Nintendo's current system, the Switch, is their highest selling console of all time. "The Super Mario Bros Movie" has made over $1 billion dollars globally. "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom," a sequel to what some have called the greatest video game ever, has released to huge success. There's never been a better time to be Nintendo.
Which is a little concerning. Nintendo's current level of success is almost impossible to maintain, and things will likely come down to Earth soon. What does that mean for the company and consumers?
Here's why I'm flashing warning signs; every Nintendo console from the Nintendo Entertainment System onward has sold less than the generation before it, with a few exceptions. You can see it on Nintendo's own website; if not for a giant spike in the numbers named "Wii," their sales figures would be a downward slope. This also follows trends in their handhelds, with a giant "Nintendo DS" spike being the only exception. We all consider the Wii U a "failure," but maybe its sales was just nature correcting itself. It did sell worse than Gamecube, after all.
The Switch is another one of those exceptions; it's sold better than all their consoles (if you consider it a console), and it's outsolde everything but the DS (if you consider it a handheld). It's also starting to get long in the tooth, being released in 2017. Average lifespan of a console is five years, so a follow-up is likely being worked on. There are three ways this can go;
Momentum is really hard to maintain over time for any business, especially in the video game industry, where it doesn't take a lot to push someone from top of the mountain to down in the mud. But how far is Nintendo going to fall; is the next Nintendo console going to hang in there, or will there be another incident of "nature correcting itself," and it won't even outsell the Wii U? Considering the up-down-up-down cycle they're apparently on now, Nintendo could be looking at its worst console sales ever next generation.
That seems like an alarmist line, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, for Nintendo or for consumers. Ninty tends to relax a bit more and become more consumer-friendly when their coffers aren't as full. They've famously sold consoles that were underpowered compared to the competition, so they're cheaper to produce and make them more cash. Nobody should be ringing bells that "Nintendo is going to go third-party!"
But it was during the relative lean years of the Wii U and 3DS that Nintendo got a bit more relaxed with their IP. Early adopters of the 3DS got free Virtual Console games to make up for a price cut (still the only legal way to play "Metroid Fusion" on your 3DS!). We got franchises like Super Mario and Pokemon on smartphones; there's probably an alternate universe where Wii U was a smash hit and "Pokemon Go" never happened. This is when the deals were made that resulted in Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios and the aforementioned "Super Mario Bros Movie" that just made a giant chunk of change. NES and SNES Classic Edition also were released and kicked off the brief "mini console" craze.
When Nintendo needs money, they start mining their classic releases and making deals to get their IP into people's hands. They're not even above a price cut or two. All of which is very good for consumers. I don't think everyone is suddenly going to be airdropped a translated copy of "Mother 3," but maybe more games get the HD remaster treatment.
Who can say? Maybe I'm completely wrong and Nintendo comes up with some new, completely intuitive but never before thought of way to play that changes the industry, again. Or it could be the New Switch U and it lands with a thud. Either way, maybe we finally get an HD version of "Super Mario Galaxy 2" out of it.