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.
But I don't think it is something they can't manage. Although we should probably all admit 3rd party support is going to suck the whole generation. I'm not saying accept, just admit.
As for becoming out of touch with what Nintendo fans want, I dunno... they're kind of nailing it on 3DS, and I think they're doing pretty well on Wii U too. Of course there are always Nintendo fans who want ONI LINK ACTION GAME or something, but outside of that kind of thing, Nintendo seems to be supporting their staple franchises well, and they have supported some games like X, Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101 that step outside the Mario / etc. thing.
I'm in the same boat. A slow launch is par for the course for Nintendo (mostly everyone, really), but I still see nothing on the horizon that sells the idea of the Wii U Gamepad. Also, Nintendo has shown me nothing to get me super-excited like Galaxy did way back when.
Mario Kart looks fantastic, but it's sorta same old, same old... Donkey Kong also... LOOKS fantastic. But they reuse far too much. Heck, the checkpoint pigs are back. I am not a big fan of reusing assets. Lazy, lazy, lazy.
Smash Bros is my favourite gaming series and I am super-stoked to have news and video from the next installment, but it's also not going to wow me anymore. I still get hot sweats thinking about blasting Kirby in the blob with Mega Man, but I still sort of know what to expect.
This is what Nintendo has become... A safe company who is sticking with what they feel will sell best. Mario Galaxy was AMAZING, but it didn't sell as well as any NSMB.
I will be buying what they're serving to us, so I suppose I'm part of the problem... But yeah, I am a little more than worried about the Wii U.
Side note: I am starting to hate flagpoles and tiny mid-level flags.
@Zero You make a good point regarding the 3DS. There are a lot of excellent things coming out there. I love my 3DS.
Microsoft screwing up, and they still are in many ways, never had all that much bearing on Nintendo's success. All of this DRM furore revolved around the choice between PS4 and Xbox One, with just a small side order of "ooh, the Wii U is looking alright".
Nintendo's problem to fix is having enough games people want to buy, and month by month they are about to make a lot of progress and lot of dents in our wallets. It might not be on many people's radar but the variety of GamePad games in Wii Party is very TV friendly. There's a lot Nintendo can do to improve their marketting in conjuction with the strong library in the second half of this year.
I do wish Mario Kart was here for the holidays. That'd sell more systems than 3D World. Smash would too. But the way I see it things are actually looking much brighter from here on for Nintendo's fans. Don't worry about their bottom line. They made Scrooge Mc Duck levels of cash last gen, and the 3DS is starting to print money, not just in Japan. Slow and steady can still get the job done.
You know I honestly never really expected the GamePad to deliver that fresh of an experience. Much like the DS's second screen wasn't that revolutionary and didn't deliver a ton of new experiences, I doubt the Wii U will wow us much in terms of creative uses. They just need to stick to deliver their software and hopefully a few new franchises in there.
As for it being in trouble? Tough to say really, long term anyway. They haven't captivated the casual crowd like they did with the Wii and I doubt they'll ever reach that kind of success. It's what really drove the Wii to be that successful and without that backing it up and "hardcore" gamers not wanting to touch anything Nintendo with a 9 foot pole, I think sales might be a lot lower. I guess this holiday season will tell more though. I hope they decide to give it a price drop going head to head with the other two consoles launching.
I completely agree, I was just saying in another thread how I think it's really unfortunate that Nintendo is seemingly relegating the WUG to this optional thing off to the side that really isn't essential to gameplay in any meaningful way. (sorta like how they backed down from 3-D on the 3DS once they realized that 3-D wasn't catching like they had hoped it would)
The Wii U has weaker graphics, weaker online, and weaker 3rd Party support than the other guys. Also, it's not substantially cheaper than the PS4. What Nintendo needs to do is go with the one unique feature they haev and really make it all about the WUG, make games that are so cool and innovative and fresh that you can't get them on any other system. It needs to be like 2005 was for the DS when these crazy games like Kirby Canvas Curse came out and showed why dual screens and touch were a true game changer. So far they have not done that. Everyone knows the reason that the Wii U is so expensive is because of the WUG, they need to justify that expense.
