How Nintendo Totally Botched The Wii U Launch

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How Nintendo totally botched the Wii U launch, seems like a pretty harsh thing to say but I’m going to call this one down the middle as best as I can. Right now within the industry it appears that slamming Nintendo’s newest console is the new trend and whilst it may seem that I’m trying to join in too I’m actually not, I’m writing this article as a long time Nintendo fan who paid £299 for a Wii U on launch. I’m not going to bring in stupid sales figures into this, I’m writing this one straight from my mind.

Nintendo’s last two systems were a huge success to put it lightly, the Wii was one of the best selling systems of all time and the DS is probably on track to become the best selling system of all time. What are the sales figures? Who cares it’s not important, all that matters is that you know these systems were massively successful for Nintendo to the point where it’s next two systems would basically try to ride off it’s success.

Both the 3DS and Wii U feature names that sound awfully similar to what came before it, I’m pretty sure this was done on purpose on Nintendo’s part though I feel it has backfired. Nintendo has done an awful job of explaining to consumers that they’ve released two new systems and even worse failed to explain what makes them different. My mum in particular had no idea what a Wii U was and actually thought I just bought a black Wii because I preferred the colour black. She also has no idea that my white 3DS XL is actually a different system to my DS Lite, then again why would she?

mario kart

Sometime in 2010 the original Wii started to drop in sales, Nintendo didn’t really care because at that point they were already gearing up to reveal it’s successor in 2011. At E3 2011 Nintendo finally showed the Wii U and all they did was confuse the crap out of everyone, the name was confusing and no one really knew what to make of the game pad. At least with the Wii remote you could understand just by looking at it and how it could be used in games, the game pad by comparison was just a big controller with a screen on it.

After leaving everyone puzzled and going silent for the next year Nintendo should of been set to blow everyone away at E3 2012 but once again they dropped the ball by delivering their worst E3 since Pacman VS in 2003. The big fail the lack of compelling software for a system launching later in the year, you had the game pad and but nothing to sell consumers on it. They wasted everyone’s time showing us a year late Batman Arkham City port with gimmicky features and sure Pikmin 3 was great but was the game pad really nothing more than just a map screen?

Nintendoland was the big flop of the show, after talking about how the U in Wii U was supposed to represent us core gamers their big game of the show was yet another mini game collection. Nintendoland fails for two reasons, first it fails with core gamers because we’ll try it out but it’s hardly the reason we would pick up a Wii U. It also fails with the casual market because no matter how bad Nintendo wants it, Nintendoland ISN’T the next Wii Sports. Upon booting up the game you’re thrown into a 3D plaza where you move and look around using two analogue sticks in addition to using the game pad’s tilt features, that’s basically three analogue sticks to keep track of in a sense. Games like Metroid Blast are also not the easiest games to pick up and play for the more casual player, even I took a while to adjust to it.

metroid blast

It’s no secret that we as gamers watch E3 in hopes of seeing an amazing reveal and I’m not pissed because Nintendo had two crappy E3′s, I’m pissed because I feel they are not even catering to the casual market this time. If someone were to go up to me and ask who the Wii U is aimed at I actually wouldn’t know what to tell them. I guess it’s aimed at Nintendo fans but then again they’ll buy anything Nintendo related so that’s not really an answer to the question. It’s just simply not very clear what Nintendo is trying to do with the Wii U.

Going into the actual launch of the Wii U we knew next to nothing about it, we eventually got a release date and price but Nintendo just kept quiet throughout. The Wii U has to be the most secretive launch I’ve seen in recent times, I honestly assumed they were going to delay the system but no it actually came out. Nintendo didn’t bother explaining anything, I had no idea what the dashboard would look like and also had no idea what the online features would be like. All Nintendo has done is basically release a system with next to no information about it, anything you know about the Wii U is from forums on the internet or actually putting down £299 and finding out yourself.

Even now that I’ve had the Wii U in my room for over a week I’m still confused, what the hell is that card reader thing on the left side of my Wii U game pad? How does online chat work? What do I need? Is there an official headset? What is Nintendo TVii and why does it not work at the moment? When is it coming? Why does New Super Mario Bros U not work with a Pro controller?

pro controller

Designed for core gamers my ass, the biggest launch title does not even acknowledge this.

I’m starting to think Nintendo rushed this one out the door much like how they did with the 3DS, why else would there be a massive update on DAY ONE. The company who is all anti updates now has the worst updates of the lot, Nintendo Wii U updates are actually worse than PS3 and no I’m not joking. The day one update is rather pathetic too, it basically adds all the Wii U’s features so unless you update you’re stuck with a system that plays Wii U games and that’s it. Some games require their own updates too, Nintendoland had a 200Mb+ update on day one and it took forever to both download and install.

