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?