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Well guys, I hate to ask it, but is the Wii U in trouble? [roundtable]
I don't want to be one of those guys.

You know, the guy who says "I used to be the biggest Nintendo fan but their latest system is too [pick one] (kiddie/casual/rehashed)."

I think most of us can agree that Nintendo really needed to bust out some killer Wii U software for E3, and they didn't quite deliver on that front. But fortunately, Microsoft's major mistakes and Sony's responses to it took the heat off Nintendo. But with MS finally eating crow and realizing the problems, the XBone has a decent chance of doing fine this gen. So what we're suddenly left with is Nintendo looking a little shabby by comparison now.

Nintendo's Wii U had kind of a slow launch, but that's par for the course, so I wasn't really worried. Even when Rayman was delayed and third parties were jumping ship, I still wasn't worried. Because Nintendo's systems thrive on first-party software, and even when third-party support was at its worst, we still got some amazing times with the N64 and GameCube. So I always figured, at worst, this is what the Wii U would be if the support wasn't there.

Here's what troubles me, though: the N64 thrived on brand new experiences with 3D worlds, and the GCN thrived on being a significant increase in power from the N64, allowing for some truly ambitious steps forward for a lot of series (Metroid Prime, Wind Waker, SSBM). The Wii U's GamePad should be that trump card...yet nothing Nintendo showed at E3 actually used the thing! Beyond that, it seems like they're pulling their 3DS strategy with the Wii U--new Mario 3D World, new Mario Kart, new DKCR--but with home consoles, people really expect more than that. It doesn't feel like they've really stepped up their game in a significant way, and I think that's pretty troubling for their future.

So what can Nintendo do to turn this around? Are they even capable of bringing next-gen experiences to their platform? I'd say yes, by merit of how great Pikmin 3 is turning out, but it's a tough sell when the rest of their lineup has been another New Super Mario Bros, another Mario 3D Land, a DKC game that barely looks better than Returns, and a slightly-improved Wind Waker port. Nintendo has always marched to the beat of their own drum, but I'm seriously worried that they're becoming out-of-touch with what Nintendo fans want out of their home consoles, which is a first.

Anyway, what do you guys think? How can Nintendo turn this around? Am I overreacting? Sorry to make this place all IGN-y today, but I love this friggin' company and I can't help but be a little nervous about their major game lineup.

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Posted: 06/20/13, 18:34:20  - Edited by 
 on: 06/20/13, 18:34:13
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Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?

Do we really want Nintendo, or any of the big three, to do "great" honestly? "Great" gets us "Giant Enemy Crab" and "Five Hundred and Ninety Nine U.S. Dollars." Great gets us "The Kinect is always on watching you" and "Games are locked to the system forever." Great, many moons ago, got us "We essentially treat 3rd parties like trash, and don't care."

Frankly I think a little bit of tension for companies is a good thing. They get comfortable, they start getting filled with insane pride that screws the consumer.
Posted: 06/20/13, 23:52:55  - Edited by 
 on: 06/20/13, 23:53:43

I think "great" is in reference to, "do great by us, the consumer."

We just want a quality machine with great games to play. Right now, the Wii U isn't that. And that's not only not "great" it's also not "fine." It's bad.
Posted: 06/21/13, 00:10:13
shinriley said:
Nintendo could "not" sell another Wii U console and they'd still be fine. They got so much money that I read they put "experiments" out in the market just to see if they would sell (IE: the Wii and the DS). If the Wii U doesn't work out, they could just go on and put out another more powerful console to compete with the PS4/Xne.

Wait what? Unless you're joking, what you just said makes little sense. Nintendo publicly traded company with stock holders than demand they make money. It is true that they have plenty of money in the reserve but they will eventually run out of funds if money is not circulating. Furthermore, Wii was an experiment, true but it is not as if we're talking about Microsoft here, who can actually afford to devote to spend more into their experiments than what the whole of Nintendo is worth. If Nintendo makes a few of these bad experiments, they could eventually reach a stage where they might acctually be in trouble. A lot will have to happen first though. Remember than even in the GC era, its home console made Nintendo money.

