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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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@anon_mastermind

Well, first of all, people picked up the Wii versions of NEW Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart because there was a significant amount of time that lapsed between the DS releases. I think enough time will have passed between Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8...but holy crap, NEW Super Mario Bros. U came out mere MONTHS after NEW Super Mario Bros. 2. That's not nearly enough time for the "hunger" for a 2D Mario game to refill. (on a side note, I've talked to people both IRL and in other forums, who have said they think that NSMB2 is actually a better Mario game than Super Mario Bros. 3 was on NES. And I...well, I do enjoy NSMB2, but does it really top the NES classic? I dunnnooooooo....but uh. Whatever. Thought I'd bring up that anecdotal evidence for...some reason.)

Second, the Wii versions had better graphics, and in the case of Mario Kart, much better online multiplayer. There were actual reasons to buy the new games then. I'm not convinced that the Wii U's entries have those reasons...or at least, good enough reasons. IMO, anyway.

And yeah, while it's true that I'm quite satisfied with 3DS, that's not the only reason I haven't yet bought a Wii U. It's because the Wii U doesn't have the games yet. Simple as that. That's why MANY people haven't bought into the system yet - they're waiting for the games to show up. And as we agreed on, those games need to really show what the Wii U is capable of. Or more precisely, what it is UNIQUELY capable of.

Another thing I think we can agree on is, Nintendo is certainly playing it safe with their games right now. And probably will for the remainder of the generation. They need to make some money, not only to continue to fund their war chest, but also to appease share holders. I have no doubt there will be plenty of fun Nintendo games to play on both 3DS and Wii U throughout the course of the generation...it's just kind of too bad we have to wait so long.
Posted: 06/21/13, 22:15:15
@Mop it up Maybe not ultimately, but I think it temporarily became the "family" thing and if people were buying 360s because of Kinect, they might be more likely to pick up say... Skylanders... on the 360. But I have no idea if this happened much.

@GameDadGrant I think the graphics gap between NSMBU and NSMB 2 is much larger than that between NSMBW and NSMB. HD for one, but it felt like the Wii U version also had the best art style yet.
Posted: 06/21/13, 23:35:46  - Edited by 
 on: 06/21/13, 23:37:19
GameDadGrant said:


Another thing I think we can agree on is, Nintendo is certainly playing it safe with their games right now. And probably will for the remainder of the generation.

I thing we can agree about the first part of your statement, but not sentence #2. The whole generation? Doubtful. That's a good long time, and to not have Nintendo try ONE crazy thing in 6 years would be almost unheard of. Sure it might not be Wii Music level crazy, but I have a feeling we'll get one "out there" attempt in the vein of Wario Ware or Chibi Robo or Wii Fit or something unique. I don't see Nintendo ONLY resting on its laurels. They are doing the laurel-resting right now because now is the time to do it, when they need to boost Wii U sales. Mario Kart and DKC will do that. Then breathing room opens up for MADNESS again.
Posted: 06/21/13, 23:49:21
@-JKR-

I'm with you here, I think this is what will happen. Nintendo is stuck in a position where they need to massively boost the fanbase of the Wii U and ChibiRobo isn't going to cut it. You bring out the safe, big guns to get the instal base then you do the weird shit and hope something sticks.
Posted: 06/21/13, 23:54:38
@Zero Why would it matter to Nintendo which system sells more Skylanders?
Posted: 06/22/13, 00:01:16
@Mop it up

Because Nintendo gets a licensing fee for copies sold on their system but not others. Also they want their console to be the one people play on as it makes those people more likely to spend more time and money on Nintendo products.
Posted: 06/22/13, 00:04:40
@Stephen Nintendo don't get money for the Skylanders figures though, and this is where the majority of the money comes from with the Skylanders franchise. The original Skylanders game barely sold over one million copies across all platforms combined. If they were to care about third-parties, there are a lot more profitable franchises that they'd go after.
Posted: 06/22/13, 00:12:11  - Edited by 
 on: 06/22/13, 00:12:32
@Mop it upRight but you don't see how having customers (young customers at that) spend time with your product creates a brand loyalty consciously or not? Like me for example, if a new multiplatform game comes out like say GTA V, or Batman Arkham Origins I am most likely to pick it up for 360 despite the fact I own a PS3. This is because I am familiar with the system and when I have the choice I play it on that platform.
Posted: 06/22/13, 00:27:39
@Stephen I agree that premise is true, I'm saying Skylanders is small potatoes and isn't a good example. The two franchises you listed are better examples, though one doesn't come to Nintendo systems. That's if Nintendo cared about third-parties, but they don't need to. Royalties are peanuts compared to what Nintendo makes with their own software.
Posted: 06/22/13, 00:36:59
@Mop it up Because it's one of the biggest "family / kids" franchises right now. I'm just saying that Nintendo dominates in that arena, but if other platforms got people to look at them as more family / kids oriented, that'd be a big hit against Nintendo.