@VofEscaflowne I disagree about the DS, I think the 2nd screen added a lot. I mentioned Canvas Curse, but also Meteos, Henry Hatsworth, Ghost Trick, Hotel Dusk, Elite Beat, Trauma Center, Phantom Hourglass, tons of really unique cool experiences.
I believe they are in trouble, but I believe they've identified their best way out of it. Which is being incredibly "safe". Reggie's interview with Geoff during E3 was the most telling. Nintendo has a problem with lack of instal base and they need to push that up in order to make it more attractive to make games for. This comes at the cost of being "safe". Another Mario, another Mario Kart and another Smash will sell millions of copies. That's just what they do.
I think Nintendo's problem is that they take the typical freshman approach for far to long with their hardware. They are perfectionists to a fault, sometimes. On the PS4/XB1 people are going to have troubles for years pushing those consoles smoothly. Doesn't mean they won't push the console and have a bumpy game, they certainly will. Nintendo, however, is dealing with a similar problem on the gameplay front. Except people are far less forgiving on broken controls than choppy framerates. So Nintendo spends years developing ideas for their new gameplay, where as no-one else even spends 1 month, and then by the end you see their vision come together in a couple of titles.
I don't think the lack of WUG showing was a problem. I think it's merely Nintendo saying "Hey, this system can pump out some good looking titles and you can put "normal" experiences on it". The system can't even get PS3/360 ports despite having more power and the same amount of buttons. After awhile, Nintendo needs to realize that if they aren't willing to "me too" a generation again, they can't keep trying to get 3rd parties to port over.
@ploot Yeah but I mostly brought up the 3DS to show that Nintendo has a sense of not just completely relying on the staples... especially in digital downloads, where they have introduced various new franchises. They're bringing a bit of this to Wii U and I'm sure they will continue to.
As an aside, here's a look at Amazon.co.uk's most popular games right now:
1. The Last of Us (PS3) 2. Watch Dogs (PS4) 3. The Sims 3 Island Paradise (PC) 4. New Super Mario Bros 2 (3DS) 5. Luigi's Mansion 2 (3DS) 6. Pikmin 3 (Wii U)
3DS and Wii U doing alright. That's a good sign for a country where Nintendo has historically been less of a big deal. I grew up on ZX Spectrum, Atari ST and Amiga. I didn't even know what an NES was until some time after the SNES was released.
It's in trouble, but not irreversible trouble. First six months have been bad, but they might be able to increase interest with the help of the new games and appropriate marketing, so I'll remain cautiously optimistic. Reeeeal cautiously.
They are in trouble until the software starts coming, then they will do fine. They just need to keep a healthy release schedule.
It would help a lot to have a break out casual hit, and I don't think Wii U Party or Wii Fit U will do that (although, I'm really pleased to hear Wii Fit will be super polished, and likely content rich, due to its delay until December). Wii Sports U needs to come out sooner than later, and I am really surprised it didn't show up at E3.
2013 is pretty stacked, but 2014 needs some more titles besides Mario Kart 8, X and Smash Bros. I guess we will hear more about those titles early next year. For now, I'm excited about Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, among others such as Pikmin 3 and Wii Fit U.
I love the 3DS and I think Nintendo's doing a fantastic job with it; FE:A is already one of my top handheld games ever, and LM2 and AC have both been really solid additions to the library.
What concerns me is that Nintendo seems to be treating the Wii U as another 3DS. Like, there's no reason a game like SM3DW HAS to be on the Wii U, you know? From what we've seen, stuff like that and DKC:TF and even Mario Kart 8 could logically be 3DS games without much concession. In comparison, I'd find it very hard to argue that last gen's biggest Wii games (Galaxy 1 and 2, Metroid Prime 3, SSBB, Skyward Sword) could fit comfortably on the counterpart handheld. Heck, games like Revelations and Smash Bros. have even embraced this idea!
