Of course the sassy answer to any retailer telling you Wii U is ‘GameCube all over again’ is ‘What? Some of the most praised first-party games ever and the world’s most refined home console?’
But in this day and age, a handful of decent games and a good bit of kit doesn’t cut it. Despite great reviews, the critics are ready to write the Wii U obituary already.
Hopefully, Nintendo’s imminent efforts to work with UK retail and reverse the downward momentum will bear fruit.
Retail has had real cause for concern, though. The sales just haven’t been there. Sure, other publishers can get more money out of a smaller base of dedicated fans, but Nintendo can’t because there aren’t enough games for its users to buy.
These broad issues around Wii U aren’t the fault of the UK office, which is now charged with exciting retailers once more.
There have been some baffling choices higher up the chain.
Most telling for me was when the firm used a Nintendo Direct broadcast to apologise for lacking post-launch games. “The scope of development is getting larger. We cannot take on the same approaches we had in the past,” said president Iwata.
"Maybe now is the time for Mr Iwata to dig deeper
into Nintendo’s pockets. Not to find money to
write-off Wii U, but spend on more internal
development, spend again on large-scale
marketing, cushion the blow of a price cut,
or even simply buy something."
Has the company not been paying attention at all in the current generation? Did it completely miss the uprising of small games from indies and on mobile? Or the 3DS launch? Was it oblivious to Ubisoft’s impressive use of seven studios at a time to heave-ho! the likes of Assassin’s Creed onto shelves each year?
Nintendo HQ is now dipping into its ocean of profits, paying third-parties to plug the gaps in its slate. Luigi’s Mansion 2, LEGO City Undercover and Monster Hunter 3, for instance, are not from its Kyoto braintrust.
Maybe now is the time for Mr Iwata to dig deeper into Nintendo’s pockets. Not to find money to write-off Wii U, but spend on more internal development, spend again on large-scale marketing, cushion the blow of a price cut, or even simply buy something.
People shouldn’t want to see Nintendo fail. Because when Nintendo does well, the games industry does well. Its mission to widen the games population is crucial to everyone.
Despite the obvious pressures and distractions of digital, there’s a Nintendo-shaped hole in the market Nintendo needs to fill. Its latest current crisis has come at the same time as an overall dip in the market’s fortunes. I don’t think this is a coincidence. And neither should you.