I love Nintendo’s Wii U; Nintendo’s first-party games are undeniably gems, almost always polished to perfection. Just this weekend, I reacquainted myself with Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros, two of my very favourite games from the last year. Still, it’s easy to be underwhelmed by the quantity of great games hitting Nintendo’s machine. It’s not helped by the fact that the Wii U still isn’t selling well, even though it’s played most of its cards. It’s selling even fewer units than the ill-fated (but also awesome) Gamecube did at this point in its lifecycle. Is Nintendo in denial? Is it time for Nintendo to face facts?
Perhaps. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata believes there’s still room for the console to grow.
“I believe the Wii U business still has considerable room for growth, as a number of software titles that are compatible with the console are slated for release in 2015,” Iwata told Nikkei when asked about flat Wii sales.
Nintendo’s own 3DS rules the roost in Japan, where Iwata believes gamers favour handhelds. That’s not the case in the West though, which is where Iwata believes the Wii U’s fortunes could be changed.
“The way Japanese gamers enjoy video games is different from their counterparts in the West. More and more Japanese gamers play on smartphones and 3DS hand-held devices. On the other hand, a majority of gamers in Europe and the US still connect their consoles to TVs and play them on a bigger screen. In the global video game market, game titles for consoles are still dominant, and that market is much larger,” he said.
While Iwata’s bullish on the Wii U, perpetual Nintendo-hater Michael Pachter says Nintendo needs to pack it in. Speaking to Game Informer, Pachter says Nintendo needs a new console that can compete with Microsoft and Sony’s ones if it wants to stay in the game.
“I think that they are still in denial about the Wii U failure,” he said. “You keep seeing this stat so we’re up 82 per cent – yeah, 40,000 units went to 70,000 units. Who cares? You’re still trailing the other guys by a mile.”
“They need a new console that’s competitive with Xbox One and PlayStation 4. If Xbox can sell at $349 Nintendo could make it and sell for $249. They won’t because they still live in that old console world where they think they need to make a profit on the hardware. That means if they make a competitive console it would be more expensive,” he said.
I’d like to believe it’s still too really to call, especially with an incredible looking new Zelda on the way. Beyond that and Splatoon though, there’s very little exciting on the horizon for the Wii U – and a blank release slate is hardly the sort of thing to get people to buy consoles.
Last Updated: February 16, 2015