Nintendo has taken a beating when it comes to home consoles since their success with the original Wii during the last console war. Despite having astronomical sales the system never gained the respect of gamers due to the fact they seemed more interested in providing a tech demo for wiggle, waggle more so than delivering a great gaming experience. There were solid games on the Wii, let us not forget MadWorld, and the Conduit; but for every one of those we got fifteen games like Game Party or Petz. With Nintendo, at the time, soaking in their string of console sales and ignoring the attachment rate of games the competition was pulling away at a not so subtle rate. The problem: The majority of people that bought the console were your average, everyday adopters that wanted something to show off to friends and play at family gatherings or parties and only really used Wii Sports when doing so. When bringing out the Wii U, Nintendo seemed to catch on to the fact that their consoles sales were rather shallow and needed something to directly compete with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Unfortunately, Nintendo also failed to recognize the fact that the console they just released was also behind the times considering Microsoft and Sony were on the cusp of releasing their next iteration of consoles and was about to leave Nintendo in the dust… again.
Flash forward, two years and Nintendo has already been rumored to be working on their next console, but the Wii U is still trying to find its place and where it all fits into the gaming landscape. Lucky for them, even amongst all the scrutiny that their system receives, Nintendo is seems to be hitting their stride. While they might not get the major releases, like they once did (they haven’t seen a Madden game in 2 years), Nintendo has embraced the fact that they are a one-man band and must depend on themselves for success. While not seeming to recognize that much to begin with, they have since seen the third party support slip, but instead of letting the console die with a lack of support Nintendo has ramped up their own lineup and provided gamers with a reason to own a Wii U. Making it the only console you own could be a bit of a risk, but having it as an alternative or compliment to an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 now makes more sense then ever before.
With the close of 2014 and 2015 fast approaching, reflecting on what has been and what is to come seems appropriate. This year the Wii U has increased it’s library and not to the help much of others. Titles this year such as Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, Wii U Fit, Wii Sports Club, Hyrule Warriors, Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, Super Smash Brothers, and the upcoming Captain Toad has beefed up the library available to consumers. There really has been no shortage of things to play for the console. Not forgetting the fact that games such as New Super Mario Bros. U, New Super Mario World 3D, Pikmin 3, Zelda Windwaker HD among others have already done well in bringing favorites back to the console and are still heavily played; these are all the exclusives. Skipping ahead to next year, already announced are titles such as: The Legend of Zelda, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Yoshi Wooly World, Mario Maker, Mario Party 10, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, as well as the heavily anticipated Devil’s Third. That’s not mentioning Mario vs. Donkey Kong Wii U, Star Fox Wii U, and Diddy Kong Racing 2 have all been rumored for release windows in 2015 as well. Who knows what else is on the horizon, but even with just the announced games there is good reason to have faith that Nintendo isn’t going to roll over and take it.
The Games are here and there are more coming in 2015!
They might not be forging a path that pleases everyone, or even a typical path when it comes to the console race, but they have their place. It might have taken them a while to find themselves and understand that they may not hang with the big boys completely, but that they still can sell systems and the people buying them are going to support the core games that they are releasing. Nintendo’s recognized that the gimmick that worked before, doesn’t work anymore now. They can’t sell systems with simply pushing things like motion controls. As the price of the systems rise, the less likely your casual market is willing to pay for them. The people willing to buy them are the core gamers that have continued to support gaming in general. The tablet controller wasn’t as big of a hit as they had hoped, the mixing of Wiimotes and the tablet was more of a fad, but now that we are seeing Nintendo embrace what they have to offer and giving gamers a hardcore experience, they are selling consoles once again.
While it might take Nintendo slashing the price of the console again to really see things take off, games will sell the system and the ones that are hitting now are the ones that bring the most fan-fare. Smash Bros. and the upcoming Zelda will turn heads and give gamers a reason to buy the system, and they will, but giving them an extra incentive will keep the sales flowing and the games coming in the long run. It may be replaced in the coming years as well, but Nintendo has been stubborn in the past and it doesn’t look like, with the amount of games upcoming, they plan to join the party of next generation consoles (even though the Wii U is considered to be the first of this new generation).
They would be foolish to when it comes down to the details, because should they join the Xbox One and PS4 in releasing a system on par with each of those it would take a long length of time and proven sales for third parties to release games on the next iteration as well. Sales would need to be maintained and substantiated to convince game developers that the Wii U successor is a place that they would sell titles; without it, and they would simply be releasing another console that would have to be supported by first party titles alone. That’s not a good place for Nintendo to be. They are just now learning that, for them, it isn’t about the competition any more, it is about cohabiting with the other consoles on the market. It’s about finding a niche. Nintendo has the games to do so. They have the franchises that really started gaming into what we know today. Because of that, they will always have their place. They have found where they belong in the console world; putting the majority of their efforts into handhelds and supporting a home console with lots of first party games and doing what they can to sell systems. Nintendo should be commended for what they are doing, and have done, not chastised for what they have had little control over with third parties neglecting to support them. They march to the beat of their own drum, they are the odd man out, but they aren’t and should not be forgotten.