When the Wii was first announced literally nobody expected it to reach the heady heights it did, busting open the casual console market like a shotgun to the ribcage. A console aimed at gamers other than us neck-bearded misanthropes, the family, a console not to be played for hours on end in a darkened room. To be wheeled out when friends are over, the board game of the 21st century, and at a fraction of the cost of its competitors. By Christ did it do well, to date selling over 95 million consoles worldwide as of June 2012, nearly 30 million more than the Xbox 360. Having successfully tapped a market which is now bursting at the seams, what with the onset of mainstream social and mobile gaming, how in buggery blazes do you top that?
Whilst the family and social-togetherness market might be all fine and dandy, Nintendo apparently feel they have neglected the core. All signs for the Wii U point to having their cake and eating it, with a seperate controller for “hardcore” gamers, taking more than a couple of tips from its Xbox 360 counterpart.
The Wii U’s launch price still puts it beneath that of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but right now it’s the most expensive console on the market and with a less than flattering launch lineup. Of the 25 or so launch titles, only a handful are Wii U-exclusive and only 1 of those is an entirely new IP. Come 30th November, 2 titles will have already been out on other consoles for over 6 months, games aimed at precisely the core consumers who will more than likely already own the game on another console. In short, does the Wii U really have any killer exclusives? Not before Bayonetta 2 was announced, it didn’t. something of a coup d’etat for Nintendo and a dire bit of business from Sega.
With so many titles from existing franchises, only 1 of which an instalment which builds upon a previous game in Bayonetta 2, what sort of psychological effect with that have on would-be consumers? Will the Wii U be seen as ‘next-gen’ enough for the core crowd, given most of the content on it already exists in another form? Only ZombiU seems to that that market at the moment, providing the only fully-integrated Game Pad experience where the game is designed, from the ground up, solely for use with the Wii U. It remains to be seen wether Bayonetta 2 will do this, but the existing game mechanics don’t exactly scream Game Pad. Nobody could have foreseen the triumph that was Wii Sports but Nintendoland hasn’t captured the hearts and minds in the same way, falling very flat at its big E3 reveal.
None of this would be a problem if the Wii U was as charmingly affordable as its predecessor. The UK launch price of the Wii U puts it as the most expensive console available and unless Nintendo can overcome this perceived view of it simply being a ‘Generation 7.5’ rehash. The basic bundle will cost around £250 here, although the Japanese price of ¥26,250 exchanges to around £209, with the premium topping the £300 mark. In this newsreader’s opinion, the Wii U will do ‘okay’, but little more than that. It won’t be a monumental failure and will more than tide gamers over until the next wave of consoles, but the very second they release the Wii U will be forgotten in a flash, consigned to the footnotes of gaming history.