Can Nintendo salvage the Wii U before the PS4 & Xbox One release later this year?

Not a day goes by where I check my feed and see countless posts about how the Wii U is selling poorly or losing the support of yet another third party developer. It seems the internet has already given up on the Wii U, but the diehard fan is still holding on for the light at the end of the tunnel–myself included. Sadly, I don’t think the diehard Nintendo fan is enough to save the Wii U.

Right now I think the Wii U is the victim of both poor marketing and bad timing. For a company as hungry for new consumers as Nintendo, I’m shocked that it took this long to finally see a commercial for Pikmin 3. I’m sure every Nintendo fan already knew the game was coming along, but what about the new market they’re trying to capture?

The Wii itself sold so well because it catered to such a broad audience and backboned itself on the innovative use of motion controls. Gaming was no longer something for teenagers and young adults as parents and senior citizens used the Wii for Wii Sports or Wii Fit. This wasn’t what I was in to personally, but it moved consoles and gave Nintendo breathing room to release an amazing library of games.

With the Wii U, it’s failed to capture that same audience. There is no new Wii Sports to appeal to the non-gamer crowd. Sure, there is Nintendoland, but as much as I love the game and how it functions with the new gamepad, the only advertisement it’s receiving is being packaged inside of the deluxe model as a freebie.

It’s also odd to me that the main complaint about the Wii among the gaming community was the use of motion controls. I’ve posted about this a few times before, but I’m not a motion control guy and I know that there are plenty of games I would have enjoyed more using a traditional controller. It wasn’t the SD graphics, the lack of indie support on the Wii Store or the lack of quality games. It was the motion controls.

When the Wii U was first introduced, Nintendo began not only showing off the new Gamepad with its touch screen functionality, but a traditional controller with a familiar design and potential to lure in third parties not interested in the touch screen gimmicks. Motion controls are still there, but not in the same depth as the Wii where you’re waving your arms around to fend off monsters or punch your friend’s Mii in the face.

With Nintendo putting that one major complaint aside–the motion controls–and focusing on more traditional gaming experiences, offering a standard controller, promised third party support, HD graphics, more indie support and catering to the mobile/tablet crowd with the touch screen, the recipe for success was there.. in theory.

The Wii U came out of the gate swinging with tons of games offered at launch, including those rarely seen cross-platform third party titles. Yeah, the games were old to most of us, but the fact that these series were shown on a Nintendo console for the first time was a victory in itself. But as the months went by we didn’t really see much else. In fact, there have only been 3 or 4 games since then to really write home about and half of them are cross platform.

With the console moving at a snails pace (some even branding the sales "pathetic"), Nintendo had to do the exact same thing they did to turn the 3DS around. Push out their own games as fast as possible without sacrificing that Nintendo quality.

I’ve read that it takes around $1 million to port a game to the Wii U, but don’t quote me on that. With that in mind, a lot of the promised third party support started to abandon ship when big name titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 only pushed 30,000 units and innovative third party titles like ZombiU sold poorly. The former may have had a lot to do with DLC being withheld and Nintendo fans not being in the COD crowd, but the latter most recently caused Ubisoft to can any form of sequel.

Nintendo has been hard at work pushing Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze & The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD with the recent Nintendo Experience event at Best Buy. Albeit unorganized, it did give fans a chance to play the same demos shown at E3 2013 earlier this year in June and show newcomers that potential of the console.

There is also a pretty hefty amount of exclusives on the horizon with Super Smash Bros U, Pikmin 3 (with a commercial!), X, Bayonetta 2, The Wonderful 101 and the recently Kickstarter funded Armikrog. We all know Zelda U is going to release eventually, but we’ve been receiving mixed signals as to how the game is coming along. After E3 2013 we were told that it was further along than we might expect, but most recently it’s been "up in the air". You know.. like Skyloft.

Now the question is, by the time all of these undoubtably terrific games reach the store shelves, will anyone still care who doesn’t already own a Wii U? If these games are coming out just to satisfy those of us who already own the console, what does that do for Nintendo? They’re going to be competing with two giants at the end of the year by the name of PS4 and Xbox One, both of which fetch a hefty price tag.

How does Nintendo convince consumers who haven’t yet purchased a Wii U to spend their money on a console that is already deemed dead in the water by plenty of gaming publications and developers alike?

This article is not for the die hard Nintendo fan as I know that we will continue to support them and buy their games. If you don’t already own a Wii U, my question is why not? What has kept you from buying one thus far? Lack of games? Lack of money on your part? Is there absolutely anything Nintendo can do at this point to entice you in to buying a Wii U over a PS4 or an Xbox One?

I think a price cut would help, but I still don’t think anyone is going to jump up and down for a $50 price cut when there still aren’t more than a small handful of games worth playing.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I love my Wii U, and I love Nintendo to death. Anyone in my shoes most likely owns the console. I see the value and the potential of the console, but the reality is that it’s not nearly as powerful as a PS4 or an Xbox One and in the end people are only going to look at price tags. And by "people" I mean the "non-Nintendo crowd".

