Nintendo's nightmare: Why Wii U was doomed from the start
30th Jul 2013 | 14:25
Encumbered with a bad name, bad messaging and a difficult legacy
On the surface, a British retailer dropping the Wii U from its shelves might not seem like that big a deal, but for Nintendo's latest console it's yet another piece of bad news in what has become a litany of misery.
The arrival of the original Wii had briefly hinted at a return to form for a Nintendo that seemed to have bowed out of the home entertainment market in order to concentrate on its flourishing DS handheld.
Suddenly gaming arrived for a whole new audience - one that did not have the patience to learn button combinations or use d-pads. The Wii was accessible, simple and it deservedly sold in droves.
But, in retrospect it also scrawled the writing on the wall for any successor. This audience didn't buy into Nintendo but into motion control, they didn't love Mario but Wii Sports, they didn't buy games but they did buy Wii Fit.
And when that's the case, it's always going to be a massive headache to persuade these people that they should invest in the next generation.
Add to that thorny problem the arrival of Kinect - which took motion control to another level - and the inevitable apathy of a group that had pulled their Wii out only for parties and you can understand why the Wii U needed to be truly tremendous if it was to succeed and have better marketing than Apple.
Of course, neither we the case. The Wii U was a muddled hotch potch of ideas taped together with a confused message for consumers that, personally, I'm not convinced managed to convince a huge swathe of the market that it wasn't just a handheld add-on to the original Wii.
It's easy to look back and say what was done wrong - but if ever Nintendo needed to wow its loyal audience and prove that it was for gamers and not just for families then it was for the Wii U.
The naming was the first problem, Wii U doesn't sound like a sequel, especially when you've already had Wii Fit as an add-on. Wii 2 would have been straightforward but, again, might not have convinced its wider audience to buy. Should Nintendo have gone with something altogether different?
Next up, the Wii was all about group gaming, and yet the Wii U's expensive controller seems to run counter to that. And, although interesting, was the addition of touch controls a bridge too far?
Nintendo has, as you would expect, reined in the price and retreated back into its familiar territory - Mario games, as it tries to rescue the Wii U. But perhaps it would have been better if it had designed its console to be the most awesome gaming machine for people who love Mario, Luigi, Link et al, rather than letting it fall between a veritable room-full of stools.