Posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 at 1:00 PM by Tim Bowers
In a few days’ time, in the city of New York, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime will take to the stage and hopefully show the world exactly what they can expect from Nintendo’s newest console.
Following its announcement at E3 2011 the Wii U hype machine went into over drive in the lead up to E3 2012, but Nintendo’s E3 presentation failed to live up to that hype, (as a long time Nintendo fan I was actually near tears due to the disappointment of E3!), and since then opinion on the Wii U has slid.
Comparisons of the hardware to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, talk of ports of year old games, major publishers still not ‘on board’ with the device and a shrouded release date/price have all damaged the Wii U and now we’re only a few months away from the potential release period. So what do Nintendo need to do on Thursday to show they mean business?
It’s nearly been 18 months since the Wii U was first announced, since then there have been various rumours as to when the device would finally hit stores, and more importantly how much it would cost.
Nintendo have said they will expect people to be surprised at the cost of the Wii U with Reggie previously saying “Nintendo believes in being a mass market product, so unlike our competitors when they’ve launched historical systems to maybe start at a really high price and work their way down, we don’t believe in that.”
One factor to take in may be the release of the 3DS. Nintendo ended up pretty battered and bruised following the release of their newest handheld; so much so that within a few months of the devices release they dropped its price. This was a massive blow to the systems credibility, and it showed that consumers aren’t currently willing to spend huge amounts of money on technology, Nintendo need to find that perfect price point.
Prices have ranged from $200 all the way up to over $400. A $400 console would go against Nintendo’s culture; they usually use older technology to keep the cost down. In the past few weeks there have been stories of retailers listing consoles and bundles which put the Wii U on its own at $249 and bundles going up to $349.
This would fit in again with Reggie’s comments at this year’s E3 “We want to launch at a price that’s going to represent an ongoing great value. If you look at the Wii, we stayed at $250 for a really long time, so we’re going to give that same level of thought to Wii U.”
Once we have the price we need to save, we need to know how long we have to save for it. Nintendo have always said that the device will be out by Christmas this year and most of the signs are now pointing to an American release in November, just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday which is usually a bigger selling period in the US. Unfortunately the rest of the world might not be so lucky.
A few months ago a rumour surfaced that said due to ‘manufacturing issues’ the European release of the Wii U would be delayed. Nintendo apparently want to give America as many Wii U’s to sell as possible which means that Europeans may not see the Wii U until December. The Nintendo event on Thursday is happening in New York and is likely to be very focussed at the American market, but with a statement being released stating that there would be no European presentation we have to hope that Nintendo don’t forget that they are talking to the world and not just US Citizens.
What’s in the box?
You have paid X amount on X day now you get home to open the box and what will you find inside?
Well we know that the device will ship with one GamePad, but other than that we have no idea what to expect.
Again we can look to the 3DS release as a hint or more recently the release of the 3DS XL. Outside of America Nintendo did not ship the 3DS XL with an AC adaptor saying that it helped keep the cost of the updated handheld down. Could we see something similar with the Wii U?
As we know the Wii U will work with the Wiimotes so will we see one packaged in with the console? Probably not as that would also mean including the Wii sensor bar. Another questionable feature is the HDMI cable; will Nintendo ship the console ready for High Definition play or expect consumers to buy one separately?
And in the age of downloadable games hard drive storage is King, Nintendo has already released specs for the Wii U showing a measly 8GB flash drive so expect to have to fork out for an additional external hard drive.
It’s no secret that Nintendo have never been big fans of the internet on their devices. The Wii’s online functionality was famously dire but for the Wii U Nintendo seems to be a bit more relaxed.
When players first switch on the Wii U they will see the Miiverse, a social gaming hub for Nintendo where you will see people playing the same games as you, friends and Mii’s connected with the hard drive. No news on how you will be able to add friends but we can hope that Friend Codes have gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Nintendo need to show that they are committed to online functionality not only within their hub but within their games especially if they still want to keep favour with the bigger developers whose titles rely heavily on multiplayer capabilities.
You can also expect to see a raft of on demand and streaming services from places like LoveFilm, NetFlix, BBC iPlayer etc.
Now we come to the final point and possibly the most important. The titles that the Wii U launches with need to make consumers sit up straight and want to go out and buy it, unfortunately at the moment the list isn’t astounding.
The only confirmed launch titles are from EA, Mass Effect 3 and FIFA 13. We can assume that the Wii Sports-esque Nintendo Land will also be a day one release, but Nintendo have remained tight lipped as to what to expect on release day with many titles being listed for the “release window”.
Again, we can look back to the launch of the 3DS for some lessons Nintendo may have learnt. The 3DS launch line up was weak; asking consumers to pay over £200 for a handheld without the ‘must want’ software was one of the major reasons for the sudden price drop. Nintendo has to have learnt that in order to get the Wii U flying off shelves it has got to gain the attention and continue that momentum.
New Super Mario Bros. U is a potential candidate for day one release although it could be too soon after the release of New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the 3DS for it to really stand out. Assassin’s Creed 3 is one of the biggest titles to be confirmed for the Wii U but that has a release date of 30 October so it may already be too late to champion that for the Wii U weeks after release on the PlayStation3 and Xbox 360.
Nintendo will need to announce more than karaoke and dancing games to keep the hard-core fans interested, one potential glimmer of hope are the amount of games that have been delayed until Q1 next year. This year more than any other, games are being pushed back past the Christmas period, could developers be working on potential Wii U ports for some of the biggest games of 2013? It’s a straw and I’m grasping at it but you can dream.
No matter what Nintendo need to come out fighting on Thursday, they need to really wow the gathered gaming media, they need to appeal to their most dedicated fans and they really need to keep any Nintendo Land showing to less than 2 minutes.
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