Why The Wii U Could Be Nintendo's Demise
Posted on Tuesday, March 27 @ 09:29:47 PST by Anthony Severino
There's a bit of news circulating today about Marvin Donald of Vigil Games, developers of Darksiders II, saying that the Wii U is "on par" with the current generation of consoles—the Xbox 360 and the PS3. But is "on par" really enough to justify a purchase of the Wii U? Is a nifty new controller going to work a second time? And more importantly, is the Wii U in any position to compete in the next generation?
No... Just. No.
Nintendo avoided direct competition with Sony and Microsoft for this generation of consoles, forfeiting graphical and processing power in favor of an innovative, if new, controller design. And it paid off in spades. But I'm going to explain why I believe it is not going to happen again.
A Casual Stroll
Ninty is again going with less powerful specs, instead opting for another new innovative controller design. But with the Nintendo Wii, it was a success mostly due to the Wii-mote's simple-to-understand motion controls which attracted the casual consumer who were traditionally intimidated by a game controller and its buttons. However, they had their fun, and they've already moved on to the next fad: Facebook games and iOS games.
The Wii U's massive tablet-like controller is too much "controller" and not enough "simple". But even so, it's not going to win that same casual crowd—they have no brand loyalty for tablets (except maybe to Apple). And granted, the tablet market is growing, so having a tablet controller brings some familiarity. But casual gamers are already playing their games on iPads and Android tablets—why would they need another?
Connected To The Core
Hardcore gamers are likely more interested in the Wii U than they were with the Wii. The promise of multiplatform games playing on the Wii U, with the addition of new ways to play facilitated by the Wii U's controller, is interesting and exciting. But knowing you can get those sames exact games on consoles you already own is going to keep those hardcore gamers from paying the initial console cost for the Wii U. If the Wii U was that much of a step up in graphics or processing power, maybe, but a new controller isn't going to be enough to entice.
Now, I would never count out Nintendo from doing something amazingly innovative that quickly becomes the next must-have, but there is yet another obstacle preventing the hardcore from flocking to the Wii U in droves, or at all.
The PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 offer robust online services with the PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE, respectively. Gamers have built up libraries, friends, and more, and have become accustomed to the way these services work. Nintendo, on the other hand, has to build this from scratch, with little to no room for error. The lead Microsoft and Sony have on Nintendo is substantial, and online is something Nintendo has never seemed to have gotten right. Knowing their friends are on Xbox LIVE or PSN, how many gamers are really going to go with the Wii U version of Call of Duty? Not many.
Nintendo have put themselves in a position where they are unable to compete with Microsoft and Sony from a specifications standpoint, from a service standpoint, and are forced to overly rely on the success of a controller that can easily be duplicated by the competition whenever it is they decide to release. And they'll do so with better graphics, more power, and a far more advanced service. The casuals have moved on to the next big thing, while the hardcore are too deeply invested in services the other brands have been busy perfecting for the last 6-10 years. Nintendo is too far behind in that sense and aren't coming out of the gate swinging hard enough to go toe-to-toe with the current generation of consoles, let alone the next generation.
With Nintendo's recent financial crisis, and if the Wii U is the failure I think it's going to be, this could be the last home console they ever make.
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