As far as the current state of the video game market in India is concerned, it’s pretty much a mixed bag. Smartphone gaming is at the top and is the most preferred medium for cheap and easily accessible games right now, with PC gaming at the second place (due to rampant piracy); console gaming comes in a distant third, since it’s the most expensive one out of these three categories. When it comes to consoles though, Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox brand of consoles are pretty popular among teenagers and young adults alike in India. But there is one key player whose influence (unfortunately and surprisingly) is absent from the Indian gaming community: Nintendo.
The Japanese gaming giant is one of the oldest surviving game producers in the industry, and is known for producing gaming’s most popular video game mascot: Mario, and several other equally important game franchises and games such as Duck Hunt, The Legend Of Zelda, Excitebike, Metroid etc; they also single handedly revived the gaming industry after the Video Game Crash of 1985 (caused by the now-defunct Atari) with the top notch gameplay of their games. And even after 30 years (starting with their first console, the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES, in 1985) they are thriving well and still making critically and commercially acclaimed games, despite facing a few bumps along the way, in the past several years.
So now my dear Indian readers, another question arises: If they have such an influence on the industry why aren’t their games and consoles being sold here in India? Why do they not have an official presence? Why do the Indian gamers consider Nintendo a non-factor in the Indian Gaming Culture.
Well for the record, they did have an official presence in India back in the ’80s (Their Game & Watch systems were officially sold at retailers), however due to the flooding of many bootleg consoles in the Indian market which started to prove more popular (and cheaper), they had no choice but to leave. And they haven’t looked back since then.
That is why most of the Indian console gamers are only familiar with PlayStation and Xbox consoles as they both caught the Indian gaming market by storm starting with the PlayStation 1 and Xbox, and reaching soaring heights with their PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 consoles respectively. As a result of that a majority of the Indian gamers missed out on three decades of Nintendo systems and revolutionary games like Super Mario 64, Pokémon Red & Blue and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time to newer ones like Super Mario 3D World, Pokémon X/Y and Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Coupled with the fact that India is home to thousands of nostalgic Super Mario and Pokémon fans (thanks to the bootleg consoles which played pirated 8 & 16 bit games, of which the Super Mario games were a part of, and the Japanese anime TV series respectively), Nintendo would have to struggle to not get any sales on their current gen consoles, especially the 3DS, seeing how popular handheld gaming has been in India (despite not having an official presence, Nintendo’s Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance handhelds were somewhat popular too, along with Sony’s PlayStation Portable).
Also thanks to a strong set of intellectual properties (even better than what PlayStation or Xbox have to offer, I’d say) Nintendo would prove worthy competitors to Sony and Microsoft in the Indian community of “console wars”, in which only latter two have been competing till now; plus they do have a cult following for their games in India too and it apparently has grown through the years (the Internet is a powerful enlightenment tool).
So as you can see, Nintendo clearly has an Indian audience who would love to experience their stellar library of games and systems without any hassle (which includes ridiculous pricing of games and consoles with no warranty either, for those wanting to import from North America or Europe), and other platform gamers (PC, PS, Xbox and smartphone) who are unfamiliar with Nintendo can finally get their hands on a Nintendo console to try out the unique games and perhaps eradicate the ignorant mindset they have developed towards Nintendo via rumors and stigma that have been floating around about the family-friendly company all these years. And the unique gaming experience one can get on a Nintendo console is something no other developer can emulate, not even Sony’s or Microsoft’s first party developers.
Time and again Nintendo have proven themselves to be incredibly talented game makers; when the gaming industry was saturated with poor quality games in the ’80s and uninspired, linear, corridor-based shooters and boring open world games in the last and current gen of gaming, Nintendo didn’t hold back and provided fresh and unique gameplay content for gamers through their games and innovative console hardware (be it via the motion controls of the Wii, touch screen of the DS, glasses-free 3D of the 3DS or the amazing Wii U Gamepad).
They never ceased to amaze us gamers; they are gaming pioneers after all.
So let’s try to put in efforts from our side to show Nintendo that they still do have a demand for their games in India, and us fans are more than ready to embrace them with a warm welcome to brighten up the Indian gaming market and community who have fallen prey to generic and cookie-cutter games which emphasize graphics over gameplay and more often than not turned out to be mediocre (and such games are sadly in demand by today’s generation of gamers).
Who knows, Nintendo might just listen to us and release their next-gen console in India (code named ‘NX’, it is set to release worldwide in March 2017), if not the Wii U or 3DS and everyone will be happy.
Well, we can at least hope, can’t we?