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The Wii U's not doing so hot. Actually, it's doing quite horribly at the moment. Like Sega Saturn bad. Nintendo has finally taken the plunge into the HD era, but many are of the opinion that the company is simply too late to the game. Next-gen consoles are launching later this year, and the Wii U will undoubtedly be the weakest of the bunch from a technical standpoint, basically ruling out any hope of quality, full-ranged third-party support for Wii U in the future. And the platform's currently weak lineup of software certainly isn't helping their predicament either.
Despite all this, I remain confident that Nintendo's tablet-centric console will make a triumphant comeback (3DS-style) in the future. Will it happen this holiday season? Possibly. But, if I were a betting man, I'd bank on 2014 being the year things turn around for the Wii U. Why? I'm so glad you asked…
At $300 and $350, the Wii U's price tag may not seem particularly compelling… right now. When Sony announced the PS4 and shared the console's system specs, it became readily clear that the company's next-gen gaming box won't be cheap. In fact, it will probably be quite expensive. Like $500 expensive. (And then some.) While that may be a tough reality to swallow, believe me, it's happening whether you like it or not. Heck, rumor has it the next Xbox will be priced in the same ballpark along with a $300 subsidized model. To put it bluntly, the next generation of gaming is going to take a massive bite out of your wallet.
Suddenly the Wii U looks a whole lot more appealing to the general consumer, doesn't it? Couple that with a likely price drop on the order of $50 or $100, and you've got a sub-$300 box that is a far easier sell to your parents, your wife, etc.
2. First-Party Software
Take the more appealing price tag with some quality Nintendo-developed hardware, and you've got a recipe for success. Never underestimate the selling power of Nintendo's first-party franchises. The Big N has already confirmed that we'll be seeing a brand-new 3D Mario title, Mario Kart game, and more on Super Smash Bros. 4 at E3, all of which are insanely popular series among casual and hardcore gamers alike. Sure, the idea of more Mario right now may have you rolling your eyes, but let me assure you, the 3D Mario team is incapable of failure. As soon as the Big N shows off the spiritual successor to Super Mario Galaxy 2, that sentiment will immediately change. I promise you.
Then there's Wind Waker HD, a brand-new Zelda title (which sadly is quite a ways off), and whatever Retro Studios is working on. Nintendo has an unparalleled stable of franchises that have carried them in the past, and I'm confident that these prized IPs will be enough for the Big N once again. Just look at the 3DS. The handheld was struggling at launch, but has since skyrocketed in popularity thanks to titles like Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Fire Emblem: Awakening. Sure, the 3D functionality hasn't been the handheld's key selling feature, but that hasn't mattered. The same will likely happen with the Wii U's GamePad, and that won't matter either.
3. Elegant Simplicity
As the industry ages, gaming has become increasingly more complex. The PlayStation 4 is going to have cloud-based streaming, media sharing, Facebook integration… and the list goes on. Likewise, there's talk that the next Xbox will pair with your cable box to deliver TV content and require a constant internet connection. Honestly, I (and many other gamers) couldn't care less about all of this garbage. We just want the games. In an effort to invade the entertainment space at large, both Sony and Microsoft are moving into untested and complicated waters that not only pull them away from the core gaming experience, but also could end up blowing up in their faces.
Nintendo, while taking small steps in the social space with Miiverse and their online network, have managed to retain a level of intuitive simplicity that harkens back to the early days of gaming. Are they "behind the times" in many gamers' eyes? Absolutely. But you'd be surprised at how many people would take streamlined and simple over feature-packed overwhelming hardware. The Wii was a massive success because it didn't compete with the PS3 and Xbox 360, and it would behoove Nintendo to do with same again with the Wii U.
At this point, the console doesn't have the same mass appeal as the Wii—and almost certainly never will—but a compelling price, soon-to-be killer software, and broad appeal will aid in turning the tides when Sony and Microsoft's consoles launch sometime down the line.