Could A Single Video Game Save The Wii U?

Could A Single Video Game Save The Wii U?
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The Wii U is struggling. Nintendo as a company is struggling. But could a single, well positioned, well timed software release Kickstart momentum for the console? Could a single video game save the Wii U?

At a recent investor’s Q&A session Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata was asked about the conservative nature of Nintendo’s estimates for software sales. Is it possible that Nintendo is expecting too little from games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros.?

Interestingly, keeping the forecasts low is part of Nintendo’s strategy. Understandable considering how wide of the mark their previous estimates have been, but Iwata hasn’t given up hope that one of these games could completely shatter those expectations.

“The fate of a video game system is often influenced greatly by the introduction of a single title,” said Iwata. “As many of you probably remember, before the release of the Pokémon game, Game Boy had been showing slow growth, and many people wondered whether it was the end of Game Boy. But the Pokémon game singlehandedly changed the landscape of the system, which then started to show the strongest sales in the lifecycle of the system.”

Is there a video game out there that could legitimately have the same impact as Pokemon did on the Game Boy? Is that game Mario Kart 8?

I suppose it is possible, but I don’t think it will come from an existing IP. A new Mario will not revive the Wii U’s fortune, neither will a new Zelda. Nintendo’s largest spurts of growth have typically come from legitimate innovation and new IP: from things like the Wii U controller and Wii Sports or, as Iwata mentioned, a product like Pokemon. Most likely Nintendo requires a piece of software that disrupts and transforms the gaming landscape to make a success of the Wii U at this stage.


  • Sure, give me a new IP that is killer, and drop the price to $300 and I am in.

    Although, if it came with 2 useful controllers and MK8 for $300 I’d buy it.

  • I believe nothing will save the Wii U at this point, but the right idea for the next hardware platform may turn the company’s performance around.

  • Drop the price, get Mario Kart and Smash Bros out, announce F-Zero/Metroid/Unirally and then flood the VC with everything from the original Wii VC. I’m talking the Nintendo 64 , Mega Drive and Master System, TurboGrafx and NeoGeo games.

    All I know is that checking in every Thursday night and seeing only one NES game that no-one cares about being released makes me furious.

    • Amen, I bought a Wii U in January 2013 hoping for HD Nintendo 64 games… man the last 18 months has been a painful trail of disappointment (with the exception of wind waker and mario 3d world)

    • I think, dropping the price would be the first big step. People who already have a console are unlikely to spend several hundred bucks for another one. $150? More likely.

    • I agree with you that if any single franchise is going to significantly improve the sales of the WiiU it will be something like this.

      No single market is easier to capture as a whole than the 8-14 year old market.
      They’re (largely) gender neutral and can be persuaded to buy things en-masse.
      Plus, sales of those kinds of games combine with toys and become hugely profitable above the regular sales of consoles/ software.

      All other markets are too fragmented for a single title to make a huge difference, unless Nintendo somehow managed to get the rights to GTA VI for exclusive release in Q1 2015 or something like that. That would shift a ton of units.

      How about Half-Life 3 as a WiiU exclusive? I’d almost love that just to see how the PC crowd would react. The internet would be drowned in a sea of nerd tears!

  • No one game will do it. Mario or Samus will be no more able save the Wii U than Master Chief being able to save the XBox One. It will take a few stand out exclusives to make yourself heard above the din. Not just one.

    • I think that was the point, an existing IP won’t do it. Halo on the original XBOX was the reason I went with an xbox and not a PS2.

      A new IP, like Halo was to the original Xbox, or MGS on the PS2, something new that would be so wanty-wanty that people buy a console to play it on.

      For me originally it was going to be Colonial Marines, the idea of the WiiU controller being the map and motion sensor thingie was enough to make me want to buy the console.
      Unfortunately the game ended up shit, and not on the WiiU.
      But something like that, something that you just *have* to play, that wouldn’t work on other consoles would be enough to make the thing fly off the shelves.

