Thursday, 7 February 2013

Next Gen Consoles will flatten the Wii U


I am not a fanboy of Sony or Microsoft, if anything I was more of a SEGA fan when it was still making consoles and even then I only ever owned a Megadrive.  I just wanted to put my thoughts about the Wii U and it's position compared to the fact that the new PlayStation and Xbox will be launching this year if not early next.

Nintendo I feel have made a major mistake in bringing out a new console that only manages to sort of compete with the PS3/Xbox360.  Unlike the Wii which had the advantage of launching when most people had either bought a 360 and wanted something new or were waiting for a PS3. the console could shift units without much trouble.  It's relatively low price point comparatively coupled with it's family friendly games, made it a hit with many age groups.  This did lose them the hardcore player in the long term which was something Nintendo desperately wanted back when the console began to hit it's peak.

The Wii U is Nintendo's attempt at regaining those lost hardcore fans.  The console can play current gen games with a little less graphical flair but still capable of doing so and offers the frankly bizarre tablet controller as a gimmick to entice players into picking it up.  Unfortunately Nintendo have fallen short of their original sales target of 5.5 million units worldwide and have had to reduce this number by more than a million, even this will be tough for them to achieve by March.  Obviously this is a mix of the recession and also players expectations for the new console generation.

The PlayStation 4 being announced as a 2013 release in Japan and North America and later Europe in 2014 is a big blow to Nintendo.  Although they will likely stay strong in their home of Japan, they will begin to suffer against the North American market, which will no doubt snap up the new PlayStation and if Microsoft are smart they will announce their release of the Xbox720.

It's not like the Wii U is a bad console either.  It is suffering the same issues that all new consoles have such as a lack of games, poor supply issues and the odd technical hitch that eventually gets sorted.  The controller isn't to my liking, but it isn't terrible and the games look good by today's standards, it's just that this console has been released at a very odd time.  Yes it will be cheaper as an alternative to the next gen tech coming soon, but since this launched in December 2012 it has a long time to try and make sales before it becomes obsolete.

Nintendo could obviously make a new console but then this would be at a massive financial loss, since they only have the twelve months of 2013 to shift as many units as possible.  Another problem the console faces is it's relative lack of unique titles at the moment.  It has ports of games we have been playing since 2011 in some cases and the stuff that is unique to this console doesn't warrant the expense.  Obviously new games are on the horizon but by then it could too late.

I just feel that the Wii U could have been that first salvo of the new console generation.  Taking out the competition first with awesome next gen visuals and the usual Nintendo flair for experimenting with new gaming gimmicks.  Instead they replace the Wii with a comparable piece of kit to the current systems?  The Wii U isn't selling badly but it could be doing better if it was truly next gen, showing off the latest graphics and gameplay and really putting Sony and Microsoft on the back foot for a change.

So it looks like Nintendo are now stranded with a system that will be running last gen tech by 2014 when everyone else will be playing next gen instead.  Games will be ported over probably, but if it's anything like say The force unleashed on Wii, it will be slaughtered critically.  I guess Nintendo are hoping to utilise it's comparatively low price point to keep sales going when the new consoles launch.  Families will probably pick it up for their kids if it's cheaper and Nintendo now has a reputation as a child's gaming console, so maybe December 2013 will see a much better sales figure appearing by January 2014.  This could still go the other way entirely and leave Nintendo in a position where it has a technically weaker console for at least 3-4 years before they launch a new product. 

If that is the case I could see Nintendo trying to bring out a newer console sooner to stay competitive with it's rivals, but at the cost of alienating players of the Wii U.  It will be interesting to see how Nintendo handles this situation.  The 3DS will probably be the financial life preserver for them since it is the most dominant handeld device in the world still, but when it comes to their home consoles Nintendo have been falling short for a while now.

Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow.

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