Talk about a redheaded stepchild…
We recently saw the passing of a legendary console. Now, I can honestly say that I’m in the camp that originally wrote off the Nintendo Wii. In fact, it wasn’t until my wife twisted my arm that we got a Nintendo Wii at GameStop one afternoon. She had seen many of the fun, innovative titles and knew she had to have one. As luck would have it, there was a big Pokémon tournament going on at that particular GameStop. In preparation, they had just restocked the entire Wii console supply (in hopes of milking a few sales from the parents).
So, I get the console home and, to this day, I’ve never regretted the purchase. Now granted, the game selection on the Wii is somewhat of an acquired taste and definitely appeals to a certain kind of gamer. OK, let me just come right out and say it…the Wii is meant for kids, gaming-wives, and people who want something outside the mainstream video game selection. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that your average gamer doesn’t enjoy or appreciate the Wii (I know, as I’m one of them). However, if the day came where I was forced to be 100% dependent on just the Wii for all my gaming needs, then I would be hard pressed to enjoy myself as much.
The point is, while the Wii may not be the be-all-end-all for gamers, it offers a unique charm that you really feel like you are missing out on if you don’t have one. It is a great addition to any gaming library and provides a lot of out-of-the-box fun you can’t find on your mainstream consoles like the PS3 or Xbox 360. The price point is also right on the money and justifiably so (at least while stores still have them in stock). In its lifespan, the console never tried to compete with the “big two,” so Nintendo never presumed to inflate its price point. A perfect strategy in the minds of many gamers, as I’ve never heard the criticism that people weren’t getting their money’s worth out of the system.
So now that the Wii has gone by the wayside, why can’t Nintendo duplicate its success with the Wii U?
To date, the Nintendo Wii U has sold just under 4 million consoles since its launch in 2012. In comparison, sales for the original Wii total over 100 million. As you can see, there’s quite a difference in appeal. Nintendo has stated recently that the Wii U “continues to have a negative impact” on the company (not exactly a glowing endorsement). Although, it’s hard to imagine anyone catching lighting in a bottle twice. The Wii U can only be considered marginally successfully at best at this point. How can the Wii U sell so little when Nintendo controlled the lion’s share of the console market for years with the Wii and the DS? The answer is simple: the Wii U is kinda half-assed.
Frankly, the only places I really see a Wii U is in the displays at Walmart or Target. I don’t know anyone personally who owns one, and many people I speak with online (or read via forums or blogs) don’t seem to care much about owning one either. The problem is that the Wii U is way too similar to the Wii. Yes, the tablet-style controller is different, but it isn’t exactly as innovative as the Wiimote’s motion-sensing technology, which drove sales. Nintendo didn’t do the job of selling people on why they needed to abandon their Wiis and trade up to the Wii U. At least with the next-gen consoles of Xbox One and PS4, the differences from the current-gen are a little more clearly defined. The Nintendo Wii U boasts a slight bump in hardware power, but do you really see it in the games? Most Wii U titles look as if they could have been easily ported to the Wii, if it were allowed to live on.
Frankly, the lack-luster sales of the Wii U have put Nintendo’s home-console future in jeopardy. This falls directly at the company’s feet. It’s hard to sell people on a product if they don’t really understand why they need it. You simply can’t justify a complete console change when you’re only taking a micro-step forward. Many of the Wii U’s features seem like the glorified accessories or third-party add-ons you’d find for the original Wii.
I really hope the Nintendo Wii U doesn’t go down in history as another Sega CD.