was a kid and I knew that they offered something much different than Borders or the local bookstore. Also, once I started working full-time after graduate school in 2006, I picked up a daily commute that lasted over an hour to and from work. During that commute I began listening to satellite radio so I understood the very unique place that it occupied in the daily lives of millions of commuters and I invested quite a bit in Sirius XM (which was just Sirius back then). That investment paid off big time and helped me fully pay off one of my student loans a few years ago.
As a kid growing up I used to love playing video games. I wasn’t obsessive about the games like you see with so many young kids today; I probably played as much as anyone else in my age group. However, as I got older I began to learn more about the video game companies. Who were the people behind these games? Who made the Mario series? What about the Madden games? Who was behind the wildly popular WCW/nWo video games? By the way, I used to consistently watch wrestling (again, probably not any more than anyone else in my age group – we all loved Stone Cold and The Rock back in the 1990s). Those two items – video games and wrestling – were two pieces of pop culture that I “knew” and that I felt comfortable investing in. So I invested in WWE and THQ stock back in 2008, too.
A quick side note: today, I’m only invested in two stocks – Sirius XM and WWE. They’re both reliable and WWE’s dividend is fantastic, not to mention that the stock has doubled in value over the last year (and… I happened to purchase before it doubled, too). Oh, and I sold my THQ stock at a profit before the company went under.
Getting back to the point, one of the things that I knew well as a young kid and that I researched quite a bit as I got older was the video game industry and, in particular, the Nintendo company. No matter what people may think, the Nintendo gaming consoles were the superior, global home console up until the GameCube was released (and floundered). They beat the Genesis and the first PlayStation as well as a long line of one-shot consoles that could never really compete. And yet, when I began investing – even after Nintendo had its major success and reclaimed the “King of the Consoles” crown with the Wii, I couldn’t bring myself to invest in the company.
And I still can’t bring myself to invest in the company because of blunders like the Wii U.
There are a bunch of people out there who are writing about how Nintendo should scrap the entire Wii U platform and focus on a truly next generation system. Others are writing that Nintendo should just give up on hardware and become a dominant software company on the Sony and Microsoft systems (which I think is a silly, dumb idea). And there’s never a shortage of anti-Nintendo writers who are heralding the end of the company once and for all (they get proven wrong every few years).
I don’t think I fall easily into any one of those categories. First, I’m just a guy with a blog – not someone who gets paid to write about technology or gaming systems. Second, I base my entire opinion on not investing in Nintendo solely on my own personal impressions of their ability to meet the demands of the video game market. Third, I’ve always been a fan of Nintendo and as long as they exist I’ll probably remain a fan (even though my video gaming has dropped from 2 – 3 hours each day as a kid to 2 – 3 hours every 6 months today).
With that information as a base, the title of this entry remains: What to do about Nintendo’s Wii U blunder?
I’m not going to suggest that they should scrap the system completely. However, I do think that it would make a lot of sense to drop the dual screen peripheral requirement for the most intense and hardcore games. In other words, when the latest Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed, Madden, NBA 2K, etc. are being developed and released for the next generation consoles (Wii U, X-Box 1, and PlayStation 4), the developers should have the option of making a game that doesn’t require the use of the second screen in the game pad. I don’t know if it is easy or economically viable for third party developers to do that right now, but it seems to me that part of the Wii U blunder is the gigantic game pad with a second screen that hasn’t ignited the video gaming world like the Wii Remote did in the last decade. And speaking of the Wii Remote, I don’t think that Nintendo ever really understood why it was such a draw for hardcore and old school gamers. It wasn’t that any of us old school video gamers or any of the hardcore gamers were excited about swinging our arms around like a looney tune – nope. The draw of the Wii Remote is that there were only two or three buttons that you could push to perform an action – not the nearly dozen or so that you had to deal with on the PlayStation controller.
Nintendo missed that point completely and it shows with the silly second screen in the huge Wii U game pad.
The other thing that I would do if I were Nintendo is I’d really focus on the next generation console and make it everything that their competition is and more. Yes, it’s time for Nintendo to start making a home theater-capable console. That means that the next Nintendo console has to be able to play the latest home movie technology whether it’s still Blu-Ray movies or something more advanced. And the console needs to be able to easily perform the same multimedia streaming/tasks that the Microsoft and Sony platforms can perform. If that type of functionality is paired with a blazing fast system that can handle the latest graphics and includes a powerful, yet easy-to-use internet shop, then I think Nintendo has a winner on its hands.
The final requirement that I would have for Nintendo’s next system is full backward functionality with the Wii and Wii U. Further, that backwards functionality should include the ability to transfer the digital ownership rights of any game purchased in the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles. That would be the type of ground-breaking, customer-centric focus that would set Nintendo apart (again) from the pack and ultimately lead it to long-term success…
…and potentially lead me to invest in the company!