The Nintendo Wii U: six months on

 
Stephen Dinneen
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Nintendo’s new console is struggling. We ask what went wrong and whether it can turn things around.

AS Nintendo’s new console, the tablet-controlled Wii U, approaches its six month anniversary, things are not looking great for the Japanese games giant.

Sales, while not disastrous, are almost certain to fall some way below Nintendo’s original forecast of 5.5m units by the end of last month.

After a relatively successful launch, which saw it sell more than the PlayStation 3 (PS3), PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the Nintendo GameCube (but less than the PS2 and its predecessor the Wii), demand is understood to have slumped.

Have people lost interest in the creators of Super Mario? Or are its problems a portant of things to come? Here are some of the key points to take from the Wii U’s launch.

IT’S THE GAMES, STUPID

Demand for the hardware may be low but this is partly because of the lacklustre roster of titles available. ZombiU, a first-person survival horror game showed the potential of the platform but it was never going to be a contender for game of the year. The latest Super Mario was also disappointing. What the platform needs is a new Zelda game or a Metroid. The upcoming Pikmin 3 and Bayonetta 2 (see below) might help matters.

CONSOLES ARE FEELING THE HEAT

Sony and Microsoft, due to launch new versions of their consoles later this year, will be watching the fate of the Wii U closely. While many of Nintendo’s problems are of its own making, the future of the industry isn’t clear. Demand for mobile games has surged, meaning traditional (read: expensive) consoles could increasingly struggle to convince gamers to part with their cash. This is especially a problem for Nintendo, which is seen as more of a casual gaming experience than the more powerful machines produced by its rivals.

TOO WACKY FOR ITS OWN GOOD?

Nintendo has made a multi-billion pound business out of wacky creations, from the original 8-bit Italian plumbers throwing fireballs at carnivorous plants to the revolutionary Wii, which introduced the gaming world to motion sensitive controllers. But even by Nintendo’s standards, the Wii U is out there. The controller, while not as unwieldy as it looks, takes a bit of getting used to. It isn’t just gamers who are struggling to adapt to the concept: developers aren’t sure what to make of it, either, with many titles struggling to make good use of the second screen.

TIME WILL TELL

Nintendo has often seen its consoles sell relatively slowly, building momentum over time. The portable DS ended up being among the most successful consoles ever made, while the Nintendo 64 was a slow-burner.

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