Of course they are going to say that, they don't want to cannibalize potential sales by stating they will lower the price once PlayStation4 hits, but they will. At least they should if they are intelligent enough to realize that most people that will compare the PS4 to their console will probably want the PS4 unless they are staunch Nintendo supporters at $50 more a pop. Honestly though, the Wii U is not that far behind in terms of pure power but the general consensus will be that the Wii U is a gen behind. We've already seen that Wii U is perfectly capable of 1080p at 60fps, something that most games lacked in the seventh gen. Not to mention that a lot of people still think the Wii U is simply an expensive controller. That is why most folk are more likely to pick one over the other. Nintendo is not the uber cheap alternative compared to the competition anymore, or at least PS4 anyway.
Posted: 06/21/13, 00:23:52
Oh, you guys..
I skipped Page 2.

Just Buy It.
Posted: 06/21/13, 00:53:18
True, with success comes hubris. We see it again and again.
Posted: 06/21/13, 02:17:07
TriforceBun said:
I guess it doesn't seem all that simple to me though. SM3DL had a number of different factors going for it--first big 3DS Mario, a new type of gameplay, tempered expectations because of a handheld, etc. I think Nintendo is looking at its sales in too literal a way, thinking "Well, let's just make another one of those and we'll be fine!" SM3DW is bringing with it a whole different set of expectations, such as being the first 3D HD Mario, a higher price point, and following very closely to what's now an established template (of a 3DS game, no less). I think the situation is noticeably different than the one with 3DL.

I don't disagree with you, there were some factors that helped 3D Land's success. I would *personally* like a large scope Mario game and it might be more persuasive to core gamers would could then spread the love out to friends, family, casuals. However if were making statements like "the Wii U needs this", then logically you look at recent sales before you decide what is needed and based on that, 3D World is much more accessible and exciting to the broad audience than something like Galaxy 3. (I wasn't expecting a literal Galaxy 3, especially when Nintendo partnered with Sega on Sonic Galaxy - I mean - Sonic Lost World).

I'm going to stick to my assessment that Nintendo is greenlighting the most proven titles, and innovating within those frameworks, and that's not what everyone wants but it is smart. Still, 2014 and beyond had better include brand new ideas, more risks and more surprises. And more Japanese 3rd party games please! Capcom, Arika, Neverland, everybody!
Posted: 06/21/13, 03:00:04  - Edited by 
 on: 06/21/13, 03:02:13
Eh, it's too early to tell for me. By this coming holiday season, once more titles are out that can actually move systems, we'll see.

That said, they need to make sure they are ADVERTISING said titles, and pretty much treat this as a relaunch. They also cannot afford any more delays or other such holdups. These games need to hit, and hit hard. Get the indies on board and promote their stuff, promote eShop, promote what's out, promote what's coming, show why the tablet is awesome even if only for the off-TV play (which IMO is a strong selling point itself if used right and communicated clearly)...

Pretty much, from August onward they need to go balls out with the system. Price cut during the holidays if they have to show how much better of a value the Wii-U is.

If they do all that and by this time next year their numbers are still piddling along, then um... NINTENDOOOOOOMED.

So yeah, now? Kinda'. Later this year? I think they'll do alright. They'll recover.
Posted: 06/21/13, 03:21:01
I'm in the small boat that doesn't understand why motion plus can't be utilized on Wii U into this very awesome thing. It was barely scratched. Or some of the things that NL is doing or even Wario will be doing made into full blown games. I'd rather have a Zelda side quest game then WWHD that they quickly throw together where Link and Zelda are on an adventure and it works a lot like the NL game does. Or hell, at least give us some DLC so I can keep playing those mini games...

Considering EA is being a bitch theres a huge and perfect opp to give us a Wii Sports U
Posted: 06/21/13, 03:25:51
I have to wonder if things would be different if Nintendo just made a really awesome, online enabled version of Wii Sports with tons of improvements on the original game, keeping in favorites like Tennis and others. Maybe even with Mario and cast. I feel like the Wii U library is missing that right now. Why abandon what made the Wii so successful in the first place?
Posted: 06/21/13, 03:53:18
Yeah, they are in trouble, but I'm not sure if they can do much to turn it around short of finding the next big Wii Sports-type hit. Yes, getting Mario and Mario Kart and Smash Bros. out there will boost system sales, but I don't think the end result is going to amount to too much more than GameCube numbers (that was the last console that sold almost exclusively on Nintendo's big franchises).

Iwata and Reggie say that getting these games out there is going to drive the userbase and get third parties back on board, but I don't think that's going to be the case. They'll certainly sell consoles, but it'll be to an audience that has shown time and time again to buy almost exclusively Nintendo games and not third party titles.

