Nintendo has posted yet another slim profit as it moves beyond the financial difficulties of the past few years. The slow launch of the Wii U and the stagnation of its handheld sales caused Nintendo to fall dramatically from grace after the runaway success of the Wii. After recording its first annual profit since 2011 earlier this year, though, it’s proved it can stay in the black in spite of the Wii U’s meagre popularity, making just over $9million in the latest quarter.
Nintendo only managed to sell 470,000 flagship consoles over the past three months, down slightly from last year’s 510,000. That at least pushes the Wii U’s total sales above the 10 million barrier. For context, it took over 30 months for Nintendo to sell what Sony managed in less than a year with PS4. Software sales were still remarkably strong — 4.55 million over the quarter — proving that, while the Wii U may not be a big seller, its gamers definitely love Nintendo games. Splatoon sold 1.62 million copies, and Wii U owners now own (on average) six games for their console.
While the Wii U still languishes in third place, Nintendo had a very strong quarter for 3DS, with sales of 1.1 million. That’s up 23 percent from last year, likely due to the availability of the new 3DS, and software remained fairly steady at a shade under 8 million. It’s worth noting that the first quarter is historically a tough one for Nintendo, and these figures actually represent the company’s strongest showing in a few years. But with no big releases on the horizon for either system, the company is unlikely to see a huge leap in sales next quarter. That’s curious, given it’s predicting around a $400 million profit for the year, and has so far managed less than 3 percent of that figure. It’s hoping that the release of Super Mario Maker, Star Fox, and Mario Tennis will pick things up for the holiday season, before it’s ready to show us something totally new in 2016.
Source: Nintendo (PDF)
It’s been a long time coming, but another Dragon Quest title is on the way — and you’ll want to keep your eye on this one. Square Enix has announced Dragon Quest XI, a solo role-playing game (no DQX-style massively multiplayer experience) that will come to the PlayStation 4, 3DS… and, quite possibly, Nintendo’s future NX console. Yes, the publisher is at least “considering” a version for a system that exists as little more than a codename. There’s no mention of what that version will entail, although it’s clear that DQXI will take advantage of platforms’ strong points. The PS4 version is based on the pretty Unreal Engine 4, while the 3DS version makes good use of the dual screens to show 3D gameplay and 2D maps at the same time. As it stands, you’ll have to wait a while to try any edition for yourself. Square Enix hasn’t provided any release dates yet, so the odds are that you won’t be battling slimes until 2016 at the earliest.
Source: Square Enix (translated)
Developers Dave Proctor and Alex Rushdy of 13AM Games are in the middle of an impassioned conversation about the Wii U and independent development.
“I think the industry is getting into a habit of unsustainably large development, where it’s like, ‘Ugh, of course the Wii U can’t run Assassin’s Creed Unity,‘” Proctor says.
Rushdy cuts in, “Nothing can run Assassin’s Creed Unity.”
Proctor and Rushdy share a laugh before getting back to the point of the day’s interview: They’ve spent the past one and a half years developing Runbow, a fast-paced, nine-player game, exclusively for the Wii U. Yes, that’s nine players all in the same room, playing the same wild Wii U game. It’s a colorful, 2D platformer aesthetically inspired by 1960s poster art and featuring famous guest characters, including the eponymous hero of Shovel Knight, Juan Aguacate of Guacamelee and CommanderVideo of the Bit.Trip series. It’s the type of game that Proctor wants to see more of in the gaming industry, instead of the current emphasis on massive, yearly sequels and big-budget military shooters. It’s the type of game that makes the Wii U worthwhile as a gaming platform, he says.
Basically, 13AM’s argument for the Wii U boils down to this: Just because consoles like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One can run Assassin’s Creed Unity, that doesn’t make it a good game — and the Wii U isn’t a bad console just because it can’t run games like Unity.
The Wii U isn’t a bad console just because it can’t run games like Unity.
