After the incredible blockbuster acquisition announcements that started this year from Microsoft (acquiring Activision Blizzard) and Sony (buying Bungie), one could be forgiven if they forgot that there is a THIRD hardware company on the playing field… Nintendo. And true to form, Nintendo responded to all of this “content war” madness in a manner that is as “Nintendo” as anything they have ever done… by reminding us that they made Wii Sports ONCE, and they can do it AGAIN. Soooo, let me get this straight… Xbox makes one of the largest entertainment purchases of ALL time with a deal that will change the landscape of gaming forever, Sony punches back by picking up the studio that made Xbox’s greatest hit, and Nintendo breaks out an old copy of Wii Sports, cleans it up a little, and brings it to the party? Well, to be fair they are also digging up a few other old gems like bringing more tracks to Mario Kart, rebooting Advance Wars, and giving us fresh games in the Mario Strikers and Kirby franchises… but make no mistake, they are staying the course and continuing to do what they do best. Nintendo marches to the beat of its’ own drum and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Welcome back Wii Sports… we have missed you.
With Xbox and Sony hogging all of the headlines it can be easy to forget that Nintendo is the CLEAR leader in the hardware sales race, and when the dust settles on this console generation it will likely be Nintendo standing on the top of the podium. Even accounting for the head start of the Switch as well as the chip shortages that have affected each manufacturer, these results are STUNNING. Xbox is currently sitting at about 12 million units of their new Series S/X consoles sold, Sony has moved 18 million PS5’s, and drum roll please… Nintendo is at over 103 MILLION Switch units and climbing. The Nintendo Switch has quietly moved into number THREE on the all-time gaming console sales list, and there is a legitimate chance that it could end up becoming the best-selling console of all time before its’ run is over. Nintendo might not be making the big splashy moves that are becoming so popular these days, but it looks like they don’t have to. They know who they are, they know where they have been, and they know where they are going… all the way to the top.
Over the past few weeks in our “Commitment Confirmed” series we have taken a look at the movements of both Xbox and PlayStation and how their level of commitment to the future of gaming can reveal a lot about our commitment level to Christ, and if you missed either of them, they are available here to get you caught up to speed:
And as we wrap up this series, we are going to take a deeper look at the rise, fall, and rebirth of Nintendo… because their path hasn’t exactly always been the easiest to remain committed to. Sure, the glory days of the NES, SNES, and the Game Boy made the name “Nintendo” synonymous with video games… but their path to the top of the console wars has been anything but steady. Once the upstart Sony PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox emerged as their primary competition, Nintendo floundered as they were consistently beaten by their opponents in terms of power, graphics, and game selection. The Nintendo GameCube struggled against superior competition moving a pedestrian 21 million units, and the exponential success of the Nintendo Wii (101 million consoles sold) made the complete failure of the follow-up Nintendo WiiU even harder to understand (under 14 million sold). But their steadfast decision to remain committed through the dark and difficult times is what led them to this place today, the ruling king of the hill.
Many times in life we find ourselves in this very same place… a place where our dedication and commitment is being challenged. While others are taking shortcuts to success and reaping a multitude of unearned rewards, our determination seems to be challenged on an HOURLY basis, with each step forward accompanied by two painful steps back. We make the decision to give our lives to the Lord, but then our world starts to fall apart around us. We promise to spend more time with Christ, but then it seems like the entire world conspires against us to invent new time-consuming problems that leave us with no extra time or energy to give Him. We feel led to begin serving God through a life of ministry, but then we receive zero interest and even less support, leaving us to wonder what exactly went wrong. And if you have felt your burning desire to serve the Lord immediately become quenched by buckets of ice water you are not alone… and as a matter of fact you are probably EXACTLY where you are supposed to be. But don’t take my word for it, or even Nintendo’s… there is another dreamer who had to take a painful trip from some deep pits and dark prisons before he received his promised promotion, and he has a message for YOU.
Genesis 37:5-10 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?”
