Not long after the launch of the original Wii, I posted an article entitled “Top 5 Wii Downfalls” which highlighted issues that I felt held the console back. Clunky UI, lack of games and “too much motion” topped the list. Despite what I thought, the Wii went on to sell approximately three bajillion units, and by that metric, it was considered a knockout success. Later, we had the Wii successor’s announcement.
As a bit of a disgruntled Wii owner, Brett felt inspired and posted his thoughts on things, and at the forefront, he highlighted the biggest issue: the lack of games. Bear in mind, this was nearly five years after my original article, and here he was complaining about the exact same problem.
Fast-forward to today, and we’re now seeing our concerns played-out with the Wii U. Sales have been lackluster at best (save for the launch), and for the first time in recent console history, some of the biggest developer names are pulling out. EA currently has no games in active development for the Wii U, and despite Ubisoft’s ZombiU being one of the most popular launch titles, its performance has been so underwhelming that the company’s has ceased the idea of a sequel. Further, rather than keep Rayman Legends a Wii U exclusive, the company has gone ahead and converted it into a cross-platform title.
While it’d be easy to blame these developers for the lack of their own game sales, they blame the fact that the Wii U isn’t compelling enough. The biggest detriment, most of the developers feel, is the lack of focus on multiplayer and social. Nintendo has become a little infamous in this regard, because it considers its console to be all about the gaming, plain and simple, not about all of these online luxuries (like voice chat, for example). In a way, I love that way of thinking. I know I’m now in the minority, but when I kick back in front of a console, it’s gaming I have in mind. I have other devices to deliver all of the other media I need, should I want it.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
The unfortunate thing for Nintendo is that it’s hoping that its upcoming first-party games are what helps boost sales. That’s a tricky situation, though. What’s more unfortunate is that these games weren’t available right at launch. Had they been, the current landscape might look a lot different.
What Nintendo should really consider doing is reviving some old series that have been left dormant for a while, because there are still many, many fans who are killing for some sequels. Imagine the reaction an Earthbound Wii U game would garner. Heck, the lead character has been featured in a large number of other Nintendo games as a regular character, yet the company continues to ignore the potential with releasing another dedicated game. How about another proper Star Fox game (which last saw a proper release in 2004)? At least a new Donkey Kong country is en route, but it’s hard to gauge its overall appeal since like so many Nintendo “reboots”, it’s a side-scroller.
One thing’s clear: the holiday season is looming. I am not sure what Nintendo’s short-term plans are for some rejuvenation in sales, but I hope to see something succeed. I might actually consider a Wii U if the games become compelling enough.