Many gaming outlets, including MCV have been reporting price cuts hitting the Wii U, specifically the Premium bundle. Retailers are sitting on a number of unsold consoles, and so begins the price slashing to get them off the shelves and into people’s homes.
Between £40-60 seems to be the saving currently on offer which is a large saving considering it’s length of (or lack of) time on the market. Should we start the funeral proceedings already? Should Nintendo call it quits when it comes to home console development?
Put simply is it game over already for the Wii U?
Nintendo consoles are the home to some of the best first-party titles in the history of videogaming. Mario, Link, Donkey Kong and Samus to name 4 for starters. While the Wii U has a Mario game and a few new IPs it didn’t have the strongest start in life. Nintendo’s conferences building up to the retail release really went to town to prove that the upcoming console had the full support of a large number of game developers. While some of the ‘core’ videogame community were disappointed with re-releases of titles such as Mass Effect 3 and Batman Arkham Asylum it at least proved a small step in the right direction. The announcement of an exclusive Wii U title, Bayonetta 2, was genius, and a leap forward for Nintendo. Bringing a game developed for the market they wanted to win back, a sequel people wanted yet probably wouldn’t have got on any other console.
Ubisoft’s Rayman series is en-route to the Wii U courtesy of Rayman Legends, of which a playable demo has been available via the eShop for some time. An excellent title which understands how to incorporate the Gamepad well. Along with Bayonetta it too made for an excellent exclusive, only it no longer is exclusive to the Wii U. In fact Ubisoft have delayed the title so that it will be released across all major formats later in the year. With so few new titles of note coming in the near future for Nintendo’s home console the delay is a massive blow.
Pikmin 3 is Nintendo’s big Spring release, and while it has a core following I doubt that it’ll have the mass appeal that Nintendo require right now. It’s a cute, fun puzzle title with a strong fanbase, however I can see a number of consumers getting put off by its slightly complicated exterior (simply not understanding what the game is about). Other Spring titles, including Platinum Game’s The Wonderful 101, while looking fun to play again in my opinion don’t have a mass market appeal. The promise of more third-party support doesn’t seem to be happening, with most of the recent AAA games skipping the Wii U.
With very few releases since launch (with only a couple of titles in the pipeline for the next few months) along with the price cuts it certainly is looking a little bleak.
Going back to my original questions then…is it the end of the Wii U? It may sound like a contradiction based on what I’ve written so far, but no, no it isn’t the end.
E3 2013 is going to massive, mainly due to new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, however I wouldn’t write Nintendo off yet. Aside from the confirmation of a new Zelda and Mario in production (along with a new Smash Brothers) we’ve heard little else about the other key first-party heroes. I’m going to make a prediction that we’ll see major game announcements for the second half of this year and on into next year. OK, it may not be the hardest prediction to make, of course they’ll announce games, but I think a large number of people are under-estimating what Nintendo could announce.
I can easily see Donkey Kong and Metroid getting the Gamepad treatment, while it’s been far too long since we’ve seen a new home console Starfox game. Hopefully the promise of bigger and better content from third-party developers will come true and we’ll start to see less of the lazy ports and more original and exclusive titles, just like Platinum Games Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101. Nintendo have experienced slow-starting console releases before, but they have the imagination and videogame studios/IPs to turn the Wii U into a must-have secondary console, much like how the Wii slotted into households alongside the Xbox 360 and/or the PS3.
The point I’m trying to make here is that you’ve got to have faith in Nintendo. They’ve been creating and innovating for decades. The short-term may not look great but the Wii U still has the power to surprise. Am I foolish? An optimist? Possibly, but the videogame industry needs bright, fun, innovative, creative, polished titles…and no-one creates them like Nintendo.
Don’t let me down Mario & co.