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Wii U Catch 22: How a Lack of Exclusives Undermined Sales

Wii U Catch 22: How a Lack of Exclusives Undermined Sales

Sep 3, 2013

The Wii U Catch 22 – Exclusive Games and Selling Consoles.

Despite the Nintendo Wii outselling both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in the last console generation, unfortunately the Wii U hasn’t had the same booming success of its predecessor. Its sales in the last year have fallen far short of Nintendo’s aspirations, and the news of their sales in the last three months adds to the concern.

The motion controls of the Wii offered something new (and exclusive at launch), which although gimmicky at times, it was an overall  success and was accessible to a large audience. However, the Wii U gamepad already has competition from Microsoft and Sony with smart-glass integration. The Wii U fails to have that unique grasp to pull in the same high volume of sales that the Wii achieved in the initial year post launch.   The less powerful hardware wasn’t an issue for the Wii, but the Wii U falls behind substantially in comparison to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

The sub-par sales of the Wii U places it in a tough position leading up to the final quarter of 2013 and the Christmas period. What are consumers more likely to purchase;  brand new, more powerful consoles, the Xbox One and Playstation 4, or a year old console supporting weaker hardware and arguably a less exciting list of games. Although Pikmin 3 had success, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker should prove successful, it still leaves much to be desired in terms of inspiring, exclusive content for the Wii U.


Hopefully, a release of the Gamecube classic alongside a Zelda: Wii U edition will help sales

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is a remake of the Gamecube version.

Wii U Catch 22: First Party and Third Party Games.

The Wii U also has another severe problem. There are an inherent lack of exciting third party exclusives that it has to offer. Sometimes for a consumer, all it takes is one or two top-class exclusives that would persuade somebody to purchase a specific console. Until it releases more exciting first-party content, it will be hard for the sales to dramatically increase, and only when the sales increase will it be worthwhile for developers to produce games exclusively for the Wii U.

Nintendo has a fantastic back-catalogue of first-part games that could drastically increase the sales of the Wii U. Mario, Donkey Kong, Metroid and The Legend of Zelda have a loyal fan base of gamers that will purchase the console solely for these titles. However, it has taken far too long for any of these heavy hitters to be released. If Nintendo had announced any of their big franchises to be released at launch, it would have sold more units, and more sales would make third party developers more inclined to make exclusive content for the Wii U.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow… Concerned.

Had Nintendo appeared on their regular slot at E3 this year, they would have been undoubtedly overshadowed by Microsoft and Sony, but it would have been great for the company to showcase some of their content they have in the works, engaging with the live audience. Nintendo Direct demonstrated many titles that they are currently working on, however a short video pieced and edited together and streamed at an event is nothing in comparison to unveiling their content live from their own conference. Of course, they had their own booths at the event, but to the people watching online, the press conferences are the centre-pieces of the show.

The next Super Smash Bros. title was announced during E3, alongside Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World and several third party games, but it still left much to be desired. It feels that the Wii U was released before it had exciting substance, however, had it delayed its release for the 2013 Christmas period, it would have suffered even more. It is sad to think that the Wii U has been in its rivals’ shadow, even before the Xbox One and Playstation 4 are physically available.


Looking Forward in the Short Term

2013/4 will belong to the Titans; the Xbox One and Playstation 4. They offer console gaming incredible advancements in technology and push the limits of gaming possibilities. The specifications are highly powerful, and are leagues above what the Wii U has to offer. The Xbox One and Playstation 4 have excellent exclusive content available at launch. Of equal concern, is that the games available to both its rivals, such as Destiny,  The Elder Scrolls Online and The Division, arguably overshadow anything the Wii U is releasing over the same period of time.

A decent third party game to shift sales, but not an exclusive

Although coming to the Wii U, it is also available on PS4 and Xbox One

Many retailers have announced they may struggle to supply and meet the demand of pre-orders for both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, which sadly implies that spending leading up to the last quarter is steering clear of the Wii U. Unfortunately, many Wii U’s will sit in warehouses and on retailers’ shelves, gathering dust while we wait for the key franchises and games to persuade us to part with our money. I fear that even the $50 price cut and  Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Wii U console, alongside their announced releases in the upcoming months will not make a sizeable increase to sales that Nintendo need.

Hypothetically Speaking…

It is hard to see how Nintendo can make up for the lost sales of the Wii U after the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are released. Each console is a large investment, and buyers will probably be looking to purchase one console until prices come down, possibly towards the end of 2014. The lack of third party content means Nintendo must focus on heavy-hitting, high sales with their biggest franchises. Alternatively, do Nintendo take the back seat in the console war this generation , and focus more on hand-held gaming? Nintendo announced the 2DS, which is targeted at a younger audience and more mass-market demographic, releasing the same day as Pokémon X and Y (12th October). It’s strange to imagine Nintendo falling out of tune with the console market, but it remains to be seen if its biggest franchises can overturn a disappointing first year when they are finally released.

How the 2DS shapes up

Nintendo 2DS launches the same day as Pokémon X and Y. Should Nintendo focus their energy on pushing hand-helds over consoles?

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