The scarier situation is how this has impacted first-party development. Some people are seeing NSMBU, Wind Waker HD, Super Mario 3D World and DKC:TF as Nintendo lacking creative vision and making safe titles. But I think the reality of the situation is that they can't afford to be taking a ton of chances with their games right now when they need games on the market, and soon. We saw this with the weak last few years of the Wii, the weak first year of the 3DS and now with the Wii U: Nintendo is having trouble both having to adapt to HD development, while at the same time being under the pressure of having to carry two systems with a steady flow of games (the Wii U almost entirely without third party games to help soften the burden).

I don't see this Nintendo regime ever solving the third party problem, because they seem unwilling to ever make a home console that third parties are going to want to make games for. I thought with the year head start, that making a 3rd party-friendly system was a *must* for the Wii U, and Nintendo basically did the exact opposite. Their business model for the Wii U right now is to become exclusively a Nintendo box like the N64 and GameCube were, and hold out hope for another huge mainstream hit (which they banked on Nintendo Land being).

For the rest of the Wii U era, I think the best thing they can do is to try and fund as many third-party exclusives that they can, and build up a strong library of exclusive games that will make the Wii U incredibly appealing to someone who may only have a Playstation or Xbox. Going forward, I don't think the model of having to carry two platforms almost exclusively with first party efforts and trying to conjure up the next mass-market sensation is sustainable. If things don't turn around drastically for the Wii U, I wouldn't be surprised to see Nintendo decide that this is the last generation where they'll be supporting two systems at once.

I don't mean to suggest that Nintendo is going third party or leaving the home console space, but I think it makes a ton of sense for a unified platform that is both handheld and home console. When you look at GCN-GBA connectivity, their DS handheld designs and the Wii U tablet, they've placed heavy emphasis on the two-screen concept and I think that the ultimate realization of that is to go from "Three Pillars" down to just one. It just doesn't make sense anymore for Nintendo's development resources to be divided across two platforms (and as a new generation approaches, they are divided across four platforms like in 2010-2012). They've said over and over that they'll solve the problem of not having a steady flow of games, and over and over they fail to do so. Why keep on killing yourselves? I'm not sure what everyone else thinks about this idea, but I think it'd be a smart direction for Nintendo to go in.

Sure, getting full third party support would avoid any need to do something like this, and ultimately it's what I'd like to see Nintendo do, but it's been almost 20 years since the SNES-era and they've yet to figure that out, and I find it hard to believe that they're going to. They're going to keep on being Nintendo, with all of the good and bad that comes from that, and that's not going to change. But I think it would behoove them to look big picture and assess just how much longer they can keep doing what they're doing now.
Posted: 06/21/13, 03:54:51
I think the Wii U, indeed, is in trouble. I think the success of Wii was sheer luck - in that all of the stars just happened to line up. Yes, the motion controls were novel and interesting, but it certainly took more than that to woo the masses. Wii U stumbled because Nintendo tried to cash in on the Wii name and needed a new gimmick to match the Wii's Wii remote. They sat back to watch people gobble it up on the Wii name and gimmick alone. Or so they hoped.

Wii U is a bad name for a console, not just for the fact that it can confuse the uninformed, it's just not cool. Coupled with a tablet that only one game really makes fun use of, yet drives the system cost up to levels not acceptable to the mass consumer, and Wii U was pretty much destined to wobble about, as if maimed from the start.

Adding insult to initial injury was the odd oversight to launch a system without a strong lineup. Games are what drive system sales, after all. Without them, what reason does one have to purchase a console? The GamePad is nifty, and cool, and interesting, but choosing it over beefier specs tossed any hope of new/original third party support right out the window (along with the lacking library of first party titles to boost system sales at the start).

Developers, I would guess, want a system they don't have to do a lot of extra work on, and that can be easily developed for - as the other consoles allegedly are with their PC architecture. Sure, developers like new, creative ways to have players experience their games, but getting a game to run without comprise is probably the first and foremost factor to consider when choosing a console to develop a game for.

The Wii U will most likely never rise to Wii status. Granted, the Wii was never super respected and adored by the hardcore enthusiasts, but it still had its place, and its sales cemented in place, as a force to contend with - regardless of its not-as-cool stature and less-than-ideal specs.

Furthering the system limping, is Nintendo's super safe and samey game making ways. Super Mario 3D World looks fun, but should have been, if anything, the launch title, and New Super Mario Bros. U should never have been made. Wind Waker HD makes absolutely no sense, as the GCN version still stands as one of the best looking Zelda games to date - without the HD boost! That leaves Pikmin 3 (not mass market friendly) and DKC (a game that looks amazing, but should not have been Retro's game, at least not yet). Where's the beef?