      Trouble is, just what would that game be?

      • I did understand the point being made. I just think we’ve become a bit jaded about the “Next Big Thing.” Yes, Halo was a reason to buy into XBox, but the software market has changed a lot. Titanfall was supposed to be the reason to get the XBone. Great reviews, but no savior for the machine itself.

        No one great stand out IP will do it, in my uninformed opinion. Get three out in quick succession though, and it could completely open up the next(current) gen war.

      • Exactly, Mario Kart 8 is definitely going to create a surge in sales, especially if they pump up the marketing particularly on social media. However I don’t think that surge is going to be enough to push Wii U anywhere near half of what the other current gen consoles have now.

  • To be fair the game boy was selling substantially better than the Wii U at the point Pokemon was about to be released. (It had tetris people!)

    • Exactly. Millions had already been sold in the WEST due to Tetris. The battery life plus third party support had already sold the system to millions of people before Pokemon came along.

  • Towards the end of the Wii’s lifespan there were RPGs like The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles that were exclusive. More of those please. I don’t think a single game can make a console a success. Having a killer app is different for a handheld device compared to a console as people see a console as an investment over 5+ years compared to a handheld that can be seen as more disposable even though the price can be similar. Instead Nintendo should have been making the most of this time when PS4 & Xbone releases are sparse. There’s been basically nothing released in the first half of this year so far except inFamous, Titanfall, South Park and Dark Souls 2 and only 2 of those are next gen (current gen) exclusives.

    I know Nintendo don’t like to pump games out, but they can’t rely on 2-3 games a year no matter how great they are

  • Pokemon snap with the WiiU pad as the viewfinder for the camera. Not that hard is it?

  • Pretty sure if you brought out a HD Wii U equivalent of one of the Pokemon 3DS games – say the rumoured Pokemon Z, as a Wii U only exclusive – cut the price to $300 including the tablet controller and a Wii Mote – they could dig themselves out of this Grand Canyon of f*cked they are in at the moment.

    Launch it along with another Mario Galaxy. Honestly those two Mario Galaxy games are two of my favourite gaming experiences in the last decade.

    • Yeah I agree., the Mario Galaxy games were pure brilliance and I’d very much like to see a HD new game in that regard.

      I also agree with the Pokemon comments. Nintendo seem willing to ignore a franchise which literally prints money. T.he potential off a fully fledged offline/online console pokemon game is just too good to think about when Iwata comes out with the old “We think pokemon is more suited to mobile”…….pffft whatever Iwata. I AM an investor of Nintendo stock (albeit not much) and I want to know why you’re letting the Wii U go down the drain due to nothing but stubborness.

      • It boggles the mind. I bought a 2DS to play Y – yes it is at a much lower pricepoint than a Wii U granted but I went out and bought one, and, I literally do not have another game for the thing – and have no intention of buying one until the next Mon game comes out.

        Comfortably their biggest franchise outside (i assume) of Mario and Zelda is pokemon and they refuse to do a big budget version of it on their new massively struggling console?! The demand for something like that would be unprecedented.

        They could have worldwide online tournaments streamed on Twitch etc.

        It seems like a complete no brainer to me – and if I were an investor I would be seething that he refuses to do it.

        • It’s safe to say at this point Pokemon is bigger (than Mario and Zelda)

          Use the features of the system – make an RTS that uses the touch screen, make a photography game (Pokemon Snap)

          How about use your agreement with Sega to get Shenmue 3 made

  • Remember when Miyamoto said he was helping with a new IP? Remember! I remember! What is it shigs, show us the goods…

  • It’s hard to look past the fact that the last Mario Kart sold about 35M copies. If Mario Kart 8 can only push 10% of the last take via bundles it will both be a horrible failure (in regards to lost sales compared to previous entries) but will still give a decent boost to console sales (and will be close to “saved” territory).

  • “Here is a new IP.” “Where is Zelda and Mario?!”

