While Sony and Microsoft are both ushering in next-generation iterations of their flagship consoles, Nintendo finds itself in a unique position. Since the Wii era, the company has effectively operated on its own generational schedule, sidestepping the technological arms race its rival console makers are engaged in to pursue different hardware strategies and audiences.
This tact has helped Nintendo and its systems stand out in the face of increasingly stiff competition, but it has not always worked in the company’s favor. The early, uncontested success of the Wii and its novel motion controller eventually petered out as the generation wore on and the system’s technological deficiencies became more apparent, and its successor, the Wii U, stumbled out of the gate and never found its footing, moving less than 14 million units over its truncated lifetime.
What’s more, Nintendo has traditionally had to juggle two different hardware lines: a home console and a handheld one. As a result, the company has had to divide its resources to support two separate platforms simultaneously, but this dual strategy has also been Nintendo’s saving grace; the publisher has historically dominated the handheld space, and this success has helped prop it up even when its home consoles have struggled to gain traction.