Mario

We had huge expectations for E3 this year. Not only were there loads of games to be revealed, shown off, announced, or otherwise hyped, there were also plenty of hardware announcements to look forward to. As far as the average gamer is concerned, we were looking to see what the “big three” were up to. Sony confirmed that its upgraded PS4 (called Neo) wouldn’t be on the show floor, but we know it’s in development. Microsoft, on the other hand, was rumored to reveal multiple new boxes, and they didn’t disappoint. The Xbox One S and Project Scorpio excited us all, and the latter is still dominating headlines.

But what of Nintendo? We knew the NX wouldn’t be on the show floor, and we know better than to hope for a huge surprise announcement; Nintendo handles reveals in its own way, in its own time. But now we’ve seen everyone’s hand. We don’t know exactly what the Neo will look like, but we know it won’t be quite as powerful as Project Scorpio, which Microsoft swears will be the most powerful console in the world when it launches next holiday season. Does Nintendo plan to compete with these two behemoths? Apparently it doesn’t. Not according to Reggie Fils-Aime, anyway.

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In an interview with Bloomberg, Reggie was asked how Nintendo planned to compete with Microsoft and Sony in light of their recent hardware plans. His response was very, very Nintendo. “For us, it’s not about specs,” he said. “It’s not about teraflops, it’s not about the horsepower of a particular system. For us, it’s about the content. We’re focused on bringing out best entertainment to both the Wii U as well as the NX in the future. So for us, whatever Microsoft and Sony are doing in terms of talking about new systems, that’s for them to fight out in that red ocean.”

“Red ocean” are the keywords, there. For those of you who didn’t attend business school (I did, and here I am writing about video games) those words might not set off any red flags, but they are significant. Reggie is alluding to Nintendo’s “Blue Ocean” approach to the industry. A Blue Ocean strategy is one which doesn’t focus on outperforming your competition in an existing market. Instead, you create a wii sportsbrand new, uncontested market; you create an entirely new demand that only you can cater to. This worked really well for Nintendo with the Wii, but the Wii U was a disaster, statistically. Can Nintendo dominate the console space again without the appeal of beefy hardware?

It’s important to keep in mind that part of Nintendo’s “Blue Ocean” momentum is its appeal to families and casual gamers. Nintendo doesn’t necessarily want (or need) to have the most powerful box in the room, it just wants to have the box that everyone wants to play. I’m still incredibly excited about the NX and, no matter what it turns out to be, I’ll have one in my room because I don’t want to miss out on Nintendo’s first-party offerings. I know many gamers who would say the same thing, and that’s the power of Nintendo’s brand. Still, I can’t help but hope that the NX is at least as powerful as the current PS4. I’d hate for Nintendo to limit itself in terms of power for the sake of novelty or a clever gimmick. As long as it doesn’t isolate third-party developers, we’ll be okay.