Opinion: What Nintendo Did Wrong With Wii U

Nintendo’s latest home platform hasn’t had the best of times since the system was released back in 2012…boy, has it really been that long? Nintendo thought that the Wii U would ride to success on the coattails of the Wii. Unfortunately the luck they’d enjoyed since 2006 had run out.

I remember that day in June when I first saw the Wii U. I’d just arrived home from school and did what a student who had finals coming up was expected to do. Grab some snacks, put my feet up and look at Nintendo’s E3 presser…don’t judge me for I was only 13 😀


When I saw that controller I was blown away. I’d never seen anything like it. I remember telling all my friends about it the next day at school, they couldn’t care less and I couldn’t understand. I mean finally a Nintendo system with graphics comparable to the 360 and PS3 with all those great third-party games all in one place. I expected a great deal from the Wii U and in the end I was left deeply disappointed.

Okay now that my rambling is out of the way let us get down to business. Here is the reason I think the system tanked.

Marketing, what marketing? – This was probably the biggest culprit behind the Wii U’s failure. During Christmas of 2012 I remember being bombarded with ads by Sony and Microsoft focusing on their systems and exclusives. However, I only remember one ad by Nintendo and to be honest it wasn’t really focusing on the system but rather the gamepad which is where the problem lies.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the gamepad and I’m happy that the idea (according to rumors) will live on in the NX. But the thing is the majority of Wii owners bought the system, popped in Wii Sports and never touched the thing again when the novelty of waving their hands in the air to play a virtual game of tennis wore off. They didn’t keep up with the latest releases by Nintendo and so unsurprisingly they had no idea the Wii U was a new system. And Nintendo certainly didn’t help by the not only making the Wii U pretty much identical to the Wii but by also only focusing on the gamepad. I literally knew people who thought that the Wii U was the gamepad and that is was yet another controller for the Wii.

Nintendo were not clear enough that Wii U was indeed a new system and they certainly didn’t spend enough money on marketing the thing. I think had they gone with a simplified message clearly stating that the Wii U was “new system and new experience” with games like Mario and COD all in one place they would’ve done much better and would’ve moved more units.

(Do you notice the difference in the ads above? Do you see why the system on the left was a thumping success and the one on the right was a disaster? )

In fact had the Wii U gained a proper install base it would have seen much more love from third-party developers. And to be honest some of them tried, we got COD Ghosts, AC4 and even Watch_Dogs.

In conclusion I think if proper marketing was done it would have lead to a larger install base which in turn would’ve encouraged third-part developers to create more content for the system which of course would’ve attracted gamers. I mean who wouldn’t want a capable system from Nintendo (Wii U is not underpowered) where they could play Smash, Mario Kart, Assassins Creed, Call of Duty and others all in one place?


9 Comments Add yours

  1. I have recently written an article about how the NX can be successful (shameless plug but please do check it out) in it I also mentioned the marketing of the Wii U led to its downfall and Nintendo needs to up its game for the NX. I really can’t recall much Wii U advertising whereas the Wii was overloaded with tv adverts, etc I think Nintendo naively thought everyone who owned a Wii would immediately recognise what the Wii U was and transfer to the new system, problem is the Wii user base largely consisted of casual players, those not up to date with gaming news, and by the time the Wii U released many Wii players had abandoned the system due to the novelty of the motion controls wearing off. Nintendo obviously saw the numbers the Wii sold and thought the Wii U would follow suit but they obviously misunderstood who those numbers represented.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. gamer2006 says:

      Thanks for reading. I’ll be sure to check out the article 😀


  2. Having a perspective from working at a retailer as well as seeing and hearing customer reactions to the news of the WiiU, I’d have to agree that marketing has been Nintendo’s primary failure with the WiiU.

    I remember far too many customers that were confused about what the WiiU was. Some saw it was an tablet addon to the Wii, others saw it as a new console but didn’t see the point, and some saw the WiiU as Nintendo’s abandonment of motion controls.

    Leading up to – and after – release was the same issue that surrounded the Xbox One’s launch: too few knew what to expect. The WiiU failed to capture the user base they built with the original Wii and sales suffered as a result. Honestly though, one of the biggest obstacles for selling the system was the lack of Minecraft. I could’ve sold so many more WiiU consoles if Minecraft was available because it was still such a driving force for sales. Instead, those sales went to the Xbox 360 because it was cheaper and had the game that kids wanted.

    In the end, Nintendo had a delightful console that had an impressive lineup but nobody wanted to buy it. It is still sad to think that so much went so wrong so quickly. Third party games becoming a thing of the past didn’t help, but as you said: marketing was their failure.

    One hopes that the NX avoids this same fate. Nintendo doesn’t need a console that has the same graphics as the Xbox One or PS4… They need to make the case for their system to be in the hands of consumers instead of collecting dust in a warehouse.

    Loved the article by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. gamer2006 says:

      Thanks for reading 😀 Also very interesting that Minecraft could’ve moved more units. This is so true because for a period in 2014 Minecraft on PS3 in Japan moved a lot of units and topped the charts. Hopefully NX will have better marketing and it launches with Minecraft.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mr. Panda says:

    Great analysis. The marketing was definitely poor. It was hard to explain to most people that this was a new system and not just another Wii upgrade. It was even harder to explain why Wii U GamePad would be fun. After Nintendo Land, I didn’t even see that many stellar uses for it (save for Super Mario Maker).

    Regarding third parties, I do see that better marketing can lead to a bigger install base which can lead to more companies getting on board. I think they also have to do a better job at the forefront wooing third parties to actually start with their best on the system. When nearly every third party’s launch Wii U game is an upgraded last-gen game and there are almost no plans to release current games after that, then it may be a problem with their general relationship with 3rd parties. At least Ubisoft was willing to do original things on the system… for a while, haha.

    It’s also going to be tough to get a good user base for NX, since Microsoft and especially Sony have done their jobs getting people to their systems. This can change if NX can win people over, but it’ll be hard because so many gamers feel tied to their profiles (with achievements), and Sony and Microsoft have done a pretty good job giving incentive to stick with their systems. As much as Mario and COD together would be pretty cool, I don’t know that the two franchises necessarily share similar fanbases. I might be wrong, but hardcore COD players don’t tend to play Nintendo’s games too much and vice versa. This is based on my experience with gamers on both sides, including myself, a huge Nintendo fan. Nintendo has an uphill climb, but I hope they can do it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. gamer2006 says:

      Thanks for the read. It is true that some people who play COD wil never touch a Mario game and vice versa. But there is an exception for example: let us say someone grew up on the NES and is now an adult with a family. That person would probably find it better to buy a system to play the mature titles they like and play more family friendly games, say Mario Kart, with their kids.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mr. Panda says:

        True true. That option is definitely available on the competing systems thanks to Minecraft, Lego games, and toys to life games. I would like Nintendo to get more exclusive mature games like Bayonetta 2 and some other Wii games they got last generation like Madworld, but I can see why third parties (and possibly Nintendo) are more hesitant to get their big third party games out there. It’s a shame, but we’ll see what Nintendo’s image is like next generation.

        Liked by 1 person

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