The suck continues through to their launch line up which to some could be considered very good but not to me. Having ports of games you can play on other systems does not make the Wii U look like a next generation system, it makes it look like a “me too” system that’s extremely late to the party. Why in the world would fans of Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty pay £299 to play the same game they can already get on a system they already own. You don’t sell systems by simply offering up what the others have already had for years.

New Super Mario Bros U is a good game, in fact it’s the best New Super Mario Bros game yet and totally smokes the 3DS version released earlier this year. The problem is that Nintendo are finally going HD and it’s killer app so to speak looks like a GameBoy Advance game, again it’s a good game but it lacks the wow factor. It also lacks any sort of innovative use of the game pad and instead basically encourages users to play with their Wii remotes, seriously the game does not even care if you even own a game pad.

nsmbu

I’m one of the worst people in the world when it comes to photoshop skills and even I can take this Wii U promotional image and turn it into a Wii promotional image. Just look at how easy it is.

wii

The Wii U has launched and yet I feel empty, I understand the no system isn’t without it’s launch problems but does anyone else feel Nintendo does not even care. Did they seriously think they could just walk into the next generation by using the Wii name alone, Nintendo you need to get your head out of your ass and look at what happened to Sony when it launched the PS3. Sony infamously came into this generation all cocky and look where that got them, third place and it’s first two years on the market were a joke.

Despite what I’ve said thus far it does not mean Nintendo is doomed or anything, in fact there’s a lot to like about the Wii U.

  • The system is nice and quiet.
  • Discs can hold a lot of data much like Blu-Ray on PS3.
  • The game pad is very comfortable despite what you think.
  • The Pro controller is one of the best controllers ever made.
  • Friend codes are gone.
  • It’s powerful enough to produce nice looking titles for years to come.
  • 5.1 uncompressed sound is possible.
  • Game pad shows great potential, see Rayman Legends.
  • Miiverse is awesome.
  • Will feature Nintendo games, nuff said

My problem with the Wii U is Nintendo simply not caring, it’s almost as if you have to go beg them for information. They’ve just launched a new system, they should be going crazy trying to get the word out and generating as much hype as possible. We’ve all seen how everyone gets excited whenever Apple release slightly tweaked device a mere six months after the last one and yet here we have Nintendo who just launched their new system six years after the Wii to a rather muted response. I don’t like this thinking of launching the system and then working out the details after, the second you launch a system you are telling consumers that you are ready to rock.

One thing that I want to point out is that anything I’ve mentioned isn’t exclusive to Nintendo, there’s nothing to suggest that the PS4 or Xbox 720 are going to get any of this right. If rumours are correct then Kinect 2 will be a big part of the Xbox 720 and that right there is a bigger botch then anything I’ve mentioned for Nintendo in this article. Unlike some I’m not really certain that Microsoft or Sony are going to blow Nintendo out of the water upon their arrival, assuming the Wii U is a generation behind visually again it won’t matter as much this time round. We’re already at the point where you can create good looking games, Rayman Legends isn’t going to look outdated next to a PS4 or Xbox 720 title.

rayman legends

Nintendo have been first to the market this time round, so much so that I have a Wii U in my room and a PS4 or Xbox 720 haven’t even been officially revealed. Nintendo marches to the beat of it’s own drum these days and that’s cool but it does feel like they are throwing away their advantage of launching first by doing next to nothing. More than ever Nintendo really need to drop some bombs at E3 2013, games like Bayonetta 2 are a FANTASTIC example of Nintendo sending a powerful message to consumers, particularly the core audience to take them seriously.

Go into E3 2013 give us what we want, give us what we didn’t know we wanted and in general make an effort for once. Right now it feels like Sony and Microsoft are dogs & Nintendo are cats. Dogs are extremely playful companions, cats don’t give a damn and just want to be left alone most of the time, they want your food (money) but are not going to do much to earn it other than sit around without a care in the world.

So what is Nintendo’s botch with the Wii U? Easy, they failed to generate buzz and excitement surrounding the system. I wouldn’t suggest they are lazy but at the same time I wouldn’t call their efforts thus far very aggressive. Like I’ve said before, I LOVE Nintendo and if I had to pick one company to stick around I’d drop Microsoft and Sony in favour of Nintendo. I think Nintendo play an important role within our industry and it’s downright incredible how they’ve managed to create great games on a consistent bases over the course of 30 years. As a Nintendo fan through until the end I wish to leave them with the following message.

Nintendo, please start giving a shit so we in turn can start to give a shit too because right now no one from either side seems to care and it’s getting a bit awkward.

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Author: Xav View all posts by
Loves gaming, doesn't care what system it's on. Can be found on both Twitter and his own personal Blog talking about anything and everything.