So, not a lot of wow worthy titles to lure newbies toward a system that will only be $50 cheaper when the upcoming PS4 launches. (Nintendo can argue the Wii U's inclusion of a tablet all they want to justify its price - if they don't make good use of it, the argument is instant bunk.)

Without a price drop, the Wii U will never grab hold of even one soccer mom or retirement home dweller - especially with a GamePad asking way too much out of the common man to comprehend (I'm being grossly stereotypical of the average Wii gamer on purpose). Wii U will make money, but not at the Wii level. The games will come, but most likely by Nintendo's hand alone. Mostly enough for me, but not enough to boost its presence in the current/next generation gaming realm.

Maybe a price drop, Wii remote, pro controller, and game bundle will help? I don't know. What I do know, is that it will need something to stay relevant in the minds of all consumers come holiday 2013 and beyond.
Posted: 06/21/13, 05:36:49  - Edited by 
 on: 06/21/13, 05:40:22
I don't think Nintendo is in the danger zone yet. A lot of people already brought up some good points in favor of and against the Wii U is in trouble.

One thing is clear however, they squandered their one year advantage.

The question posed here is a good question but it's far too early to tell whether Wii U is in trouble or not until after Christmas. There's a lot of unknowns at this point. Mainly:

1) How will the general public ultimately receive the PS4 and Xbox One?

2) What kind of impact will Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong have on sales?

I never assumed Nintendo will announce a price drop at E3. I think Nintendo will cut the price but it won't be till much closer to when PS4/Xbox One launch and they're not gonna announce a price cut months in advance. A price cut today would be pointless because yes it'll spike sales, but it'll be a bandaid solution at best if they do that today.

"Those customers who purchased the 3DS at the very beginning are extremely important to us. We know that there is nothing we can do to completely make up for the feeling that you are being punished for buying the system early. Still, we would like to offer the following as a sign of our appreciation to you."

That's a quote from Iwata when they announced the 3DS ambassador program.

Basically Nintendo isn't gonna announce a price drop until they have everything in order which includes the Summer firmware update and a wider selection of games. If they dropped the price so soon again nobody would ever buy a Nintendo system at launch.

That being said, I'd love to be an ambassador again those GBA games are awesome.
Posted: 06/21/13, 06:37:52  - Edited by 
 on: 06/21/13, 06:38:21
Nintendo will continue to be in dire straits until they have more games people want to play and they demonstrate why anyone should buy a Wii U. Seriously...at this point and with new consoles launching in 6 months, why should anyone buy a Wii U?
Posted: 06/21/13, 08:37:36
kriswright said:
I think the Wii U could still get an impressive library together at some point, but I do think Nintendo has basically squandered the first year of the console. Two underwhelming E3's in a row.

This is pretty much my feeling.

I think things might have been a little different if Mario Kart was ready for the Christmas season. MK Wii was one of the biggest selling games of all time, an MK WiiU bundle for Christmas would have moved a pile of consoles.

2 Christmas periods without a must-have system seller...not a good start.
Posted: 06/21/13, 12:21:00
Existentially? No. As long as the big console competitors continue to ignore kid-friendly mascots, they will always have their bread and butter.
Posted: 06/21/13, 14:41:25
@iAaronG Like Jargon said, I think it would be because Nintendo is still the only game in town for a family friendly game library.

I think their problem now is that this library really isn't all that robust right now. I think parents and families will bite, but not at $350, no way.
Posted: 06/21/13, 18:01:20
Does anyone wonder if some of that Nintendo kid-friendly reputation & library has been lost to smart phones & tablets?

I don't have any children but I have many friends that do. Most of their kids are stuck on iPhones & iPads and the parent's say they support it not only for the cheap software, but a LOT of the stuff targeted to kids under 12 is educational too. I've seen some of the "edutainment" software and a lot of it is high-quality fun and learning with intuitive interfaces suitable even for children not old enough to use a traditional controller.
Posted: 06/21/13, 18:13:33
@New Forms "Some" probably has for sure. But it's still a huge market with consoles and handhelds, and Nintendo reaps the benefits of being the only major hardware manufacturer who really goes after this market.

