The success of the Nintendo Wii lies in the approach taken by its developers to not compete with other game companies on their computing capabilities. Rather the foundation of the Wii was to construct a console that could be played by a broad audience through novel gameplay, cornering a market that may have not taken interest in games before. While the move was quite risking, it catapulted Nintendo into the limelight. Within its 6-year reign and beyond, the Nintendo Wii managed to sell 101.63 Million units worldwide, making it the bestselling video game console in history.
But this post isn’t supposed to be about success stories, rather the opposite which takes the form of Nintendo’s next console in line, the Wii U. The stark juxtaposition between the tales of the Nintendo Wii & Wii U led to a dramatic decline in popularity for the games company, but why? The Wii U was supposed to be the Wii’s successor, however ended up becoming Nintendo’s worst selling console, besides the Virtual Boy in the 90’s, so how did it go so wrong?
The innovative selling point for the Wii was that it was a family console, providing gameplay options for a wide variety of people, especially those new to gaming culture which had just starting to break into the mainstream. The Wii’s controller invited people of any background and skill to come together to play with the focus on motion controls. This created a dynamic that didn’t revolve around the ability to mash buttons in certain patterns, rather about your ability to move.
The Wii U attempted to create a similar invitation of inclusion with the ‘Gamepad’, a controller somewhat reminiscent of the Wii yet included analogue sticks, a camera and most prominently, a 6.2inch touchscreen. This is due to the rising tablet and smartphone market at the time. The first iPhone being released in 2007 is what sparked this cultural shift, touch screens were the new fad, so it made sense to try and connect with the same market to invite a broader audience over once again to the dark si– I mean video game world.
But the Wii U completely missed the mark as it didn’t offer any other inventive qualities. With the introduction of the touch screen came the universe of mobile gaming which robbed Nintendo of its spotlight. Why would someone pay $430 for a relatively stationary console that can only do a fraction of what the smartphone in their pocket could do? And this doesn’t even take into consideration the slow game releases; Considering it was now competing with the App Store which uploaded new games daily, it was a struggle for the Wii U to be taken seriously.
The Wii U just couldn’t establish a spot within the market, unless you were hellbent on the sequels of the existing Nintendo franchises released on the console. But thankfully, we now have the Switch which is clearly inspired by such a failure and is in the running to one day take over the Wii.
The conclusion we can all take from this is failure doesn’t always lead to an end, but rather new beginnings.