Wedbush Securities research analyst Michael Pachter hasn't exactly endeared himself to Nintendo fans over the past few years. He wrote off the Wii U's chances early on and has been famously critical of the Japanese firm - something, it's worth remembering, he's paid to do in his day job, which involves handing out advice to potential investors.
Initially, Pachter summed up the problems Nintendo has had with the Wii U before moving onto what is surely the console's swansong, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
They really lost third-party support. EA supported the launch and then stopped making games for it after a year. If you don't have third-party support the only people that end up buying a Nintendo console are fanboys, who only want to play Nintendo games. Now, flip that over. If you are not a Nintendo fanboy but you love Nintendo games, the cost of playing them is you've got to buy a second console. Because, you're already playing GTA or FIFA on your Xbox One or PS4. So, just to play Nintendo games, it's hard to justify a console. With one exception, Zelda. I totally get why people would buy an NX to play Zelda. It's a frickin' great game.
I don't know if Nintendo is telling me the truth, they're not liars. But I don't know if Nintendo is exaggerating for a fact, but they told me that the map in Breath of the Wild is 12 times the size of the map in Twilight Princess. Like I said, I don't really know what that means but it sounds like there's 12 times as much to do.
The point is, it sounds like a much, much bigger game. And, if the game is as big as they say, that's enough. You will buy a console just to play that game. Obviously they are going to have other games coming up behind it. I think that they recognised a year or two ago that the Wii U was kind of over. I think they probably diverted all of their development efforts to support the NX. Zelda is going to be essentially a launch title, it will be the biggest game out.
For Pachter, having a game of Zelda's standing as a launch title will help the NX out of the gate:
So, I think the NX kind of quickly sells the same install base as the Wii U and, assuming the NX is not as complicated as the Wii U. Assuming that they've sold the GamePad problems, whether it's just a conventional controller or they've fixed the battery life, made it more of a tablet, and there's more to do with the NX. If they can get third-party support, I think they're going to be competitive again.
He also feels that Nintendo is launching NX at the right time:
I frankly think that they're benefitted by the Xbox One S not being an upgrade over the Xbox [One], it's just thinner and lighter. I think they're benefitted by the PS4 Neo and the Xbox Scorpio essentially being mid-cycle, modest upgrades intended, I think, to support VR, and all fully backward compatible. Maybe the NX is coming at the right time.
To sum up, Pachter points out that there are still a lot of "ifs" to sort out, but if Nintendo can play its cards right then the NX could become a "solid, competitive console":
It looks a lot to me like the NX is going to be essentially a PS4 in a Nintendo case. If it's that powerful, if it's easy enough architecturally for all the publishers to support, so FIFA, Call of Duty and Battlefield are on the NX, then absolutely I think this thing is going to sell really well. Let's hope Nintendo get their mojo back, let's hope they get third-party publisher support. If they do, I frankly think it is enough to carry the NX launch. If they get third-party support, it will sell 20 – 50 million units and be a solid, competitive console.
As always, it's worth stating that these comments are just one person's opinion. A lot of Nintendo fans don't like Pachter for saying it how he sees it, but only the most blinkered would try and argue that he hasn't been proven right with the Wii U, which will go down as one of the company's most commercially disastrous hardware releases.
Do you think Pachter is on the money this time? Let us know with a comment.