First off, in the vein of complete honesty, I do not believe that Nintendo is in as much trouble with the Wii U console as other video game media outlets would have you believe. When it comes to total console sales (according to VG Chartz) Nintendo’s Wii U still holds a 1.8 million unit lead over Microsoft’s Xbox One console (as of May 31, 2014). According to the same weekly report, the Wii U is also outselling the Xbox One in all major global markets. In the US alone the Wii U outsold the Xbox One by nearly a 3-to-1 margin. And in terms of software (games) sold on each system, while it does trail the Xbox One in terms of software units sold, the margin is less than 50,000 total units. But that is where things become a little deceiving. Last week saw the release of Mario Kart 8, which was a highly anticipated Wii U app and boosted the total sales of units by a whopping 700%! One game made that much of a difference; and this is where I begin to explain the title of my article here.
Although the Wii U has been out a full year longer than both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in terms of total software units sold it has a slim lead in terms of total sales over the PlayStation 4 while holding a larger lead over the Xbox One – but both systems are quickly catching up to the Wii U. If trends continue the way they are the PlayStation 4 will surpass the Wii U’s total software sales as early as the end of this summer. The Xbox One could also overtake the Wii U’s numbers by the end of 2014 or the end of Q1 2015. In either case, that is not a good outcome for Nintendo; to be released a full year earlier and then have their sales numbers overtaken in less than two years by both of its major competitors. That’s just not bad marketing, that’s dwindling brand loyalty and bad business decisions combining to affect their brand’s efficiency as a console developer. In short, gamers are barely attracted to the software offerings that Nintendo has released for the Wii U.
This is where E3 2014 can play a huge part in making the Wii U marketable again. Nintendo needs to come into E3 swinging haymakers; they need to make a big showing and present quality and likeable games that will attract hardcore gamers back to their system. The Wii U won’t land any knockout punches this show on the PlayStation 4’s and Xbox One’s fanbases, but they could sway a few eyes away and pick up their profile if they can demonstrate to the attendees of the show that they are serious about fully backing their machine. The best way to do this would be to court and obtain major third-party development deals; but seriously, that isn’t happening this year. (And if it does it is news that is completely coming out of left field.) So with that option off the table, Nintendo needs to bring out their big guns and show gamers what they want to see on their machine.
We know that Super Smash Bros. will be at the show, and strong rumors lead me to believe that the Wii U version of a Legend of Zelda game may make a showing as well (and I mentioned as much in my Pop Cults article of Anticipated E3 Games), but I think that Nintendo needs to show or at least tease other recognizable Nintendo properties that will attract gamers. Hyrule Warriors is one such game that can help the Wii U garner attention, though people tired of Tecmo Koei’s Warriors franchise may turn away from this as just another clone. Though I do believe that Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem may attract some eyes to the system as Shin Megami/Persona fans may be curious enough to give it a second look. Likewise, for parents of younger gamers, the new Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes edition of the game should also bring some more sales numbers to the system. But those games are not enough to show gamers that Nintendo is willing to go all out to win back their loyalty. Even adding in Sega’s Wii U offerings of Sonic Boom and Bayonetta 2 isn’t enough to show that Nintendo is ready to be a major player again.
No, Nintendo needs to bring out some news on their major properties and really try to win back some support from companies like EA, Activision and even Ubisoft. (Yes, Ubisoft still provides the Wii U a decent supply of Just Dance and Rabbids titles as well as some Assassin’s Creed ports, but recent games like Watch Dogs and the upcoming Tom Clancy games are absent from the Wii U lineup.) What we want to see as gamers, what I want to see from Nintendo to demonstrate they are seriously about providing me with quality games I care about, is to pander to my old school Nintendo fan. Show me a new Metroid game (hopefully one that will make me forget about that awful Metroid: Other M game). Show me a new and unique Super Mario game that changes the norm for the series the way Super Mario Galaxy games did. Show me a new Donkey Kong Country game is in development to follow up on the exceptional Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Hell, wow me and show me a Wii U version of Star Fox is in development that features vehicle battles with the Arwing and Landmaster and forget that whole exploring action gameplay the series experimented with in past games. Surprise me with either a Kid Icarus or Mother game for the system.
That’s what I want to see. As a Nintendo fan who wants to see them succeed, show me you are willing to go after my heart by announcing games that call to the nostalgic and hardcore gamer in me. And I am willing to bet that all those old school Nintendo fans who felt that they have been forgotten by the company since the GameCube days feel the same way too. That they want to still believe in Nintendo to produce great games based on properties we have loved since the early days of gaming but felt like we got left behind thanks to Nintendo trying to appease the casual and family markets. Nintendo is missing out on a huge demographic of video game consumers by not producing quality titles for the Wii U. This E3 should be a great opportunity for them to show that they can compete with Sony and Microsoft and the new generation machines out there. Quite frankly, if they don’t, and having lost major credibility with a large gaming populace out there, if Nintendo doesn’t take advantage of this year’s E3, I don’t see the Wii U console being much more viable over the next couple of years.
But that’s just my opinion…