Don't Panic: The Wii U Naysayers Are Wrong

Nintendo is doomed. Haven't you heard? They're about to release a new, underpowered console with a funny name that's built around a silly gimmick. There's no way anyone will buy it.

Oh, wait. That was the Wii. And the DS. And the 3DS. All of which have turned into ridiculous successes for the folks who make Mario, despite the never-ending deluge of gamers shouting about how Nintendo was going to fail.

This should all sound quite familiar by now. With the Wii U coming out, the Nintendo cycle has begun anew.

Maybe you've read some of the arguments online, heard some of the naysayers in person. "The Wii U is such a joke," they might have said. "Who wants to play games on two screens at once?"

"The Wii U doesn't know what it wants to be!"

"It's such a gimmick!"

Never mind the fact that we saw these arguments in 2006, just before the Wii became the biggest console on the planet and took over living rooms worldwide. This time, things will be different, the naysayers argue. This time, Nintendo won't get the throngs of grandparents and children hooked by crazy gimmicks and easy marketing hooks. This time, nobody will care.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Nintendo is making a game console that any video game fan should be excited about. It comes with an all-in-one media centre that could make it the only device your living room needs. It's got a neat social network that could supplement our gaming experiences in some interesting ways. It has a weird, crazy controller with a ton of potential.

Perhaps most importantly, the Wii U boasts one of the strongest launch lineups in Nintendo history, a slate of games more varied and interesting than anything we saw in the first few months of the Wii, 3DS, DS, or even GameCube. This is a console to be reckoned with.

Learning From Its Mistakes

When I left Nintendo's big 3DS extravaganza in January of 2011, all I could think was: "They're releasing this system too early."

When I left Nintendo's big Wii U extravaganza last week, all I could think was: "I want to play more."

The 3DS's launch, even Nintendo would tell you, was a near-catastrophic failure. The game lineup was barren. The eShop was late. And gamers just didn't care about the system's biggest selling point, glasses-free 3D.

To recover from this misstep, Nintendo had to slash down the system's price from $US250 to $US170 in an unprecedented (and drastic) fire sale. It took that price cut, a Black Friday, and a couple of Mario games for the system to finally start taking off.

Nintendo doesn't want that to happen again. They're not making the same mistakes with Wii U, and the system's launch lineup is proof of that.

The Wii U's launch window, as Nintendo likes to brag, will feature around 50 games. Some of those are shovelware. Others are games we've all played already. But between November and March, we'll see some really strong original titles: a new Mario, a new Pikmin, the delightfully wacky The Wonderful 101, the much-hyped ZombiU, a new Scribblenauts, and an enticing mini-game collection called Nintendo Land that might be this system's hidden gem.

Plus all the new PS3/Xbox 360 games that are finally getting simultaneous releases on a Nintendo system: Assassin's Creed III, Epic Mickey 2, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, among others.

To top that off, Nintendo announced last week that they're publishing a sequel to Bayonetta, a game released for the Xbox and PlayStation, as a Wii U exclusive. A hardcore game that a lot of fans would love to get their hands on, Bayonetta 2 might be Nintendo's way of saying "hey guys, we're not screwing around this time." And it's exactly what the Wii U needs.

The Power Problem

From everything we've heard and seen over the past few months, it's become clear that the Wii U will not be as powerful as the next Xbox, code-named Durango, or the next PlayStation, code-named Orbis. Consequently, many are sceptical that the Wii U will be able to run next-generation games by big developers. In three or four years, the Wii U could find itself in the same position that the Wii has been: underpowered and unable to run the games we get on Xbox and PlayStation.

I prodded Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime about this issue when I interviewed him last week. He believes that third-party developers will flock to the Wii U because it has two strengths that the Wii lacked: high-definition resolution and strong online support.

I don't know if that's going to happen, and I don't know if we'll see games like Call of Duty or Mass Effect on the Wii U in three or four years. But I don't think that power problem will be much of a problem at all. In fact, I don't think the Wii U can succeed by trying to tread water alongside the PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. The Wii U, like its predecessor, needs to do its own thing.

