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Nintendo probably isn't the company that springs to mind when you think of cutting-edge technologies. If anything, they might be the exact opposite, holding on to old technologies and refining what has been proven to work rather than leading the pack in quickly-outdated technologies trying to chase the newest dollar.
There's something comforting knowing Nintendo will offer a well-polished, tested product, but it's also underwhelming knowing they won't be pushing the envelope in a lot of ways.
So when Nintendo announced they would be increasing mainstream focus rather than working towards new technologies for the umpteenth time, it was difficult to be surprised or even that upset. Once again, the monolith of family friendliness and polished shine doesn't want to throw their hat into an arena too early.
Look at their Wii console that was launched in November of 2006, just in time for the big holiday sales season. While the PS3 and 360 were hot commodities back then, why is that the Wii, a more simplistic gaming console, sold far more units than both of its competition—combined? Because while the more fancy consoles were focused on HD displays, Nintendo kept their focus on what they call the “mainstream.” The mainstream being those who couldn’t or just plain didn’t want to spend a lot of money on an HD television back then.
But when you compare that attitude to how feverishly they've been following their mainstream appeal focus with projects that tout portability and accessibility, combined with their wholehearted dive into marching motion controls into the 21st century, one has to wonder if 4K should be in their upcoming plans.
As with any technology, it has to be widely accepted before some of its advantages become plainly obvious to the consumer. Take the Blu-Ray, for example.
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As a recent advancement in storage technology, it took some time to catch on, as its price point and perceived benefits to the average user weren't clearly obvious. Now that Blu-Ray players and burners have dropped to reasonable prices, there seems to be no reason to step back to DVDs as a format. HDTVs have been a death blow to low-definition resolutions and media, leaving us in a place with better technologies at affordable prices.
Nintendo claiming the 4K audience is too small to focus on presently, it leads one to wonder exactly what Nintendo's current accessibility goals are, but it still falls in line with old attitudes towards compatibility.
Upgrading consoles to meet 4K standards, unfortunately, costs money. Cranking up a game's resolution means a performance increase is required and it has to come from somewhere in a console development budget that could be pushed towards strengthening the console in other ways.
Nintendo clearly wants their consoles to be as fun as possible without reaching the terrifying price shelves other consoles can reach. If you lived through the debacle of Sony's "599 U.S. Dollars" announcement for the launch of its PS3, sometimes the price point of a console can absolutely make a difference in how it is perceived in its early life.
It's hard to judge Nintendo's 4K outlook without looking deep into their projections and making educated guesses at what the future may hold, but it's safe to say they'll pull through in one piece without meeting a new technology as soon as it becomes available.
If anything, they might be pushing to work towards a world of VR that compliments their motion controls, which could negate the need to work on their 4k adaptability at all; if that is the case, they might be moving ahead of the game while we're concerned with technology that could be outdated sooner than we think.