6. Gamers Grew Up, Nintendo Did Not
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good Super Mario yarn as much as the next nostalgia-prone thirty-something. However, like so much else in life, there comes a point where one’s palate demands more sophistication.
The last console generation saw the beginning of a divide in the video game market between family and mature play. In that period, the Nintendo Gamecube fought the Sony PlayStation 2 and upstart Microsoft Xbox for a piece of the same home entertainment pie. Nintendo made the decision to focus on family-friendly titles like their flagship Mario and Zelda franchises, and shied away from adult content.
Microsoft went the other direction. With a vision to import the PC gaming experience to the living room, the creators of the Xbox welcomed development of first-person shooters and eventually led the market in online multiplayer with their revolutionary Xbox Live service. Sony played it down the middle, serving as a platform for everything from gruesome survival horror franchises like Resident Evil and Silent Hill to kid-friendly fare like Crash Bandicoot.
As that generation of consoles approached the end of its lifecycle, cross-platform titles which released on two or more competing platforms became all the more frequent. By insisting upon marketing their console almost exclusively to families and children, Nintendo positioned itself to land outside the cross-platform AAA market. Fortunately for Nintendo, their first-party development remained consistently outstanding. However, older gamers who craved something a little more gritty than Mario Kart were forced to decide whether that itch was worth the scratch. Unless you could afford multiple consoles, it was Mario or Halo. It couldn’t be both.