So as many tech and games sites are quick to point out (see IGN and Kotaku) the Wii U hasn’t been selling well, like at all. Actually Nintendo is taking a hit on every Wii U they even sell. So why is this, why in a time when the video game industry is thriving and constantly breaking it’s own records, is one of the three big platforms losing credibility?
Maybe that’s some bad phrasing, but either way you look at it the Wii U and Nintendo aren’t being taken too seriously anymore. In this time of war between the next generation of the Playstation and Xbox, consistently trying to win over fans with triple-A, big budget, blockbuster exclusive titles, Nintendo seems to quietly sit in the corner and only play with franchises that began in Nintendo’s hay day. They’re trying to hold onto long-time fans by giving them more of the same Mario, Zelda or Donkey Kong, and they seem almost against trying anything new or exciting.
So what’s the deal why isn’t the Wii U being taken seriously by hardcore gamers, and why is Nintendo putting themselves in danger by refusing to ‘grow up’ like their cousins?
I think I have the answer, casual games.Anyway you look at it the Wii U is a casual gaming-machine, a more light-hearted experience built around fun using more colorful games, characters, graphics and gameplay. The two best sellers on the Wii U today are Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U, while the two best sellers on Xbox last year were Halo 4 and Call of Duty Black Ops 2. Clearly the Xbox and the Playstation have found their place being the choice of hardcore platform gamers everywhere. This leads the Wii U to be the casual machine.
But hasn’t Nintendo been the casual choice for years, why are they putting themselves in danger now? I think the answer is pretty simple, Nintendo is up against some stiff competition in the casual market, not the Xbox or Playstation, but rather the iOS and Android platforms. Right now Angry Birds continues to be the best selling game on any platform, and other titles are right behind in sales, like Candy Crush, Farmville, Cut the Rope, Plants v. Zombies and countless others. These casual games took the market by storm and quickly became the choice of many moms who had never picked up a game controller in their lives, but it also became the choice of many gamers as well who opted to play Angry Birds on their phones while they weren’t shooting each other on Xbox.
This is the reason why the Wii U has been selling so poorly, why spend hundreds on a game console for a few ‘fun’ games when you could spend $1 on a game you’ll play for 50 hours? The reason this hasn’t affected the Xbox or Playstation’s sales is because there is no hardcore experience on Android or iPhones, there is simply no game that can compare to the gaming quality and online experience of a Halo, Call of Duty, Bioshock or Last of Us, this is why many of the once dedicated Wii fans have put down their Wii-motes and have picked up their iPhones for the same pick-up-and-go gaming experience.
If the Wii U wants to be taken seriously in a time where the PS4 and Xbox One will breaking sales records, they will need to grow and take risks, step up their online presence and attract bigger 3rd party releases. The dedicated fans will stay for Zelda and Mario, but if they ever want a chance to dominate the market again they will need to evolve.