Nintendo’s Wii U is officially dead. There. I said it. I know Nintendo fans don’t want to hear it, I know Nintendo doesn’t want to hear it, and I know even those who might not like the console but approve of the competition it provides don’t want to hear it, but it’s true.
In case you missed the recent news, Nintendo reported that the Wii U has now sold 6.2 million units worldwide, meaning it sold 310,000 units worldwide during the last quarter, alone. That’s a 20 percent drop compared to the same period a year ago, and an abysmal start for a console that was supposed to have so much promise.
Although Nintendo didn’t shy away from its bad go with the Wii U, the company is stubbornly sticking to the idea that it can keep it going and turn the tide. Nintendo keeps saying that its first-party software will save the day and third-party developers will jump at the chance to build games for the platform. But as we’ve seen, that doesn’t appear to be the case. And until sales improve, it’s hard to see any major publisher investing significant sums of cash in the console.
All of this feels eerily similar to the SEGA Dreamcast. An old, honorable company tried to do something special in the gaming space and failed. That company clung to first-party titles in the hopes things would turn around until they didn’t.
Nintendo is in a similarly precarious position. And it’s unclear from the company’s own comments on the matter what it can truly do to fix things. Nintendo is throwing ideas against a wall and hoping – praying, perhaps – that one will stick.
Now, I’m sure there are many Nintendo fans who will read this and cry foul on my opinion. They’ll say that I’m just another hack that doesn’t believe in Nintendo. They might also remind me that the Wii was wildly popular, and there’s no stopping Nintendo from doing it again.
“I’m sure there are many Nintendo fans who will read this and cry foul on my opinion”
All of those people, however, need a reality check. The Wii might have been wildly popular, but it succeeded in a much different market than the Wii U finds itself in. Nintendo is going after children and casual gamers. And those people are increasingly turning to mobile devices to get their gaming fix. Nintendo is clinging to an outdated model that doesn’t work anymore. And its sales and annual losses seem to reflect that quite convincingly.
Look, I’m not here to beat up Nintendo or try to put the company down. As I’ve said on these pages on numerous occasions, I’m an old-school gamer that loves the console market and wants to see every firm succeed. But there comes a point when companies need to admit defeat and move on.
For Nintendo, moving on means ditching the Wii U, admitting it made a mistake, and delivering a new console that can top the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It also means bringing its first-party games to mobile devices. That could very well be the next frontier for Nintendo – an older, wiser Rovio.
In either case, something has to change at Nintendo, and quickly. If nothing changes, it might not be long before Nintendo turns into SEGA. And we all have seen how that’s turned out.