Saturday, September 13, 2014
5 things Nintendo can do to save the Wii U

5 things Nintendo can do to save the Wii U

It’s no secret that the Wii U had a rocky launch — at best. This isn’t the first time we see that; the Vita has just lately been picking up the pace, while the 3DS was, at first, very worrying. However, the Wii U is a case on its own, and you might ask, why? Simply because Nintendo is repeating the same mistakes as the 3Ds, while the home console has the potential to be much more than the handheld.

While there’s no doubt that the Mario U, Metroid U and Zelda U games will sell systems like hot cakes, there’s stuff Nintendo can do to move some systems until then. Below, I’ll list 5 reasons I believe will help Nintendo get the Wii U out of the hole it’s gotten itself into, and actually get gamers and non-gamers alike involved and getting to know it.

5. Make it clear it’s not an add-on

Even at this point, 6 months past its release, people mistake the Wii U for an add-on to the Wii. That is due to the name which I, frankly, find a little stupid in terms of marketing. The people had NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Wii, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS… and now Wii U. Yes, NES and SNES were very much alike, too, but the “Super” in SNES’ name hints at something. What does “U” hint at? Be my guest. I believe it’s got to do with the console being about “you (U)”, but how are the casuals, the vast majority of Wii owners, supposed to know it’s an entirely new console? Super Wii? Wii-2? You pick. Anything else would have worked better. And this is repeating the same mistake as the 3DS, where people were asking me if it was an upgrade to the DS. Difference? The 3DS was much better marketed, and its slow start was only due to the lack of a library, much like the Vita.

Was the message to all Wii owners (via WiiConnect24) enough? No, but it’s a start. And Nintendo needs to find a way to market it as it should be marketed.

4. Emphasize its unique features

Provided step 5 was successful, people are now aware the Wii U is a new console, so we’ll keep that in mind for the other steps. What does the Wii U do to differientate itself from the other consoles on the market right now? What stands out for me is the GamePad, but not the actual controller, but the things it can pull off. As I’m typing this on my laptop, I have the GamePad sitting right next to me, browser opened. Without even changing the Games Thirst page, I can, for example, Google stuff extra fast, as my controller has been literally acting like a laptop since I bought the console on launch. The browser is very capable, and the best thing is that you can run it while playing a game. Gone are the days you would need to boot up your PC to search for something when playing a game; that “PC” is in your hands, and that’s a game-changer, especially for the casual players, because the odds are they’ll get stuck at games way more than the dedicated gamer. The fun the game offers will be saved, instead of hearing a “screw it, I’ll turn it off and play some other time”.

Is the browser the only thing it can do though? Nope. It’s got a camera on it, it’s got a gyroscope installed, it’s got a mostly precise touch-screen, it can double as a TV for some games that support it, it also has a microphone and some pretty good speakers on it. How much has Nintendo emphasized these, after the system’s launch? And keeping these in mind, we’re moving on to #3.

3. Seek out apps that play to the system’s strengths

We’re in the era where home consoles are expected to do much more than just play games. Although I’m somehow against that, it’s a reality. In just the above paragraph I noted how I enjoy my Laptop U, but not to the point I’d use these over gaming on it instead. So, with such a capable controller, what should Nintendo do to make it shine? Right now, we’ve got YouTube and a few other apps. With a camera, the gyroscope and the touch-screen, it’s got the potential to be home to a handful of apps that tide people over until its games library starts filling. Skype would be an exceptional addition, while Facebook and Twitter-dedicated apps that make use of its camera and microphone systems, something that would be unique and exclusive to the platform. Original apps that make full use of the functions would also be great; Playstation Vita had the Welcome Park app, which I used just to get used to its many functions. Where’s that for the Wii U?

2. Wii U/3DS connection in games

How would Nintendo get 3DS owners to be very interested in buying a Wii U? My guess? Introduce lots of games, with worthwhile connection between the 2 systems (no, not gimmicks please). Yes, you’ve got the GamePad for that — but only one is allowed per system. What if people could get their 3DS to work as a GamePad-sort of controller? Imagine a, say, stealth co-op game, with two high-tech equipped agents working together, a la Sam Fisher. The GamePad’s screen would work for hacking, inventory management, and other similar actions… as would the 3DS. How much more awesome would that make co-op play on the system? And how much more interested would the 3DS owners be in it, if they could just bring their friends over and have tons of fun with game mechanics like that? As a Wii U and 3DS owner, I know I’d be damn interested in it.

Sony has already revealed Playstation 4/PS Vita connection, like streaming games to the Vita. Will it be good? We won’t know until the Playstation 4 is out. Remote Play has already done something like this, via Playstation 3 and PSP connection. The PS Vita can now double as a controller for a new edition of LittleBig Planet 2. Nintendo can surely learn, and build upon, what Sony has achieved, creating a small ecosystem consisting of its consoles, handheld and not.

1. The definitive Virtual Console destination

You know what people love? Not having to change between 15 systems at any time, just to play games from older generations. Sony is a step ahead with all the Playstation and Playstation 2 classics being released on the Playstation Store, and has gone even further by making many playable on the PSP and PS Vita. Nintendo only recently launched the Virtual Console for the Wii U, but it’s limited to a single console for the most part; the NES. How can Nintendo step it up?

They already offer Wii backwards compatibility, so releasing Wii games as downloads wouldn’t be much of a game-changer. But having an entire library of NES, SNES, Nintendo 64 and Gamecube games on my Wii U, and the ability to play them exclusively on the GamePad’s screen? That would surely sell a lot of systems, definitely. How many people would prefer spending thousands of dollars on old NES and SNES systems, plus much more for their now-collectible games, instead of just buying a Wii U and a big external HDD to fill it with games from all the Nintendo eras? Yeah… not many. Well, that’s what I’m doing, but I’m a collector, so I guess it doesn’t count.

