Nintendo – Dropped the ball? The WII U fails the future proof test?

Could Nintendo have a Sega future on the consoles? I think so.  I think Nintendo is now better off licensing its popular titles to other platforms.
Could Nintendo have a Sega future on the consoles? I think so. I think Nintendo is now better off licensing its popular titles to other platforms.

I’ve discovered first hand the enthusiasm that Nintendo users/supporters/consumers have for their ecosystem and console.  Maybe the greatest example of devotion was that on G+ where the merest suggestion that the WII U was lacking in spec’s was met with the age old “its the games”, “gameplay is more important” – both of which valid points for a console in general, but by the Nintendo enthusiasts it seems like a selling point that only Nintendo can offer and apparently (certainly in their implication) it seems that the claim is Nintendo are the only ones to be able to create “classics”.

I’ve owned all three current generation consoles (forgetting the WII U for a second). The PS3 was released in 2006, as was the WII, with the Xbox 360 coming in during 2005.  There is no doubt that these consoles are still the mainstream “standard” at present and whilst it’s argued that the mindset of the average consumer is not yet ready to jump feet first into the next generation of these consoles, the big three all have (or in Nintendo’s case) had plans for their next generation to be released this year.

To get straight to the point, WII U in my view is under spec’d.  Offering little more than the current generation of consoles (with the immediately noticable area being RAM) we have a system that is going to be competing against Sony and Microsoft’s big guns, but potentially, the WII U could, like the 360/PS3/WII be competing for another 6-7 years like the previous generation.  If the WII U is barely more powerful now, how will it be looking in 6 or 7 years time.

But then the argument by Nintendo consumers is that its all about the games.  So what of the games? What is Nintendo offering that cannot be found elsewhere?

If we look to what the consumer is buying in droves, it’s FPS’s.  Something which, I think without seeing the titles released yet, its safe to say that a higher spec’d machine is going to perform better with.

Developers too have concerns, there are those that are leaving the Nintendo world and there are those who express concerns about the Nintendo system being up to the job in the future of meeting the demands of the consumer (in relation to FPS’s).

Lets look at the launch titles, now whilst the WII U sports a new controller (and a nightmare for parents with younger children as it’s another expense which you just know is waiting to be broken) Mario? the “new” Mario? I suggest it looks merely up to par with today’s titles (as far as psuedo 2d platformers go) but there’s hardly anything new there and I suggest that there’s very little in the “new” Mario that couldn’t have been achieved with the WII.  Would it not have been prudent to maybe release the new controllers for the WII and then hold off on their next gen console with far better specs?

Launch titles are very important, although since the WII U ones have failed to amaze, for the NIntendo supporter launch titles are not important at all (from the conversations I’ve had)  Even if the title is not known and the franchise new, launch titles offer a glimse into the future of the console and even if they are little more than a tech demo (God of War for the PS3 springs to mind here) then they are very important.

Mario is old.  2d platforming is old and its a genre of gaming which can be found on any console.  Since Mario is not offering eye candy or features that impresses (over any other modern title) then it needed something very special.  From what I’ve seen and read about the title, “new” Mario offered pretty much “more of the same”, which is great if you are a Mario fan, but when you see queues out the door for COD or similar, suggests that the majority of consumers are not clamboring over the idea of Mario.

The launch sales of WII U seem to back up that idea, and I think its fair to say the WII itself hardly grabbed the sole attention of the consumer and when the motion controllers novelty wore off, the WII became an “as well as” console, in favour of people buying Xbox or PS in order to experience the FPS’s and more adult themed games.

The Nintendo dedicated

I often wonder if some of the most aggressive supporters of Nintendo are those that have already bought into the console and now see that the purchase might of been a little premature.  They might be desperate to justify their purchase and live in the hope that their praise and encouraging words some how invigorate the sales and push Nintendo to the fore again.

In my view they won’t.  At this point the WII U can only hope to become an “as well as” console in a world where the consumer demands more graphically impressive titles and certainly more adult themed titles which I think Nintendo will be found lacking.  Add into this that consumers are stuck now with the WII U spec’s potentially for the next 6-7 years, there’s trouble ahead.

Backward compatibility

I think a mistake of all next gen consoles is the alleged lack of backwards compatibility.  I have to be fair to WII U and say here that it seems a common theme amongst all the next gen consoles.  I can understand why Nintendo would do it too.  They want people buying newer titles not spending their time playing their old collections, they can also make money on the WII Store offering the titles from yesteryear again to players.  In doing this though, for me, Nintendo have removed the one reason why I might want a WII U.  My children have a large collection of Gamecube games (as well as WII) so the idea that the entire lot will not be catered for, removes the only justification I had for spending money on the WII U.

