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Opinion: Why people shouldn't worry about the Wii U - Part 2 - Pure Nintendo

Opinion: Why people shouldn’t worry about the Wii U – Part 2

It was a breath of fresh air to have Microsoft’s Xbox One take some of the negative pressure off the Wii U. To this day, I strongly believe that all of this Nintendo Wii U hate is not fully justified. Yes, the Wii U sales are anything but good, but this is a different generation with a different story to be written. Who can claim what will work or not work with a system that is only 8 months old? There was doubt Microsoft could enter the video game race or the idea that motion controls would even work, but they both succeeded. It is too early to judge what this generation will hold. There are still a lot of factors yet to play out that no one can truly predict the outcome.  Before I go on, I would like to point you back to Part 1 of “Why people shouldn’t worry about the Wii U

Welcome back! Do you agree? no? Well, let me go a little further. If you are the type of person who loves all those crazy numbers, wrap your brain around this. Back in the day, 66% of surveyed 360 owners stated they were interested in purchasing a Wii to go along with their 360. Later reports had estimates of the Wii/360 attachment rate at around 40%. If this number stayed true throughout the life of the 360, around 35 Million 360 owners purchased a Wii.

Here is something for those of you who dislike numbers or feel these numbers are pulled out of the air, which I will be honest; these are not 100% solid numbers. Ask yourself this simple question: how could there be such a high attach rate? If you are a gamer, it is safe to say you enjoy playing video games. No matter what shape or form the video game comes in, you enjoy it. As long as a game is fun and provides enjoyment, you play it.

During E3 2013, some of the staff were invited to attend the Microsoft E3 press conference. While sitting through the Microsoft presser, I started having the feeling of exhaustion. It wasn’t necessarily the pace they were announcing games, it was more what they were announcing. Game after game was a shooter, fighter, or intense, action-packed slaughter. This bombardment of killing took a toll on my mind. This is the advantage Nintendo now has with the Wii U. It offers a different variation of genres/experiences for gamers. Games link Mario, Donkey Kong and Pikmin are all extremely enjoyable without shooting and blowing everything up. There are as many different types of games as there are types of humans. Now that games like Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy 15,* and rumored Gears of War are losing their console exclusivity, the reasoning for owning both an Xbox and a Playstation is shrinking.  This is why the Wii U, and Nintendo, will always have a place in the gaming world. The industry is shrinking itself to give gamers less options. If it’s intentional or not is another question and another debate.

Now let us go back to these numbers. We can universally agree that probably around 40% of PS3/360 owners bought the Wii system. Let us say that attachment rate transfers over to this generation, because again, the Wii U provides a different experience. Both PS4 and Xbox One sales should easily combine for 100 million. If we take 40% of that, we can expect around a 40 million attachment rate for the Wii U. This 40 million doesn’t account for the Nintendo fan that purchased the system out of love for Nintendo or the casual player purchasing it because it’s Nintendo. If these other aspects only add up to, let’s say, what the GameCube sold, these two numbers would add up to about 65 million units. If we look at the numbers that way, the Wii U sales would be right up there with the other systems.

Now I know this is all hyperbole, but the idea of gamers wanting a wide range of gaming experiences still stands true.

With the Wii, Nintendo made it clear they were choosing not to go processor to processor with the other two systems, but instead offer a different opportunity to enjoy games.  This strategy banks on gamers’ willingness to purchase a second system for the pure fact it offers a different gaming experience for them to enjoy. In the business world, when it comes to dealing with competition, there are really only two options: take on the competition head to head, or offer customers another reason to choose your product. Nintendo has taken the latter approach, which leaves Sony and Microsoft to fight it out for pretty much the same crowd.

This passive approach worked for the Wii and as of right now we shouldn’t expect it to fail the Wii U. But the only way for this approach to work is by getting gamers excited for what the Wii U can offer, and the only way to do this is with great marketing and most importantly, games. Referencing back to the article linked above, the launch of an HD Zelda, Metroid, and Mario games is going to be very hard for any gamer to ignore. Until these titles launch, we cannot know how successful the Wii U will become.

