Opinion: 2014 is Make or Break Time For The Wii U

Published 8 months ago by

Wii U 2014

Now that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have touched down on store shelves, the latest chapter in the console war has begun. With all the hype surrounding both of these newly launched (and technologically superior) platforms, it’s not surprising that Nintendo’s Wii U isn’t being considered as a serious contender in the race. The Big N’s latest home console has been available for roughly 14 months as of this writing and (aside from its initial launch numbers) the platform’s sales have been abysmal thus far. That said, if Nintendo has a chance to market the Wii U successfully then it’ll happen this year, in 2014. And if that’s not the case then it likely won’t happen at all.

There are several contributing factors to the poor reception of the Wii U to date, but largely it can be attributed to a lack of software from both first and third-party developers. Publishers such as Electronic Arts have completely abandoned the platform after lackluster sales across several of its most prominent franchises, which has forced Nintendo to bank on its own library to keep the format afloat. In Ninty’s defense, there was quality content released in 2013, but the elongated gap between the Wii U’s launch and the arrival of Pikmin 3, the loss of Rayman Legends as an exclusive, and the delay of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze didn’t do the Wii U any favors.

Looking forward into 2014 however, there’s a very promising number of attention-grabbing software on the horizon that could very well make the Wii U a viable option for gamers. With Tropical Freeze releasing this February, Mario Kart 8 hitting this Spring, and Super Smash Bros. launching at some point this year, there’s a lot to look forward to from Nintendo. Filling in the gaps between releases will also be Bayonetta 2, Yarn Yoshi, Monolith Soft’s X, and the newly announced Zelda spin-off Hyrule Warriors, so there won’t be a shortage of software to enjoy.

Super Smash Bros Mario Kart 8 Wii U Spring Release

Wii U owners admittedly have quite a few games to look forward to in the following months — with more unannounced titles likely to fall within the 2014 window as well — but it may be too little, too late for the console. Competitors have heaps of triple-A exclusives to sway consumers into spending their money on the likes of the Xbox One or PS4 (Titanfall, Halo 5, inFAMOUS: Second Son, The Order: 1886, etc.) and third-parties are more or less turning their backs on Nintendo’s home console. Games like Destiny, Evolve, The Division, and more will not be arriving on the Wii U, which forces the platform to rely almost solely on first-party software to remain relevant.

Despite all of these blockbuster games hitting rival platforms, one could definitely make the argument that Nintendo and its respective hardware aren’t in direct competition with Microsoft or Sony given the company’s take on creating a unique gaming experience and library of legacy franchises. That point can be made, but the fact of the matter is that Nintendo’s home console has not been selling well on a worldwide scale, and the third-parties that very much view the platform as a legitimate gaming console have begun to officially and unofficially withdraw support.

Despite these issues, Nintendo carries some of the most powerful brands in the industry and its 2014 lineup (specifically Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U) will prove whether or not the fan base is strong enough for a Nintendo home console to make sense for gamers in 2014. There’s absolutely no chance that the Big N will be closing its doors anytime soon — especially since it has stockades of cash from the success of the Wii, DS, and 3DS — and China’s recent move to lift its ban on video game console sales brings massive sales potential to Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony alike.

Super Smash Bros Wii U 3DS Screenshots

Although the company has refused to release official numbers, Nintendo is reported to have sold over 4.3 million Wii Us as of November, which if true means the head start it received by releasing in 2012 won’t hold up for very long against the three million sold by Xbox One or 4.2 million PS4s sold in 2013 (in less than two months for each). Regardless, Nintendo will have to bank on the highly-anticipated software that’s arriving for the Wii U later this year to turn things around and continue to build up sales numbers for the struggling console. It needs games and it needs games fast.

