OPINION: The return of the format wars; What next for Wii U?

In times of uncertainty on the High Street, it’s reassuring to feel some of that old-fashioned friction that only the games market can provide.

Yep, the Format Wars are back.

With Sony offering a ‘glimpse at the future of PlayStation’ (aka the PS4 announcement) next week, the reinvigorated UK Xbox exec team this week spared no opportunity to underline just how comprehensively they thrashed PlayStation 3 in this current generation. Warning shos fired. And Wii’s record-breaking run is next on their hit list.

You can read the in-depth interview starting on page 16 – there’s some great insight in there. But read between the lines in what Jon Grimes and Harvey Eagle say and, although they never utter a word about a new console, it’s apparent that Microsoft has been building its next-gen strategy in plain view for some time.

Xbox Live and cloud storage, underappreciated innovations like Sesame Street TV, that catch-all games/movies/TV/music phrase ‘Xbox is an entertainment brand’… even the idea of hardware via subscription.

Microsoft is saying nothing about next-gen, but the message is loud and clear: it won’t take whatever Sony’s got lying down.


Comments from retailers big and small about Wii U pretty much read like a greatest hits of complaints.

Now That’s What I Call Concerns About Nintendo’s Strategy, Volume 2.

Look at these suggestions from Nintendo’s POV, and I think retailers might have to be prepared for them to fall on deaf ears at first.

Of course Nintendo knows that Wii U has struggled, and not through lack of trying by its passionate staff or support from fans. Nintendo might be able to swing to a price cut.

But it can’t exactly force developers it doesn’t employ to make games. It can’t make consumers dip into their savings. And it cannot (although fanboys would tell you otherwise) magically change the seasons and just make it all better.

The fear, of course, is that this clever console gets washed aside in the excitement for boxes that still don’t officially exist – and which might not even arrive this side of Christmas. That’d be an unfair fate for the follow-up to what really was a revolution in video games just a few years ago.

That’s where you can empathise with retail, who are seeing first hand just how tough it is out there right now, and are begging for some help.

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