Countdown to Wii U:
– 30 Days Remaining -
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.