Joseph had some pretty big dreams, which did not make him very popular with his family. And at the point of receiving these visions, he could not have possibly comprehended the path his life was going to take in order for them to be fulfilled. Safe in his comfortable life as his father’s favorite son, Joseph received his destiny as innocently as most of us do. Excited about this new path, he shared it with others who were not quite as enthused as he was. His path to this place of promise was rockier than the original launch of the Nintendo WiiU… he was thrown in a pit by his own family to be left to die (Genesis 37:17-24), then sold as a slave to a foreign country (Genesis 37:27-28). He briefly regrouped and found a small amount of favor in his service to his new master, and things started to look like maybe they would work out for Joseph after all. But then the bottom completely dropped out, as Joseph was wrongfully accused of some horrific charges (Genesis 39:7-19) and thrown into a government prison to rot the rest of his promising life away (Genesis 39:20).
Joseph’s path may not be identical to the one we have walked, but the setbacks and series of unfortunate events that befell him sound all too familiar. Perhaps you have also felt the betrayal of family and friends, or the sudden whirlwind of everything going wrong when you felt like you were finally getting things right. Maybe you too have endured the undeserved punishment and pain that Joseph was facing, all because you received a path from the Lord that you never asked for. All around us it seems like everyone else is succeeding and getting their way, while we feel like we are just moving from one hopeless pit to an even more hopeless prison. But fortunately for us, Joseph’s story didn’t end in the pit OR the prison, Nintendo’s story didn’t end with the GameCube OR the WiiU, and our story doesn’t end in the pit of despair either.
Joseph’s pit was not permanent, and his prison was not a punishment… all of this was part of his PREPARATION. Like the slow metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly, Joseph had to be pressed into this dark and lonely place for his transformation into the leader he was born to be. Did it seem unnecessary at the time? From Joseph’s perspective I am sure that it did. But even in the seemingly quiet and forgotten place of that cocoon, Joseph was still being protected throughout this process. His previous self, like the caterpillar, was slowly being stripped away as he was being changed into a new creation who was designed to FLY, not to crawl. And in the end the Lord fulfilled every promise He had given to Joseph… Joseph’s family did indeed bend the knee to him, as did the entire country of Egypt when he took his place as the second highest ruler of the entire country (Genesis 41-43).
Nintendo did not allow their “pit experiences” to deter them from pursuing their path to becoming the dominant console on the planet… they maintained their commitment through the dark times, ignored the shortcuts that others were taking to achieve quick success, and as a result they are currently reigning supreme over the entire gaming landscape. And in our lives, our commitment to the Lord must remain steadfast even when He leads us through those places that feel like the valley of the shadow of death… He has a purpose for these painful pits, and He will protect us in the prisons that we didn’t deserve. Like Joseph, these dark and painful times are the cocoons that He is using to shield our transformation, preparing us in these hidden and secret places prior to our presentation.
I hope this encourages you today in whatever pit or prison you are currently enduring… the Lord hears our prayers in these places of disillusionment and despair. But this part of the process where our commitment is tested is the same place that we are getting “on-the-job training” for the larger plans the Lord has for us… Joseph learned how to be a leader of people and the interpreter of dreams through his experiences as a servant in Potiphar’s house as well as a leader in the prison where he was held. Nintendo learned the secrets that have made the Switch so popular through their painful foray into touchscreens with the under-performing WiiU console. And the place where we are facing our greatest struggle right now is more than just a challenge to be endured… it is a training ground for the skills and talents we will need in our future service to Christ.
Nintendo didn’t need to buy or acquire ANYBODY to remain competitive in the market… they simply needed to stay committed to the course through the hard times and remain true to who they are. They used what they learned from those experiences to shape their future, embracing those hard-earned lessons to build a better mousetrap. And the lesson from both Nintendo and Joseph are the same… the hardest part of our commitment to the Lord is not simply making the commitment but KEEPING it when the times get hard. Let’s not allow these pits and prisons to weaken our commitment, shake our faith, or lead us to believe that we have been forsaken… these cocoons are designed to reinforce us in ways that can only happen in these challenging environments. We WILL victoriously emerge from these lonely, dark and dreary circumstances… and when we do, we will have a powerful story of the Lord’s provision to tell, a deeper strength to share, and a fully developed pair of wings to carry us to the higher places He has promised.
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