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.