While there is no sign yet of a PS4 or Xbox 720 (not likely to be the real names when they do finally arrive), we do have one next-generation games console on the horizon to look forward to. Or dread. Depending on your point of view. That console is the Wii U, it’s the follow-up to the Wii (as if the name hadn’t already given you a major clue), and it’s from Nintendo.
The Wii U may succeed or it may fail. There are several reasons to argue for and against Nintendo’s new hardware. And I am personally very torn on how the Wii U will fare in these tough economic times when gamers want real value from their purchases. It may be that the world ignores Nintendo on this occasion. It has certainly happened before. Hence we have two articles, one arguing the case for and one arguing the case against.
E3 2011 saw Nintendo officially announce the Wii U to an expectant public. Actually, that’s a lie. Very few outside the industry could have cared less. The original Wii found its biggest audience in amongst the mainstream casual gamers who are unlikely to have heard of the Wii U even now. Still, those of us who spend our days watching these kinds of announcements saw a new breed of Wii with added tablet controllers unveiled.
Part of me thinks Nintendo’s latest console will be a huge failure, undoing all the good work (and hefty profits) Nintendo began with the original Wii. Below are four reasons I think the Wii U will fail…
1. Same Old, Same Old
Nintendo has built its reputation on a particular set of characters and the worlds they inhabit. I’m thinking Mario, Zelda, Kirby, Samus Aran, etc. This leads to brand awareness and loyalty to some degree: if you want to play the latest Zelda game then you need to own the latest Nintendo console. However, that only works if the games bring something fresh and innovative to the table.
The Wii U is so similar to the original Wii – just with enhanced graphics and a new controller – that it’s hard to see these tentpole games even approaching being groundbreaking. It then becomes a case of: if you want to play the latest Zelda game, don’t bother, as it’s exactly the same as the last one. You might as well keep your Wii and pick up all the last-gen games on the cheap.
2. Tablet Control System
The selling point of the Wii U is supposedly going to be the new tablet controller. These are essentially handheld games consoles in their own right which also sync up with whatever game you’re playing on the TV. They contain many of the same elements as the Wii Remote, also offering motion control. Although I’m not sure I’d want to be swinging that hefty thing around my front room.
Something just feels a little off about the whole idea of a tablet control system. For starters it’s as though Nintendo saw how popular the iPad was and thought, “We want a piece of that action.” There is also the obvious expense involved in buying more tablet controllers than the measly one supposedly shipping with the console. To put it bluntly, I remain unconvinced.
I should add a caveat that I didn’t think the original Wii Remote would ever take off, and look what happened in that instance.
3. Casuals Won’t Upgrade
That right there is your typical Wii gamer. Or I could have used a picture of a grandma (any grandma) instead. The point is the Wii didn’t sell to hardcore gamers who want the latest and greatest console, it sold to casual gamers who are happy to play once a month when they have a family get-together. While this mainstream appeal did a world of good for sales of the original Wii, it may spell trouble for the Wii U.
Your average family who bought a Wii after hearing such great things about it is not going to rush out and buy a Wii U. Not at launch, and probably not for a few years after launch either. If the Wii they once cherished is now sitting forgotten on a shelf getting dusty then they will likely never buy a games console again, and certainly not one that offers only an incremental improvement over its predecessor.
4. It’s Nintendo!
The Wii U will fail because it’s Nintendo. Plain and simple. The Japanese gaming giant appeals to a particular niche of gamer. The Wii has been a phenomenal success, but until that console you have to go back to the SNES or Super Famicom for a Nintendo console which truly dominated the market.
Games console manufacturers rarely have two huge successes in a row, and I’m doubtful whether Nintendo will be able to break that trend. And all eyes will be on what Sony and Microsoft are conjuring up for the next-gen while Nintendo is preparing to launch the Wii U.
Obviously this is just half the story, and there are also four reasons I think the Wii U will succeed.
After you have read both sides of the argument, please let me know what you think in the comments section below. I’d love to know what the general consensus is on what Nintendo has revealed to this point. I suspect some aspects of the Wii U will change between now and its release. But we can make a fair judgment already. And as we’re gamers, I am sure we will do just that.