And that’s what this gamer has on offer for Nintendo. Is the Wii U worth buying? Damn yes. Is it worth buying now? I can’t help but tell people to save their money for now, until “that game” comes out for it, and it’s a shame. What does the Games Thirst community have to say on the matter? Let’s hear your voices in the comments below!

About Christos Chatzisavvas

Senior Editor. Your go-to man for everything you need, from games to Games Thirst; I'm always here to help. Gaming lover, web developer going for HND and Bachelor, founder and developer at Underground Journey. When I'm not under the faint light of a PC monitor or TV playing games, I try to lead a life as exciting as I can. Follow me on Twitter @CrashOkami, or Facebook.
  • Wolf1888

    Nice article!

    I couldn’t agree with you more.
    And I really don’t believe that skipping E3 this year is a good move either. It’s their chance to show the console to people that are still unsure what the Wii U is all about.

    Well, I guess we will know what happens to that console in some months, if it’ll be dead or if it’ll have a surprising come back, like the 3DS or the Vita.

  • ernicegilbert

    And, thereafter, what happens to Nintendo. The company is in a bad spot at the moment, and I’m not sure they could come out of it. What do you guys think?

  • Jason

    number 6 that should be number 1. Get developers on side. developers aren’t even making games for the wii u they are just porting 3 year old games.

  • Wolf1888

    I wonder if we’ll start seeing Nintendo games on PS4 and Xbox… That would be a shame for them, if they really go that low. That would mean that Nintendo is at an all time low.

    If things were to fail, do you think Nintendo will either simply shut down the company, or start making games on their competitor consoles (basically just quitting the hardware business)?

    Because we have to remember that Nintento is also really strong on portable gaming devices.

  • ernicegilbert

    I think they’ll release their software on other platforms like PS4 and the next Xbox like you said. And that’s IF they fail.

    I’d be a situation like Sega and Atari, I suppose.

  • Wolf1888

    Yeah, nice comparison. I really can see Nintendo going there. The thing is, when it was Atari’s and Sega’s time, there were a lot of other competitors, and others were born, some arrived, some left. Now, though, I have a hard time trying to imagine any real competitor to Micvrosoft and Sony (Apple maybe?). Anybody that will try to get a share in that business will get crushed by those 2 giants, as they’ll come in as a newbie, pretty much like the Ouya, which does not get a lot of attention lately. (By the way, Ouyas are getting shipped right now, I could receive mine pretty soon (Because yes, I did buy a Ouya). I’ll probably end up spending some time with it when it will finally arrive, I’ll make sure to let you know my thoughts on it.)

  • ernicegilbert

    The only company I see that can cause disruption would be Apple – and in its own unique way. Apple would basically try to create its own path in the gaming biz and try to lead the way, forcing MS and Sony to follow – just as it did in the music industry, when $.99 songs were introduced, totally turning the industry on its head.

    As for another company coming in and even gaining a foothold, I agree with you there, too. They’d be crushed by the two giants. Utterly so.

    And I can’t remember you mentioning that you’d purchased an Ouya, but that’s cool! Definitely let us know if it’s worth all the buzz!

  • Wolf1888

    Yeah, Apple is probably the company that could disrupt things.

    Samsung could also give it a try, and I believe they would succeed, looking at how big this company is (it is an empire, really), and Google also.

    Personally, I do not believe Samsung and Google would try to enter this business, or at least, not anytime soon, but Apple could.

    And yes, I did buy an Ouya when they had their kickstarter. If I pledged $100, they were giving me an Ouya with 2 controllers. 100 bucks for a Android-style gaming console seems like a great deal to me.

  • ernicegilbert

    Great deal indeed. And speaking of disruption into the games business: http://www.gamesthirst.com/2013/05/06/google-announce-gaming-platform-15th/

    You predicted the thing and it’s already happening. Wonder what it’ll be like. If it’s a real massive play into the business or something trivial. It’s also just 6 days before the next Xbox’s unveiling.

  • Wolf1888

    Haha, yeah, I just thought of that when I saw your article!

    But I said I didn’t see google enter that business, so I guess I got it wrong… Still, pretty interesting.

  • ernicegilbert

    True. But the fact you mentioned them as not being in the business, means that in your mind, they should be in the busines. I wonder what they’ll show on May 15th. Hmm…

  • Wolf1888

    What is your bet? I’m not convinced about a whole new console from them. I’m thinking maybe a new phone? Maybe a phone that is built for gaming.
    What do you think?

    EDIT: Or a gaming tablet perhaps?

  • ernicegilbert

    I’m with you on the new phone or new tablet thing that’s built for gaming. I don’t think a dedicated games console is in Google’s DNA.

  • Wolf1888

    Well said.

    Plus, they are already pretty well set on phones and tablets, they are already good competitors to Apple on that branch. I suppose we’ll know it pretty soon, it’s in 8 days!

  • ernicegilbert

    7 days now!

  • someone

    What if apple bought nintendo?

  • Hailceaser

    Nintendo will not be going the way of sega or atari any time soon. remember they just had an extremely successful console (the wii) plus they have had a perfect game with handhelds, the 3ds got off to a rocky start but it’s selling well now. atari failed miserably with the 5200, the 7800, the lynx and the jaguar. sega was doing great but then they put out the sega cd, the sega 32x, the saturn and the dreamcast, all of which failed. Nintendo’s only extreme fail was the virtual boy. Nintendo is a very large and rich company that will not be going away any time soon, even if the wii u fails miserably.

  • dsar

    Oh Wow, you missed the most important one by far which is MAKE MORE GAMES. Noone is buying this console unless it has games on it.