With the shocking, if not completely surprising, news of the PlayStation Vita outselling the Wii U last week in Japan – the Wii U sold under 10,000 units, it looks as though the Wii U could be in serious trouble. After the reasonable first month or two of sales, the Wii U has suffered a sharp decline in fortune in January and February that seems to be proportional to the few high-profile game releases.
But, if you go back about two years, you will remember the 3DS’ troubled initial life. The 3DS had a poor launch line-up that was led by games such as Nintendogs+Cats and Pilotwings 3D. These were decent games, but we didn’t get the blockbuster first-party titles that we wanted until Christmas 2011, when both Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario Land 3D started the 3DS’ popularity explosion. Until that point, 2011 was tough for the 3DS, with remakes of classics such as The Lgeend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time filling the gap.
It seems as though Nintendo only learnt from one of the two mistakes that they committed during the 3DS launch, then. The Wii U’s launch was very good; Nintendo allowed third-parties to shine at the Wii U’s launch, with plenty of high quality games such as Batman: Arkham City: Armoured Edition, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and the exclusive ZombiU. There were some first-party titles there too, with Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U doing a far better job of representing Nintendo than Nintendogs+Cats and Pilotwings 3D did at the 3DS’ launch.
The mistake Nintendo didn’t appear to learn from, though, is not giving us enough follow-through content. This isn’t for lack of intent, but it is unfortunately the case. Games that were supposed to fill the dry spell the Wii U is just about to emerge from, such as Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends and, for Europe, Scribblenauts Unlimited haven’t arrived. These games in question have been delayed, and while that I would prefer the quality of the games to be maximised – Rayman Legends is a different situation, but I won’t go into that now – , the lack of games has really hurt both the sales and the image of the Wii U recently.
But Nintendo is about to get a second chance. Now March is upon us, Wii U games will be coming at us thick and fast, with LEGO City: Undercover, Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and more arriving in mere weeks. Nintendo needs to capitalise on this, by stepping up their marketing of the Wii U. The disallowment of one of their Wii U adverts hurt them, but if they throw another advert out now that shows off these new, impressive games, people will get interested.
This interest would then give further support to the games coming out beyond March. Between April and E3 – where we are going to get a lot of Wii U info – , Game and Wario, Pikmin 3, Wii Fit U, Resident Evil: Revelations, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, and many more high-profile games will be arriving on Wii U. If Nintendo builds up some momentum now, this will snowball with these upcoming releases and end up emphasising the big announcements – Super Mario U, Mario Kart U, Super Smash Bros. 4, to name a few – at E3.
Of course, there are many ways in which Nintendo could create interest. TV advertising, more big announcements – we get Nintendo Directs every month nowadays, and making sure we don’t hear any more disappointing news… we should be playing Rayman now… ah well.
What do you think? Can Nintendo get the Wii U back on track?