Oh, you're thinking it's a minor title. Um... it's not. It's HUGE.

Activision announced that as of June 3, 2012, the game had been the top selling console and handheld video game worldwide for 2012.[7][8] As of March 31, 2012, Activision has sold over 30 million Skylanders toys, and sales are expected to exceed $500 million by the end of the year.

The thing to keep in mind is that it's not just game sales... it's games, toys, etc. They created this huge THING.
Posted: 06/22/13, 00:51:16  - Edited by 
 on: 06/22/13, 00:54:27
People bitching about the release schedule... I don't think you are grasping the size of Nintendo. They aren't a Microsoft size company. For Microsoft or Sony to single handedly support a console would be exceedingly difficult. Nintendo is trying to do it with less manpower and no 3rd party support.

Which is not to say they wont end up turning a tidy profit on the Wii U however they aren't exactly playing on the same field as Microsoft. It's also why 3rd party support does in fact matter. No company can satisfactorily carry a system by themselves.
Posted: 06/22/13, 05:50:06
Zero said:
I think the graphics gap between NSMBU and NSMB 2 is much larger than that between NSMBW and NSMB. HD for one, but it felt like the Wii U version also had the best art style yet.

Really? Ooookay.

@-JKR-

I'd like to be wrong! I like to see Nintendo Madness. I think that's what got us Elite Beat Agents last gen. Which was awesome.
Posted: 06/22/13, 06:01:51
@Zero You missed a key part of what I said. Note how I talked about the sales of the games, and what you quoted mentioned sales of the figures. Nintendo (or MS or Sony) do not receive royalties from the figures, because they are compatible with all versions of the games. Therefore, Nintendo don't get much from Skylanders since the only royalties they get are from the games which don't sell nearly as much as the figures, and so they don't really care about Skylanders.
Posted: 06/22/13, 06:05:14
@GameDadGrant

Yeah, I wouldn't worry. We only have a small sample size so far with Wii U, but I have a feeling Nintendo hasn't given up on the crazy just yet.

Time will tell, though. And I'm with you guys, I'd HATE to lose what makes Nintendo the most Nintendo. Bring on the crazy, I say. At the same time, I'm not going to worry about it just yet, because it's still early and we'll see what 2014 E3 brings after the big guns are all laid out.
Posted: 06/22/13, 17:39:59
Here's something interesting ole Pete Molyneux said, and I sort of agree with him. Millions of people (especially kids) are getting their first experience with gaming from Apple, not Nintendo, and that's kind of a shame. I've seen this happen with my own eyes, I have friends who have a 6 year old daughter and she plays games on her dad's iPhone and iPad all the time, I told them if she's going to play video games they should get a Wii and download some VC titles from the NES days, get her started right. But their answer was "oh no, she's not allowed to play video games, those things will rot your brain"... I tried to explain to them A: games on an iPhone are certainly games, and that B: Nintendo games are like what Dickens is to literature or Van Gogh is to painting, that they're full of wonderful art and music and whismy, but they just didn't get it. God knows what she's playing that was "free" on the app store and "isn't a game", it all looked like garbage to me.

Molyneux said:
"What Miyamoto says defines things in this industry. What I say just upsets people," he cautioned, before continuing. "When Nintendo is making truly world-changing hardware, I totally see his point. But I do wonder about the Wii U - it seemed to be a kind of reaction to SmartGlass. And it's very chunky, doesn't really feel like it's cutting edge. That's when we start saying, 'Why not spend some of your unbelievable talent on these devices?' Because there's a billion people out there," Molyneux said, pointing to his iPad.

"You know what Nintendo did - this is a fascinating thing - Nintendo created gamers by the software they made. They created millions of gamers with Donkey Kong and Mario - they were the birth of gamers. That exact same thing is happening on this platform today. Millions of new gamers are being created almost every month, and they're being created with titles not from Nintendo, not from Microsoft, not from Sony, not even necessarily from Activision or EA. They're being created by companies like Supercell and Rovio. They're the ones that are bringing and creating new gamers. And now there are millions of people interacting with franchises, which Nintendo won't even touch, which seems a shame to me because Nintendo are brilliant about bringing people into the industry, and I think their hardware is starting to get in the way of that," he said. "But I caveat all of this by saying that they are a factor more intelligent than I am, and they've probably got a plan, and you should never underestimate Nintendo. We'll probably be sitting here in a couple years saying, 'Oh that's what they were doing'."
Posted: 06/22/13, 23:47:24  - Edited by 
 on: 06/22/13, 23:50:55
@Mop it up But the games have sold a ton as well. All of them are multi-million sellers. I don't think that Nintendo is at any risk of losing these games (I'd wager that they sell most on Nintendo platforms by far) but I'm just saying that Nintendo isn't the only one who can make popular "family / kids" games, and if Sony or Microsoft could manage to build their own stuff that holds that kind of appeal, that could try to get some of that market from Nintendo.