The Wii U will not live or die based on whether it gets the newest

As Nintendo seems to have realised, the Wii U will not live or die based on whether it gets the newest Call of Duty. The Wii U won't need to play Assassin's Creed 5 or Final Fantasy 17. To appeal to everyone, from hardcore Nintendo fans to families that like to play the occasional video game in their living room, the Wii U needs to have its own robust library of unique, original titles that we can't get anywhere else.

The Wii U needs more Marios, more Zeldas, yes, but what it really needs is more Bayonetta 2s. More The Wonderful 101s. More Nintendo Lands. More small digital games and fun time-wasters and hardcore RPGs and long, in-depth, dual-screen experiences that we can only get on Nintendo's new system. We're already seeing the start of that.

When criticising the Wii U, many people have pointed out that Nintendo doesn't seem to have one specific target audience in mind, that Nintendo doesn't know whether it wants to target hardcore gamers or hardcore grandmas. But why wouldn't they want both? Why wouldn't they want everyone? Nintendo isn't interested in being like Sony or Microsoft; Nintendo wants to be Apple. Facebook. And I think they're on the right track.

Quite a few folks have also criticised Nintendo for not talking more about their online capabilities. Many critics have suggested that Nintendo has yet to decide how its digital network will run. That they're scrambling at the last minute to get it together.

Maybe they are. That doesn't make a bit of difference. Why should we care what Nintendo is showing off now, two months before the Wii U's launch? What will matter is what the online network looks like on November 18, when we get to see it, play around with it and test it out for ourselves.

What we should be worried about, what I'm most worried about, is that developers won't master the GamePad, that they won't figure out how to use it, that they'll prematurely give up on it like many of them gave up on the Wii. Towards the end of that system's lifespan, we saw very few big, high-quality Wii games. And they all came from Nintendo. If the same thing happens to the Wii U — if Nintendo burns longterm supporters again and can't give us a steady dripfeed of high-quality content — the company may be in serious trouble.

There are still questions, of course. Will Nintendo adapt to the times and start selling value packages or discounted games like Steam does? Will the Wii U be more welcoming to indie developers than the Wii has been? Will Bayonetta 2 be an anomaly or will it usher in a new era of Nintendo-exclusive games?

But everything Nintendo has done and shown so far says to me that they know exactly what they're doing. They know our concerns. We wanted games: they're giving us games. We wanted other media: they're giving us other media. We wanted HD, online support, and other big features that all should have been around last generation: now we're getting them.

Perhaps it's time for the world to admit that maybe, just maybe, Nintendo knows what it's doing.


Comments

    Yes, the Wii became the biggest console in the world, but it died off in quick fashion compared to even the Gamecube before it. How many of those core audience buyers bought more than Wii Sports and Carnival Games? Why does anyone need a media center when most people already own an Xbox or a Playstation, or they could even buy a Roku for under $100? Who is REALLY going to flock to another social network, especially one with censored content? Who is going to want to play Xbox 360 era titles this time next year when the new generation really kicks in? I'm not counting Nintendo out, but i have to admit there are bigger hurdles this generation than even the Wii had to offer.

    Although, I think the Apple argument is spot on. Nintendo is more about flash than substance when it comes to hardware. The good games do come eventually, but Nintendo waits to debut big features like Online and HD graphics on their own timetable. Maybe it's just not for me anymore, I'd much rather have a Droid that does all those things and more, and I'd much rather upgrade my PC and buy a new Xbox. I have to imagine I'm not alone among the gaming community.

      " but it died off in quick fashion"
      Stop reading there. 0/10

        Why? I bought mine at launch and for at least the last 2.5 years I haven't taken it back out of the box.

        I don't care much for Zelda and I'm a bit sick of Mario games too. No games have made me want or need to use it. All power to you if you still use yours, but I get what he's trying to say.

          Yeah, and I'm definitely not sick of the fake war games. Geez

        +1

        The Wii easily had around 20-30 of the best games of this generation.

        ” but it died off in quick fashion”
        Stop reading there. 0/10

      Copy & Paste >
      ” but it died off in quick fashion”
      Stop reading there. 0/10

        Yeah i still use mine

      Copy & Paste >
      ” but it died off in quick fashion”
      Stop reading there. 0/10

    I am buying. The wii will go back into the box (after a dusting) and the wii u will take its place in the loungeroom next to the other two. Being able to play on the tablet whilst my Partner watches TV is a big selling point for me. BUT online needs to be sorted out. Smash bros and Mario Kart were a tedious mess online. Just fix online Nintendo

      The Wii didn't die off quickly at all, especially compared to the Gamecube which didn't take off at all.

