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Sunday, 17 February 2013

How Nintendo can sell the Wii U, and why the Wii U isn't selling

In November I wrote an article debating whether or not the Wii U would do well in the United Kingdom and its chance of success. I didn't believe that the Wii U would be the "end of an era" and I was optimistic that it would sell. However, new worries have arisen. I expected that the Wii U, while not as capable of selling loads like the Wii, would still do well. I was wrong. Last month, Wii U sales took only 1.6% of the gaming market, and not a single Wii U game has even made it into the Top 30 charts for games sold. It sold 40,000 at first, but sales have declined rapidly since. It's very likely that all these sales were from Nintendo fans.

These are the reasons why the Wii U is failing:

1. Too high a price point.
The Basic pack is a rip off. £249 for 3GB of game data with no game included. The Premium pack, a much better deal, was still £309 for 32GB, Nintendo Land, and a Premium membership. 90% of the Wii U sales were the Premium pack. However, this is still too high, and many people have resorted to either waiting for a price drop (which Nintendo have foolishly said they won't do) or buying it preowned where Nintendo makes no money. One problem is that Nintendo makes a loss when they sell a Wii U but make a profit when a game is purchased too. When preowned consoles are being bought, Nintendo is making very little.

2. Lack of appeal.
One of the main reasons the Wii sold so well was because of the Wii remote and motion controls. It was easily for the family to join in and any casual gamer would feel much more comfortable playing games like Wii Sports than say, Dark Souls. The Wii U Gamepad is a much harder controller for your Grandmother to get into. Nintendo has attempted to win back the Xbox and PS3 gamer, but those gamers are either past "saving" or the Gamepad seems far too different to their controllers. This means the only people buying the Wii U are Nintendo fans. Nintendo has gone away from one of their biggest consumers. The majority of the UK video game market are Call of Duty and Fifa fans, and Nintendo have alienated themselves from that group. Whilst the Pro Controller shares the same design as an Xbox 360 controller, this isn't advertised, so the less knowledgable market is unaware of this and is instead only aware of the Gamepad. Nintendo sell their first party stuff easiest, and this is among their large fanbase. Nintendo's fanbase, however, is one of the only things keeping them alive. Third-party "hardcore" games that are often on Xbox 360 on the PS3 usually don't feature on Nintendo consoles, so someone buying a new console hoping to buy the next Dead Space, perhaps, won't find it. This moves onto my next point:

3. Nintendo is not advertising their 3rd party games.
Nintendo knows they make more profit off their first party games, but what they haven't grasped is the fact that other games are more socially popular. Watching an advert for New Super Mario Bros. U isn't as cool as it used to be, unfortunately. Luckily for Nintendo, they've got many more popular 3rd party games that would never have been seen on the Wii. For once, Nintendo has big names like Assassins Creed, Mass Effect, and even decent editions of Call of Duty and Fifa. However, Nintendo isn't letting people know they exist. With their casual market gone, Nintendo needs to get the hardcore market in, and showing off Nintendo Land just won't do it.

You wouldn't be a fool to think that Nintendo has some dark times ahead of them, but I still believe the Wii U has some potential, and this is how the Wii U can still be a success:

1. The next Xbox is to be Kinect mandatory, thus taking away the hardcore market from Microsoft.
While it's pretty likely that the Xbox fans will move to the Playstation 4, some may still go to the Wii U if the next Playstation controller is buttonless. If Nintendo is lucky, the sales will be coming to them.

2. Launch a system seller.
Nintendo Land doesn't have quite as much of the appeal that Wii Sports did. While Nintendo is getting some exclusives like Bayonetta and Rayman (Oh wait, betrayal!), it hasn't got much special right now. Their first party titles will still sell amongst the devoted, but Nintendo needs to get those who weren't previously interested. Perhaps bringing back some old first party franchises like F-Zero may appeal to the racing fans, but Nintendo needs to get some popular third party titles to make them more likely to sell, and if they're lucky, try and make them exclusive.
(Just a hint, Nintendo, Lego City: Undercover just isn't your killer app)

3. Get the families back in.
Nintendo fans may have hated their casual approach, but the smart ones would have known that it was keeping their beloved company in business. The upcoming Wii Party U NEEDS to be advertised, as well as the new Wii Fit U. Quite simply, Nintendo needs to appeal to the "casual" and "hardcore", not just their fanbase, who will buy their stuff no matter what.

There is still hope. The 3DS sold below expectations when it came out due to the fact there were hardly any good games to buy it. However, now due to games like Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Resident Evil: Relevations, it's selling much better. As long as Nintendo plays their cards right, and Microsoft and Sony don't, they'll be back on track.