In the third of a series of features answering the biggest questions about the industry’s future, James Batchelor details the true potential behind Nintendo’s next console.
Wii U: Will it work?
Wii U certainly has its sceptics. Its reveal at E3 last year got a mixed reception. It was certainly promising.
But do we need a tablet controller? Is it really next generation? Who will buy this if they already own an Xbox 360? But the biggest question mark over Wii U, is whether it can really reverse Nintendo’s fortunes. The company’s record breaking DS and Wii platforms have had a tough couple of years. The casual audience it helped create has started to lose interest, with many playing on Facebook or on iPhone instead.
However, Wii is no weak brand. The console has sold some 96m units worldwide. Wii Play, Wii Sports and Wii Fit are amongst the biggest selling games in the world.
Nintendo is also keen to right the mistakes it made with Wii. Its core fanbase was put off by the machine and its family software. The firm’s president Satoru Iwata has admitted that this is something that immediately needs addressing and Nintendo is already working on re-establishing its core credentials. For starters, many of the big third-party franchises are on board with Wii U. FIFA, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed, Batman and more are all here, and with added unique functionality, courtesy of that tablet controller.
And then there is digital. Nintendo has been wary of downloads in the past. That has changed and the company is starting to make the right noises about its Nintendo Network. For instance, Iwata has pledged to make Nintendo’s first party games available digitally at the same time as they appeare on the High Street.
Yes, despite coming off the back of two of the biggest selling games consoles ever, Nintendo has found itself in a position where it has to prove itself all over again. However, even the firm’s strongest critic knows that you can never write off Nintendo.