How to Fix the Wii U
While the Wii U’s launch was a decent success, shipping north of 3 million units at a faster pace than many of its competitors, there is no denying that Nintendo’s newest console is in trouble at retail as of now. Shipping well below 100,000 units a month is a complete disaster for a company that is used to the levels of success seen by Nintendo, and it’s clear that something has to be done to reverse their fortunes in a hurry.
I’m obviously not equipped with all of the answers, but here are a few ideas that I’ve gathered from my observations as an owner of the console and as a long-time Nintendo fan.
There is a prevailing sense of confusion surrounding the Wii U that is undoubtedly harming it at retail. Sure, all of the core Nintendo fans like me know everything about it and were pretty amped up for it, but the general populous embrace that made the Wii such a phenomenon just doesn’t exist here. People simply don’t understand why they want it yet, or how it improves upon the foundation Nintendo established in 2006 with their Wii brand.
Nintendo clearly needs to invest some serious cash into a think-tank marketing strategy similar to the Wii’s “Wii would like to play” campaign. It was simple, excellently executed, and delivered the point of the Wii brilliantly. Viewers saw the commercial, how its actors interacted with the console and its controller, and knew immediately why they would want it. It was fun and new. They, too, wanted to play.
Wii U arrived and had a giant, complicated looking controller that was as far removed from the WiiMote as possible, furthering the confusion surrounding the U. How does it work? Is it fun? It seems as though Nintendo’s current marketing strategy just doesn’t answer those questions adequately enough to push units out of stores.
The tumbleweeds in the U’s release schedule is a serious, nearly inexcusable issue that needs to be addressed immediately. To be fair, Nintendo has done an admirable job showing core gamers that they have games coming for them very soon, but there is nothing there right now to sustain their new console. Where is Pikmin 3? Why did they let Rayman slip by? With nothing but teasers of what’s to come and ambiguous release dates, Nintendo is in trouble here.
Their first-party releases are going to be as incredible as ever, perhaps even more so with the power of their new console, but it just isn’t enough to keep gamers interested. Nintendo needs to get out there and start making some deals like they’ve done with Bayonetta 2. Offering to pay for the development of exclusive games from well-established developers like Rockstar, Bioware, or Capcom would increase their fortunes massively. Titles from those developers always shift tons of units, so it stands to reason that having exclusives from them would only serve to significantly increase interest in the fledgling Wii U.
There is no doubt that its library will be full of essential experiences in the years to come, but there just can’t be any more long droughts of substantial releases on the schedule. It may not be an easy problem for them to fix, but it’s perhaps the most significant obstacle in Nintendo’s path to dominance.
Finally, it needs a big, dirty price cut. It’s a shitty strategy and will harm them short-term, but the Wii U needs to be an incredibly tempting prospect from every angle. I personally don’t believe that it’s currently too expensive, but I may be alone in that thought. Still, no matter how you look at it, $300+ is a significant amount of cash to invest in a console this early into its life cycle.
Drop the price by $50 and I can almost guarantee that units would (in comparison) fly right off of shelves. Nothing converts those that were on the fence about a device quite like a juicy price reduction, and that point has been proven time and time again. Just look at what’s happening recently with Sony’s PS Vita in Japan; it’s currently disappearing off of shelves and out-selling its competitors for the first time in its history.
These three suggestions may not win gamers over immediately, but they just may help the Wii U pull its socks up a retail. It has a lot of potential to be Nintendo’s best console since the SNES, but there are some big steps left to be taken for it to be a true success and a true heir to Nintendo’s throne.