Opinion: Will The Wii U Lose Nintendo Its Casual Audience?
At E3 2012, Nintendo had the perfect opportunity to show us what its latest offering, the Wii U, can really do.
But I, for one, was left slightly underwhelmed by the whole affair, and there’s also another concern that I have. Will this console lose Nintendo its casual audience that made the Wii so successful, in order to go after the hardcore market?
If you saw their E3 conference, you’d know that it wasn’t the most exciting presentation. Instead of focusing on the console and new, exciting IPs for the system, the focus fell on the tablet controller, leading some people to believe that it was an add-on for the Wii (see American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel’s reaction to it for a prime example). This is the problem that I think the Wii U has; that most people won’t realize that it is a brand new console because they’ve spent more time focusing on the tablet, which thankfully now has proper thumbsticks rather than those stupid circlepads.
What made the Wii so successful was the simplicity of its control scheme. The use of motion controls allowed people who found the use of controllers or keyboards too overwhelming an easy way to play. With the introduction of a second screen, Nintendo may find that most of their casual customers will shy away from it. Maybe Nintendo aren’t worried about this as they are trying to target the hardcore market.
But thinking about this, what games are there that will attract people to the console? The big games that Nintendo showcased were Mass Effect 3, Batman: Arkham City and ZombiU. Out of those three, the only one I could see bringing in the hardcore gamers is ZombiU, because most hardcore gamers will already have both Mass Effect 3 and Arkham City and from what I have seen, there isn’t enough original content that would make me want to jump ship to Nintendo. Instead of variations of already existing levels, give us new levels, built from the ground up that take advantage of the second screen. However, ZombiU seems to be a case of ‘good in theory, bad in execution’: similar to how Red Steel was when it was released.
The Wii U’s main selling point will come from Super Mario Bros. U, which will use a combination of both the tablet controller and the Wii remote. Instead of using the tablet to control a character, the player will be able to manipulate the surrounding environment, which we all know will turn out very badly. And the lack of original content isn’t going to sway people to stump up just to try out these kinds of gimmicks, however much the Wii U will cost. Especially when most of the features can be replicated by the PS Vita, or Microsoft’s recently announced Smartglass technology.
I think most casual players will be overwhelmed by the use of a second screen, and the fact that having to pull your attention away from the television to look at the tablet will be too distracting for them. Considering the simplicity of the Wii’s motion controls, this may be a leap too far. Are Nintendo trying so hard to bring in the hardcore market that was so lacking from the Wii, that they are forgetting the market that made them the Kings of this generation?
After the less than stellar sales of the 3DS, this could end up being yet another gimmick that Nintendo are trying to sell to us, but considering that they haven’t finalized a release date or price point, it could be that Nintendo are worried that people are less than likely to pay over the odds for a brand new console. There’s no doubt that they’re trying to repeat the success that they had with the Wii, but will the raft of new features make people think twice before they open their wallets? Only time will tell. But with increasing hype around new consoles from both Sony and Microsoft, the Wii U may fall behind in terms of hardware and find itself playing host to shovelware, and yearly releases of a new Mario game.