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?