The Wii U is quite the controversial success. That’s right—I just said “success”.
Ever since its launch, many have dismissed the system as nothing more than a failure. From its dated hardware to the unorthodox controller hiking up the price tag, many gamers and analysts alike have been saying for quite some time now that Nintendo should just put the system to bed.
I spent quite a deal of time on many discussion boards refuting this idea, pointing to SEGA as an example of why replacing systems quickly is a pretty silly idea. After the late Satoru Iwata first made mention of Nintendo’s next system, the Wii U’s doom-&-gloom train hit some pretty remarkable heights; and that’s going to be the core of this article.
With the turn of this year, there are many who are honestly convinced that the NX will be releasing this year, and as a result, pushing the Wii U completely out of the picture. Those who believe this are also convinced that by releasing the system this year, it will help Nintendo properly hold their ground against their competitors. Here’s the thing—this isn’t some fantastic fantasy.
Now before I begin, I’d like to say that frankly, I’m tired of discussing the NX. Considering that we have next to zero real details about the system, all of the discussions surrounding it have been nothing more than volatile speculation and desires. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but there’s been so much talk over something that we all know so little about.
Right now, I’m not going to bother trying to add to this speculation, but rather, simply fixating on the notion of a 2016 release.
As already stated, many believe that Nintendo needs to cut the Wii U off as quickly as possible. The question I’m left to ask is, what exactly will this accomplish? True, the Wii U isn’t as competent as the PS4 and XBOX One, thus giving developers a big reason to overlook it, but even if the NX is as powerful, if not more, will that really fix the situation?
Right now, the Wii U is sitting at somewhere between 10-12 million units sold. If the NX were to launch this year, where would it be starting from? Simple—zero. Because the system will be getting off the ground, naturally, the only way to help it ascend quickly is if the proper games are there to help accomplish that. One of the Wii U’s initial problems was that while it had a lot of great titles early on, the majority of them weren’t ready in time for its release, thus leaving Nintendo to work with only a handful of games to try and sell the system.
Games certainly don’t appear out of thin air; especially Nintendo titles. Trying to hurry the system out of the gate may give Nintendo an edge in the power category, but it would still be a liability to them if the right games aren’t ready at all, or even if they are, they’re released in a barely playable state (think: Assassin’s Creed Unity). Take a look at the SEGA Dreamcast, for instance. It was a powerful system for its time, possessing features that completely outclassed the N64 and PlayStation. However, developers and gamers alike had grown wary of SEGA’s antics, and as a result, the system was ignored. Now Nintendo has a much higher level of respect right now than SEGA did at that point, but that won’t even guarantee an immediate success, even if the system is just like its competitors
The Wii U’s launch selection was decent, but not stellar. The NX needs time to build a solid lineup.
Nintendo can’t simply rush the system out of the gate. The Wii U was in devlopment for 5 years, and its launch still had major problems; remember that massive day 1 patch, and how clunky the OS was in its early months? It would be detrimental for Nintendo to have another situation like that on their hands, especially when the gaming industry has them in the ‘Shame Corner’ as it is.
But even with those points having been brought up, what’s arguably the most important is the Wii U itself. True, it hasn’t been anywhere as successful as its predecessor, and it may very well end up even selling less than the Gamecube, but despite all of that—Nintendo has made, and is still making money off of it.
While the word “failure” has been used on several different occasions to describe the Wii U, those who’ve bothered to keep up with actual news on the system (not the 10,000 doom-&-gloom articles), already know that Nintendo stopped losing money on it a long time ago. As a result, the system has been enjoying some very good moments for quite a while now. In 2014, it saw the release of the two juggernauts Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros for Wii U. Last year, Splatoon became a surprise success and even managed to take over Japan. Let’s not forget the likes of Super Mario Maker and Xenoblade Chronicles X as well. An even more recent example is the latest report from the NPD which shows some exceptional software sales for the system last month. Even the little studio of Shin’en was pleased with the sales of their recently released Wii U exclusive, FAST Racing Neo.
As you can see, the ”failure” of a system has actually been making money. That leads me to present this question to you—what is the purpose of a product? Something that’s created to sell to consumers for profit—you agree with that description, right? Well, if Nintendo stopped losing money on Wii U, and the system along with its titles have been selling, then what does that equate to?
The Wii U has been selling at a steady rate, and its software sales have been booming. Why replace it now?
Even if the Wii U isn’t selling at the levels of its competitors or its predecessor, that does not automatically mean that it’s a ‘failure’. As long as it continues to make money, then by definition, it’s a success. Now then, if Nintendo were to go and hurry the NX out, that would bring the momentum from the Wii U to a screeching halt. As mentioned already, the system would be starting from 0, which means that whatever titles it launches with would need to be strong enough to push it.
If Nintendo were to actually listen to the ‘advice’ that so many have given them, they would end up slighting their fanbase like SEGA did. Their core fanbase are who is supporting them right now, so aggravating them isn’t an option in no way, shape or form. The Wii U isn’t a liability, but rather a lesson of what not to do. From its questionable name to weak launch offerings, that led to its early hardships. It took a while to pick itself up, but thankfully it managed to do it. For Nintendo to truly have a successful launch with their next system, trying to snuff out its predecessor is not the way to go. A smooth transition is definitely the key.
This year, the Wii U will be getting major hits like Pokken Tournament, Star Fox Zero and Zelda U, just to name a handful. Nintendo needs to keep a steady supply of first and second party titles coming, as well as continued support from the ‘Nindie’ crowd. The system is still quite viable, so why ruin it? The NX will come in time; just be patient.