When someone uses the word “console war,” most of us instantly think of PlayStation vs Xbox or Sony vs Microsoft. We often make the mistake of ruling out Nintendo, a company that was once the most dominant force in the gaming industry.
However, since Xbox and PlayStation came along, Nintendo is finding it tough to maintain growth and a decent market share. Somehow, Nintendo always comes back and offer us a product that is just too good to pass.
Wii was that kind of a product.
Sony stepped into previous generation on the heels of PlayStation 2’s overwhelming success. On the other hand Microsoft came-in with an intent to slay the giant and make itself dominant in the gaming market by releasing Xbox 360, the successor to the original Xbox.
In fact, Microsoft was so focused on Sony that it “completely discounted Nintendo.” They never expected Nintendo to come up with something called the Wii and take both Sony and Microsoft by surprise.
According to former Microsoft executive Peter Moore, the company saw GameCube as a “disaster” and only considered Sony as its competition due to lackluster performance by Nintendo’s platform. In short, they didn’t expected Nintendo to bounce back.
Moore further added that they wargamed launch plans where he played Sony’s Ken Kutaragi. All of their focus was on Sony and PlayStation 3.
I also then remember the E3 when, God bless, Kaz Hirai and Jack Tretton announced $599, and we were all backstage like ‘Woohoo!.’ We knew then we had an opportunity to get ahead, drive ahead, get our games out quickly and get that lead. And I always said that the first to 10 million wins
It was one of the greatest times of my career. You had to build a team, because we were growing then. We had prematurely put the Xbox to sleep, we needed to get ready for this and we knew what we needed to do.
We had a three-day meeting at the Sheraton in Bellevue where we wargamed the scenario, and I actually played Ken Kutaragi. And we brought in a consultancy, it was a lot of fun. And the one thing we’d forgotten about, I don’t know if you remember this Phil [Spencer], we completely discounted Nintendo. Because they came off the GameCube and it was a disaster.
…and they destroyed both of us.
Yes, with the Wii. But we wargamed for three days, what are you going to do, what do the launch titles look like, what are the marketing budgets, what is the positioning? And it was a fascinating experience which I’ll never forget. And this is a decade ago. And I actually played Ken, and my job was to destroy the launch of the Xbox 360.
Moral of the story is, never underestimate your competition.
With that said, although Nintendo was successful with Wii and we expected it to build on it with the Wii U, the company failed to do so.
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are battling it out, while the Wii U is sitting on the sidelines already. Who knows, Nintendo might once again surprise us with NX, they already said they expect it to sell 20 million in the first year on sale, so obviously they have high hopes for it.
But will NX be able to compete with Xbox and PlayStation? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure, no one should rule-out Nintendo.