It actually kind of amazes me that Sony and Microsoft don't try harder to get this market. Maybe they view it as something Nintendo has locked down, but Kinect showed that Microsoft can eat into Nintendo's markets, and right now with Nintendo "struggling" would be one of the easiest times to break into their market. And Activision is basically printing money with Skylanders, so it's not like only Nintendo can pull off games that kids want.
Posted: 06/21/13, 18:25:16  - Edited by 
 on: 06/21/13, 18:30:23

Why did anyone buy NSMB Wii when you could get the DS game? Mario Kart Wii vs. MKDS? Grant, I know that you didn't buy a Wii U yet because you're satisfied with 3DS, but that doesn't speak for a lot of gamers in general. They will go where the games that they want to play are. Every console game has advantages and drawbacks, and is a different experience when compared to its counterpart on a handheld. Yes, the Wii U needs its more unique experiences as well, just as the Wii had Wii Sports and Wii Fit and Smash Bros, the Wii U needs more creative games like Nintendo Land and Pikmin 3. And you can not seriously claim people are "having their fill" with 3D Mario and Mario Kart on 3DS when the 3D Mario and Mario Kart haven't even released for Wii U yet! Wait for the sales data before jumping on that bandwagon. Wii U needs more games to establish itself, even if these are "similar" experiences to what you can get on 3DS. Two different markets, with some definite overlap, but not as much as you think.

Those 3DS launch games you mentioned were good and there's no doubt you enjoyed them, but most including myself weren't tempted much by them. Sure, OoT3D and SF643D were not straight ports, and they were fantastic remakes, but still, it's not original exclusive content; the new games did not come until November. NSMB2 was just as much a "more of the same" game as NSMBU was. It launched merely 9 months after Mario 3D Land, and didn't innovate much over the previous NSMB games. Most people will agree that although it is a fun game, it failed to best EAD Tokyo's effort on the 3DS. NSMB2 and NSMBU were safe efforts released strategically to fill scheduling gaps (in the case of 3DS) or launch drought (in the case of Wii U). The Wii U's real Mario game is coming this fall, and yes, it's a sequel to the 3DS game, but consider the obvious advantage to creating such a game for Wii U hardware. It's the same situation as with NSMB Wii versus NSMB, now on a console we can have simultaneous 4-player platforming, a true innovation for the 3D series, just as NSMB Wii was an innovation for the 2D series.

Still, I believe you're onto something, and Nintendo is playing it safe with its big franchises. Zelda LTTP2 will have a familiar feel. Yoshi's Island 3DS will have a similar feel. DKCR TF will have a similar feel. Now I don't personally mind this, but you have to come to terms with the fact that we won't see as many innovative games on the 3DS or Wii U as we did last generation. Wii U games definitely need to use the gamepad functions more. 3DS games need to take advantage of its unique hardware capabilities. And by vitrue of design the 3DS and Wii U are not too dissimilar in their functions. We may very well be headed towards a convergence of the handheld and console business of Nintendo. But we are not there yet, and there will be plenty of reasons to own both devices, and it is in Nintendo's best financial interest to make sure we all want to own and enjoy both.
Posted: 06/21/13, 18:59:38  - Edited by 
 on: 06/21/13, 19:01:32
The Wii U is currently in trouble yes, but after mulling it over, the future is not looking so troubling anymore.

I think people are really underestimating the strength of Nintendo's lineup. I recently showed the trailer of Super Mario 3D World to my sister, and she was amazed at every single facet of it. And I feel that she is closer to Nintendo's general audience than anyone here, or anyone on the Internet really. Multiplayer co-op in a 3D Mario is going to be huge, Peach playable for the first time in a mainline game in 25 years is going to be turn heads, and characters having different abilities addresses a common complaint from New Super Mario Brothers. Super Mario 3D World is the big holiday title, and it's going to hold things down rather well.

I also think that it was a really smart idea to leave Mario Kart VIII for 2014. Nintendo don't need three big holiday titles, and the spring release of MKVIII is actually perfect. This time period will be when the PS4 and XBONE are facing similar software droughts as the Wii U is right now, and then boom, Nintendo have a huge hit title against them with Mario Kart VIII. And MKVIII will be a hit, because after five years, people are ready for more, and the multiplayer is what will sell it on most people. The main problem with Mario Kart VII is that the local multiplayer is too impractical for most people, so those who enjoyed Mario Kart Wii for the multi will be moving towards MKVIII instead.

@Zero Did Kinect really do anything? Sure, the device has sold over 20 million units, but... bundle-game notwithstanding, none of the Kinect-only games have sold over one million copies. Not a one. So I don't know if Kinect is really stealing anything away from Nintendo.
Posted: 06/21/13, 21:09:47  - Edited by 
 on: 06/21/13, 21:10:22
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