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With the Wii U meeting it’s inevitable death with the upcoming release of the Nintendo NX at some point this year (maybe), it is time to look back on the Wii U’s short existence of four years and answer one of life’s most important questions. Is the Wii U a success or failure?

Sales

Statistically, one would argue that the Wii U is clearly a failure. The Nintendo Wii U has sold over 12 million units and it appears that it will never reach the dizzy heights of the Nintendo Wii, which has sold over 100 million units. This leaves us to question why the Wii u has sold so badly in comparison. It could be due to the novelty the Wii provided with the introduction of motion controls and in comparison to the Wii U’s unique selling point being basically a controller with a screen that doesn’t really affect game play at all. The controller is so complex that even game developers are unsure how to utilize it, the complexity of combining the controller with gaming has alienated the more casual players which do make up a fairly large number of Nintendo’s audience. The Wii U is also very under powered in comparison to other home console systems and the graphics just do not hold up as well. Furthermore the Wii U’s launch titles were surprisingly disappointing; there were the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops II in the list but many would prefer to play games like this on other consoles such as the PlayStation 4. Having said this, there’s now some amazing exclusives in the Wii U’s library.

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Wii U Exclusives

Since the Wii U’s launch, however, the Nintendo Wii U has had some amazing games populate its library. Splatoon has been described as Nintendo’s answer to Call of Duty and if Nintendo were going to design a Call of Duty game I am pretty sure that it would look very much like Splatoon – light-hearted, colorful and a joy to play, it is what Nintendo do best. Splatoon’s multiplayer is where the game really shines, frantic madness unfolds as teams attempt to cover as much of the map as they can with their team color by shooting paint in every direction. Furthermore, Mario Kart 8 is considered one of the best Mario Kart games yet, the Wii U cannot be all that bad. Xenoblade Chronicles X proved that the Wii U could handle massive open world games that look simply stunning and offer amazing game play, despite the slightly lifeless characters. Furthermore, we cannot ignore the fact that the Wii U also provided us with stunning remakes of both The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Wind Waker. These remakes did not only bring these games back to life, adding surreal beauty to the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess and bringing a renewed sense of childhood adventure and imagination to Wind Waker. These remakes also improved on their predecessors, finally fixing that sailing mechanic in Wind Waker, for example, making the Wii U the definitive way to play two amazing The Legend of Zelda games.

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How kind of you

The Dreaded GamePad Controller

We touched on the complexity of the GamePad earlier but unfortunately there are still many more problems with it. Firstly, the battery is so tiny I am not sure it can even be seen with the naked eye, I feel like I am charging the GamePad every half an hour. If Nintendo really wanted this device to be used in conjunction with all the Wii U’s games, they could have at least made it long enough to last more than one track on Mario Kart. Moreover, the GamePad also feels almost medieval, its design is chunky and it does not add anything to game play. The GamePad is too big and heavy to be used as a consistent controller as it is simply too uncomfortable and the touchscreen is hardly used. The GamePad’s main uses are as an inventory or a map screen. You can use the GamePad as a second screen, meaning you can play games separate from your TV screen. However, one does wonder why on earth you would want to do this as the screen is pretty tiny and looks awful in comparison. Having slated the GamePad a little harshly, it should be said that the GamePad is helpful when sorting your inventory, you do not have to pause the game, you can multi-task and change items whilst still moving in the game, although this added convenience does not excuse the GamePad from its many shortcomings.

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Which screen do they want us to look at?!

Nintendo Doing Nintendo Things

The Wii U could be seen as Nintendo doing what Nintendo do best, which is completely their own thing. Nintendo innovate in such a unique way in comparison to other consoles, never being afraid to completely mix up how we are used to playing games. At least Nintendo are certainly not afraid to try something different, even though failure is a possibility. Many other consoles play it very safe, releasing new generations that simply provide better specs with the same control system as usual. However, we have Sony and Microsoft to do that. Nintendo are the company that reignite imagination and do not fear change but embrace it. Many serious gamers disregard Nintendo because of the ‘if it ain’t broke’ mind-set, however, it is refreshing to see Nintendo doing what they love and providing us with new consoles that are so very different from their predecessor. Hopefully Nintendo will learn from their mistakes with the Wii U and provide us with their best console yet with the Nintendo NX.

