We all knew it would happen, I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon…
The Wii U’s specs were announced sometime around E3 of last year, and upon hearing them I almost immediately began to worry about the system’s reported devotion to third-party support. With Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen systems having been so heavily rumored to launch the very next year (2013), I was flabbergasted that Nintendo was once again going to be behind (tech-wise) in the console race. But I at least thought Nintendo would get one good year of third-party support. I guess I was over-confident in the system.
Only a few weeks away from the Wii U’s release, I was amazed that there hadn’t been much advertising for the system. I — once again having hope in the system — thought this was a clever move on Nintendo’s part. Figuring that the original Wii’s ad campaign must have cost a fortune, and while it did sell well, stock couldn’t meet the demand. So I figured Nintendo’s plan was to stay mostly quiet until they could support demand. But — once again — much to my surprise, nobody (that I know of) had any problems getting a Wii U. A generous amount of them just sat on store shelves gathering dust.
It’s almost like Nintendo is unaware of why its system sold so well. While it’s cheap price-point was certainly a plus, it wasn’t the only reason the system sold. The original Wii sold so well because it was marketed to such a large audience — everyone. It offered ease of use instead of precision, and promised fun experiences for people of all ages. And at that it delivered. Of course, since the console was made with this mindset, it didn’t need the Hardcore AAA games. A good number of Wii owners didn’t even own any games outside of Wii Sports that came with the console.
The problem with the Wii U is: it attempted to appease the hardcore market, but wasn’t willing to commit with true next-gen hardware. While at the same time alienating their causal audience with the comparatively complicated-looking Wii U gamepad.
The hardcore players already have their Xboxs and PS3s. Why bother with a Wii U if they can have identical experiences (sans the often-gimmicky touch-screen mechanics) on the consoles they already own?
Which leads us to the point of this editorial. If a system isn’t selling, why make games for it? Even the developer that acted as Nintendo’s cheer-squad last E3: Ubisoft has backed away from the system, taking its titles that were supposed to be exclusive to be Wii U exclusives and releasing them as multi-platform games. Developers just can’t afford to develop solely for a console that isn’t selling well — regardless of it being owned by as big a name as Nintendo.
For an idea of where the Wii U is doing right now sales-wise, here are a few statistics:
According to VGCharts, the 3DS sold over 1-Million units during the first quarter of 2013. The original Wii sold 460,000 during the same quarter, and in the same quarter still, the Wii U has only sold 390,000 units. In addition to that — as reported by iDigitalTimes – the Wii U has recently received its first retailer-initiated price-cut, slashing a whopping $60 off of the basic system’s price tag.
While the original Wii’s measly price of $100 surely helped the system reach that sale number so late in its life-cycle, it’s sort of telling that people can’t seem to find a reason to get a Wii U, whether they’re of the “hardcore” gaming division or the “casual”. It seems that — for the most part — both parties have what they feel they need without a Wii U. People can play Call of Duty and Batman on the Xbox/PS3, while the casual audience takes no issue with playing Wii Sports along with the older Mario games (that are for the most part identical to the one currently available on Wii U).
While I have nothing but confidence in Nintendo to figure out a way out of this mess – especially with their incredibly deep pockets — it’s a shame that the console just isn’t getting the sales needed to gain the support, or the support needed to gain the sales. While I’m most certainly excited to see what Nintendo’s first-part lineup will be during the Holiday season of this year, my Wii U isn’t at all feeling worth the price I paid for it without the promised third-party support.
I guess my Wii U will remain a dedicated Punch-Out and Super Metroid machine until Pikmin 3, or something else worthy of note releases sometime during the Fall.