Where Does Wii U Fit In Next Generation?

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The video game industry has evolved from its humble beginnings into an intricate and complex network of competition. As each company devises creative ways to appeal to new customers and expand their range of attraction, the definition of a gamer constantly changes, and so do the expectations of what a console should offer. No longer can any one system be unquestionably hailed as superior to all others, as success can now come in many different forms.

For some gamers it’s about price. Others are motivated by power. Versatility is the key to many consumers looking for a machine that serves as more than just a device to play video games. As the industry continues to evolve, it becomes more and more important for consoles to establish a unique role in the market.

This generation saw the Wii do exactly that. Instead of entering into direct competition with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Nintendo opted to establish their own unique demographic. The Wii quickly became known as the cheap and fun way to play games, attracting a whole new crowd of consumers that had never considered themselves gamers before. Now with the launch of the Wii U on the horizon, it’s important than Nintendo once again establish a place in the always competitive market. Where does the Wii U fit in the next generation?

Right off the bat it’s important to note the distinction between Nintendo’s strategy for the current generation and their plans for the next one. While the Wii was highly successful in its own right, Nintendo can’t take that same exact route again. Launching a system that attracts a newer, more “casual” fanbase was a win/lose situation for Nintendo. While it allowed them to be incredibly successful in the early years of the Wii, by definition, a large percentage of the system’s install base is simply not as dedicated to games as other consumers. As such, it cannot be taken for granted that the majority of Wii owners will automatically want to buy a Wii U.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has stated on multiple occasions that he wants every Wii owner to buy a Wii U. While that’s a noble goal, it’s neither realistic to expect, nor ideal to focus on. The Wii’s cheap and fun style made it very attractive early on, but the system simply hasn’t been making Nintendo any money in the past two years. If Nintendo focuses too much on attracting the Wii crowd with their next console, as opposed to reaching new audiences, that trend could continue. The Wii U needs to shake off the image of Nintendo being just for the casual gamer. That’s not to say Nintendo should abandon that crowd, but rather that they need to do a much better job of appealing to the types of fans who will continue to buy games long into the system’s life cycle.

It’s also important to draw a line bewteen Nintendo and the competition it faces in Sony and Microsoft. Because the Wii was so underpowered when compared to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, there’s a false perception that the Wii U needs to be as powerful as the next generation consoles of the competition in order to be taken seriously.

Nintendo is not all about raw power. They never have been, and they never will be. Nintendo will always be about trying to deliver the best overall gaming experience. The Wii fell short of this because its online capabilities were not sufficient enough to meet a lot of consumers needs, and its limited processing power prevented it from hosting a lot of key third party titles.

In establishing itself in the market, the Wii U shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of the Wii, nor should it attempt to follow the strategies of the competition. The Wii U is all about providing the best possible value for gamers. This means having enough power and support to get the kinds of games that the Wii could not, while being affordable enough to appeal to the more casual crowd of gamers.

In addition, Nintendo needs to continue to rewrite the definitions of both game consoles and gamers. In addition to saying that the Wii U should attract Wii owners, Fils-Aime has also set a goal of making the Wii U a system that everyone will want to have in their living room. This can be accomplished by Nintendo continually supporting the system with attractive and practical non-gaming features. Nintendo TVii is a good start, but it has to be a continued effort. If Nintendo wants to attract new consumers, they must consistently evolve their strategy, reaching out to meet the needs of all potential buyers.

The next generation of the console war is going to be very interesting to watch, but Nintendo has the benefit of kicking it off. In the time between the launch of the Wii U and the response by the competition, Nintendo needs to get to work establishing a firm foothold for their new console. The best way for them to do this is to show the world that the Wii U is the best and most balanced overall experience that the next generation has to offer.

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  • Terrak

    Nice article with very good points. Most important thing for Nintendo is to keep the flow of software that showcases the abilities of the Console. I mean people are willing to spend US$500 plus on a tablet because there is alot of content for it, so if the Wii U can do the same it should have no problem – And Nintendo is probably the best at providing gaming content, it practically carried the Wii throughout its lifespan, with thirdparty support being so weak.

    Besides i imagine that the next consoles from Microsoft and Sony will launch by around this time in 2014 (not next year as there is no e3 2012 mention of a new console and announcing at e3 2013 would give them too little time to create enough hype for the next xbox or playstation) Wii U will have plenty of time to cement a foothold in the console market, and by this time more and more developers would have come on-board as the Wii U continually improves and the ps3 and 360 continually look outdated (they are already outdated compared to the Wii U). The new abilities of the Gamepad will allow new ideas to freshen up venerable franchises. It will offer something unique, something nothing else can offer (PCs cant, smart glass is a half a$$ed copy that wont match the full capabilities of the gamepad not to mention the difficulty of switching between controller and phone/tablet, and the ps3 vita combination is not standard and going buy vita sales not as widespread). That’s what will give it the edge.

    I imagine the next playstation or xbox will have more power, however how much more? To truly show case it they would need to have resolutions above 1080p ( Wii U is already capable of this), which would mean 4k resolution TVs, which by time of there release and a good deal of the consoles lifespan be still expensive and still out of reach for the majority of consumers. This would not be a massive feature for a console trying to sell millions of consoles in the next 5 years – If the console was capable of 4k resolution the price would be massive. Oh yeah by the time 4k TVs become mainstream the next Wii U will be out……
    If the next playstation or xbox can only do 1080p (but better effects) that to most wont be enough for people to forget the Wii U.

    Lets not forget in trying to create a powerful 10 year cycle console both sony and microsoft invested billions of dollars which they have yet to fully recover yet neither company sold the most console. You think they want to throw billions more at a console market they are not guaranteed to win just to create another 10 year console (like ps3 and 360) – a market where Nintendo created a unique experience console which profited greatly and made billions and was the number 1 selling console.

    Even if sony and microsoft copied and made gamepad like controllers who says they will outsell the Wii U? If the last generation was anything to go by, even though sony and microsoft came out with their (better) versions of motion control we didn’t see Wii Like sales explosions from either console (like we did for the first 3 years of the Wii), and by that time the wow factor of the gamepad has gone and it wont be seen as a unique feature for the next xbox or playstation.

    I think the Wii U is very well placed to start the Next gen and will remain the no1 console for the generation till the next Wii U comes out (in 5 or so years). It already has its unique feature and if the games really show how the gamepad improves the gaming experience it should have no trouble in selling as well or better then the original Wii.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ana.helusic Ana Helušić

    Wrong, they have been about power, original NES, Super NES, N64 & GameCube, they were all powerful consoles

    • http://www.facebook.com/JonathanRider Johnny Rider

      Making a powerful consoles doesn’t mean all you care about is power. Entertainment has always been their main priority.