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The Verdict

The Nintendo Wii U is probably one of the strangest consoles Nintendo has released. There is nothing awful about it however, it just is not good enough to compete with what is already available on the market today. The Wii U has some amazing games and for this I believe that the console is not a failure. As we already know, graphics are not everything and the Wii U reminds us of this by providing some incredibly fun gaming experiences even without the graphical power of its competition. The Wii U could be seen as a failure in that the sales are very disappointing and it certainly will not replace your PlayStation or Xbox. However, the Wii U can certainly sit proudly next to your other consoles, ready and waiting for when you feel like being swept up into the imaginative and slightly bizarre world of Nintendo. So wipe the dust and cobwebs away and give the Wii U another chance.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. It’s likely going to see its final 100K sales in 2017, because Nintendo never officially said production was over, they said production was ending “soon”, along with all the Wii U’s that were to be shipped in fiscal 2016 have done so (only 800K for fiscal 2016, which sounds about right that they’ve all been shipped given how late into fiscal 2016 we are). There’s likely those last 100K remaining in the pipeline which is likely being saved for a Zelda bundle to end it.

  2. just wait till it cemu makes a hit on the pc scene…. dophins doing really well,

    that’ll spark interest when its cheaper and bundled up

  3. I want to explain why the Wii U, REALLY failed to live up to it’s predecessor’s standards. People say that it’s because casuals got bored of their Wii’s and moved on to tablets. But the issue runs a lot deeper than that.
    First, we need to look at the conception of the platform. The Wii U was supposed to be a follow up to the Wii, by building upon many of the design principals that platform introduced, while at the same time, trying to get the Multiplatform support and “core” audience of the PS360. To do so, the controller needed to be both simple for casuals, and complex for “cores”. The answer, do what the DS did, put a touch screen on the controller, give it more advanced motion controls, and make it large so that full games can be played on the controller. These all sounded like good ideas on paper, but as I’ll explain later, the execution murdered them.

    When the platform was finally unveiled at E3 2011, a lot of red flags were raised. First, calling it the Wii U. Not only was this a confusing name, but by this point, the Wii was quickly showing it’s age, and needed a successor. So why, with that point in mind, would you name a console after a brand that quickly lost steam? But the name was the least of the Wii U’s problems. So much emphasis was placed on it’s new controller, later named the Wii U Gamepad. As such, people were confused as to whether this was an add-on for the Wii, or a new platform all together. The Gamepad itself was also very difficult to grasp, but I’ll get to that later. The games initially unveiled were the same type of “hardcore” Multiplatform titles as the PS360. With a lack of info and lack of explanation, something was off about this new system.

    When the system finally released in 2012, the Wii U’s problems became clear. It was rushed, unpolished, and lacked a cohesive identity of it’s own. And that’s what especially killed the Wii U IMO, a lack of direction. It felt like it was trying to do too many things at once, but failing to do many of them well. Does it want to be a Casual system? Core system? Kids system? Family system? Nintendo fan system? It was hard to tell when Nintendo kept changing it’s focus at the drop of a hat. As a result, nobody knew what the hell the Wii U was. It was terribly marketed and poorly supported.

    Which brings me to the Wii U’s second big problem, lack of support. There’s a bit of a misconception that the Wii had no 3rd party support, but when you think about it, it actually did, a lot more than you may initially think. True a lot of it was cheap shovelware garbage, and lacked a lot of the big AAA Multiplatform games due to it’s power differences and controls. But there were quite a few developers who took the time to play to the system’s strengths and make good games because of it. Nearly every major publisher was releasing something on the Wii in some way shape or form. But with the Wii U, unless it was an indie developer, nobody wanted to go near the thing.