Neither seem that interested though. LittleBigPlanet was probably Sony's closest attempt, and for Microsoft... Viva Pinata?

@deathly_hallows I got my first gaming experience on a computer. Actually, I'd wager most kids did and still do, since you start playing computer games in kindergarten at most schools.

So I wouldn't worry too much about "first" experiences. Nintendo wants to produce and sell a "premium" product compared to iPhone stuff, and it seems to be working pretty darn well with the 3DS.
Posted: 06/22/13, 23:57:38  - Edited by 
 on: 06/23/13, 00:02:40
@Zero Where are you getting your sales numbers from? I can't find any. If you're getting your sales figures from VGChartz, I wouldn't trust them one bit. None of the Skylanders games appear on Wikipedia's list of best-selling games, which list all the ones that have sold over a million copies, complete with actual sources. Sure, they're separated by system and don't combine the numbers, but if the series doesn't sell over one million on any one system, I wouldn't consider it anything major.
Posted: 06/23/13, 00:08:00
It is true, at the end of the day it is all about the games. If and when Nintendo release the obligatory AAA franchises, most of us and more people out there are probably going to pick one up if they are interested enough because of course you can only get those games on a Nintendo platform.

Of course a problem arises after you buy the game and nothing else is available to play (see Wii syndrome). The DS was able to sell many copies and entice so many players because of its vast library of third party games, imo, because when it was all said and done third parties kept pumping out more games than Nintendo past a certain point. I don't know if it was 2011 or so. The same happened on the Wii, but of course there were no third parties to pick up the slack, and it showed. After 2010, there was fuck all to play, save a sub-par Zelda game by today's standards (decent game, but when compared to the likes of Witcher and Skyrrim, it leaves a lot to be desired) and a solid Kirby game. Then a great Xenoblade with very limited quantities and a decent Last Story game after people's Wiis was already dwarfed below all the mountainous dunes of dust.

So in summary, third party is really important. Hopefully, we'll at least continue to get the call of duties of this world even if it is just to convince Joe Q Public that his move to the Wii U will not deprive him of what was arguably the biggest franchise of the last half decade or so.


I don't think I ever answered the question. Yes, the Wii U is in trouble, just like the 3DS was in trouble a year ago. Nevertheless, it is not something that cannot be undone. Make good games that people want to play (easier said than done, I know); your Mario Kart, Smash Bros. and of course the Mario platformer do jour* (which I am sad to see so many games being pumped out and the quality of games diminished, they are still polished-enough games, but there is a certain, shall I say, inspiration, that is lacking all throughout the design, something that is present in Luigi's mansion for example) but also bring in new franchises in addition to the classics. It is a simple formula Nintendo has gotten half-right. I say this because Nintendo is perfectly capable of producing more games, but often they slap an old franchise into it in the hopes of selling more units (Kirby Epic Yarn, Kid Icarus for 3DS). That is fine, but sometimes you just new a fresh face, you know?
Posted: 06/23/13, 00:19:00  - Edited by 
 on: 06/23/13, 00:30:30
@Zero
Sony does make a shitton of stuff for kids and family's, like Sports Champions, Start The Party, Sing Star, Carnival Island, Wonder Book, etc.

Just most of that stuff is Move so no one gives a crap about it.
Posted: 06/23/13, 00:30:08
@Mop it up Not sure how accurate this is but it claims...

Skylanders Spyro's Adventure =
#1 best selling "kid's game" of 2011

Skylanders Giants =
#1 best selling "kid's game" of 2012
More than $195 million in U.S. sales (at around $50 a pop that would be about 4 million units sold)
Topped domestic box office sales of each of the top holiday kids' feature films including Wreck-It Ralph and Rise of the Guardians in 2012

I dunno, this is a weird argument to me, everything I've seen says this is a huge franchise and it definitely appears to be by all evidence. Not just in toys, but actual game sales as well.

@deathly_hallows I meant stuff where there is a clear focus on it, not junk they just throw out there and hope for the best. LittleBigPlanet was a huge thing from Sony.
Posted: 06/23/13, 01:26:08  - Edited by 
 on: 06/23/13, 01:27:30
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