After the unprecedented highs that the Wii and Nintendo DS took Nintendo to, the company has struggled to find their footing in recent years. The Wii U may have bounced back from a troubled launch, but the console still struggles to compete with its current-gen counterparts.
Analysts have predicted that lifetime Wii U sales will hit 25 million units, but even that number, significantly lower than the amount that its predecessor sold, seems to be generous. The Wii U has been surpassed by both the PS4 and Xbox One in sales, despite having a year head start, and to date has yet to crack 10 million units sold worldwide.
Nintendo has seen the writing on the wall, and they seem to be preparing to move away from the Wii U a little earlier than expected. Rumors indicate that the Wii U’s successor, currently known by the codename the Nintendo NX, will be going into production as early as October, and that it could be available for purchase in July of 2016.
Whether or not these rumors turn out to be true is one thing, but in any case, Nintendo needs to keep 5 things in mind if they want to have any hope of the Nintendo NX being more of a success than the Wii U.
Backward Compatibility with Wii and Wii U
Backward compatibility is an important feature for gamers, and furthermore, it could entice those that skipped the Wii U to pick up an NX to not only play the exclusive NX games, but the Wii U titles they missed out on. Wii U has had a number of high quality exclusive games that many have not had the chance to play, including Bayonetta 2, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and more.
In the meantime, one of Nintendo’s chief competitors, Microsoft, has realized the importance of backward compatibility, and they are working to add Xbox 360 backward compatibility with Xbox One. One of Nintendo’s strongest selling points since the Wii has been its support of BC, and with their competitors embracing it as well, they definitely shouldn’t stop now.
Strong Launch Lineup Full of Exclusives
Nintendo NX needs to launch with at least two core Nintendo franchises (and maybe an online-focused Wii Sports sequel as well for the casual fans), and Metroid and Zelda are the perfect candidates. Nintendo has already said that the next true Metroid Prime won’t come until the NX, and since we have no idea what Retro Studios is working on, it’s more than possible that Metroid Prime is it.
As for Zelda, Shigeru Miyamoto insists that The Legend of Zelda 2016 is still coming to Wii U, and that’s fine, but they should also port it to NX. This would be similar to the launch of Twilight Princess, which landed on both the Wii and Gamecube.
Improved Online Functionality
While they may be industry innovators in other areas, Nintendo has consistently lagged behind in the online realm. They’ve just now really started embracing online-focused titles, like the recently released Splatoon, but Nintendo is still severely lacking in the online space.
For example, the Wii U lacks a dedicated party chat system, which means Splatoon couldn’t have voice chat, something that can be avoided and still allow for proper teammate communication if there was party chat. By improving their online connectivity with party chat and by incorporating other standard online features present on Nintendo’s competing consoles, NX will be able to better attrack hardcore gamers.
Hardware Better than PS4 and Xbox One
Speaking of convincing third parties to develop for the NX, another important way to do that is by making sure that the NX hardware is more powerful than the PS4 and the Xbox One. Considering the fact that the NX is (supposedly) releasing three years into the lifespans of the PS4 and Xbox One, Nintendo needs to bring a console to the table that can compete in terms of graphics, and is even more top of the line than the PS4 and Xbox One.
By making sure that the NX is, at the very least, equal to the power of PS4 and Xbox One (though it should be more powerful), it will be easier for third parties to release their major titles on the system without having to seriously downgrade their games. This would help Nintendo avoid embarrassing situations like the Project Cars Wii U debacle, and would allow the NX to have a proper and extensive library of games.
One huge step Nintendo can take to try to bring back some of the disillusioned hardcore crowd is by shipping every NX system with, and building games entirely around, a traditional controller. Nintendo should take inspiration from the PS4’s DualShock 4 and and the Xbox One’s controller, two of the most well-designed controllers in history, when designing the controller for the NX. Even a slightly tweaked GameCube controller would work, just as long as it features two triggers, two bumpers, the standard four face buttons, analog sticks, and a d-pad.
A traditional controller can be yet another factor that entices third parties to resume developing for Nintendo consoles as well, which will be integral to the NX’s success. A traditional controller, hardware power that surpasses the competition, and improved online functionality are the necessary steps to take to accomplish that goal.
Of course, there are other ways that Nintendo can ensure that the NX is a greater success than Wii U, but as long as they are able to deliver a system with backward compatibility, that has a strong launch lineup of exclusive games, boasts an improved online experience, features hardware better than their competition, and wins back the hardcore crowd by utilizing a standard controller, then Nintendo will be in good shape with their next console.
What would be necessary to convince you to take the plunge with the Nintendo NX? Let us know in the comments below!