With this, there could be the perception that “Why should we have to own two systems to play all the games?” The answer to that is very simple; because that is how the industry has set itself up. Microsoft and Sony decided to keep their course and Nintendo decided to stay their course that they have been doing for over 20 years. There honestly isn’t anything wrong with either of these courses. It is what it is until something changes it.

Playing video games is a hobby, not a necessity. Neither of the companies owe us anything nor should we be demanding anything from them. They create games and we buy them. Would it be nice to have one system to rule them all? To be honest, yes it would, I may be out of a job, but it would make things a whole lot easier and cheaper. Until the big three decide to do this or they fail and something different takes ahold, we are stuck with this good dilemma of having to purchase two or more systems.

The title of the document while writing this piece is very much inappropriate for Pure Nintendo. Basically, to put it in a G rating, it tells everyone to calm down and take a step back from all the Wii U hysteria. At the core, Nintendo is who they have been for the past 25 years. They are a video game production company (both hardware and software) that also creates some of the biggest games we all have grown to love. I will not speak for the whole Pure Nintendo staff, but I personally will be buying, probably, an Xbox One to get my taste of games like Halo.  Hobbies take time and money, but we love them. It shouldn’t matter what system you support. If you are a true gamer, all you care about is playing great video games.

*As of this posting reports have surfaced that Final Fantasy XV will not be coming to the Xbox One.

  • TwinTails

    Well written. ;)

  • JuneBug81

    Apologies in advance for the length. This is a well written article and deserves an equally thorough reply.
    I’m a lifelong Nintendo fan. The first console I ever owned myself was an NES. The first videogame I ever played in my own home was Super Mario Bros. I’ve loved their games, their charm, and their sensibility ever since.

    That said, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have concerns and didn’t disagree with certain decisions they’ve made.

    I skipped Wii entirely because I couldn’t ever get passed motion control. I tried the games extensively, but the interface just took me out of the game. I want an interface that I can forget is there, not one that I’m constantly having to move – let alone in an arbitrary, specific fashion – in order to use. Worse still, it didn’t always work. It wasn’t until Wii Motion Plus that things improved, but by then I was fed up. Wii just wasn’t for me.

    But that having been said, Wii – as a platform at least – was an enormous success. And there were several games on it that were also enormous successes. Unfortunately, despite that, the system had a widely avowed and lamented atrocious software attachment rate. Many people bought the system. Relatively few compared to that huge number purchased and played multiple games throughout its life after doing so. The games that did succeed were, by and large, first party Nintendo games.

    But that’s the past. And even as I stood by and watched a stream of games on Wii I wanted to play but tried and couldn’t enjoy for interface reasons, I still continued to own Ninteno handhelds and play Nintendo games. I’ve always loved the company as I said, even when I disagreed with it. The 3DS may be my favorite Nintendo handheld yet, and has actually made a real impact on my life beyond just gaming as I attest in this blog post:

    Wii U is another story. Wii U is off to a better start at least than Wii was, the lack of what people want to label a “true” 3D Mario game notwithstanding. There are more than enough games on Wii U with gameplay, premises, and interfaces I can enjoy to justify a purchase, and I am happily looking forward to picking one up next month. There are plenty of games already available and on the horizon that I am going to spend a lot of time with on the system, and I’m sure that will become even more true as time passes. And yet the system struggles, despite being a better offering for traditional gamers. Why?

    They didn’t have to find themselves in this position. Nintendo suffers from a problem many Japanese publishers do, and that is the somewhat anemic response to changes in the industry. By Miyamo-san and others’ own admission, one reason for the tepid pace of games on the system is that they have had trouble adapting to the realities of the HD era. And they are extremely late to the party in that regard as well.

