Nintendo has just cut sales predictions for its brand-new Wii U games console after a disappointing quarter. The machine is bold, brave, unusual...and yet these figures hint it might actually flop in the market.
Why is almost impossible to say. You may think Nintendo may have lost share in the low-end casual gaming market to the boom of smartphones and tablets and their cheap apps. It may have been out-maneuvered at the high end of gaming by much more powerful machines like Sony's PS3. The strange non-tablet but yet still tablet-like Wii U controllers may just be an eccentricity too far for a conservative public.
The Wii U's got some fight in it yet, admittedly.
But if Nintendo's experiment quickly disappears into gaming history, it won't be the first games console to flare and fade as speedily as a meteor crossing the sky. Because there's something geekily romantic about making a dedicated games machine that has always attracted upstarts like the Yves Behar-crafted Ouya, riding the wave of its Kickstarter appeal, or the weird Gizmondo gadget, saddled with controversy. And then, after these machines get a brief moment in the sun, they can simply disappear, leaving a sad tale of fading opulence, broken joysticks, and discarded program cartridges...like the sorry but inevitable bankruptcy of Atari.