Disappointing sales, lack of games, Electronic Arts’ disinterest and PR fiasco… Nintendo’s console is going through a difficult period, while Sony and Microsoft are preparing to unveil their next generation consoles at the E3 Expo 2013. What’s going with the Wii U?
Is the Wii U suffering the same fate of the Dreamcast? Abandoned by third-party publishers, the Sega console was the last of the Japanese manufacturer as we know it. And usually, history seems to repeat itself, this time for Nintendo, while Electronic Arts has bluntly pronounced its discouragement in the platform, announcing that they had no game in development for the Wii U “at the time.”
Is the Wii U suffering the same fate of the Dreamcast?
For now, it seems that the publisher has decided to skip the Nintendo console, meaning no new FIFA, Madden, Battlefield, Need for Speed, or even future Star Wars games, EA’s latest recovered license. A strong blow for Nintendo, a sword of Damocles hanging over the Japanese giant, with a risk of snowball effect as other publishers are disappointed with the sales of their first published wave of Wii U games.
If Nintendo has sold 3 million units worldwide since its launch in late 2012, the manufacturer has only managed to sell less than 400,000 copies in the first quarter of 2013. In the United States, sales are rather catastrophic: 55,000 in January, and in comparison to its predecessor, the Wii, that is eight times less the numbers during that same period. Recently in April, the Wii U still sell even less than the Wii, while Sony and Microsoft each flowed about three times more than their old console.
If the gestural control of Wii had seduced the casual gamers, the tablet that comes with the Wii U has a less immediate play value, appealing to the a very niche sector. Above all, Nintendo’s Wii U was an attempt to catch up on the competition within some level of technology, but with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One boasting their eight core CPUs like rooster, the Japanese giant has fell back to its former spot.
So what can bring hope for Nintendo, and its current generation console? It’s simply the games. If some developers abandoned its support, Nintendo will have to push more to reconcile itself with third party publishers, as well as unveiling hit franchise sequels from its own repertoire. We are all waiting for a new Mario title – I will disregard the Super Mario Bros U for my own good – a Legend of Zelda – and not an HD remake – or even the rumored Super Smash Bros. This will seduce its core target and avoid the Wii U to end in shame such like the Dreamcast and Gamecube.
The thing is that at the moment, with the new consoles’ reveal, the competition is even tighter, to an almost no point fighting. It’s becoming bigger than just a mere technology weakness, and the current trend of game releases on the Nintendo Wii U are usually stripped-down ports of existing Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or PC titles, such as it is the case with 505 Games’ Sniper Elite V2, lacking of multiplayer, online functions and more (at the exception of maybe Ubisoft titles). The competition is becoming brutal, and the so-called console wars concept is already destroyed, with both major upcoming consoles offering the same on a technology and features.
Nintendo doesn’t see itself as a consumer electronics firm such as Microsoft and Sony, but a toy company
What we all have to understand, is that Nintendo doesn’t see itself as a consumer electronics firm such as Microsoft and Sony, but a toy company. Their strategy is different, and they target another segment of the gaming pie, which is dry because of the competition’s custard filled and sprinkle coated appealing cuts. Even in Wii U’s home, Japan, the news are still disturbing, with an alarming weekly score, the lowest since the release of the machine in December, with not even making it to the top 7 sold consoles (the Nintendo 3DS is still leading, followed by the PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita). As one might expect, the release of Resident Evil Revelations had no impact on the sales of Nintendo’s consoles, and given the starving schedule, we will have to wait to June-July to see a title that could boost it to the charts, such as with the coming of Pikmin 3 or even the hype of the E3 Expo 2013.