    It is a source of concern to me, no matter how much I love Nintendo, that Miyamoto-san says games intended to arrive much earlier were delayed because he and other coders had difficulty with shaders due to the shift to HD. Call me crazy, but we’re talking about ostensibly industry leading first party software developers in a multi-billion dollar company that’s been in the modern videogames industry in one form or another since its inception. Shouldn’t they know how to code shaders skillfully in a manner that’s both pleasing and efficient in any display resolution? I’m sorry, but statements like that concern me as a fan and supporter of Nintendo.
    As does their network infrastructure. Miiverse is a fun system I look forward to participating in. But it’s representative of a superficial, glancing view of the potential for internet integration into a next gen gaming experience, rather than of a deep, broad, fully leveraged view. Compared to Xbox Live and PSN, the Nintendo Network and Miiverse are lightyears behind in terms of flexibility, accessibility, seamlessness, and basic functionality. Like HD, it’s good that they’ve taken a step in this direction, but they need to be competitive with their contemporaries, not just getting their toes wet a decade or more late.
    Then there’s the gimmicks. Yes, like many Nintendo fans, I dislike it when people disparage the systems as gimmicky without acknowledging the unique interface opportunities and advantages they do provide, because that’s an incomplete and unfair assessment in my opinion. But it would be equally unfair – not to mention naïve – to suggest that there a gimmick-like attempt at mass appeal wasn’t part of Nintendo’s strategy. And more importantly, that it doesn’t always pay off.
    3D on the 3DS is an interesting feature. But since it’s impossible to hold perfectly still while playing, I usually turn it off so as not to lose the sweet spot and go cross-eyed right in the middle of a Mario Kart 7 race or the like. A lot of people do the same. And more to the point, 3D has not been the hardware mover Nintendo clearly hoped it would. What has been a hardware move has been the reams of great games exclusive to the system.
    Why mention 3DS? Because Nintendo took a similar tact with Wii U. They wished to offer a lower cost alternative than the other next gen consoles while also distinguishing themselves as they did with Wii’s interface, but with something catering to the core as well. Hence the tablet. A controller that can function as a traditional gamepad, but also as a second screen interface. Now, personally I quite like the idea and its potential. I can’t wait to see what developers might do with it, and I love a lot of what I’ve already seen.
    But like 3D, it hasn’t been the magical system seller that they had hoped. In part because ubiquitous products people already own – smart phones, etc. – can now also do this on other hardware they also already own. The uniqueness and distinctiveness is gone.
    And again, it belies a shallow look at the world of consumer electronics and popular trends, rather than a deep and broad one. “Oh, 3D is popular. Well, we’ll give people GLASSES FREE 3D!” “Oh, second screen is on the horizon. Well we’ll make ours built into the controller!” They’re good ideas and work well when implemented skillfully, but they aren’t exactly something revolutionary or race winning.
    What will sell systems, as always, is games. And nobody makes games quite like Nintendo. But they face an image problem. Deservedly or not, they are seen as the platform out of touch with the hardcore gamer, and the system that relies on gimmicks.
    Had they had a better insight into these factors, they would have come out with Wii U later, at a lower price, a traditional controller (say, the Pro controller,) and reams of games. All the ones already out for it now, plus those about to release. They would have said, “We get it. This time, no gimmicks. We’re all about the games now.”
    It doesn’t matter if the tablet is a novel idea or can be used to great effect. Had they done the above instead, the sheer PR win it would have generated in contrast to their previous direction would have propelled them to a lot more sales by now, with a much steadier stream of software in my opinion.
    This disconnect from public perception and their own internal view of themselves is a double edged sword. On the one hand is makes them uniquely Nintendo. On the other, it sometimes results in them shooting themselves in the foot.
    I love Nintendo. I’m buying a Wii U because I love what it has to offer. I plan to play it long before I even consider buying a PS4 or Xbox One. A year or more, at minimum. I could not be further away from “hating” Nintendo, and I agree that the hate they receive is unjustified.
    But that doesn’t mean I’m not – in my opinion rightfully – frustrated and concerned.

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