Let’s put this out of the way first. No, Nintendo is not doomed. The company will not disappear due to one of their hardware not pushing as many units as would be desirable. Nintendo itself holds a lot of value due to their worldwide famous IPs like Mario and Zelda. Nintendo have a lot of money in the bank, so they can survive years (some say decades) before being in financial trouble. But all that doesn’t mean that their home console, the hilariously named WiiU isn’t in trouble right now, or that the perspective of it turning around this situation is actually good. On contrary, Nintendo is doing close to nothing to safe its next gen console.
First, the WiiU itself is not a bad machine. It doesn’t have any inherent design flaw, or some kind of stupid component that make gaming harder. The gamepad may not be the best controller ever in my opinion, but it is not making gaming harder. It is not fully utilized, even by Nintendo, but it offers some cool tricks like off-TV gameplay. And except by the big screen in the middle, it is pretty much like Sony’s or MS’ pads. The problem Nintendo is suffering is lack of compelling content.
Why should anyone buy a WiiU instead of a Playstation or an Xbox? That is the question that Nintendo is failing to answer. Sure, the biggest Nintendo fans will answer that Mario and Zelda is reason enough, but that is only reason enough for fans of the traditional Nintendo games. And that may be a big surprise, but there aren’t as many Mario fans as the fans might think. And it is easier to back it up by numbers.
The bestselling Nintendo console is the Wii. So, how many Mario Galaxy sold in it? The first sold 12 million units, and the second 7 million. In a 100 million Wii sold, only a tenth of its buyers bough a Mario game. It means that Nintendo’s biggest franchise can move, at best, 12 million WiiUs. But of course, not all Nintendo fans are Mario fans. So, how big is the Nintendo fandom? 22 million people, as that are the people that bought the least successful Nintendo home console, the GameCube.
Nintendo fans love to say nobody buy Nintendo consoles for 3rd
party games. It is a lie. The Super Nintendo, the 16 bit console from Nintendo, was filled with great 3rd
party games like Chrono Trigger and Street Fighter. In fact, the SNES sold 50 million units worldwide. Saying 3[sup]rd[/sup] party doesn’t matter is a lie. Also, it makes clear that not everyone will buy a WiiU and another console or a gaming PC. In fact, the majority of people will buy only one console. We must remember that the main consumers for consoles aren’t the ‘hardcore’ gamers who visit sites and post blogs like us, neither that they see value in buying all consoles.
Nintendo fans also love to use ‘if’ and ‘can’ in defense of the WiiU. Nintendo can price cut. If they release more games they will be fine. They can use the vast money reserve to save the WiiU. If they start an ad campaign, people will know the console exist. But what Nintendo is actually doing? What is Nintendo actively doing to help its console to sell? I haven’t seen any movement from them to make the WiiU a more appealing console.
Nintendo Directs are great for the people who already have WiiUs and for Nintendo fans that plan to buy one. It assures them that the games they bought a WiiU for are coming, like Smash, Zelda and Mario. But it does nothing for people who aren’t on the internet actively seeking information on the console. There is no mass, main stream media campaign to tell consumers worldwide why they should buy a WiiU. Nintendo is right saying that games move consoles, but outside the internet and it and dedicated gaming fans, people are unaware of that.
It doesn't help when people doesn't understand this is not just another Wii accessory.
Second, Nintendo games will sell only to its fans. There are no new franchises, and the only game Nintendo have that is outside their traditional franchise is Bayonetta 2, whose first game sold something akin to 1.5 million units. Not what Nintendo need to move hardware. There is no movement from Nintendo to bring more games. No incentives for 3rd
parties, no buying of new studios (they bought Monolith, but that is one studio whose game, Xenoblade, sold less than a million copies.
Nintendo is doing good to lure indie devs to its machine, as it can help to realize the full potential of the gamepad and fill some niches on the consoles, but I doubt anyone would buy a WiiU for titles they can buy in other platforms like the PC, PS4 and their tablets and phones. So, while indie push helps, it is not the WiiU salvation.
I expected the WiiU to be price cut during E3. Moving the Premium edition to the 300 bucks bracket and getting rid of the basic would have helped. As it stands now, the WiiU is not cheap enough to be competitive against a PS4. They can price cut later, but the longer they take to do it, the shorter time will be to them to capitalize before having to fight directly against the PS4 and Xbone.
‘Ifs’ and ‘cans’ will not save the WiiU. Nintendo need to stop asking people to wait for the day that the WiiU will magically become a great console. That huge amount of cash in the bank is useless if they just let it sit. When Sony was struggling to gain 3rd
party support on the PS3, they started making games themselves to fill the niches. It gave us Killzone and Uncharted. Nintendo need to fill those niches themselves and stop hoping that a benevolent 3rd
party will save their console for them.
'Please help us by buying three WiiUs. You love us, so go and do it!'
The WiiU tried to use the same formula the Wii used. Cheap, unusual controller and Nintendo franchises. But the Wii was a fad, which was left to gather dust after a few years. Nintendo failed to realize that and used the same formula expecting that lightning would strike twice, but ignored that the same formula that worked seven years ago could not work again, in a completely different scenario that Nintendo doesn’t want to accept is reality.
So, no, Nintendo will not die if the WiiU fails. They have enough resources and the 3DS to keep them afloat to try again. But Nintendo, right now, is doing nothing of the ‘ifs’ and ‘cans’ that could save their console. And if they keep waiting, the WiiU could replace the GameCube as the worst home console in Nintendo’s otherwise brilliant story.