With Wii U, Nintendo May Have Its Catalyst

Nintendo is in a bind.

For years, the gaming juggernaut has created a sense of exclusivity around its consoles and its most prized franchises. Want to play a Zelda game? Or feel like taking a certain mustachioed plumber and his brother for a spin? Or maybe you want to man a space fighter flown by a fox and his misfit band of toads, and frogs, and bird/falcon type things? The list is long on, but the truth the same – if you want to play Nintendo software you’re going to need Nintendo hardware.

And while many argue that this exclusivity is going to have to come to an end for Nintendo to remain the force it has always been, that may not necessarily be the case. I know, I know. Bear with me. Nintendo’s latest console – the Wii U – has by almost all measures been underperforming. The theories for this run the gamut from terrible marketing, to a poorly phrased name, to a lack of under-the-hood console power. While there are some truths to these arguments, they all lead to the same question – how can they turn this thing around?

In the past, third-party developers flocked to Nintendo’s latest consoles. Why? Well, mostly because system sales have almost always been high enough to justify the investment in developing games for those consoles. Well now, the script has flipped. Wii U sales are low and developers don’t see the value proposition in developing games for the console. The third-party developers have all but abandoned the console, and there is no guarantee that they will ever come back. And that’s okay.

It’s time for Nintendo to double down, hedge their bets on themselves (which they’ve done since like, forever), and plant their flag firmly in the ground. It’s time for them to stop tip-toeing around the “where are the third-party games?” question and face it head on. It’s time for Nintendo to welcome its exclusivity, harness it, and use it to dig themselves out of this ditch they’re in.

First, a marketing push needs to happen. Your audience must know what differentiates the latest console from the last one. The Wii U is the only place where you can find Link, or Mario, or Samus, or Kirby in glorious HD. This is your bread and butter. With all of the games and characters out there, Nintendo’s are still the most recognizable, by a long shot. Push that in people’s faces, don’t let them draw the conclusions themselves. There are generations of kids who grew up playing your games who now have considerable buying power – appeal to it!

Next, abandon the Wii. It’s time to move on. This ties into effective marketing in a bit, but make sure that people know to which console you are committed. Oh, you still want to buy and play Wii games? Great! You can do that on our latest and greatest console – the Wii U. Plus, you can play all the latest games in your favorite series’ all in the same console! Also, cut Wii inventory. There’s no reason why the Wii is still the first thing consumers see when they walk into their local Target.

Next, make the GamePad optional and sell it separately. It’s time to give consumer options. Remember how the Wii U launched in Basic and Deluxe models? Well, go back to that and make the GamePad the differentiator between the two. Until you show people why the GamePad is absolutely necessary, don’t force it. Drop the price of the GamePad-less Basic bundle to $200 and the Deluxe bundle to $250. Sure, the bottom line will take a hit on the Deluxe bundle, but removing the controller from the Basic will make that up.

While some of these ideas may be easier said than done, something needs to be done. It’s true that the Wii U will likely never see the unprecedented success of its predecessor, and that’s okay. It’s just as likely that no other console will do those numbers either, so find comfort in that. What Nintendo can’t be comfortable with is doing nothing. Sometimes it seems as though Nintendo thinks of itself as “above” what’s going on in the industry. It’s time to kill that perception and get down in the mud. Fight out the rest of this generation by creating games only Nintendo can create, then remind people of that.

Because once people remember, Nintendo may realize that it’s their uniqueness that makes them great. Even with the Wii U as their catalyst.

Share this post:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someoneShare on StumbleUponDigg this

About The Author

Feature Writer

Max is an Editorial Writer with Always Nintendo. His passion for video games started with The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past and hasn't slowed down since. While cliché, his favorite game in the Zelda series is still The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When he isn't playing video games, Max likes to write, play and watch soccer, as well as spend time with his family and black boxer mix. You can catch him on Twitter @max_moll.