    “Here is Mario and Zelda.” “Where are all the new IPs?!”

    • You realise these are two different groups of people, right?. You have the hardcore Nintendo fans who only want rehashes of the games they loved when they were kids. And you have the rest of us, who want something new. Old IPs will always sell reasonably well, but it’s gonna take something revolutionary to turn the U’s fortunes around.

      • New IP doesn’t necessarily equal new or unique gameplay, just the same as an existing IP doesn’t mean the same gameplay.

        • I agree.
          I believe New IP helps give existing gameplay a new experience. The Last of Us was a new IP with gameplay that is basically Uncharted with stealth. But, it felt fresh.
          However MGS5 GZ is existing IP with mostly new gameplay mechanics (for the series).

          Nintendo delivers neither new IP or Gameplay sadly. Hopefully things change soon.

  • The test I always apply when considering buying new consoles is, “what will I play next?” Even if there’s a new game that may tip me over, I always try to remember to look further than that so I don’t just indulge my gadget-lust, but make an investment in a platform that will keep delivering. Even if a single killer app comes to Wii U, there’s still going to be barely anything else to play.

    • I play the Wii U far more than my Ps4 or PC. I tend to buy titles for the younger audience for the Wii U due to my son who plays that. Recently I’ve been playing Child of Light, Donkey Kong (which is absolutely brillient), Streets of Rage (the boy loves it…and so do I) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (which despite the reviews is actually very good, and looks 10 times better on Wii U than ps360).

      Ps4 has second son……whih I finished and never went back to.

    • There are actually more good games than I could afford to buy for the WiiU, but I still haven’t bought the console. I don’t know why, there are plenty of good games for it, the gfx are generally better than the 360.
      It just feels too expensive for some reason.

  • It needs a proper 3D Mario game like Galaxy/Sunshine/64

    Pokemon will probably get them the big dollars, even if it doesn’t interest me.

  • How in gods name has there not been a legit Pokemon game on a home console yet? Nintendo, you are so dumb. For real.

  • A main series Pokemon Game, Pokemon MMO or Pokemon Snap sequel would make the WiiU an instant buy for me. As it is right now though, no chance.

  • 3d pokemon wont do it. Thats a dream for nintendo fans, who probably already own a wiiU. I cant imagine ps4 and xbox1 owners getting a wiiU for a 3d pokemon.

  • Why they don’t just roll out the Wii’s VC line up to the Wii U baffles me. Doing it slowly isn’t going to make more people notice. All the stuff I want is on a different console entirely but they’re taking their sweet time. I promise them if they released more good VC titles on the store they’ll make some money from it, more so than what they do on it right now.

    1-3 new games every so often from the NES or whatever isn’t substantial enough to interest me. I want to play Majoras Mask some more or something.

  • Bayonetta 2 and ‘X’ the sequel to Xenoblade Chronicals are two of my most anticipated games, I clock over 200 hrs on Monster Hunter. I have no business strategies but I wish the majority 3DS and DS catalog was availiable for digital download. Your TV and is one screen and the touch screen the other. I’d love to play and up rezzed ‘World End’s with you or Ghost Trick.

  • Price drop and an online system that feels like it was built some time this decade and I’ll buy it.

    A new zelda wouldn’t hurt either.

  • The library actually has a respectable sum of worthwhile games to play, off the top of my head DKCR Tropical Freeze, Wind Waker HD, Monster Hunter (if that’s your thing) Pikmin 3, Sonic Racing Transformed, NSMBU, SMB 3D World. There is some potentially killer games coming in the near future that have been released, there’s MK8, SSB, theres the inevitable Zelda game, X, bayonetta 2. If you have any interest in the system because of the games that it currently has but are unwilling to buy it, then chances are, as to the question in the title, yes, a single game could save the Wii U.

  • Funny how people keep saying to drop the price to $300. Target are selling WiiU’s for $300 without being on special.

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