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James Crisp's blog

3:57 PM on 06.03.2012

Can Nintendo win E3 and the Console Wars with the Wii U?

Nintendo are facing an uphill task with the Wii U, the technology for the product is there, and once again they have outshone the opposition with incredibly innovative technology. Despite this, they have set quite a gauntlet for themselves in my opinion, but they could easily overcome it.

The first problem – and probably the one that’s the most documented – will be how it is competing with the current generation consoles and how it will win over the ‘hardcore’ crowd. In terms of the current gen consoles, the Wii lacks somewhat behind. It’s very innovative, but due to its lack of graphical prowess, so to speak, and a terrible lack of support from the bigger third party companies, consumer wise it is not considered a current generation console. For me the biggest issue was not the graphics – Super Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword being obvious examples of looking fantastic even when it’s not HD. The killer blow for me was the incredible lack of great third party support. There was a good amount of support, don’t get me wrong but the quality of most of the games was below-average and this was a problem the Gamecube suffered from as well. Sure we did get the odd watered down Call of Duty, which was good but some of the biggest sellers and best critically received games were a million miles away from the Wii, games like Batman Arkham Asylum/City and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim are just a few of these examples. But Nintendo seemed to have recognised this and have set about correcting it straight as shown at the last E3 conference, where in their trailer reel they revealed that some of the big titles like Arkham City and others such as Darksiders 2 and Battlefield 3 would also be making their way to the Wii U. These excited me to a point but the biggest news for me is that EA is supporting the console seriously. This was the biggest proof that this console is truly ‘Next Generation’ because in the past for me, EA has seen Nintendo Consoles as the experiment for their games. If you look at their FIFA iterations we have seen a far more arcade style to it and modes that would never be considered for their counterpart cousins. To hear now, that EA are taking it seriously and will be bringing their biggest titles to the console is fantastic news and hopefully will pave the way for other companies like Activision to follow suit.

In terms of ‘Competing’ with the current generation consoles, I don’t think there will be too much of a comparison to make other than the graphics. Nintendo just need to make sure the console outputs 720p/1080p to begin with (this is the standard for most TVs and 720p is what most PS3 games are run at) and they should be fine on that front. The biggest competition will be the Wii, undoubtedly. Nintendo might not see it this way but whatever happens it will be very difficult to match the sales of the Wii and the current name probably won’t help this either. The casual market was really defined by the Wii and they may not pick up on everything the Wii U is going for and may just see it as an extra accessory, and the confusion has already been made in my experience. The sales of the Wii will likely not be matched so Nintendo just need to get on with it and ignore the inevitable sales comparison between the two.
The other problem they're facing is obviously getting the gamers to jump consoles from their current consoles to the Wii U. This will prove difficult considering how many are comfortable with their current gaming set up and the economy like it is. There will be people like me who will buy it regardless because it's a Nintendo console and I love them to bits, some people may purchase it because they like the idea of the controller, and for me the majority will be sticking with their current consoles because they're just unsure about what it is or can do. The answer? E3 2012. I feel that is the best chance for Nintendo to show off their console. Not only can they show the console off, if they can then manage to better Sony and Microsoft, the ball could suddenly be in their court. We already know they won't be releasing a price and release date at E3, but a launch line up, technical specifications and the final product are all very likely and very anticipated. They could blow everyone out of the water with a stellar launch line-up, something that the 3DS desperately needed, and technical specs way over what everyone was expecting. If Sony/Microsoft don't have a very exciting conference, and they haven't for the last few years to tell the truth, Nintendo could once again steal the show. And then to top it off with their trademark cheap pricing, and holiday release date, Nintendo have a very real possibility of rising to the top.

There is another conundrum though – online service. This is probably the biggest aspect that has plagued Nintendo compared to the other competitors. Let's face it, the online is mediocre at best. Things like the infamous friend codes for EVERY game, high latency during online play and many games not even having the option for online play really have had a big impact on the community. Thankfully Nintendo have started to address this with the 'Nintendo Network'. Online play has been improved in my opinion, with games like Mario Kart 7 having great online play, and I've heard Kid Icarus is very good also. Nintendo have also started introducing DLC which is probably loved and hated in equal amounts – the option to further the game or just more money making from the company? That's a different debate but it's good that Nintendo are finally catching up to the times. They are also starting to patch games which is something they've needed since the Wii has launched. Many glitches have occurred in games that should be easily fixed by a patch but the Wii doesn't allow that to happen unfortunately. For example, there is a save glitch in the second half of the story in Skyward Sword, but they couldn't patch it just on it's own. You had to download another channel onto the Wii to fix it, when it should have been easier than that. Some of the other big games like Twilight Princess and Super Paper Mario have also got some things that need fixing but they can't fix them without adding a channel. The 3DS has that function though, and it's soon to be implemented by fixing some glitches in Mario Kart 7, which Is ultimately good news because it means the Wii U will also have that function, one assumes. Couple that with other items such as fully downloadable titles the same day as release day in the Shops and Nintendo finally seem to be catching on.
It's not a short list by any means, and these are just some of the problems that Miyamoto and his team need to overcome, but for me I'm looking forward to them doing it.+   read

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