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商业 - 科技

三招化解任天堂生存危机

JP Mangalindan 2013年02月06日

曾经的游戏巨头如今已经深陷困境,维系翻身希望的最新家庭游戏机Wii U的销量也远远不及预期。任天堂到底应该怎么办?

    任天堂深陷困境。

    本周初,享有盛誉的视频游戏公司任天堂(Nintendo)宣布公司最新家庭游戏机Wii U销量不及预期,仅售出306万台。去年10月,该公司曾表示,希望到今年3月底销量能接近550万台,但现在这一目标已降到了400万台。游戏软件的销量则要好得多:去年年底一共卖出了1,100万个游戏。其实任天堂也调低了这方面的预期,即到今年3月的销量目标从2,400万款降为1,600万款。

    去年11月评测Wii U时,我打心眼里觉得它有很多亮点:双屏的体验颇为有趣,首发的几款游戏也很有意思,其他还有很多。但这台游戏机还是有一些不足之处。要想提振销量,任天堂必须在如下几个方面进行改进:

    降价(这是明摆着的)。Wii U标准款起价300美元,其他型号价格更高。如果现在是2001年,游戏迷们对这个价格绝不会多考虑,肯定趋之如骛。但是时过境迁,现在不管传统游戏迷或开发商是否愿意承认,苹果的iPhone、iPad和谷歌安卓(Android)设备上的各种休闲游戏已吸引了大量年轻用户。只需要看看任天堂不断下降的价格底线就能证明这一点了。日前任天堂总裁岩田聪表示,公司近期不会考虑下调定价,部分原因在于目前任天堂游戏机的售价已经在成本线以下了。但是为了让产品显得更有竞争力,尤其是面对iPad mini那极富吸引力的329美元的售价,采取降价这样的激进举措可能还是势在必行。

    升级硬件。去年10月我就评测了一台Wii U,它有很多招人喜欢的地方。但让人难熬的加载时间不算在内。比如,在退出一个游戏或是应用时,要加载Wii U的主菜单,还是需要最少16秒,最多28秒(平均耗时为20秒)。从大方面说,这听起来不算多长时间,但所有这些时间加起来,加载时间就让人觉得没完没了了——其他用户,比如急躁的日本女性用户就会认同这一点。考虑到另外两个对手,已经征战市场多年的索尼(Sony)的PlayStation 3和微软(Microsoft)的Xbox 360并没有出现这个问题,这个情况就更不可原谅了。任天堂也承认了这一问题,同时表态自己正在设法解决。但真正要解决可能还有待时日了。

    加快游戏开发。发布新游戏机时,首批配套的游戏通常要等一段时间才会推出。Wii U也不例外。但更糟的是,几款主打游戏,如《皮克敏3》(Pikmin 3)、大有希望的动作游戏《神奇101》、以及《瓦里奥游戏》都被推到了“今年上半年”才能发布。如果以前Wii U就不好卖,那现在情况就更是如此了,因为他们能指望的力作只是《乐高都市》(Lego City Undercover)或从其他平台上移植过来的游戏,比如《极品飞车》(Need for Speed: Most Wanted)。《塞尔达传说》(Zelda)、《星际火狐》(Star Fox)或《银河战士》这种级别的游戏根本就连影子都没有。而任天堂独有的经典游戏却是吸引买家的必备利器。(财富中文网)

    译者:清远

    Nintendo is in trouble.

    The long-respected video game company announced earlier this week that sales of its newest home console, the Wii U, were lower than anticipated, with just 3.06 million units sold. Last October, the company had said it expected to sell nearly 5.5 million machines through the end of March, but now that number has been downgraded to 4 million. Software sales fared better: 11 million games sold through the end of last year, though Nintendo also scaled back its expectations there, from 24 million to 16 million sold through March.

    When I reviewed the Wii U last November, I genuinely found a lot to like: a fun dual-screen experience and several interesting launch titles, to name a few. But the console had -- and still has -- rough edges. Here's what Nintendo (NTDOY) must do to potentially goose those sagging sales:

    Lower the price. (Obviously.) The Wii U starts at $300 for the standard model and climbs from there. If this were 2001, that's a price gamers wouldn't think about twice. But times have changed, and whether or not many traditional gamers and publishers want to admit it, casual gaming on the Apple (AAPL) iPhone, iPad, and Google (GOOG) Android devices is siphoning away younger users. Look no further than Nintendo's declining bottom line for proof of that. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata recently said the company was not planning a price cut any time soon, in part due to the fact that the company is already selling the console below cost. But to make it a more compelling sell, particularly when faced with the iPad Mini's attractive $329 price, a more drastic measure like a price cut is probably needed.

    Upgrade the firmware. There were many things to like about the Wii U when I reviewed one last October. Atrociously long loading times were not one of them. And they're still a nuisance. Loading up the Wii U's main menu, say, when exiting out of a game or an app, still takes 16 seconds at best, and 28 at worst. (The average time is 20.) In the big scheme, that doesn't sound like a lot of time, but add up all those seconds, and the loading time becomes interminable -- something other users, like this angsty Japanese woman would agree with. It's also pretty inexcusable given that the Sony (SNE) PlayStation 3 and Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox 360 -- consoles that have been on the market for years -- don't suffer from this. Nintendo has acknowledged it's a problem and says it's working on a fix. It can't come soon enough.

    Accelerate game development. When a new console launches, the first slew of games is usually followed by somewhat of a lull in releases. The Wii U is no different. But even worse, several key games like Pikmin 3, the promising action game Wonderful 101, and Game & Wario were pushed back to "the first half of the year." If the Wii U was a tough sell for some before, it's even more so now when the best they have to look forward to is Lego City Undercover or games ported over from other consoles like Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Where is Zelda, Star Fox or Metroid? Classic franchises unique to the Nintendo brand are a must-have to pique buyers' interest.

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