With the latest report from the Wall Street Journal, it appears both Sony and Microsoft are set to reveal new consoles this year--well before E3 2013--for release before the holiday shopping season 2013. With new, more powerful, consoles, where does this leave Nintendo and the Wii U?
Nintendo's last two consoles have been vastly underpowered and unable to compete technologically with both Microsoft and Sony. The Wii wasn't even to display HD graphics at a time when homes were transitioning to new high-definition televisions. Despite this, the Wii was able to succeed primarily because it provided players with a new control scheme, the Wiimote, and a free game to show this off: Wii Sports.
Wii Sports turned the Wii into more than just a game console--it was seen as a toy with a built in game. The Wii had a very low attach rate of games and virtually every third party title failed to generate the sales of Nintendo's First Party software lineup.
A Wii HD was rumored to be coming out for several years. Instead of this, Nintendo has given us the Wii U that barely outperforms the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Instead of spending resources to compete with Sony and Microsoft's new hardware, Nintendo opted for a tablet device. The problem is, the Tablet is not very sophisticated and doesn't even have multitouch and has battery life of under 5 hours! Nintendo also doesn't include a pack-in game, to show off the new controller, unless you spend $50 more for the deluxe edition.
Recent sales of 3 million worldwide and a dismal software lineup show that Nintendo's next console is off to an extremely rocky start. Is there a way for Nintendo to succeed with the Wii U?
The first thing Nintendo needs to do is drop the price of the console. The $299.99 and $349.99 price-points are not sticking with consumers. Nintendo needs to start damage control on the Wii U and the 3 million early adopters some free games, via the online eShop, and drop the price $50 immediately. As the new consoles from Microsoft and Sony appear on the market, the Wii U will need to be significantly cheaper to be attractive to new consumers.
Next, Nintendo needs to drop the Deluxe Edition of the Wii U console and have a single Black or White console available at a single price and pack it in with NintendoLand and New Super Mario Bros U. Also, get rid of the 8 GB memory configuration and make all consoles come with 32 GB of memory.
With Nintendo losing money for the past several quarters, they may not be in a spending mood. But to succeed with their console, they need to open up their checkbook to make exclusive partnerships with developers to ensure they have some quality games that can't be played on any other platform. In addition, they need to release at least three quality First Party offerings this holiday season to get consumers excited about the Nintendo brand. Nothing makes people more excited than a new Mario, Metroid, and Mario Kart game.
In the end, if Nintendo stays the course and doesn't show consumers why their Wii U GamePad is special and necessary, the Wii U is this generation's Virtual Boy. As a fan of their products throughout my life, I hope they can figure out how to make this console a success.