Did Nintendo Make a Mistake Discontinuing the Game Boy?
Where is the modern Game Boy?
The sudden rise in handheld emulation consoles over the past three years has made me serious about the Game Boy. After all, the Game Boy was the handheld that started it all. We wouldn't have the Switch or the Steam Deck had it not been for the original Game Boy.
The Game Boy was the dominant handheld console on the market for almost two decades, selling millions of examples. But the console died a quiet death in 2008 after the company had shifted its focus to the Nintendo DS. At the time, there seemed to be room in the market for the Game Boy.
But now gamers are going back to their appetite for pocket-sized gaming. No one wants to carry around a giant Nintendo Switch Lite or Steam Deck. You want something that you can throw in the back of your jeans pocket and play on your lunch break at work.
There are all kinds of indications that a current Game Boy model would prove popular. Nintendo has toyed with the idea, just look at the current Game & Watch handhelds. I think there is more than enough market for Nintendo to bring back some version of the Game Boy.
It Could Be Like The Mini-Consoles
Nintendo has had massive success with its two mini-consoles, the NES Classic and the SNES Classic. The Game & Watch handhelds have also been popular, so why not bring back a flash-based Game Boy? The entire Game Boy library itself is well under a GB of storage space.
I currently have every Game Boy library on my Pocket Go S30, including the GBA library, and I still have storage space. So I know that it wouldn't take Nintendo anything to get a library of Nintendo classics onto a flash-based console. A current Game Boy could also benefit from a modern backlit screen.
The screen used in the Game & Watch devices is stunning, especially when you consider how cheap the $49.99 price tag is. The question is, would Nintendo do an original Game Boy, a GBC, or maybe a modern GBA? There are so many options and great games that Nintendo can pull from.
Sega Did It First
Unlike Nintendo, Sega has jumped on the classic console bandwagon and taken the world by storm. The first Genesis Mini was highly regarded as one of the best mini-consoles released. Sega has doubled down on this with the Genesis 2 Mini announcement.
The company also released the Game Gear Micro, which was a micro version of the popular Game Gear handheld from the 1990s. This is the same handheld that took Nintendo on and gave the Game Boy a real run for its money. Sure, these micro-consoles were bite-sized and didn't make much sense, but you could play your favorite Game Gear games in a modern handheld with great battery life. The novelty of the idea made these handheld models popular, although they never hit the American market. There were four versions available, and each model came with four unique games.
If Sega can embrace this and have a modicum of success, then there is no reason Nintendo shouldn't give us a modern Game Boy. Technology is cheap, and the market is more than ready for something like this.
Nintendo Has a Poor Reputation With The Gaming Community
The open source community has been finding ways to enjoy Nintendo software from the past on new modern hardware. Whether you look at the effort to bring emulation on the Steam Deck, or the countless emulation handhelds hitting the market from Japan, the way to do it is absolutely out there.
While most companies like Sega embrace such a dedicated fan base, Nintendo is the polar opposite. Not only does the company attack the YouTube community with cease and desist letters, but they are also quick to shut down popular fan-made projects, such as the modern Super Mario RPG remake.
Until Nintendo can start to embrace its fan base, it will continue to leave a poor taste in the mouths of Nintendo loyalists. The company is sitting on mountains of past IP worth digging out. Gamers will pay to play these Game Boy games again.
Just look at how well the DS online store has done, as well as the Nintendo Online store. But if you always take the rights away from your consumers, you will eventually lose loyal fans. We need a new Game Boy model, and there is a market for it.
Nintendo, are you reading this?
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