For the second console generation in a row, Nintendo has released a machine drastically less powerful than its competitors, but this time around the sales figures don’t look positive. Not only this, but as other consoles evolve with more features and content, the Wii U remains painfully behind; with poor internet integration and a visually dated UI. This has sparked a tidal wave of suggestions for Nintendo, from across the internet.
Going through social media and the comments sections of various videos, blogs, and websites, several ideas have been thrown around by gamers as to what Nintendo can do to turn the Wii U boat around. Popular ones suggest that Nintendo should bring out mini-games based on their first party titles to mobile platforms, as well as more drastic ones such as releasing a new console, or becoming a software-only company and ditching hardware altogether.
If Nintendo did begin porting over some of its games to mobile platforms, they’d lose what is possibly their most powerful asset; exclusive games. A new console seems too drastic, considering how early we are into the Wii U’s life cycle; Nintendo saved the 3DS, and it’s entirely possible they could replicate the feat. The final point about only developing games instead of hardware is similarly flawed; just look at Sega. And with the rise of digital downloads and crowdfunding, the grasp which the publishers once had on the industry is slowly diminishing, so becoming a software-only company has its flaws as well.
First, let’s look at the underlying problems with the Wii U; starting with the original Wii. The Wii didn’t compete with brute force against the other gaming machines, rather, it competed by being different, by making its own rules. Games like Monster Hunter were loved by fans all over, I myself had invested over 300 hours into it, and I enjoyed every moment, despite the lack of high definition visuals and the poorly streamlined online interface.
As a result, the Wii was hardly ever purchased on its own, instead it was almost always bought in addition to either an Xbox 360, PS3, or a PC. Most people played shooters and “must have” games on the more powerful machines, while the Wii was always used for the first party Nintendo titles, as well as family and fitness games. Although the latter game types caused the console to be negatively viewed as a “casual” machine, the first party titles were loved by everybody, aside from Zero Punctuation. This public perception has carried on to the Wii U.
A common criticism of the Wii U has been its GamePad. It’s big, heavy, and the battery life tops out at around 4 hours. The final complaint, one that is being fixed, was the lack of compelling games at launch.
Evidently, the situation is bad. But it can be turned around, and here’s how. Remember how the Wii, and consequently the Wii U, was considered as an “add on” console? Play that to its strength by approaching the indie developers. Indie games are the reason why many people build PCs; not just for high end visuals, but to have genuinely new, fresh gaming experiences. However, not everybody likes playing at a desk, or the higher cost of entry of a PC. This is where the Wii U could thrive; by being different. It could offer the indie gaming experience with the simplicity and comfort of a console.
Also consider, again, their GamePad. It does have its flaws, but it’s also something that is unique to the Wii U. Strategy games are difficult to play with a controller, but with the GamePad they’d work very well. Remember the Advance Wars series? Widely considered as one of the best games on the Gameboy Advance, it featured grueling and finely tuned gameplay. A remake of that, with updated visuals, multiplayer, and touchscreen optimization would be great to show off the potential of the GamePad and strategy games on the Wii U.
I’d also suggest streamlining their online services and the console OS, in order to produce a more fluid experience. Content from indie developers should be promoted, as well as newly released games, similar to how Microsoft has done with the Xbox dashboard.
Finally; marketing. First and foremost in a lot of Wii U advertisements was the GamePad, which had caused confusion for many regular consumers over what the Wii U was, with many thinking it was a new handheld. Also, games like Monster Hunter don’t get enough promotion amongst more well known series’s like Mario or Zelda. This is where YouTube comes in. We all know about Nintendo’s stance on advertised content featuring their games, and it has got to stop, for the betterment of both Nintendo and gamers alike. Word of mouth cannot be underestimated in this day and age, especially considering that it was paramount to the success of games like Minecraft, which has now sold around 14 million copies.
Would this sort of action be enough, or is it going off in the utter the wrong direction? Let us know what you guys think in the comments section below.