Soon, Nintendo will bring the Wii U to E3 and finally give us its specs, price point, ship date, and other useful information. If they want to guarantee the console’s success though, they need to wow people. Here are five ways they could get every gamer excited about the Wii successor:
1. “It’s Cheap!”
The issue: Rumor has it that Nintendo will charge $300 for a console-and-controller that costs $230 to manufacture. This will make it more expensive than the PS3 and Xbox 360 (although it may be the same price as the 360 bundled with Kinect). Considering the graphics are rumored to be no better than those of the other consoles and the system lacks a hard drive, gamers may think the Wii U just isn’t worth the money.
The solution: Many console makers will sell a console at less than it costs them to manufacture it, making up the cost with software sales. Nintendo has always tried instead to economically manufacture consoles so that it can sell them at a profit. But as they learned with the 3DS, sometimes the only way to move product is to slash the price. The best way to sell a lot of Wii Us is to offer them at an amazing price, say $200.
The likelihood: Unlikely but not totally impossible. As a rule, Nintendo goes their own way, and after their success with the Wii they can argue that they know better than their critics. But they did stumble with the 3DS, and two stumbles in a row would be such a terrible blow for the company that they might consider changing some of their policies, just this once.
2. “We Have Several Amazing Launch Titles That Serve Both Casual and Core Gamers”
The issue: People don’t buy consoles, they buy the potential of great games. This is why the ideal console launch has a lot of games people want. And as Nintendo seeks to pull in core gamers while holding onto the casual gamers who came to gaming through the Wii, it needs to show both groups that the Wii U is worth their time.
The solution: Well, the ideal solution is to create a new Legend of Zelda game by launch, but there won’t be a Wii U Zelda game for years. Still, Nintendo needs something to really excite people.
The likelihood: Probably not. It is very rare for a game console to have anything really thrilling at launch. Many great systems like the DS and the PS2 had slow starts. But we can hope.
3. “We Have Proof That the Wii U Controller is a Game Changer”
The issue: So far, people aren’t as excited about the Wii U’s touch screen controller as they were about the Wii remote. People think it’s more a traditional controller with a couple of cool variations than it is a bold new approach to gaming.
The solution: Nintendo needs to show people things so amazing that they instantly see how every game they’ve ever played would have been better on a Wii U.
The likelihood: Hard to say. Some developers are raving about the possibilities of the controller, but the general response so far has been muted interest. But Nintendo has always been great at coming up with clever uses for their own technology, and if they have a few really impressive demos they could get some serious excitement going.
4. “Our Online is Mind Blowing”
The issue: Nintendo has a terrible reputation in terms of the online space. The Shopping Channel was poorly conceived, connecting with friends online is a huge pain, and online gaming often feels like an afterthought. Those who are serious about buying or playing games online have good reason to stick with Nintendo’s competitors.
The solution: Nintendo promises that they are finally taking the online space seriously and that the Wii U will have a robust and flexible online system. But to counter their bad reputation, showing something that’s sort of almost as good as what’s on the 360 won’t be enough. When Nintendo shows off the Wii U’s online component at E3 this year, they need people to stand up and start cheering.
The likelihood: Unlikely. Hopefully Nintendo will come up with something much better than what they’ve had before, but it’s unrealistic to expect a company with no particular expertise or historical interest in a feature to blow away the competitors who have been developing their systems for years.
5. “Third Party Publishers Are Bringing Their ‘A’ Game”
The issue: Nintendo has always had far greater success selling games on their consoles than anyone else has. Third party games have fared much better on Sony and Microsoft consoles. The result is that the best non-Nintendo games almost invariably go to non-Nintendo platforms.
The solution: Nintendo needs to somehow persuade other publishers that they can succeed on the Wii. They need to move heaven and earth to help make non-Nintendo games a success and prove the Wii U is a good bet. That will gain the console the third party games it needs to win the console wars.
The likelihood: Not very. While publishers and developers are saying positive things about the Wii, they are generally only offering ports of games that will launch on other consoles before the Wii U arrives, or they are keeping mum on what exactly they will have for the console. Publishers seem to be approaching the Wii U with the same wait-and-see attitude they had towards the Wii, so unless Nintendo has done a lot while keeping it very quiet, initial third party support is likely to be somewhat anemic.