The evolution of inexpensive tablet computers with gaming potential, and the continuing 'will they/won't they' question of whether Apple or Google will enter the home console market means that Nintendo, and its competitors, face big challenges. Those challenges may have been in the mind of experienced industry figure Bing Gordon when he recently spoke to gamesindustry.biz.
For background, Gordon worked at EA for 26 years, initially running the marketing department before becoming the company's Chief Creative Officer in 1998: he departed in 2008 and received the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. This is a man who knows a bit about the video game industry.
When asked about Nintendo's chances with Wii U, in light of Google's recent Nexus 7 tablet being released for $199, Gordon had this to say.
I think Nintendo's already on track to become primarily a software company. We saw that with Sega back in the day; Sega made some missteps and became primarily a software company. Nintendo hasn't really made missteps, Nintendo probably has better creative talent and better leadership now than Sega did. It's got the most robust business model, the best creative talent; Miyamoto's still the best in the business. Apple's most directly competitive with Nintendo. So far, when Miyamoto makes a perfect game, in his career he makes games worth $200 - it's worth buying a system for. I think the handheld is going to be under a lot of pressure. I can imagine a day when Nintendo wonders - and maybe it's generational change - when Nintendo wonders if they ought to take some of their best games and make them apps.
As a follow-up to a comment that a Nintendo evolution away from hardware would be interesting to observe, Gordon agreed before once again citing the Miyamoto-factor.
That will be stunning. Neither Apple or Nintendo - both those companies like control - is likely to want a partnership, but a partnership would be stunningly cool. I think if you're Nintendo, as long as Miyamoto's coming to work, you can sustain a proprietary platform. He's that good.
Bing Gordon seems to feel that Miyamoto is the key to Nintendo staying in the hardware business, and that it's possible the generation after the famous developer (and Iwata, we'd add) may decide that the hardware industry isn't the best option. Only time will tell, but what do you think?