Did Anyone Really Expect The Wii U To Succeed?
Come on. People are surprised at the news? Really?
Nintendo says they're considering a "new business model" after the Wii U's dismal sales became even more public during a recent conference.
With less than 4 million units sold to date (and remember, the system has been out for well over a year), and drastically lowered sales expectations for the fiscal period, Nintendo is being forced to reevaluate.
Well, duh. Look, I'm no seer. I didn't expect the Wii to explode but then again, I had no idea what the Wii would do. I did know that if Nintendo successfully catered to the mainstream masses, from kids to senior citizens, the thing would explode. It was a gimmick, a fad, true enough. It was. And it received very little in the way of quality third-party support. However, it was a new electronic gadget that qualified as an "electronic gadget" in a world where gadgets rule. It wasn't just video games; it was the "next-gen" version of video games. Hence, it exploded.
I have always - and will always - applaud Nintendo for that move. It was ingenious. But how they could turn around and, mere years later, pull a total blunder like the Wii U is beyond me. I took one look at the details for that new system and just laughed. I was stunned. I thought it was a joke. The game company that will always occupy a very warm place in my heart, the one that proved all the naysayers wrong by doing the unthinkable and winning over the non-gamers with the Wii; this is what they did. A high-def version of the same gimmick, the same fad. Rule #1 of the marketplace: Fads have a lifespan, and it ain't long.
You can't gussy up the fad and expect it to work again. That just doesn't happen, especially if the competition has already implemented their own versions of your breakthrough. Sure, Sony and Microsoft stole Nintendo's idea with Move and and Kinect. No kidding. But it's done. And that singular feature that rocketed your previous product to immense success is no longer singular. Doing it again when you - and the competition - have already done it...makes zero sense. Nintendo also had to know that the PS4 and Xbox One were on the way, and gamers would be waiting on those systems. Not only was the Wii U's launch timing bad, it's outlook is terrible.
Your admittedly legendary mascots can only keep the ship afloat for so long. Nintendo expected to sell 9 million Wii Us by the end of March 2014. They now anticipate selling only 2.8 million. That's not just a lowered expectation, that's an absolute bomb. Even the 3DS is slipping. I'm not saying Nintendo is going out of business. I'm saying that from the start, I knew the Wii U was a horrendous idea...if I knew it, how the hell did Nintendo not know it?
1/17/2014 Ben Dutka