The Wii U’s future as a profitable product is uncertain and it’ll remain that way until Nintendo gets around to revealing the sales of the console for the fiscal 2013 year (which ends in March). The lineup of games it has coming could be a huge difference maker going forward though, and major announcements at this E3 2014 could showcase a lineup that makes more than just the average Nintendo aficionado excited for the platform. If the Wii U is going to gain momentum then Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. will be the two games to give the console a much-needed push. On the other hand, if 2014 comes and goes with the same amount of dwindling interest for the console as 2013 then its sales slump is unlikely to ever change.

At this point the Japanese gaming giant needs to buckle down and focus on pushing first-party development on the Wii U in a similar fashion as it did with the 3DS. The handheld found itself in a similar sales slump shortly after its launch, which caused Nintendo to respond by dropping its price (something that’s already happened to the Wii U) and then proceed to unleash a barrage of great games upon the masses. Sales of the 3DS and its respective software are a glowing example of how the Big N can turn its fortunes around, and the company will need to apply the same philosophy to its struggling console in order to change its current path. Nintendo’s home console entirely relies on Nintendo’s ability to release Nintendo games in 2014. It’s that simple.

Do you think Nintendo will turn things around for the Wii U in 2014? Which software do you believe will sell best for Ninty this year? What games does Nintendo need to get out fast and/or make more of?

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Follow Riley on Twitter @TheRileyLittle.

TAGS: Nintendo, Wii U

20 Comments

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  1. listen Nintendo made a number of mistakes with the Wii u. for one i watch tv all the dam time, and in 14 months i have yet to see one commercial or ad or anything for the Wii u. also the price of the console and games is way to high for the content u r getting. it needs to b 149$ for the console and the games should b around 29.99$ for all games. u cant tell me that mario bros should cost as much to make as halo 5. i could make a mario game on my computer in a matter of months. so in no way are any of there games worth the same price as a mass effect or destiny etc… Nintendo needs to abandon the Wii u apologize to us, and come back in a couple years with a new console with here is the key GAMES to play on it. they will never b as powerful machines as sony and xbox but thats not the point. there back catalog of games is the best by far, why they have yet to realize that is beyond me. they need to remind everyone why they used to b the king.

    • There is so much wrong with everything you just said that I’m not even going to take the time to address your points. The only thing you said that makes sense is that their marketing has indeed been very lackluster.

    • obvious troll is obvious. how do you grammar, exactly?

    • The Wii U has Mass effect 3…

  2. I blame the haters online. third parties support only what their fans like, and companies like EA are on Xbox and PS. that said their costomers are rage quiting haters who hate the wiiu because of the lack of ingine power. that’s all, aside from that the consoles(PS Xbox) both hardly have any games. so people just bought them without thought. its all really just a battle set up by gamers. I bought all three consoles and I support all three

  3. Nintendo should ditch the Wii U because of no 3rd party support, a bad name and under powered. Don’t get me wrong I love Nintend, I have bought three of the consoles myself and kind of disappointed. Launch a recognizable name that has previously worked well for the company other than Wii, perhaps SNES 2. Have games or updated versions of games that made the SNES such a great console along with the colored buttons on the remote available at launch. Bring back the WaveBird that was everyone’s favorite. I personally hate swinging a Wiimote around. Most of the first party games they are making now incorporate the best features of all of the games in the series, why not do that with a console. If they can do it fast enough and out power the PS4 and Xbox One, people will buy.

  4. well from what I gather, the wii u seems to lack 3rd party support here in the states however that being said, I highly doubt they aren’t getting any support in their native Japan. what I mean is if Ninty could somehow make the Wii U region-free and import those anime based games that are exclusives only in Japan (games like Project Diva, sword art online, little busters, etc) I tell you what, the wii u will start selling like hot cakes and why? because there’s a HUGE anime fandom here in the states.