    Nintendo once again had an underpowered system that was hard to port to, but this time, it was mostly due to timing. The Wii U was designed to combat the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and was actually more powerful than those systems. The problem? The PS360 were kind of over. Just a year later their Successors, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released and had much more competent hardware. So it was competing against rivals that were about to retire. On top of that, trouble was brewing with actually getting developers to make games for it. Nintendo now had a system within the same power as the PS360, but didn’t actually communicate properly to developers on how to make anything for it. Not only that, but Nintendo also kept changing the specs of the Wii U out of nowhere. Imagine if you were a developer, already having to deal with poor tools and communication, and now they do something like this. Well you have no idea how many games were actually cancelled both in-house at Nintendo, and from 3rd parties. Devs went “Well if the company is going to keep screwing with us like this, to hell with them we’re going to the PS4”.

    But none of those problems compare to the Gamepad. Ah yes, the Gamepad. I’ve avoided talking about it as much as I could, but I think it was a culmination of all of the Wii U’s problems in one device. It’s not a bad idea for a controller, in fact, it’s actually pretty brilliant. But the problem wasn’t the idea behind the Gamepad, the problem was how it was executed. Their first mistake making the thing needlessly huge. Players didn’t need a 6 in. Screen on their controller, and casual gamers saw it as a poor man’s iPad. Which brings me to problem #2, it has way too many features. The Gamepad was packed to too much useless technology that did nothing but drive up costs more. Unlike the Wii Remote where it’s features all felt coherent and worked together to create a unique experience, the Gamepad’s features all felt out of place, and awkward. Camera, Sensor Bar, NFC reader, IR port, external port. Much of these things could’ve been cut and the device would’ve been much cheaper, not to mention, much better without them. You also couldn’t use more than one for multiplayer, so I hope got those Wiimotes and Pro controllers lying around.

    But the biggest problem, was that it went against the very princibles that the Wii Remote, and really Nintendo in general were built on. A clean interface, and simplicity. I explained this before in my last thread, but what made the Wii remote work was it’s simple, intuitive interface. It’s motion based controls and streamlined button layout ment anyone, young, old, casual, core, neutral, could easily grasp it. But contrastly, the Gamepad, even compared to more conventional controllers, just feels too cluttered. As such, casual gamers saw it as too convoluted for it’s own good, and core gamers saw it as too gimmicky and slapped together to be a viable controller. What you get, is a device, nobody wants. Because of this, the Gamepad lacked a true killer app, a Game that easily so the concept of the system. Good luck finding a Wii Sports, Nintendogs, or Mario 3D Land on the Wii U Gamepad. Nintendo Land was good, but it lacked the simplicity and easy to grasp nature of those titles.

    On top of all this though, Nintendo’s struggles with HD ment we got less 1st party games than we normally get, which led to some of the most painful software droughts in gaming history. Now let’s look internally as to why these things happened, which actually pre-dates the Wii U, and can be traced all the way back to the late Wii days, where management at Nintendo was all over the place. I won’t go into too much detail here, because let’s face it, I already wrote an essay in this post. But long story short, in order to get anything done, each division of the company, including shareholders, needed to be on board with the plan. If even one division says no, then that idea is as good as dead. Now combine that with out of touch senior board members, constant clashing of old and new ideas, petty backstabbing, and a complete lack of a unified vision for the company, and you have a recepie for disaster. If you want to learn more, go read the Interview with Dan Alderman or the back story of the development on the cancelled Wii game, Project H.A.M.M.E.R. They’re quite eye openers.

    So the bottom line is this, you now have a market where publishers and consumers are confused and pissed at you, you’re a hundred dollars more expensive than your retiring competetors, and you don’t have a killer showpiece game. So what do you do? Before long the PS4 steamrolls the Wii U, as does the Xbox One. By 2015 the writing was on the wall, Wii U was a disaster. More recently, Nintendo announced that they’re significantly cutting back on Wii U shipments. So if they have no faith in this platform, then why should we?

    And that my friends, is why the Wii U REALLY failed, and tis’ a shame.

    TL;DR: The Wii U failed due to poor planning and timing, sloppy management, and missing what made it’s predecessor so successful.

    • Well, not having used a single thing by Nintendo in my life, I can’t really judge anything here. But what I will say is that it’s an interesting insight into Nintendo at the least.

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