My, how the mighty have fallen. It wasn’t that long ago that Nintendo was on top of the gaming world. The Wii was (and, in fairness, still is) the best-selling console of this generation, and the Nintendo DS had experienced astronomical success. These days, however, Nintendo seems to be struggling in a big way.

True, the investor reaction to the Wii U after its reveal at E3 might be something of a knee-jerk, but it’s pretty much undeniable at this point that the Nintendo 3DS has been nothing but a series of bad decisions. Yeah, it may be cool, but only the most loyal of the loyal would be steadfast (or deluded) enough to continue to sing the praises of a handheld that receives literally no noteworthy games until six months after release (and sorry, but a remake of a twelve-year-old N64 game just doesn’t cut it).

So, how does Nintendo bounce back from this rut? They embrace the enemy: the iPhone. It doesn’t matter what you think about gaming on the iPhone, it has Nintendo worried, and it’s grabbing the attention of casual gamers while their Wiis sit on a shelf, collecting dust. Sure, the Wii may be in tons of households around the world, but that hardly matters anymore. The Wii U is on the way, and Nintendo has all but abandoned the original Wii. Seriously, I’ve had some great times with my Wii, but I haven’t hooked it up to my TV in nearly six months because, for whatever reason, Nintendo seems to think that they’ve made it to the point where they don’t have to support it anymore.

I really don’t think the Wii U is going to be as big of a hit as Nintendo thinks it will, either, for one simple reason: the Wii’s success is due in large part to the fact that the Wii was the only thing targeting casual gamers at the time. The Xbox 360 and PS3 were busy duking it out over which was more powerful, or which had better exclusives, while Nintendo sat back and raked in the cash from all of the families that didn’t care one bit about the Xbox 360/PS3 rivalry (read: not core gamers). This was in a pre-iPhone world, where $50-$60 a pop was still the norm in game prices, and when people would gladly hand over that much cash without giving it a second thought.

But the times, they are a-changin’, and Nintendo refuses to change along with them. This is evidenced, first and foremost, in their terrible handling of the 3DS launch. Nintendo figured that they could launch an incomplete, unsupported handheld, and that people would eat it up. Hey, that’s what ended up happening with the DS, so it has to happen again with the 3DS, right? Wrong. So incredibly wrong. No matter how much they ignore mobile gaming, that doesn’t change the fact that iPhone and Android games are cutting directly into the market that, just a few years ago, Nintendo had cornered, and I suspect that has at least something to do with the slow uptake of the 3DS.

Now, the iPhone is taking the casual gaming market by storm, and what does Nintendo do? They put Reggie Fils-Aime in the spotlight to say that inexpensive iPhone games devalue the $40 games that they’re trying to push on consumers and thenin the very same interview, claim thatSteel Diver is a good excuse for a launch title. Something reeks of bullshit here, and it isn’t Apple or the iPhone.

Call me a pessimist if you like, but I really doubt things are going to get better for the 3DS, and I’m not confident that the Wii U can deliver. Not as long as the iPhone is still going strong and the popularity of Android is growing by the day. Investors clearly want Nintendo to take a serious look at the iPhone – they’ve flat out requested that Nintendo starts making games for the iPhone, and in case that isn’t enough for you, Nintendo’s stock prices jumped when Pokemon Say Tap? was announced for the iPhone.

It’s really so simple that it’s laughable. Nintendo needs to seriously consider releasing some games for mobile platforms. They can continue developing their own consoles, because I really think that the iPhone is far enough removed from the console wars that releasing games for it wouldn’t put an end to Nintendo’s console outfit.

Hell, they don’t even need to release new games for the iPhone. If they put a bunch of old N64, SNES, and NES games on the iPhone, I guarantee they would clean up. Instead of being greedy and charging ten dollars for a ROM like they do on the Virtual Console, offer the N64 games for $2.99, SNES games for $1.99, and NES games for $0.99. Nintendo, I promise doing this will earn you piles and piles of cash. Plus, by putting their older library up on mobile platforms, this would allow them to have a presence on mobiles while still supporting the 3DS with new games.

Of course, Nintendo isn’t going to do this, because Satoru Iwata and his ilk still think that the more they charge for their games, the more cash they’ll have to fill their coffers. There’s been plenty ofiPhone developers that have shown us that notion isn’t necessarily true, but in typical Nintendo fashion they’ll just ignore what seems logical and do their own thing, if only because that’s worked for them in the past with the Wii (which, honestly, seems more like a fluke than anything else).

Nintendo’s problem is that they’ve put all their eggs in one basket with the casual games market. They alienated a lot of core gamers with the Wii, and now we see them trying to get them back with the Wii U, ignoring those who made the Wii such a smashing success. Don’t kid yourself, either: those who identify as hardcore gamers aren’t going to buy a Wii U, they’ll just wait for the next PlayStation or Xbox. I really doubt casual gamers are going to stick around for the Wii U too – they’ll be too busy playing games on their iPhone or Android device. Flame all you want, but I’m just not convinced that the Wii U is going to be the must-have console for casual gamers like the original Wii was.

Whatever Nintendo does, one thing’s for sure: they need to change their strategy or they risk losing it all. If nothing else, they need to stop half-assing this casual games thing and get some games on the iPhone. The casual games market is leaving you behind, Nintendo, and you can either swallow your pride and actually do something to ensure that you’re still relevant in five years, or you can keep bitching about how cheap little iPhone games are wiping the floor with your full-priced shovelware. Your choice.

The following posts are directly related to this item (click images to link):

Our Top 7 8-Bit Games Nintendo Should Convert To iOS
Frustrated Investors Push Nintendo to Embrace iOS & Mobile Gaming

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