Runbow is a Wii U exclusive for a few important, non-Assassin’s Creed-related reasons, starting with Rushdy’s and Proctor’s lifelong love of Nintendo. Another main reason is that Nintendo fans are hungry for new, fun content and they’re passionate about things like perfect platforming jumps. Plus, Rushdy believes the Wii U offers something that’s often overlooked in current console discussions:
“I also think a big strength of the Wii U that I don’t hear people talk about a lot, is the fact that it’s compatible with all of the old controllers that you had for your Wii,” he says.
Proctor immediately chimes in, “Yes.”
“One of the reasons that Runbow is going to be on Wii U is that, generally speaking, if you own a Wii U, you probably owned a Wii or you had a friend who owned the Wii or whatever it is,” Rushdy continues. “So, if you’re like, ‘Hey, I want to get nine players in my house playing this game,’ you don’t have to go and buy, you know, eight $60 controllers. You probably already have them.”
Rushdy and Proctor have spent so much time together over the past year and a half that they often speak like a couple, seamlessly building on each other’s thoughts during the interview. (“This came up when you and I were talking in the kitchen the other day,” Proctor says at one point, while Rushdy nods, remembering.) They agree about a lot of things, including Runbow‘s potential to be a hit on Wii U, despite the console’s reputation as an irrelevant piece of hardware. Nintendo has sold about 9.5 million Wii Us since the console’s launch in November 2012; in comparison, Sony’s PS4 broke the 20 million sales mark in March, after launching in November 2013, a year later than the Wii U.
This sales discrepancy is something that Rushdy and Proctor considered before developing a game specifically for the Wii U, but they’re not too worried about it.
“The kind of games we want to make aren’t very technically heavy. … We like 2D stuff. We like simpler games.”
— Dave Proctor
“Anyone that tells you that they’re not concerned about the potential revenue of their game is a total liar,” Proctor says. “I have confidence. I feel good. Yes, it’s not the highest sales, but it’s not so far off of the Xbox One that it’s drowning. And the fanbase is so rabid, which I really like. They have a really good — I’ve listened to some talks and some numbers — they have a really good install base with the eShop for digital titles and stuff like that.”
Rushdy adds, “When Wii U owners like a game, they really like a game.” 13AM Games released a demo of Runbow during the week of E3 2015, and the “response has been really good,” Rushdy says. Besides, Wii U games definitely can sell well — Splatoon crested 1 million sales in its first month, and after one month on the market, third-party game Shovel Knight sold almost as well on Wii U and 3DS as it did on Steam, the dominant PC gaming platform.
Dave Proctor (left) and Alex Rushdy (right)
Runbow is optimized to run at 1080p on Wii U, something that was a “pain in the ass” to do, Proctor says — but it’s something that current-generation gaming fans really like to see.
“There are technical limitations [with the Wii U], as there will be with anything,” Proctor says. “Conveniently for us, the kind of games that we want to make aren’t very technically heavy, inasmuch as they’re not gray and brown. We like 2D stuff. We like simpler games.”
“The word ‘indie’ is actually kind of damaging in a way. There’s a certain baggage that comes with it.”
— Alex Rushdy
That’s a big point for Proctor — supporting the development of simple, fun games. As indie games continue to demonstrate that more money doesn’t equal more fun, it’s disheartening to see major companies continue to produce massive (sometimes bug-riddled) games that cost hundreds of millions of dollars every year, Proctor says.
“Make a smaller game,” he suggests. “Show people that there’s value in a huge company making a $15 to $20 game. Show them that it’s not price and it’s not development time or budget that defines fun or quality of experience. Actually demonstrate to the people that may not go out of their way to try indie games that they can have fun for 15 bucks.”
Runbow in action
Rushdy takes an in-house approach: He says it’s up to smaller developers to prove that “indie” isn’t a curse word and good games can still come from tiny teams. He hopes that Runbow does this, in its own way, when it launches later this year.
“We wanted to pack a lot into it so that it doesn’t feel like this is a little indie game,” he says. “We really want to give people a lot of bang for their buck. So, for a lot of these indies that are becoming bigger and bigger, the word ‘indie’ is actually kind of damaging, in a way. There’s a certain baggage that comes with it. As much as I’m proud to say I’m an indie developer and our game is proud to say that it’s an indie game, there’s a certain baggage with that.”