I do want a console that provides the best spec’s and future proofing I can get at the time.  I would rather play the games that play so much better with more polygons and higher CPU workload.  I see WII U in terms of those visions a side step.

The future of Nintendo

The 3DS was hardly the success story that Nintendo wanted and people in main seem to have chosen Android for their portable gaming.  The 3DS gave more than just the users headaches, but the developers who can see the money to be made over on Android or the iStore.

The N64 was hardly the success Nintendo wanted.  The idea that Nintendo somehow gets it right doesn’t hold water and whilst the WII did enjoy great success until people got into Xbox and PS3, really the days of the NES and SNES have not been repeated.  The WII held its own until the consumer demanded titles that it was not up to the task of providing either by way of being mature or the number of polygons the CPU had to shift around the screen.

I think the future of Nintendo will be similar to that of Sega now.  Nintendo seems to believe it could direct the mindset of the gamer and I think it has found the opposite.  People DONT queue up all night outside a store for Mario, they do for Call of Duty.  So when you release a console that is better spec’d to cope with the former (in comparison to the next gen consoles) then you can expect trouble.  I think whilst the WII U will remain in the background, Nintendo will look at licensing their titles for other platforms.

There is certainly money to be made with Mario et al, however the consumer in my view is not so interested that they would buy a console just for that, or indeed Zelda.

I expect shouts of “bias” in regards to my views on Nintendo, however since I am very easily able to get all three next-gen consoles if I wished, there’s hardly a risk that a purchase I make will leave me with an unsupported system.  I would suggest though this time next year both Microsoft and Sony will have sold more of their consoles than Nintendo have to date with their WII U and maybe the most worrying sign about the future of the WII U is not the disappointing sales, not the lower spec’s, but the fact that already we have very vocal developers pulling out and voicing their concerns with the WII U.

Is it Game Over for Nintendo’s hardware future?


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3 thoughts on “Nintendo – Dropped the ball? The WII U fails the future proof test?

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  1. Hey there, the Wii U is backwards compatible with Wii games (though not Gamecube), which is a major reason why I probably will buy it. Though it’s also probably a reason that it’s underpowered for future gaming. The rest of your analysis seems fair though.

    The 3DS is selling very well, however, and continues to be the #1 gaming device sold each month (likely due to price, but it’s games are often in the top 10 sold each month as well).

  2. Hi!

    The backwards comp I refer to would be the older titles from GC et al….thats where my kids have many games….

    3DS selling well…I suppose by standards of a corp other than Nintendo then maybe, but the 3DS failed to grab the attention that the Gameboy or DS did and thats because mobile computing is contained within the smartphone now…. Who wants yet another device in your pocket?

    I will agree that Nintendo did a better job than Sony in the portable stakes and certainly the 3DS is not a failure, but already we see smartphones way exceeding the complexity of 3DS games (minus the keypad) and that will only get worse as the tech improves and becomes cheaper.

    From a personal observation, it seems the 3DS is popular with younger people who maybe are not allowed a smartphone.

  3. I should probably bring a couple of points forward.

    1) Nintendo never sells consoles at a loss. So while sales of Wii U (the name has unfortunate connotations in Canada) might not be as high as they’d like then to be, they will make money. Sales this low would cripple the Sony and Microsoft game divisions.

    2) Microsoft has resigned the field. The XBox 1 might as well be named the XBox Zero. Serious gamers won’t buy it.

    3) Sony ends up being the big time winner, with a system that looks pretty good so far.

    But here’s where things get complicated.


    Seriously. Possibly the best Japanese video game every released. No American release occurred, though there are grey market hacks with English translations. This game for the original NES was incredible.

    Mother II or Earthbound did have an American release. And then it was pulled. The advertising campaign was designed by Londo Molari’s “heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots” because the game was here, and gone before most gamers knew it existed. This drove the prices of used games up. Fast.

    Mother III wasn’t released in North America, because Mother II didn’t sell well. Duoh!

    Point being that there are a huge number of Mother fanatics. Produce a new Mother for the Wii U, and it will sell. Nintendo has several other titles which are in hiatus. Bring some of them back, and that could make the Wii U a strong contender for second place.

    As to Microsoft, they are counting on players getting tied into a “Microsoft” lifestyle, but they are too late. Most gamers use GMail, have Android phones, and aren’t going to go 100% Microsoft, no matter how much Microsoft dreams they might.


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