      When I get the WiiU I think my Wii will get hooked up to the other TV and become a dedicated Wii Fit Weight Recorder and Gamecube game player.

        It's funny when people point out how the wii is dead! Because its still outselling the Vita :p

        Troll? Maybe, but I'm over all the Nintendo / Wii U hate. These people have missed out on some of the best games of the last 5 years. P.S. I have all 3 consoles, because I'm a gamer, not a hater!

          no sir, i believe you are rich

            I believe they call it budgeting ....not being rich :p

          +1 LIKE!

          Everything this guy said. ^
          Also, every generation I upgrade my PC, buy Nintendo's console, then EITHER Sony or Microsoft's. You don't need an Xbox and a Playstation, they have all the same stuff. But you definitely need a Wii (or Wii U) and an Xbox/PS3 to get the full gamut of everything gaming has to offer.

    I am holding off buying a Wii U until I see at least a few games worth getting it for. So far none of the games announced for the release window even remotely excite me or just feel gimmicky, gimped or uninspired.

      Bayonetta 2, Rayman Legends, Zombie U and New Super Mario Bros U.. Nothing really 'gimmicky' or 'gimped' there I would say. What exactly do you mean by gimped when describing a video game pray tell..

    Nintendo. Now your playing with power!

    Well, I just pre-ordered the black premium version yesterday.

    It's the first console (Nintendo or otherwise) I've pre-ordered since the N64, and I'm confident that it's going to be great. I'll also be ordering NSMBU, ZombieU, Rayman Legends, and Scribblenauts Unlimited from Ozgameshop, because they're way cheaper.

    Also, I don't care about the fact that the WiiU will be under-powered in a year or so. I buy a Nintendo console to play the exclusives, it's all about the gameplay, not the graphics.

    Yeah ok, post this article after wiiu has already started selling out presolds.

    They sold out in GameStop America already.

      Are you replying to me? If so that's my point. Writing an article about how a console will be successful after its already started selling out seems a bit pointless to me.
      Then again I could just be annoyed because I've been saying the same thing as this article (including comparisons with apple) a few weeks ago.

    I don't think Nintendo is doomed...yet.

    If Nintendo doesn't pick up their slack in terms of performance over the next few consoles...they're going to fall behind.

    And I don't want that.

    Its not going to be as powerful as the current Xbox from what I've heard, and many third party games are already not using the Wii U to its full potential (a mistake a lot of third party devs made on the Wii) which makes them look like something I would be playing either on the Wii or the PS2 (go check the Activision line up trailer and see what I'm talking about).

    Sure, Reggie is kind of right. You need HD and an good online component. But that's only a few pieces of the puzzle...and it's missing a vital piece...performance.

    I don't mind games looking out of date (since I don't play a game from graphics)...but if the system looks like it was built 5 years ago than there's a problem.

    I say the Wii U is just going to ride solely on its Tablet gimmick for sales like it did with their previous one of good motion controls.

    Wake up Nintendo, or you're going to fall behind and die off...and we all don't want that to happen to one of the best gaming companies in the world.

    Just my thoughts. I hope I'm wrong.

      Don't worry, you are 100% wrong.

      I stopped reading this as soon as you said it's not as powerful as the current Xbox. Get out. The NEXT Xbox, yeah, but this gen? Bye.

    Depends on what you mean by doomed. If you're talking net profit, then who knows, it might be a success. If you're talking about making games that gamers actually like, it sounds like Nintendo is heading further and further down a 'doomed' path. The Wii had some great games over its life. Almost 0% of them used the wii motion controls. Those that did, wouldn't have used them in a meaningful way. Mario galaxy for example. I could care less if it used the wiimote or not. The only useful thing it added from a control standpoint was being able to flick the control in any direction to perform an extra jump. This could have been performed by an extra button though. The wiimote helped the first zelda in the most minor fashion making for easier arrow firing, but ruined the second zelda. What a tiring experience Skyward Sword was. A simple "a + direction" would have made the sword fighting a lot more responsive. So what did the Wii itself actually bring to the party that say, the gamecube didn't? I think it brought basically nothing. All the games I loved on the wii could have been made for the GC only I would have had the much more comfortable and accurate wavebird in my hands.