Is it too little too late right now?

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6 thoughts on “Can Nintendo salvage the Wii U before the PS4 & Xbox One release later this year?

  1. Like a lot of people, my brother and I are pretty much waiting for “more games”. There are already a couple of games out there that have caught our eyes — he’s into Monster Hunter, I like Scribblenauts — but I guess we just need more. My brother in particular; he’s a begrudging Nintendo supporter (thanks to me, as I’m the one that bought our Wii), so he needs a lot more proof before he’s going to lay down any cash for a “worthless” console. Smash Bros. 4 will probably do it, though…even though he hates Brawl.

    Much as I hate to admit it, Nintendo’s in a bad spot right now. I seem to recall the DS starting out as a weak handheld — fun fact: The Urbz: Sims in the City is NOT a system-seller — but once it had enough time to get going, it seriously got going. I’d like to think that the Wii U will do the same soon enough, but times have changed, and it’s not exactly the same situation as a handheld. I remember when it was first revealed one E3, and Adam Sessler was asking if it was a full-on console or just an add-on. I thought it was a silly question at the time, but looking back, maybe it’s a much more serious problem than I thought. Maybe Nintendo really DID screw up their communication.

    I’m hoping that the price point is going to help the Wii U out this holiday season. If the PS4 is going to launch at $400, and the Xbox One at $500, then that’s a minor advantage for any parent looking to give their kids a console at a bargain price. But Nintendo’s going to need some serious course correction to fix this issue. Maybe some more commercials. A showing off their killer app. Jimmy Fallon had Killer Instinct on his show, right? So maybe Nintendo can do something with another talk show host. Get Conan in on the action or something.

    I’m not about to count Nintendo out yet. If we lose them, gaming is going to take one hell of a hit — and that’s a future I don’t even want to think about.

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    1. I’m with you in thinking that this isn’t the same situation as the handheld market as their only competition is the VITA, which isn’t much competition at all. I love Nintendo and always will, but with the Wii U it’s obvious that Nintendo is out of touch with the current market. Gamers are evolving for better or worse, but Nintendo isn’t evolving with them.

      So far my Wii U has seen more use as a Wii game upscaler than an actual Wii U. I put a little time in to ZombiU before it got repetitive, Monster Hunter before I decided against putting 400 hours of my life in to farming dinosaurs and had a lot of fun with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.. but that’s really it.

      When I look at games like Scribblenauts or LEGO City: Undercover, they’re only appealing because I *want* something else to play, but I wouldn’t give either the time of day under normal circumstances.

      I’ll patiently wait for new games because that’s what I’ve done with every Nintendo console since the N64. I prefer their games over anyone elses, but I use the other “bigger” consoles to keep me sane in between excess waiting periods.

      As far as the Sessler question, I think a lot of Wii fans were confused as to whether or not it was a new console or just an add-on. I remember first thinking it was just a new controller, purely based on the fact that the games didn’t look to fancy and the console looks exactly like my black Wii at first glance.

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  2. To me, it sounds like Nintendo’s holding back the big guns, to fire them all off near the launch[es] of the other systems. I’m still not done Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (and have unfortunately stopped working on articles because of it). I’ve dabbled in some of the newer virtual console titles, and Injustice now that WB has fixed it DLC problem, but not enough to actually write about how these series can be improved yet because holy crap Monster Hunter is such a good game.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Monster Hunter to get back to.

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    1. I had a great time with MH3U. I was co-opping with my girlfriend on her 3DS version and put a lot of time in to it, but eventually we both got to a point where we didn’t want to invest *that* kind of time in to. Loved the game, but couldn’t invest that much time in it at all.

      I think holding off to fire the big guns near the PS4 and Xbox One launch is a double-edged sword. One one hand it’ll entice more people to buy the console this holiday season because *A* it’s the cheaper option, *B* they will actually be in stock on store shelves, and *C* there will actually be enough games to warrant the purchase of the console in general.

      On the bad end, it could end up blowing up in their faces if everyone is scrambling to invest their money on the new consoles and turn away from Nintendo because the Wii U is failing miserably.

      With the constant stream of bad news pouring in for the Wii U, “waiting” to do anything doesn’t seem like a good idea.

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  3. I guess it depends on how long they wait. They’ll have to release and promote in time for people to cancel PS4/XB1 preorders, but not so early that Sony or Microsoft could simply swoop in and announce their own copy-tech and copy-franchises.

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    1. The console has a lot of un-tapped potential and Nintendo never disappoints with their first-party games. Hopefully their own lineup standing next to some pretty hyped up third party exclusives (X, Bayonetta 2 & The Wonderful 101) draw more interest in the Wii U.

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