What happened to the Wii U?
Other than films and music, my other hobby is gaming. My workstation PC was built from the ground up to be not only an editing powerhouse but also a /r/PCMasterRace approved gaming PC. Other than PC games, I’m a huge Nintendo fan at heart. I’ve owned every system since the DS and my favourite game of all time is The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I grew up with Nintendo but even I can admit that the Wii U was their worst system to date. What went wrong?
Nintendo has a proud history of innovation. They’ve been forefront of gaming technology since the Nintendo Entertainment System, their first console. They invented the D-pad, the mainstream adoption of analogue sticks and of course motion controls. But the Wii U added something they’ve been using on the portable front for years. Dual Screens. The gamepad was a controller with a screen on it. Nobody in the gaming industry, including Nintendo themselves, took full advantage of this. Perhaps the only ‘creative’ use of it was in ZombiU, where it was used as a motion controlled scanner. Clearly the concept had good intentions, but if developers cannot take advantage of it in an innovative way, what is so special? The Wii U ended up having a controller which just replicated the same images on the TV, but on the Gamepad.
Developers in general had issues with the Wii U. Out of the gate, there was few third-party titles. Ubisoft, EA and Capcom ported older titles to the system. This is partially due to its lack of power, being almost an entire generation behind Sony and Microsoft. Developers would create games which would easily run on a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. Their predecessor, the Wii, wasn’t even HD, yet it’s innovation led it to victory. The Wii U had no innovation, no power, leaving it to fail.
The marketing of the console was perhaps their biggest embarrassment. First the name. Wii U. Nintendo intended for it to mean it was a console for not just ‘we’ but for ‘you’. It’s possibly the worst message in gaming history, one so complicated and useless, people assume it’s an addon. On top of that, the console’s price never changed from its $350 price tag. Leaving people to question whether it was worth it when a PS4 would be the same price yet more powerful and had more third party titles.
In its lifespan, the Wii U sold 13 million units. The Wii sold 100million. Towards the end, Nintendo released the titles it needed to keep the fans at bay. Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Mario Party and Super Mario Maker. But even still, this wasn’t enough to boost sales. Enter the Nintendo Switch, the successor to both the 3DS and the Wii U. Have they returned to form? I’m yet to receive my Switch, but so far, it’s rather promising. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has helped Nintendo shift 2million units already with rave reviews across the board. Not to mention they’ve been working with third-parties to help design the system, a hybrid home/portable console with a Nvidia Tegra X1 chip. I’ll be sure to update you when I receive my Switch, which I’m expecting some time in the next two weeks. But I’ll say this much, I sure am excited for the future of Nintendo.