Nintendo earlier this week held a keynote address at the E3 gaming expo. And although the company showed off a new Super Mario Bros. game, some 3DS titles, and a new Wii Fit, the big story out of the event was that the Wii U is in deep, deep trouble.
Nintendo president of America Reggie Fils-Aime said that he wouldn’t discuss Wii U hardware at the keynote, deciding instead to focus his company’s efforts on software. Fils-Aime said it was a move designed to focus on the experiences that matter greatly to gamers. As for me? I think it was a move to set the spotlight on the games and away from the Wii U’s paltry chances of success over the long-term.
Note that I said “long-term.” I do believe that the Wii U, when it launches this holiday season, will be a hit. In fact, over the next year or so, I see the Wii U topping all other consoles in total sales both in the U.S. and abroad. It’s over the long-term, though, that I don’t see the Wii U holding up.
For one thing, Nintendo did little to allay the fears so many have had about the Wii U. Yes, it’s good to hear that it’ll support two GamePads, but the graphics shown off in the trailers were by no means impressive. And judging by the tenor of the presentation, Nintendo is once again trying to target a younger demographic that, quite frankly, is ready and willing to move on to mobile gaming on the iPhone and iPad.
There’s also the issue of its competitors. Sony and Microsoft didn’t show off any new hardware at their respective keynotes, but they didn’t have to. Both companies are watching their console sales hold up, and judging by the Wii U’s visuals, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 should be able to stand up to anything Nintendo offers.
What’s worse for Nintendo, there’s a good chance that at E3 in 2013, both Sony and Microsoft will showcase all new hardware. And when those products launch, the Wii U will look rather obsolete in comparison.
Finally, I think it’s a good idea to touch on Microsoft’s Smart Glass technology. Although the option can extend beyond gaming, the very fact that it’s designed to create a dual-screen experience to gamers on the Xbox 360 is a major threat to Nintendo. For over a year now, we’ve heard that Nintendo will be the only company to truly offer a dual-screen experience, and now, I’m not so sure it can hold on to that title. Sure, the Wii U does a bit more than Smart Glass, but it’s not substantial enough to make me think it can easily overcome Microsoft’s initiative.
While watching Microsoft’s E3 keynote, I couldn’t help but think of Nintendo and the fact that the game company showed its hand too early by unveiling the Wii U last year. It gave Microsoft (and Sony) time to set their own plans. And in the process, it might have scuttled any chance for the Wii U to succeed over the long-term.
Sorry, Nintendo. But it looks like the Wii U just won’t be able to hold up as long as you’d like.
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear