After getting a chance to digest all of the news and trailers that Iwata showed off during the latest Nintendo Direct video there was one thing that kind of worries me, especially considering the companies track record over the last few years. I'm taking about April 27, 2006; the day that the most bad-ass codename for a system ever, Revolution
became Wii. If Nintendo were to change the name or try and tweak the branding for the Wii U, this would be the time to do it.The issue isn't really the name for me, because initially when the Wii was formally announced as just that I cringed a little bit. However 86 million units later and I'm glad that I was completely wrong. If there's one thing Nintendo does well, it's succeed at being unpredictable.
Nintendo built a brand that got people playing games together. "Wii would like to play"
was a great motto for them and the way they explained the name with "ii" meaning good in Japanese, and that the two characters represent the remote was pretty clever. If Nintendo wants to capitalize on customers who've invested into the Wii brand they need to do more to differentiate itself from it's predecessor, and that starts with perception. At this time the Wii U pretty much looks like an add-on, solely based on how they presented it at last years show. To the casual audience who owns a Wii they might go to the store looking for just the tablet. The conference was very similar to the Wii's where they focused a majority of their presentation on the controller. Rightfully so, it could very well change the way games are played for the future. But at this point they need to show off the rest of the hardware or they'll lose confused consumers who don't have a pulse of the industry and are "casual." Wii 2 (or if they want to be posh Wii "Squared") would put the system on equal footing in terms of brand presentation as the rumored Xbox 720 (Durango), and PS4 (Orbis). Just having that number puts it ahead or better than the previous one with little work in terms of a marketing standpoint.
Here's what Nintendo needs to do for the system to be successful at launch, pretend I know what I'm talking about for a second. I'm getting to use my business education for once to make predictions. Now I know what a bullshit analyst feels like...
It's been reported, all rumors at this point, that the Wii U costs Nintendo about $180 to produce, allocating roughly $50 for the controller. It's still unclear as to whether or not multiple controllers can be used per system. If that's the case it wouldn't surprise me if they retailed for $69.99. It's a little more than what people are used to paying for Xbox 360 controllers that have charge kits, and there's no way that a 360 controller costs anywhere close to $50, and it won't look terribly expensive in comparison due to its large touch screen. In addition the console should be priced no higher than $299. We learned this generation that the ceiling for console prices is $300. Both Sony and Microsoft learned it the hard way, especially with lacking launch line-ups. No one is paying $400-$600 for something out of the gate. At $300 it's marginally more expensive than the PS3 and 360 but truly will be a "leap forward" in tech. Considering the specs we know of so far.
This area doesn't have me too worried, however Nintendo needs to do this right or we'll have another 3DS situation on our hands. The system does need something packaged with it at launch. I couldn't think of anything more perfect than Super Mario Bros. 4.
It's unknown at this time whether New Super Mario Bros. 2 for 3DS is SMB4, but we won't know until they say what Wii U Mario title they're working on. In addition, from everything I've read about Battle Mii and Chase Mii, they could be this systems Face Raiders. Nothing spectacular, but packaged in to get people talking about the system as a little extra.
Based on what we know so far here's what the potential launch line-up
could look like (based off release dates for other systems):
Assassin's Creed III
Batman Arkham City
Metro: Last Light
Ninja Gaiden 3
Super Mario Bros. Wii U
Not too shabby! That's just based off the little info we have, some of it upwards of a year old. In that list there's something for everyone.
In about six weeks we'll have all the answers (hopefully). Nintendo needs to have a strong show, being the last of the three conferences this year. Especially since Sony and Microsoft don't seem to have anything mindblowing in terms of the rumor mill at this point. Both companies have said they won't be showing off or detailing the next incarnation of consoles. Sony will probably focus on proving the PS Vita has some life in it. Microsoft will probably show us more ways to yell in the direction of our televisions and stick with the Kinect focus and maybe some integration with GFWL, Kinect PC, and Windows Phone.
So after all that and for those tl;dr folks... I've got 4 words for you. Wii U, Get Hype!