This classic saying has been used since the dawn of time, but I find it has particular reference when talking about Nintendo over the past few years. Let’s put all fan-isms aside here and look at the facts. Nintendo released a brand new console that, as a corporation, was ill-prepared to support. They did the exact same thing with the 3DS when it was first released. The purpose of this article is simply to call Nintendo out and see if anyone out there can figure out what the heck the company was thinking with their current launch strategy for the Wii U, when looking back at disastrous 3DS launch.
3DS, The Facts:
March 27th, 2011 – 3DS launched in North America with Pilotwings Resort, Steel Diver, Nintendogs + Cats, and 13 third party games for $249.99 USD.
June 6th, 2011 – Virtual Console released for the 3DS
June 19th, 2011 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D released for the 3DS.
July 28th, 2011 – Nintendo announces a price reduction for the 3DS to $169.99 USD.
August 12th, 2011 – $169.99 price reduction goes into effect.
September 9th, 2011 – Star Fox 64 3D is released for the 3DS.
November 13th, 2011 – Super Mario 3D Land is released for the 3DS.
December 4th, 2011 – Mario Kart 7 is released for the 3DS.
February 7th, 2012 – Resident Evil: Revelations is released for the 3DS.
February 21st, 2012 – Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is released for the 3DS.
March 23rd, 2012 – Kid Icarus: Uprising is released for the 3DS.
When the 3DS first hit the scene it was a runaway success for the first two weeks or so. After that sales started to dry up. While the above list doesn’t include every game released on the system, it does highlight the very earliest AAA hits. It also highlights some major issues with the platform and Nintendo as a whole. Looking just at the launch, there were far more exciting third party games available than what Nintendo had to offer. Sure Nintendo typically launches with only one big game, but this time around there was nothing available. Pilotwings, I mean really?!?! Within four months Nintendo was forced to cut the price of the system by 32%, making it one of the largest price reductions in the company’s history. From a business perspective, that’s a very desperate move. In fact, that’s a “last resort” move done by a company to ensure the platform has a future. In this case, it worked.
November 18th, 2012 – Wii U launched in North America with Nintendoland, New Super Mario Bros. U and 21 third party games for $349.99 USD for the Deluxe model and $299.99 USD for the Basic model.
March 18th, 2013 – Lego City Undercover released for the Wii U.
That’s all the information I can provide for the Wii U, some five months after its release. Keep in mind the platform has yet to receive its own version of the Virtual Console, and there remain countless issues with the system’s operating system. A firmware update is being prepared for sometime this month (April), and Nintendo promises the VC will arrive this “Spring,” but no official release dates have been announced for either.
Notice the complete lack of software from November on from Nintendo. Sure there have been third party games, but almost all of these have been available on other platforms as well, making the system feel as though it is without any exclusives. Nintendo has a robust release scheduled lined up for later this year, but exactly when all the stars will align is anyone’s guess. Currently Pikmin 3 is set for release in Q2, although it was originally set as a launch title so we have no confirmation on whether or not that will actually happen.
The problem goes further than that though. How is it that the most basic system software wasn’t even ready for launch? Sure the Virtual Console may not have been ready, but why was the OS so sluggish? If any other technology company in the world released a device with all these problems they’d have a complete failure on their hands. Lucky for Nintendo, they have millions of dedicated fans. Question is, will that be enough this time around?
That’s not a very business savvy way of bringing your new console to market. Then slap on the $300+ asking price, mainly for six year old technology, and it starts to become clear why the Wii U hasn’t exactly taken off. It’s using legacy hardware, it’s confusing and it has no identity. That last bit is the most damaging right now. All the software is either ports of PS3/Xbox games or rehashed Wii games. Look at the two big software titles, Nintendoland clearly started off at the R&D department, and NSMBU could have just as easily been a Wii release. Even the start menu tells you to press the 1 button. We know the same is true for Pikmin 3, so until Nintendo releases several Wii U-specific games, the platform will remain without a soul.
So is all hope lost? Obviously not, because the 3DS has proven bad business decisions can be corrected. The worrying part is why these bad decisions were made to begin with. Anyone in charge of a billion dollar company should have the common sense to look at the mistakes the company has done within the last 12 months in order fix them, not repeat them. With a price reduction, and a plethora of brand new Wii U-exclusive software the system still has a chance to gain back some steam. Nintendo also needs to completely change the style of the marketing because right now it feels far too much like the older Wii strategy, which clearly isn’t working. Whatever the case may be, Nintendo has to get these changes in place before 2014 rolls around or all hope will surely be lost and the best Nintendo will be able to hope for is a 10% market share.
As the title suggests, Nintendo fooled their fanbase once, but most won’t be fooled again.