By now, everyone’s aware of the situation Nintendo finds itself in as a company. Put bluntly: It’s not doing so great.
While I think people have been a bit overly preachy with the idea that their in a complete state of doom and gloom (don’t forget that the 3DS has actually done much better than anyone could have expected and the success that the company got last generation from the DS and Wii was nothing short of amazing), there is cause for concern.
The Wii U has, in my mind, some of the best games out there this hardware cycle (I’ve always thought that Nintendo’s first party efforts are second to none). But there’s no denying the system has simply failed to capitalize on the consumer-base that it’s predecessor held.
So what went wrong? Honestly, I think it all goes back to E3 2011.
I remember hearing that a lot of people were sort of confused what the Wii U was. Was it a new controller for the Wii? An expansion for the Wii designed to give it better graphics? I scoffed at that when I first heard it but go back and watch that presentation.
Nintendo focussing so much of their discussion on the new controller that I honestly think it confused people. This confusion was just compounded by the graphics -while certainly a marked improvement over the original Wii- weren’t really beyond anything that we hadn’t already seen on the PS3 and 360 for years.
Plus, looking back at the games that third parties had in development for the system didn’t exactly instill faith in would-be consumers. What do Arkham City, Mass Effect 3 and Assassins Creed 3 all have in common? They’d all been out for years by the time they came out for Wii U.
What an awful way to introduce the next generation of hardware: “Here’s our new system! You can play old games on it!”
Those third party woes would just continue throughout the systems lifecycle. I honestly am having trouble coming up with five notable third party games that came out for the console to date.
So was the system just an entirely forgettable box at the end of the day?
Not at all.
Like I said, Nintendo’s first party offerings top any other company’s in my mind. I’ve poured hundreds of hours into Mario Kart 8, Splatoon, Super Smash Bros 4 and Super Mario 3-D World. Plus it was great getting to revisit The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess and Wind Waker with HD facelifts.
Plus, if you’re someone who loves playing games on previous systems, getting to play a huge catalogue of Wii, DS, Gameboy Advance, N64, SNES and NES games all on one console is a pretty great experience.
But all those great things don’t change the fact that the Wii U didn’t sell enough for Nintendo to call it a success.
So where do they go from here? Well, they’ve already said their looking to future with their next system, codenamed NX to be released in March 2017. The system will already have a pretty cool launch with the next Zelda game getting a simul-release for both the NX and the Wii U.
But that’s no guarantee that the NX will be more successful than the Wii U. All anyone can hope for is that Nintendo has learned what not to do from this console cycle and can get back on the road to success.
That means convincing third party developers that the NX is a great machine to make games for and proving to consumers that this is a system that represents a leap forward that makes for an amazing gaming experience
Nintendo has made a name for itself as the company that will take risks in the name of innovation. Even though those risks alienated it from consumers with the Wii U, it also endeared the company to them countless other times over. With any luck, we’ll see that endearment soon and the conversation will finally be turned around by this time next year.