[Image credits: 13AM Games]
Splatoon is easily Nintendo’s breakaway game for 2015. The brightly colored post-apocalyptic third-person multiplayer shooter sold more than a million copies in its first month. It’s tons of fun, but it also feels a little incomplete: the game launched with a low level cap, and a primitive, randomized matchmaking system that made it almost impossible to team up with friends. In a few days, that changes — in August, Nintendo will be upgrading Splatoon with new weapons, new items, a higher level cap and more robust matchmaking.
For players that have been with Splatoon from day one, the August update is flush with essential changes. For starters, the update fixes the game’s matchmaking. Right now, teammates for Ranked Battles are assigned randomly, making it almost impossible to play on a team with a friend — but the new update will introduce new a Squad Battle mode that allow you to form custom teams. A second new mode, Private Battle, will let players create matches with customized map settings and team sizes. The game’s “Regular Battle” mode will still be randomized, however.
The update also adds in a ton of new content, including two new weapon types (a gatling-gun called “The Splatling” and a fancy paint-bucket called “The Slosher”) and more than 40 new pieces of fashionable armor and gear. Nintendo is also bumping the game’s character level cap from 20 to 50 and will tack rank S and S+ to the top of its competitive ranking system.
Best of all? Nintendo’s not even done yet. The company says it will continue to add new battle modes, weapons and maps to the game throughout the rest of the summer and into the Fall. If you were holding off on buying Splatoon until it felt more complete, your time has come.
Nintendo first announced its intention to develop a sleep monitor as part of its “quality of life” initiative in 2014. Now, thanks to a recently published patent unearthed by NeoGAF forum members, we have an idea of what the system could look like. The gamemaker is apparently planning to build a sensor-laden alarm clock-like gadget that’s equipped with a projector. Since the documents are mostly in Japanese, we only have their summaries and the device’s illustration to go by, which you can see below the fold.
It’s unclear at this point if the sleep monitor is a two-device system, or if it’s just the dock and the handset-like drawing is merely the user’s smartphone. Either way, Nintendo’s tracker will be equipped with sensors, microphone and a camera that will keep track of the user’s temperature and pulse rate, among other things. It will then use the data it collects to assess a user’s emotional state and calculate his/her “sleep score” — the person’s stats and results will be projected on the wall or the ceiling. Some people will undoubtedly find all those sensors a bit too intrusive (perhaps even creepy), but this is just a patent anyway. We’ll know the monitor’s features for sure when Nintendo releases it, which according to IGN could be sometime in 2016.
[Image credit: Alamy]
Remember Nintendo TVii, Nintendo’s weird television hub for the Wii U? Don’t worry, most people don’t — and in a few weeks you’ll never have to think about it again. Nintendo just announced that the service is shutting down on August 11th.
If you never used TVii in its heyday, it was sort of like a universal remote-control with a native second screen experience. The Wii U Gamepad was used to browse a channel guide (generated by entering your zip code) and comment on TV shows. If you found a program you wanted to watch, the Gamepad’s IR blaster would send a signal to your TV or set-top box to change the channel.
It was pretty novel way to tack TV-integration on to the Wii U without actually connecting the console to your set-top-box — but it was also kind of slow, laggy and generally lacked support. Is anything of value going to be lost in its shut-down? Let us know what you think: the comments below await.
You know how everyone completely loses it every time Facebook pushes a redesign live? It’s happening again — except this time it’s happening on Miiverse, Nintendo’s quirky social network. On July 29th Miiverse will be given its first major overhaul: a total redesign that adds new features, changes how game-specific communities work and, weirdly, imposes a daily post limit on all users. Why all the changes? According to Nintendo, the community has been using Miiverse, well, wrong.
“Miiverse is created for gamers to talk about games,” Nintendo spokesperson Erika said on the social network’s announcement forum. “But over time, some people have started using Miiverse for other things, such as long chats that are not strictly game-related.” The redesign was cooked up in an effort to keep Miiverse “game-centered,” and is the reason users will be limited to making 30 posts a day. To the casual user, that seems like more than enough — but the community’s heaviest users have grown accustomed to participating in long RP (roleplay) threads and interactive Miiverse drawing competitions.
