I’ve decided to write this in response to a recent survey conducted after this year’s E3 that found a 50% increase in the number of people who would consider buying a Wii U. Here I’ll consider the difficult start that the Wii U had and whether or not the recently announced games at E3 can help Nintendo’s latest console.
Lets go back to E3 2011 where Nintendo announced they were working on a successor to the Wii and showed off a prototype Wii U. People where very much surprised by the Wii U GamePad, it’s size and the inclusion of a touch screen, some even wondered if it was simply an add on for the Wii and not a new console. The response to this wasn’t great, Nintendo’s share price dropped nearly 10%. People worried about the cost of the GamePad and how that would affect the console itself considering Nintendo consoles have often been good value. Nintendo went on to announce that the console would go on sale in Europe on November 30th 2012 costing £249 for the Basic pack and £299 for the Premium pack.
Nintendo had done a very bold thing and been the first of the big three companies to announce their next-gen console first, would the gamble pay off?
Nintendo then announced the console’s launch titles: (UK Launch Titles)
This list did concern a few people, as a lot of those games where new to a Nintendo console but where just ports of PS3/Xbox 360 games with not that many completely new games. However to complement this a number of major 3rd party developers like EA and Ubisoft announced that they would be working closely with Nintendo. In theory this sounded great, a strong amount of 3rd party support would help. But from day 1 the cracks in this deal were starting to show, the biggest culprit? FIFA 13. Games reviewers realised that despite being badged ‘FIFA 13’ the game was completely identical to FIFA 12, except with updated teams and did not contain any of the new features found in the PS3/Xbox 360 versions of the game. EA admitted the reason for doing this stemmed from the fact then when the Wii U was being developed, FIFA 12 was a more stable game so it was easier to add Wii U features to FIFA 12 than the less stable FIFA 13. Even so it was a blow to the Wii U.
As many internet memes will attest to, the Wii basically began printing money for Nintendo, despite a shaky start how would the Wii U fare? I’m going to be slightly boring and just hit you with some numbers, but it’s the clearest way to explain this.
By March 2014, nearly 2 years after it launched the Wii U sold, 6.17 million units. Now lets put that into context:
After less than 5 months over 5 million PS4’s and Xbox One’s were had been sold.
In a similar time span over 20 million Wii’s had sold in Europe, by the end of it’s life, worldwide over 100 million Wii’s had been sold.
This really hurt the company, a lack of demand caused them to post £135 million in loses in 2013.
Let’s jump to now, and Nintendo could have turned a corner thanks to showing off a fantastic range of games in recent months. Nintendo has really brought out the big guns, games like Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8, look set to increase demand for the console. Looking into the future games like Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad and Zelda Wii U, are telling fans that the Wii U is a platform crammed full of games, that people will enjoy, both hardcore and casual gamers alike. I almost think that Nintendo should have waited to release the console given the much stronger line up of games.
Although things aren’t perfect, an article I’ve found just as I’m writing has explained that the big guns of Activision and Ubisoft are pulling away from Wii U. Ubisoft have said that Watch Dogs in the last ‘mature’ game of theirs coming to Wii U, due to poor sales of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. While Activision has announced the upcoming ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’ will not be coming to Wii U.
While it’s a shame to see Nintendo lose this 3rd party support, I’m optimistic that going forward, Nintendo’s fortunes surrounding the Wii U will improve.