Why Nintendo Is Down But Not Out…

Posted: January 20, 2014 in Computer & Video Games


The Nintendo Wii U. You may have forgotten about it over the majority of 2013. You maybe didn’t even realise some Wii U exclusive well – received games like Pikmin 3 and Super Mario 3D World was released that year. …and you would be forgiven since in the gaming world in that period of time, all the headlines was dominated by the Wii U’s rivals – Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.

This has shown in the total sales of each console so far in this generation. The latest figures show that by the 4th January 2014 it had reached 5.3 million. By contrast, by that same date the PS4 has already sold 4.4 million units – and that’s bearing in mind the console has been available for only 7 weeks and isn’t available in its home country Japan yet. In other words – even though the Wii U had a year head start on the competition, the PS4 has nearly caught up with it already in terms of total global sales. To make things worse the Xbox One isn’t too far behind. Despite the controversies when Microsoft’s new console was unveiled in May 2013, by 4th January 2014 it still managed to sell 3.3 million units worldwide – also like the PS4 it launched around late November and it’s not released in Japan yet. As a result Nintendo are even expecting to make a loss of £205 million ($335m). They are definitely in trouble but there are a few reasons why it could still be in the game…

1. It Has Great Value

If it’s one thing Nintendo can boast about right now is the price of its machine. While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One might cost around £350 and £430 respectively by themselves in the UK, the Wii U can be found in stores on the high street for as little as £140 (GAME). In other words – with the same amount of money needed to purchase an Xbox One, you could buy THREE Wii U’s. Of course you wouldn’t buy 3 of the same console for yourself but a saving of over £200 could go towards a good number of games and accessories such as Wii Motion Plus Remotes.

Not only is the price of the console a lot cheaper but the games are too. For exclusive titles they will be at a premium, but third-party games can be half the price brand new on the Wii U. For example, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is £44 and £48 on the PS4 and Xbox One respectively. On the Wii U however it’s £22.50. Also, the Nintendo Network for online gameplay might not have as many players compared to Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network but at least it’s free for charge. Sony and Microsoft both demand a fee of around £40/year to use their online services.

Lastly, for the “2nd screen gameplay” there is no extra money to be spent since the gamepad is included with every console. The Xbox One has a SmartGlass app which relies on consumers to have an existing tablet and if you don’t – that’s more cash to spend. Sony on the other hand requires you to purchase a PSVita which would be even more.

Doing the math with these examples and buying a Wii U with a game, online subscription and a device that allows you to have a 2nd screen element could cost as much as £350 more. Of course you could save some of that back by looking at special deals but that is a huge saving. Nintendo can use this to advantage and generate a lot of sales but whether it can or not we will wait and see…

2. It Has A Unique Gameplay And A Wider Target Audience

The Wii U’s predecessor the Wii has always been considered the console more for the family or for young children. The Xbox and PlayStation however are considered more for the more hardcore gamers – usually teenagers and young adults. One of the reasons why is how you played the games available. Back in 2006 the Wii didn’t have the power to compete with the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 but it made up for that for its ground-breaking motion controllers and fun and unique gameplay. That resulted in Nintendo being unable to keep up with demand for around 2 years and eventually outsold them both.

The same could be said about the Wii U as a lot of its games like on the original Wii tend to have a focus on fun multiplayer as well as a single player campaign. Popular titles such as Super Mario 3D World and Wii Party U have a 4 player option where you and 3 of your friends can all join in at the same time. Very few games on the Xbox and PlayStation provide the same sense of community as most of its games require you to go online in order to play multiplayer. You even have to question is it worth buying an extra controller – especially as it’s around £40-£60 each for official models. The difference however between the Wii and the Wii U is that the Wii U also has a good selection of games for the more hardcore gamers. Popular titles such as Assassin’s Creed, Call Of Duty and Need For Speed are available on the Wii U.

With this in mind, large families or households with frequent guests might be more tempted by the Wii U rather than the Xbox One and PS4. It seems to have everyone covered since children would like the fact that the games are colourful, bright and sometimes humorous, parents would like the fact that a good percentage of the games are not violent and with a 18 certification and hardcore gamers would like the fact that the games are sometimes difficult and requires patience and skills to complete. Again, Nintendo could use this to advantage to generate a lot of sales but whether it can or not we will wait and see…

3. It Could Use The 3DS’ Success To Assist The Wii U

The Wii U might have lost ground compared to its home console rivals but in the portable gaming market, it is the opposite. Despite not only direct competition from the Sony PlayStation Vita but also games on iPads and Android tablets from Apple’s App Store and Google Play respectively – Nintendo have managed to recapture the same success it had with the original DS.

In 2013, the 3DS family (3DS, 3DS XL and the 2DS) was the best-selling hardware platform of the year in the UK. Globally it’s sold 42.4 million in total by 4th January 2014 which is a huge amount. These 3DS owners could be tempted into buying the Wii U by playing some of Nintendo’s exclusive well known games such as Super Mario and The Legend Of Zelda on the portable machine.

The 3DS Family Sol Very Well In 2013

The 3DS Family Sold Very Well In 2013

Nintendo have great history with connecting their portable machine to their home console. In the 90’s there was hardware that allowed the Game Boy to connect to the N64 and after that the Game Boy Advance with the GameCube. Of course there’s Miiverse where you could log on both systems with the same details but Nintendo need more than that to persuade these 42 million 3DS users to purchase a Wii U. With the 3DS selling very well and the Wii U struggling, plus the fact that Sony is aggressively promoting its cross play function with the PS4 and PSVita, now couldn’t be a better time to launch a better communication system between the 2 machines and Nintendo did say back in November 2012 that it was possible. They could use this to their advantage to generate a lot of sales but whether it can or not we will have to wait and see…

4. A Lot Of Exclusive Titles Are Coming Soon

Going back to earlier in the article there were games that was released in 2013 that was exclusive and praised by reviewers but didn’t push the sales enough for the Wii U. However that could all change for 2014. Below is a list of some games that’ll be released this year that could make the difference:

• Bayonetta 2
• Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
• Mario Kart 8
• Super Smash Bros. For Wii U

All four of these games are successors of games on the previous generation consoles that had very positive reviews which could increase the Wii U’s appeal. Excluding Wii Sports that was bundled with every Wii, Mario Kart 7 in particular was the best-selling game on the Wii with over 34m copies sold. They could create bundles with one of these games in there or even better make a limited edition version of the console like The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Of course, just because the 1st game was a hit doesn’t always mean that the 2nd will be as well but if they’re as good as expected (if not better) then this could persuade more people into buying the Wii U but we will have to wait and see…

Limited Edition The Legend Of Zelda Wii U Bundle

The 8th generation of home gaming has only just started so it would be wrong to consider the Wii U as a complete failure already. Those with good memory would remember that in the previous generation, the Xbox 360 and the PS3 started off with slow and sluggish sales to begin with but eventually within time, sales started to pick up. If Nintendo play their cards right and make some good management decisions then the same could apply with the Wii U. There’s been talks of Nintendo releasing games on smartphones and tablets to further promote the company and persuade people into buying a Wii U (like the 3DS earlier in the article). Whether this and other decisions Nintendo makes could make or break the company but – as it’s always the case with the future – we will have to wait and see…

*All sale figures are taken from vgchartz.com unless otherwise stated. All prices were taken on 17/01/2014. Prices were also taken from Amazon.co.uk unless otherwise stated.


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