With E3 less than a month away talk about the Wii U’s numerous hurdles is at an all time high. It needs massive and innovative first and third party support, the Nintendo Network needs explaining and there needs to be some degree of competition with the App store and services such as Steam. But is there perhaps a bigger problem, one that people may not have considered?
The Wii was this generation’s most successful console and the majority of that success came because of its massive appeal. Of course plenty of the Nintendo faithful bought it but so did millions of others. Many of these were young people who weren’t yet teenagers, or older people who were well into their retirement. It was this market that gave the Wii it’s massive success. The problem that this creates, the real problem facing Nintendo, is that these people won’t care about the Wii U.
For example, my partner’s 12 year old sister, who is well aware of what the Wii U is, simply isn’t interested. She loves the Wii and isn’t planning on getting rid of it for a new console anytime soon. She is a casual gamer, she doesn’t care about staying up to date with games and consoles, she just wants to play games that she finds fun. On the other end of the spectrum I know a retired couple who use the Wii for things such as Wii Fit and Wii Sports, they won’t buy a Wii U because they already have the games that they want. The same goes for my brother and his wife, who use the Wii for party games, they have no reason to want the Wii U, it has nothing to offer them other than unnecessary expense.
What this means is that, before they reach any other hurdles, Nintendo are hamstrung by the fact that millions of customers will not buy their next console. This means that when they try to attract new audiences they will have to start by filling the gap left by the casual consumers of this generation who don’t want the Wii U, and then build up from there. In effect where originally they may have wanted to attract, for argument’s sake, 35 million non-Nintendo fans they now have to attract closer to 70 million. Even for Nintendo this could be too high a hurdle to jump over.
Of course only time will tell as to how big the effect of this will be, and Nintendo may find some genius way of getting around the problem. But of all the problems facing the Wii U, this could easily be its biggest.
In a few months the Wii U will be here and hopefully by the end of E3 we’ll know pretty much all we need to know before it launches. I’ve already decided that I’m buying one, pretty much no matter what they say at E3, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my doubts. There are some crucial things that Nintendo need to ensure for the Wii U to be a success.
The key thing is third party support. Nintendo’s first party content is stellar and I’m sure there’ll be a strong first party game or two for launch but what they need is long term third party support. Their launch and immediate post launch third part support is great: Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield, Batman, Aliens, all great looking games. What Nintendo need to do is secure some other big names, Bioshock, Resident Evil 6 etc. but also get long term third party support so they can keep up with Sony and Microsoft when they release their new consoles.
Second of all they need to consider price. The Wii U could easily be very expensive, that controller does not look cheap. The real issue is that in terms of specifications and power, aside from the controller, it is only likely to be about as good as the current Sony and Microsoft consoles so it can’t really be allowed to cost all that more than those two do.
The other key area of improvement is in it’s online capability. The Wii is severely backward with this, it doesn’t feature anywhere near the same level of multiplayer functionality as its competitors and the Wii U seriously needs to catch up. Also it needs to offer more entertainment. The PS3 and 360 feature things such as TV services, social networking. Lovefilm, Netflix etc and the Wii, again is lagging behind.
Ultimately most of the details like this will probably be revealed at E3 and the rest will become clear as the consoles launch draws nearer. I for one have high hopes for the Wii U and can’t wait for its launch.