    So people probably say the Wii U is doomed, because no gamers really care two way about whether they can play the same game on a big screen or the same game on a smaller screen, or how worthless a touchscreen interface is to most games. Those that mostly bought "games" like wiisports and other carnival experiences were buying tech junk, and not a gaming system. Completely different audience. If that's what Nintendo wants to go for, be my guest - just don't expect your original fan base to care.

      "So people probably say the Wii U is doomed, because no gamers really care two way about whether they can play the same game on a big screen or the same game on a smaller screen, or how worthless a touchscreen interface is to most games."

      I completely disagree. The touchscreen opens many doors to other genres that were previously available only to PC games. RTS', MMO's not to mention http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/09/10 are all now viable for a console.

        If people still play D&D on paper - which they do - I doubt the Wii U screen is going to make them rethink their decision now. "After years of failed technology finally we have Wiimots and the Wii U. The curse of pen and paper is over! We never have to play D&D again!" - not going to happen. There's a reason people play D&D on paper rather than on their iphones. They don't care about the tech, they care about the game.

        Same thing for the Wii U. Look if it has great games I won't disparage it. I don't want to just attack it outright. If its innovative and useful then that's great. But I'm just saying that the focus seems to be on the touch screen and the control which is really only cursory to the games. If the Wii U improves item management in an RPG, then great. But that's not revolutionary, it's just "nice". If the focus is on shitty Wii U baseball games where you can catch a bill in the Wii U - well, who care? Gamers certainly don't.

        Even if it did bring minor improvements to the experience in terms of ease of use (which I doubt, since I think the gamecube's controller was infinitely more useful than the Wii's) is that worth it as the main selling point of your game?

        Dark souls has no motion control bs or waiving a wand around. It has some of the tightest controls of any game I've played and I was thankful for it. If if pressed attack, it would attack. If I pressed it twice, it would attack twice. It was incredibly responsive so much so that you could play at a perfect level if you were good enough. Would anything the Wii U has to offer bring anything to a game like Dark Souls? I seriously doubt it. And since I doubt it, I ended up asking what the point of the Wii U is.

        I could almost even say this about the DS. The dual screens do not offer that much other
        than having what would normally be a pause menu available at all times. I largely don't care about the double screen or the touch screen. The majority of the good games on the DS are good just because they are good games and the touch/dual screen on add minor usability features. I wouldn't take them away of course (not would I suggest that for the Wii U). I just don't think they are what make the system.

          It doesn't have to be revolutionary and even if it does just act like an inventory interface for rpg's, it is still a significant improvement.
          I'll also point out that RTSs have a great chance of attempting consoles again and a game like minecraft would be fantastic with this controller (inventory+crafting table).

          http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/09/10

          thats fantastic... done right i would buy the hell out of it

    I have no doubts Nintendo will sell a ton of these, just like the Wii. Nintendo could sell Mario-shaped dog turds by the truckload. But just like the Wii, in 2 years most of these will be gathering dust.

    Based on sales alone, people are going to be saying the Wii was the greatest game console ever, but how many GAMERS would call it that? Only the most rabid and deluded Nintendo fans I would imagine. And maybe some pensioners who love Wii Sports Bowling day down at the Home.

      I am a gamer, and I believe the Wii is EPIC!

    Nintendo products may sell, but that doesnt mean they are any good. Nintendo products are a cheap baby sitter for parents. If i where a parent, i'd buy a Wii for my child over an xbox or ps3. Nintendos demographic are Children and immature adults who still think Miyamoto is the god of video game development.

      well shigeru miyamato is the god of video game development. and you are right only if you know how to behave in the most ignorant manner. check up gamerankings or metacritics the two most famous game critics site and there you will find the top 3 all time best games released on any platform till date are directed by him. 1)legend of zelda ocarnia of time 2) super mario galaxy 3) super mario galaxy 2. he has not only given the best games in terms of quality but also some of the best selling ones. supermario bros. sold 40.24 million . does call of duty or gta make this far ?
      and super mario did this in very early stage of its life. miyamato has not only produced the best selling video game franchise mario 270 million and still selling huge , he also played a very big role in bringing back fame to the video game industry after the severe video game crash of 1983. moreover he has also given us the best video game franchise in terms of quality judging it by unversal critics legend of zelda and if you dont believe me go check wikipedia. just name any one video game developer or a video game developing company that has done this. i know there are none but lets still see what you got and do mention facts ( if you have any).

