Editorial: Did the Wii U Just Become a Must-have?
Nintendo's overlooked console is quickly becoming one to watch.
We’ve all seen them. The various reports and articles that claim Nintendo is doomed because of poor Wii U sales and no compelling games. Because the Wii U suffered from a confusing ad campaign and a lack of heavy hitters like Mario and Zelda, the Wii U became a target for games journalists eager to paint a dying picture for the company as Wii U floundered, not moving a ton of consoles or games to go with it. Even Wii U owners themselves couldn’t debate that there was only a handful of worthwhile titles for the system. And despite what people will argue about resolution and online services, it’s still fundamentally the games that are selling gaming consoles. Despite a few noteworthy titles, the Wii U simply wasn’t any more compelling than its competition. Until recently, that is. For the last few weeks, the Big N’s fortunes seem to be turning. Console sales are up. Game sales are up. People seem to be excited about the Wii U again. All of this in such a short time. Did the Wii U just go from a struggling console to a must-have one?
Nintendo’s fortunes have begun to turn since the release of the eagerly anticipated Mario Kart 8, the Wii U’s entry in the beloved racing franchise. Boasting full HD graphics, tightened mechanics and a redesigned online mode, Mario Kart 8 has been a hit with fans and critics alike. But not only was the game good, Nintendo sweetened the pot by offering early adopters a free, first-party Nintendo game download (which you can actually still get if you buy it by July 30.) The game also came bundled with the Wii U for the reduced price of $280. All this contributed to Mario Kart 8 moving over a million copies in its first day on sale, and becoming the overall second-best selling game of May, according the NPD Group. NPD Group also reported Wii U sales themselves went up 90% in the U.S.
If that weren’t enough, however, Nintendo’s newfound success really hit home with their strong presence at this year’s E3 expo. The company focused on a three-pronged strategy for E3 week: a Digital Event where they would announce new games in an internet video, a Super Smash Bros. tournament fans could attend in Los Angeles or watch at home, and “Treehouse Live,” where members of its game translating “Treehouse” department would interview developers and show off demos of new games throughout the week. The strategy proved to be a success, with its strong lineup of upcoming games attracting much attention from both the gaming and even mainstream press. Games like a new StarFox, a new HD Legend of Zelda, and squid-based shooter Splatoon all contributed to tons of Nintendo talk, with the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Wii U becoming one of the conventions most-talked about games. At a special event during E3 where fans could play a demo of Super Smash Bros. at Best Buy stores, Best Buy reported lines going out the door and tons of pre-orders for the game. The cry “Nintendo won E3!” became an often-uttered phrase among fans online. The constant “Nintendo is Doomed” articles even gave way to new looks at its sales numbers and upcoming games.
Compare this to likes of Microsoft and Sony, who mainly showcased previously announced games, offering a few new ones, but not many. And although each has a few worthwhile exclusives, one of the biggest criticisms of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is the lack of must-have games. Most games released on Microsoft and Sony’s consoles are multiplatform, and true exclusives have been few and far between. Nintendo’s Wii U had the same issue, until its E3 presentation showed off more exclusive games than either of its rivals.
NINTENDO ISN’T GOING TO ROLL OVER AND DIE AS MANY PREDICTED
To say the least, the events of the past few weeks have shown Nintendo isn’t going to roll over and die as many predicted. With the arrival of heavy hitters like Mario Kart 8, and a bevy of great new titles on the way (including some new franchises!), interest in the Wii U has never been greater. While all of this doesn’t necessarily guarantee that The Big N’s good fortunes will continue (most of these games are still months away), and the Wii U still has a ways to go to catch up to the PlayStation 4, which is this generation’s best-selling console by far, there’s no denying that a price drop and a strong lineup of exclusive games are helping to turn public opinion. The Wii U may have just gone from a mediocre console to a must-have.
When will you be buying a Wii U? What games have your attention? Share with everyone in the comments below.
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