These are probably the “long chats” that Nintendo is trying to shut down, but that hasn’t stopped fans of these threads from voicing their objections on Nintendo’s official Miiverse posts. Despite the reaction, Nintendo does seem to be trying to make Miiverse a more organized place: the July 29th redesign will add a private screenshot album (the contents of which can be embedded in other Miiverse posts), a “Play Journal” category for posts made from the in-game Miiverse menu, and separate categories for drawing and discussion posts. Finally, users will no longer be able to post directly to their activity feed, though your existing activity feed will be preserved indefinitely.
It’s a big change, and pretty weird — Nintendo has always been careful about how it allows its users to communicate with each other online, but the “tone policing” of this Miiverse revision feels just a little strange. On the other hand, the social network is sort of a mess, as is. The added categories and sorting options will certainly be a welcome change.
Via: My Nintendo News
Project Cars finally launched on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC in May, after three delays and a few platform uncertainties dating back to January 2012. The game — a realistic racing simulator from Need for Speed: Shift developer Slightly Mad Studios — was supposed to launch on Wii U this year as well, but that’s not going to happen, according to Gamespot and other outlets. Slightly Mad Studios Creative Director Andy Tudor confirmed the cancelation, noting that Project Cars “is simply too much for Wii U,” according to the site. “Despite much perseverance on the Wii U version of Project Cars, we will no longer be actively pursuing development on it as the quality does not meet our own high standards nor our intended vision for the title on this platform,” Tudor told Gamespot.
We’ve reached out to Slightly Mad Studios and publisher Bandai Namco for confirmation of today’s reports.
Speaking with Gamespot, Tudor mentioned that Slightly Mad Studios would look forward to developing for any new hardware from Nintendo — a not-so-subtle hint that it’s waiting for the NX, Nintendo’s mysterious, forthcoming console. The Wii U has faced an uphill battle in the current console generation: It launched in November 2012, about a year before the Xbox One or PS4, and it boasted a focus on games rather than streaming apps, social functions or alternative entertainment options. It’s simply not a technological powerhouse on par with the Xbox One or PS4, and Project Cars isn’t the only big game to skip the console entirely. That said, the Wii U has its fans — including three of Engadget’s own.
If you’re a Wii U owner in the US, there aren’t too many games to look forward to in 2015. After Star Fox Zero, Super Mario Maker and Yoshi’s Woolly World, the company’s release schedule looks pretty barren. One of the games that could make up the numbers is Devil’s Third, a third-person action shooter that’s finally been confirmed for the Americas. The debut title from Tomonobu Itagaki’s Valhalla Game Studios has already been announced for Japan and Europe, but until today there had been little mention of a US release. Nintendo has stepped up to publish the game in the fourth quarter of this year, while Valhalla handles the “free-to-start” PC version. Any additions to the Wii U library are welcome, but initial reactions to Devil’s Third haven’t been positive. No matter, there’s always Xenoblade Chronicles X if you’re clamouring for a decent third-party title.
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Android gaming hardware has become somewhat of a lost art of late, so it’s understandable that when a new gaming hardware concept comes up, it gets some serious attention. The Nintendo Smart Boy concept has been doing the rounds on the Internet today, designed by artist Pierre Cerveau who says this would be an Android smartphone made by Nintendo. This isn’t an entirely foreign idea given some of the rumours that have been floated, but this is the first time we’ve seen someone attempt to conceptualize what this would look like in real life – and we have to say, we like it.
Featuring a controller add-on and a cartridge module that can be anything from an extended battery, extra storage memory, or even a 3D camera, it’s relatively well thought out, even as a concept. Our only complaint would be that the controller isn’t part of the phone itself as that controller add-on would be a pain to carry around. Apart from that, I just need a direction to throw my money it.
Of course, it’s unlikely that this will ever get made – Nintendo is a hard beast to predict at the best of times – but there is always the Hyperkin Smart Boy which we’re hoping becomes an actual thing instead of staying a particularly well-realized April Fool’s joke.
What do you think about the Nintendo Smart Boy concept? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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