What the Hell Is Wrong With Nintendo?
J Thoendell stashed this in Video Games
But after Wii hardware sales exploded, everyone (except Ubisoft, which had fully backed Wii from launch) was sent scrambling to gin up a slate of Wii products aimed at its new casual audience.
With Wii U, there’s no such pressure, because third parties aren’t exactly leaving dollars on the table by not releasing Wii U software. Additionally, back when Wii launched, there was still a middle ground in the videogame market. Publishers could produce triple-A games, but also single-A or B games too. These days, it’s almost a competition as to who can make their lineups smaller. The middle has fallen out of the market — the big publishers are either doing the biggest of big games, or 99 cent mobile apps.
Independent game makers using digital distribution are stepping up to fill in those gaps, producing the games that are somewhere between huge and tiny. You’d think they’d be a natural fit for the lower-powered Wii U, and yet despite Nintendo’s push for more indie content, there isn’t much of that happening either. While the fact that publishers are still making games for PS3 and Xbox 360 will benefit Wii U, which got ports of Batman: Arkham Origins and Call of Duty: Ghosts (but precious little else), a console needs exclusives.
“Lower the price and make games people want to buy” is of course much easier to say than it is to actually do. At this point, and with more big exclusives on the way, the quality of the first-party Wii U software that exists is pretty high even if nobody’s buying them yet. So in the absence of some big game-changer, a Brain Age or a Nintendogs equivalent, Nintendo might decide that the most direct way to jolt the Wii U business out of its slumber would be a big price cut like it did with 3DS.
This, too, is easier said than done. In August, Nintendo said that at $350 it was taking a loss on each Wii U it sold, and then it lowered the price to $300. So it may be taking an even bigger loss now. Could Nintendo stomach lowering the price to a point where it might have a huge effect — say, $199.99? One of the problems with that is the fact that each Wii U includes the GamePad controller, with its built-in touch screen. How expensive is it? In Japan, where Nintendo says it plans to sell extra GamePads at retail, it’s priced at $135.
This inspired an epic Twitter speech from The Gaming Intelligence Agency’s Andrew Vestal about GamePad-as-albatross: “I wonder if it’s technically possible for Nintendo to patch out GamePad support and relaunch Wii U at $200 w/ classic controller only,” he wrote. This is an interesting question, as maybe there’s some technological reason that Nintendo simply can’t do it; that the Wii U requires the GamePad to function now and forever.
Wii U should be a big hit, but it's not.
Perhaps because casual gamers see no reason to upgrade their Wii now that they have tablets, too?