At E3 2004, Nintendo Boss, Satoru Iwata said this concerning the Nintendo Wii:
"I suppose I could give you a list of the technical specs. I believe you would like that, but I won't for a simple reason; they really don't matter. The time when horsepower alone made an important difference is over."
Mr. Iwata's holistic claim roused cheers from the audience and the Nintendo Wii went on to outsell the legendary NES, but there are many gamers and even industry insiders who remain confused by the actions of Iwata and Nintendo. Why don't we take a look at the current situation?
The high-end gaming PC you're blowing your ramen money on will be obsolete faster than you can click "Wishlist." This November, you'll be able to waltz into your local GameStop and purchase this Alienware/Steam gaming PC for a mere $450 bucks. This little guy is packing plenty of horsepower and will work with whichever standard controller you'd like to use including mouse & keyboard of course. Alienware/Steam/Valve are pulling a genius move. This machine and others like it will shine a blinding spotlight on the traditional home consoles (PS4/XB1) and reveal them for what they really are, a poor man's gaming PC.
You don't know how to scratch-build a gaming PC? They've got you covered. You'd rather download all your games on release at the stroke of midnight? They've got that covered too! Want to play the PlayStation 4 and XBOX exclusive titles? No? What few there are always come to PC anyway? That's what I thought. Speaking of Sony, as you're reading this, their PlayStation TV is streaming classic games from Japan to the USA and back a-la "Netflix". As for Microsoft, they've designed Windows 10 to allow you to stream your PC games onto your XBOX One.
I remember the first time I played King's Quest on PC with CD quality sound. What about the opening audio dialogue in Super Metroid? How can anyone forget running around in a circle while playing Super Mario 64 for the first time? That was when horsepower made a difference. Playing Skyrim on "Ultra-High" settings as opposed to "High" seems insignificant when compared to those fond memories.
Horsepower alone is indeed becoming irrelevant.
So, why dosen't Nintendo court blockbuster 3rd party developers like Rockstar, EA and Activision? It's because those developers' games do not support the Nintendo hardware and the Nintendo brand. These types of games become irrelevant when envisioning the future of Nintendo. Exclusive Nintendo franchises such as Pokemon, Mario, Zelda, Smash Bros., Mario Kart and Starfox are the reason that Nintendo can manufacture and sell the Wii U and 3DS. Nintendo designs their hardware solely to play Nintendo games the way they are intended to be played. Anyone who believes that Nintendo should stop making hardware and licence out their IPs assuredly faces difficulty when feeding themselves.
What will we be playing in the future? Let's imagine that horsepower continues to evolve into less and less of a consideration. Let's go all the way and imagine that processing power in the land of future computing will be so great that you will stream your games from a super-computer based in another hemisphere over a WiFi network maintained by solar-powered, flying drones. Then, new and innovative software along with innovative ways to interact with the software will become the only things that make gaming a viable form of entertainment. This is what Mr. Iwata was speaking about: Nintendo is prepared for a gaming climate that will not be realized by the majority of the industry for several years. But as for now... how about a few rounds of Splatoon?
Thank you Mr. Iwata.