  5. People who like Nintendo games are buying a wii u because they have no way of playing Nintendo games on other consoles. Nintendo’s exclusive titles are the only reason to buy a Wii U. Nintendo’s first party games are so good they can sell inferior hardware along with them. As much as people want Nintendo to stop making consoles they won’t because their games have that much influence on consumers. That is beginning to change, however, and Nintendo is now realizing they have to compete with Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo should think about making a new console soon that has similar or better specs than ps4 or xbone. They should focus all efforts on revamping their online multiplayer and eshop, utilize cloud based storage, and market the console to Xbone and Ps4 users; not casual gamers. They should hire a hundred thousand new employees to work on updating all past hit Nintendo games for the eshop available to purchase at launch, and offer incentives to game developers to bring hit titles to eshop. They should create a whole new operating system/interface with no loading times, abandon nintendo tvii, miiverse, the tablet controller, wii remotes, and any controller that isn’t what gamers are used to, improve the wii u pro controller, have new mario, zelda, donkey kong, Pokemon, metroid, Kirby, etc. and create a new racing game to compete with gran turismo and forza, and a new game to compete with uncharted and gears of war. All new games produced by Nintendo need to feel next generation, so the graphics should be top notch. Every game must be 1080p with 60fps or better. Nintendo needs to enforce a strict policy to developers to follow that standard so every game on their system feels next gen-even if they have to offer incentives. If Nintendo can do this, they will get their lost customers back, and may even take customers away from Microsoft and Sony. When third party developers see how well the new consoles are selling, they will create games to support the system.

  6. Well, I did sell my PS4 and now are very happy with the Wii U. PS4 did not feel “next gen” – its just a PS3 with more horsepower but yet no games. I do love the Wii U controller and I can play without TV when it is occupied. And I can select from a large selection of Wii games and Wii U titles. But I confess that I’m not a graphics fanboy but rate gameplay higher.

    • Amen.

  7. Ok I got the wii u when it first came out is the BIG N If it wasn’t for Nintendo there wouldn’t be other consoles and I’m not hating because I personally have to own all systems which I do I’m not bragging either I got battlefield 4, killzone, forza 5 which the graphics are sick so are they on ryse but my xone and ps 4 are now collecting dust because this new 3D Mario is awesome fun fun fun I would recommend to buy the wii u if you yet don’t own any console but if you have loot get them all plus wii u has pikmin 3, viewtiful joe, Zelda and there fun games Nintendo is not going nowhere people are just buying the new ps 4 and xone cuz the raw power and the wii u is between last and new generation HD wii u

  8. I’d love Nintendo to get out of the console department (no problem with their handhelds) and just go software like Sega.

    There are too few games that are Nintendo exclusive that I’d even want to play (Mario Cart is one of the ones I would want to) and they’d be far more profitable if that was brought cross platform.

  9. They need to reassure potential customers that Nintendo will support online servers for a minimum of 5 years following any End-of-life announcement in the future. People are justifiably scared that they may be buying into a dead end and Nintendo will just walk away from servers, updates, and support…

  10. They need to reassure potential customers that Nintendo will support online servers for a minimum of 5 years following any End-of-life announcement in the future.

  11. They need to

  12. 1. advertising… Sony and MS are doing it right, Nintendo didn’t and doesn’t.
    2. USA = action games and sport games… Wii U doesn’t have it… In japan, Wii U is okay… Nintendo needs to capitalize on this and specialize… Buy as much JRPG rights for Wii U… They aren’t graphically intensive as cell shaded graphics is perfect for these games. Also focus on party games…
    So..
    - JRPGs
    - Party games
    - First and second party games

    For US market… Go for quality over quantiy, get exclusive rights to a metal gear spin off, grand theft auto Tokyo spin off, allow 3DS games on virtual console, make a super unique baseball, football or basketball game that uses exclusive features.. You build it they will come eventually…

  13. i’m still waiting for the virtual console to have all the games i want. the wii had most of them, the wii u does not. imagine if buying this console meant you could play all nintendo releases ever. that would be something i would buy.

  14. Good riddance to the wiiU, horrible console

    • Have you ever even played one?

  15. Nintendo needs to speed up with first and third party games and they must show customers that the wiiu was a great purchase. I purchased the wiiu over the ps4 and xbox one so I hope that Nintendo will get things straightened out .

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