Nintendo has been a well-known name in the gaming industry for decades. From their success in the ‘bit wars’ of the 90s to their resurgence with the motion-controlled Wii, the company has a storied history.
It is impossible to get that kind of a name without having a major impact on gaming fans and gaming history. Nintendo brought the world characters like Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Samus, and many more. But things haven’t always been great for the Japanese gaming juggernaut – there were points when they were lagging behind in their industry.
Nintendo first made a big splash in the U.S. with the introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This helped the public become reacquainted with gaming after the infamous video game crash of the 1980s. The gaming company continued their momentum, dominating the next generation of consoles as well by outlasting rival Sega with their new and improved Super Nintendo console.
A few console generations later, and the rankings seemed set in stone. Sony and Microsoft had become the industry favorites, as gamers were content to focus on the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4, and PC for their gaming needs.
Nintendo was viewed as too kidlike, too gimmicky, and in some cases too far behind in the running to ever rise to the top of the industry again. But 2017 saw a big resurgence for the company with the introduction of the Nintendo Switch, a console that takes advantage of the handheld craze while also giving gamers multiple ways to play. It has become the fastest-selling console ever released in the United States.
But the newly recaptured success Nintendo has didn’t just come from a great console idea. The company had banked and failed on recapturing the magic of the Wii with the Wii U – when this didn’t happen, they were forced back to the drawing board.
The Switch’s unique design that appealed to both console and handheld fans certainly helped Nintendo in 2017. But the act of returning to their roots and focusing on a games-first mentality was also a big turning point in their ride back to the top.
When Nintendo defeated Sega in the 90s, one of the main reasons they were able to do so was because they focused on making great games while Sega focused largely on new hardware peripherals and add-ons. Even the Wii had a great library of games to help it gain the extra appeal it needed.
Nintendo got the top three spots on Amazon’s list of best-selling games in 2017. Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Mark Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch all ranked atop the list, and had similar spots on many ‘game of the year’ awards.
In addition to creating great games in their own studio with characters they’ve developed through the years, Nintendo is also pursuing third-party support for the Switch. This has helped them port in titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, WWE 2K18, Doom, and many more.