I don't feel that Nintendo is bringing it's A-game effort to its home console right now. I want them to bust out either a) super-polished, impressive experiences, or b) really creative GamePad-driven titles that can't be gotten elsewhere. Pikmin 3 and Smash would fall into A for me, and I'm looking forward to Wii Fit U for B, but most other Wii U games don't quite reach either category yet. For me anyway. As a big fan of Nintendo Land, I was hoping to see more fresh GamePad concepts applied to full adventures.
In short, what works (exceptionally well) for handhelds doesn't always impress as much on the latest home console.
Unless you're the Nintendo fan that ONLY buys Nintendo consoles, then the Wii U ain't so bad. But if you're the other 95% of the people out there in the world, and you own any combination of the following: 360/PS3/3DS; what software is there on Wii U that's really A.) Exclusive and B.) Actually Compelling?
Honestly asking. I can't think of too many games...if any at all.
And I think part of the console's problem is, the handheld is so robust and fully-featured right now, that it is kind of crowding it's space. In a way, the 3DS is stealing (and then eating) the Wii U's lunch. As mentioned in the OP, there were experiences you could ONLY find on consoles in past generations, because the handheld tech was admittedly, not nearly on par. But now? I mean, the Wii U is still clearly a much more powerful machine than 3DS, but the experiences you can find there (gameplay-wise) aren't all that different. And the portable versions cost less, too.
Having said that, I don't think that it's impossible to turn the ship around. The upcoming games for Wii U are safe, and if someone hasn't played the latest 3DS games (*cough*ROB*cough*) then the Wii U's holiday and early 2014 line-up isn't *too* shabby. Plus, before the holiday season officially hits, Wii U owners still have Pikmin 3 and Wonderful 101 coming soon, so...that's good. Right?
As @kriswright said they have basically squandered this whole year headstart. The first mistake was assuming that NSMBU could carry a launch on its own. This is a game that is comparable in gameplay to Super Mario World a game that launched with the Super Nintendo 20 years ago. This is the title they decided to push a next generation system with. I get that they wanted the sales but I think there's a chicken/egg scenario with this series and platforms. They sell well but do they sell the hardware or does the hardware sell the game once people already have it?
The next mistake was the timing. The Wii U as it is now should have been released back in 2011 or whenever the Wii software was basically done. Coming out in 2012 it should have been more powerful to really differentiate from the PS3/360. They might have even been better off to wait until this year to launch it. Having it come out a year before with nothing to support it and expecting it to draw in third party sales was a mistake. Now they have to turn this perception around which they probably won't before the other new consoles come out which will firmly place them as part of the dieing past generation instead of the advent of the next one.
I wouldn't necessarily say they are in severe trouble. As long as they put out decent games the system will chug along for its lifespan. It will probably never be a contender for best selling system overall at this point though. There is a bunch of stuff they could do which they probably will to improve their position. They should drop the price because as it stands now they have a $350 Wii U scheduled to go up against a $400 PS4. Also they need to get a killer app going. Smash Bros/Mario Kart may not be enough. They need something exciting to get core gamers interested. I have said this before but at this point in the Wii's lifecycle we had Zelda Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime was going to be out soon, Wii Sports was the bridge game that got a more casual market interested, Super Mario Galaxy was a known factor and people were excited about the next step for that franchise, and we knew Smash Bros/Mario Kart were coming up next year. So we have MK and Smash checked off but as for the rest the Wii U doesn't have one game comparable to any of those other 3 year 1 titles. That is the real problem.
Absolutely. It's putting up sub-Gamecube numbers at this point.
I think some of the future titles will help, but I don't think many of them are really system sellers.
Consumers are going to have to decide if some of these games look new or better enough to upgrade, and right now, I think everything just looks too similar. They're essentially HD versions of games we already have. They certainly don't seem to be justifying the Gamepad all that well.
I think they can do better than Gamecube, but I see them being a distant third in the next 5 years unless they make the argument that the Wii U is worth upgrading to.