It’s clear that with the Wii, Nintendo had lost its way and alienated a section of audience which can be called as the ‘hardcore gamers’. Let me be serious here, I hate those words, but there does indeed exist a population of gamers that are extremely loyal, and are willing to shell out money to buy those big AAA games. The thing with casual audience is that they buy the console for one or two games and then scramble to something that is trending. In other words they are unreliable, which Apple has clearly demonstrated by increasing their marketshare in such a less time.
Let me get straight to the point: Nintendo has to build an appealing console with the Wii U. People who own a PS3 or 360 will undoubtedly be looking at their successors. It’s how Nintendo targets these people and explains, “Hey guys, our console has pretty much everything you need in a next-gen console and we offer games that can’t be found anywhere else,” that will be the deciding factor.
The Wii U has been confirmed to be backward compatible, so not only it offers everything that the Wii had, you also get a plethora of new software that only the Wii U is capable of considering their unique controller. They have to sell that idea properly. Nintendo’s last E3 conference was pretty underwhelming; they revealed the Wii U but people still had a lot of questions. This year is going to be vital, we know that they won’t reveal the price or the release date, although it is scheduled to be released this year.
Nintendo’s pre-E3 Nintendo Direct revealed two things: First, they are serious with their online network. It’s something designed keeping the social aspects in mind. Something our author Pramath aptly described as, “With the Wii U, you get a persistent, always connected, online world. What you get is kind of an amalgamation of Near, Home, Steam, Facebook, and Twitter. You can send messages, communicate, video chat, add new people, meet new people, post status updates, post screenshots, play online against each other, all without ever having to leave your game. The Wii U is fully multitaskable, being the first console ever to do so.”
All this sounds really exciting but it’s the execution that counts. Providing a competent online service that is at least as good as the current Xbox Live will go a long way in retaining gamers and increasing software sales, too, provided they have a unified achievement system, sort of like what PS3 and Xbox 360 have currently.
Since they are out of the gate first next gen, this puts them in a great position to really dictate the market provided they play their cards right. The price, yes, the all import price of the console will be the thing that makes or breaks the system. I am looking at a $250 to $350 price point, and if they can somehow target a price of under $300 – they will have the mental edge over their competitors who, let’s face it, aren’t going to price it under $300. Of course, with an appealing price there has to be proper software to complement it, and this is where this E3 will be crucial.
Third-parties aren’t really fond of Nintendo hardware, and we’ve seen that happen for ages now. While the Wii’s install base was conducive to third-party development, it’s weak structure made sure that it was easy to ignore over the PS3 and Xbox 360. This shouldn’t happen with the Wii U as it won’t be a whole generation behind like the Wii was. It’s clear that Sony and Microsoft will build more powerful consoles considering they are probably going to release it next year – but the thing to keep in mind is, even if the Wii U is based on 2009 tech, it can compete favorably. Imagine a good install base brought upon by intelligent pricing with a competent hardware – that’s a recipe for success.
The Wii U should be about balance, the entire reason why Nintendo built the system was to gain back the market it lost to Sony and Microsoft. One could argue that they never had that market, but unless they genuinely attempted to capture it, we really can’t say. They didn’t attempt to go after the hardcore gamers with the Wii so it’s hard to write them off based on that. It’s clear that Wii U will have a respectable install base, purely due to the iconic first-party franchises Nintendo has, but unless they do some massive damage by gaining mind share before Sony and MS’ consoles are out, it’s going to be hard to predict Wii U’s fate.
Their E3 conference later tonight is vital, so stay tuned to GB for more updates and analysis.