      Do I smell someone who believes to be very "serious" and "mature" and -should I say it?- "hardcore" because his tee-vee games are all about killing pseudorealistic textures on humanoid 3D models with his first-person gun?

        +1 - Unfortunately yes - too many gamers these days think that hyper-realistic violence = proper gaming. And that one must love ONLY these games to be a "hardcore gamer"....LOL!

        I say, WHY DONT YOU HARDEN UP AND PLAY MARIO, YOU BLOODY PUSSY!

        LOL!

    "They’re about to release a new, underpowered console with a funny name that’s built around a silly gimmick. " People will buy it regardless. The opening was almost perfect.

    I just dont understand why nintendo is releasing a console that is only on par with what was out 5 or 6 years ago.

    Surely technology has advanced more than what this console is showing. I really hope the wii u is AT LEAST 1.5 times as powerful as current gen or it really will be dissapoi

      I hate when people keep saying this. It IS more powerful than all three of the current gen. Jesus Christ.

    I wholeheartedly agree in that nintendo shouldn't be aiming to out class the competition that is microsoft and sony. They've picked their own path to follow and i think that's what will lure people in and make the wii u an iconic console. Like companies such as facebook or apple they havent selected a particular target audience and set their sights on them, they are entering the realm of producing products for the masses which is what will make it such a success. From a gamers point of view sure the gamepad seems gimmicky and there's a chance the next-gen consoles will outperform it on a number of levels but its the fact that nintendo is evolving to include HD along with a wider variety of 3rd party that will make me want to buy a wii u. Not every game on the wii utilised the wii's motion controls, it was unecessary for a number of games (even nintendo games) so im sure not every single 3rd party game on the wii u will include gimmicky tablet controls that draw attention away from the game itself. Nintendo have added the second screen for one purpose, to add an extra dimension to gaming. Their idea of asymmetric gameplay is original , intuitive and seems to make many games seem more in depth and interactive. Its the execution of the next few months including the much needed fixing of online gameplay and the introducing of a strong lineup of games that will determine the fate of wii u and nintendo.

    "As Nintendo seems to have realised, the Wii U will not live or die based on whether it gets the newest Call of Duty. The Wii U won’t need to play Assassin’s Creed 5 or Final Fantasy 17. To appeal to everyone, from hardcore Nintendo fans to families that like to play the occasional video game in their living room, the Wii U needs to have its own robust library of unique, original titles that we can’t get anywhere else."

    This is why I have been a Nintendo fan for so many years. Their game library appealed to me as a child and it still appeals to me today.

    I'll never understand where this whole "Wii is the greatest console ever" thing is coming from, even from a sales standpoint PS2 has still sold more (over 50'000 more).

      Because at least 75% of those sales were because people wanted a DVD player.

    It's going to fail. Maybe not now but 2-3years. Nintendo are really reaching. There advertising third party games like exclusives. Who gives a crap if Wii U can play AC3, BO2, Batman, etc. Why would I spend $350 for a wii u when I can just buy it for a console i already own.

    Wii U doesn't need anymore mario or zelda games at least nothing like mario bros wii u, it looks exactly the same as the wii version.

    They should be showing us their online network now. They want people buying COD on wii u then give us a reason why? BO2 comes like 2-3 weeks before wii u on PS3/Xbox/PC by the time its out on wii u its already made billions. Who is going to wait that long for a lesser online experience.

      Ignorant as hell. Nintendo has a reason for showing off the good third party games they have. What GOOD third party games did you see on the Wii? Thought so.

      Also, just because you haven't seen or played their online doesn't mean it's bad. No one played it yet. Why don't you wait until you actually play the system before you post ignorant comments like this?

    ...but the Sega Gensis has BLAST PROCESSING!

