Wii U : The Power Of Love
The whole gaming world is going, or about to go mad for the Wii U. On the one hand, we have the Nintendo worshippers who are going to eat it up, and on the other hand we have the sceptical hardcore gamers wary of another system devoid of third party games, who will go mad against it. Or do we? Will the Power of Love win out in the end?
‘Love with tongues of fire’
I have been surprised by how sceptical many long term Nintendo fans have been about the Wii U. There are plenty who will buy it, but there is far less excitement surrounding it than you would expect in a market that hasn’t seen a new home console released for five years. Nintendo has arguably a more dedicated fan base than either Sony or Microsoft, and to see even the odd rabid fanboy admitting uncertainty should be worrying for those in Kyoto.
We are in a tricky situation here. We don’t know the real specs of Wii U yet, but the negative comparisons between launch games and their 360 or PS3 equivalents are seriously putting people off taking the £300 plunge.
We know from the horrible experiences of Gamecube owners that just because a console is more capable, doesn’t mean it will get utilised. Yet it seems strange that we should be in this situation at all. If the specs are better, why not just say so and end the uncertainty that is damaging the launch?
‘Let yourself be beautiful’
Nintendo doesn’t try to compete just on graphics and power, that’s fine, but given the huge time since the release of the last generation, people are expecting to see something that is at least a little step forward. While it is important to remember that the boost in power to the next generation of consoles will be smaller than the gigantic leaps previously, and of course over time the machine will show it’s extra power; but on day one, it hardly even looks like a small bunny hop. By time the games appear that truly utilise the machine, will it be too late to change the perception of an underpowered machine?
‘Keep the vampires from your door’
Nintendo say the Wii U is being sold at a loss, yet none of the technical reviews can understand why apart from one key problem, exchange rates. The difference between the dollar and the Yen makes all the money Nintendo generates in the West less valuable. So, and I’m no financial genius here, given their huge stockpiles of cash, why not keep that money in Nintendo of America until the exchange rate improves? The improved exchange conditions would allow them to drop the western price of the console by $50/£50 or so, and would significantly increase the interest and uptake; either that or it would have allowed them more room to up the specs of the machine.
‘Envy will hurt itself’
That’s not to say Nintendo is doing everything wrong. They have tried to address the long recurring issue of their machines not catering to adult or hardcore gamers by bringing in Bayonetta 2, Call of Duty, and other big series to the machine. The problem will come in a years time when (presumably) the new Sony and Microsoft machines will be in full swing, and publishers may start putting their inexperienced and cheap teams on the WiiU versions, leading to the catastrophic trash ports that the Wii endured.
‘I’ll protect you from the hooded claw’
Happily, there is always a silver lining in any Nintendo machine. It is guaranteed to have at least ten great first party releases. For those of us, and there are many, who think that Nintendo is still the best publisher in the world, this means the machine has no risk attached; even if all the third party games are awful, there will still be some games worth playing. This is no Atari Jaguar, even if it is scarily close to being a Dreamcast.
I wonder if Nintendo have missed an opportunity here; they have big cash reserves, as do Microsoft, but Sony is struggling. If Nintendo were to release a very highly powered machine, using their reserves to sell at a big loss, they would force Sony into a very difficult position. Sony would either have to release an underpowered machine, produce a high powered machine at a loss they cannot afford, or wait to release their next machine, by which time they would be a good step behind.
‘When the chips are down I’ll be around’
As it is, we have a machine that is dangerously close to being seen as an irrelevance. I hope that Nintendo will grow interest to the mass market by showing people the magic behind their touch screen pad. Plus, by helping developers to get the best from a machine that is almost certainly far more capable than first appears, they can help to sway the sceptical into believing that a Nintendo machine really can provide a worthwhile and unique experience for the dedicated gamer.
The gamer in me loves Nintendo, but for the first time since the original DS launched in 2004, it’s too close to know if love will be enough.
‘Love is the light, scaring darkness away…?’
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Rob is an advertising strategist and author of 'The Ad Pit' blog. Rob has been playing games for 25 years - which makes him feel very old. He used to have a victory ratio of 40:1 in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, but that was a long time ago! #dogyears