      Genesis even (where's the edit button Kotaku?)

    It's going to fail. Maybe not now but 2-3years. Nintendo are really reaching. There advertising third party games like exclusives. Who gives a crap if Wii U can play AC3, BO2, Batman, etc. Why would I spend $350 for a wii u when I can just buy it for a console i already own.

    Wii U doesn't need anymore mario or zelda games at least nothing like mario bros wii u, it looks exactly the same as the wii version.

    They should be showing us their online network now. They want people buying COD on wii u then give us a reason why? BO2 comes like 2-3 weeks before wii u on PS3/Xbox/PC by the time its out on wii u its already made billions. Who is going to wait that long for a lesser online experience.

      Why buy cod on wiiu? Well cod is famous for graphically intense games and wiiu will likely provide the best performance.

        "Well cod is famous for graphically intense games"

        Ha. Cute. That must be why they change engine every game >..>

        COD players are going to stay on the platform their friends are on, so it's highly unlikely XBL/PSN/PC COD players are going to switch.

          "COD players are going to stay on the platform their friends are on, so it’s highly unlikely XBL/PSN/PC COD players are going to switch."

          Good - im glad. We dont need so many douches on the Nintendo network! LOL!

            Judging from your many posts on WiiU topics today, you seem to have that amply covered o_0

              Yes....yes I do! Hahaha!

      LOL - dude, you obviously have not played COD MW3 or COD BO on Wii before, using the Wii-mote and nunchuck setup???

      Do yourself a favour and try it out - it is INSANELY GOOD! I am picking up BO2 for the Wii U - the Wii mote setup is BETTER than keyboard and mouse, hands down!

    No such thing as hardcore gamers - just try hard gamers.

    Nintendo + PC = WIN

    Playstation & Xbox = Fail

    nuff said.

      Dave, I personally believe - in this generation - there are few, if any reasons to own both the PS3 and the XB360. Having said that, I fail to see how we "WIN" with the Wii involved in any equation. It is downright shit as a gaming console. Echoing a fellow poster above, there was too much emphasis on motion controls - turned out to be gimmicky thanks to how developers have used it.

      I've got a 4yr old pc with OC'd C2D, a 2yr old Radeon6870 and it works for 98% games at min 60 FPS - PC is ALMOST UNBEATABLE with STEAM. I should've NEVER bought the damn Wii / Piss - even Mario games are no longer doing anything for me.
      The PS3 is a wonderful example of hardware & software working intuitively (compared to any other console), but after the legacy of the PS & PS2, what a spectacular failure. Still a vastly superior gaming machine than the Wii.
      The XB360 TBH, is the best gaming platform - it shows its age with its interface and hardware compared to the PS3, but the games make it No.1. The few truly excellent PS3 exclusives aren't good enough to have both consoles.

      Sadly for me, I've learned above the hard way:
      40GB Fat PS3 in December 2007, sold it and bought 120GB Slim in 2010... OK choice as games machine, but with media etc - overall a worthy machine to have as long as money is not tight
      Wii was bought in 2010 when the red Mario anniversary edition was out... bad choice
      Bought the XB360 much later than ether console, despite owning and loving the original Xbox for 5 years. With so many games using the Unreal engine, trust me when I say that the XB360 does a better job rendering those than PS3.... the only proper gaming choice this gen.

        LOL - hates the Wii, but has never owned one or played games on it.....such an experienced opinion!

    This article brought to you by Nintendo.

    Nintendo: Why are you not worshiping us as gods yet?

    Kotaku have been the amongst biggest sponsors of the anti-Wii U campaign in the world. At least the US-site has...

      EXACTLY!!! Kotaku (Australia too) has been phenomenally "anti" on the Wii U.

    I dont pretend to speak for others, I just speak for myself. Im not really interested in something with the same power as my xbox360 and ps3. I allready own them and enough of the gaming market is cross platform. I dislike the gimicks driving the platform. Alot of wii game where the worse for its controller.

    I see the Wii U as a big DS, the tablet being the bottom screen.

    LOL - haters gonna hate - im heading to EBGAMES down Swanston Street on Launch day - Wii U Premium Bundle here I come!!!

    WOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!

    Cant wait!!!

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