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Wii U skepticism will dissipate, says Nintendo's Iwata
Wii U skepticism will dissipate, says Nintendo's Iwata
November 29, 2012 | By Mike Rose

November 29, 2012 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Design, Business/Marketing

"The brand new user interfaces that Nintendo invented often faced skeptical views before a hardware launch, but wound up becoming de facto industry standards."
- Nintendo president Satoru Iwata discusses why skepticism surrounding the recently launched Wii U console won't be around for long.

"It is challenging to communicate attractions which are hard to understand unless you actually touch and experience them yourself," he adds. Indeed, both the Nintendo Wii and handheld DS faced dubiety at release, yet have proven themselves as landmarks in the industry, with lifetime sales of 97 million units and 152 million units respectively.

He continued, "Nintendo has paid a great deal of attention to the dynamic of people playing video games together in the same room. With Wii U, we thought about expanding this concept into separate rooms which are connected online. Miiverse is a network community dedicated to video games that represents a very unique game-dedicated social graph that has never existed before."

Nintendo is well-known for doing its own thing, and not always following the industry trends. Iwata says that when looking into the online features for the Wii U, he was not at all interested in offering the same services that competitors Microsoft and Sony have. "We have not thought that offering the same features that already exist within other online communities would be the best proposal for very experienced game players," he noted.

Elsewhere, Iwata discussed the idea of playing down success, and keeping improvement firmly in your sights.

"I always and strictly tell Nintendo employees never to use the term 'success' to describe our own performance," he explained. "If we call a result of any of our efforts a 'success,' we might apply it as the standard for success for future projects as well, and we could wind up not trying to do better than that or not making something which is very different in nature."

And he also had an apology to make regarding the large and time-consuming day-one system update for the Wii U, admitting that it was not the optimal way to launch a console.

"Personally I think that users should be able to use all the functions of a console video game machine as soon as they open the box," he added. "So I feel very sorry for the fact that purchasers of Wii U have to experience a network update which takes such a long time, and that there are the services which were not available at the hardware’s launch."

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Leon T
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I don't know about that. The skeptical views for the Wii did last up to the Wii U launch.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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I wouldnt call the powerglove an industry standard...

Maurício Gomes
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But... but...

the powerglove is so bad!

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I never owned a power glove, but I do still own a Wii that I play quite often and now a Wii U as well.

Lou Catanzaro
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I believe, the problem with the Wii U has nothing to do with the hardware. It is the marketplace. The success of the Wii stems largely from the industry wide assumptions that the Wii market was going to be sustainable and prolific, where other consoles had some difficulty (due to very large production requirements for product. Still do mind you.) However, most of the industry learned fairly quickly (through experience supporting the Wii early on) that the Wii market was extremely difficult to exist within and build for with predictable returns. The business model of being a third party dev/pub for the Wii came to be seen as kind of a long shot, certainly not a slam dunk. It was generally said toward the middle or so of the original Wii's life cycle that the "Wii market was dead", unless of course you were a 1st party Nintendo game.

Now Nintendo knows all this too. Since then, Nintendo has done absolutely nothing substantially to bolster and support third party development. Nintendo will do what they do and be happy to sell Mario/Zelda games on their systems and…if third party pubs/devs NEED to make some product too, great. But clearly, they are not bending over backwards to widen the possibilities. They make plenty of $$$ of their 1st party developments….and that's just fine for them. However, what you will see is that the rest of the industry, (EA, Disney, THQ, T2, etc….) will all play it as safe as they can when it comes to the Wii U (i.e. lots of ported product, nothing original. Any support for odd peripherals will be nominal). No one wants to stick out their neck for the Wii U, because they all got it fairly hacked off when they pushed hard for the Wii.

Stuart Brown
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My own feelings seem to be the opposite of yours, surprisingly. I don't believe the industry last generation bet on or expected the Wii's runaway success, and instead made huge investments in capacity, software and manpower for the production of HD games. This meant they were committed in one direction of support, and like a supertanker, took too long to turn around. Hence, the third party situation on Wii was relegated in the large to B team efforts, smaller budgets and little variety. This seemed to instigate or accelerate consumer flight to Nintendo franchises, which whether they appeal to you or not, cannot be faulted in polish or quality. The stand out 3rd party successes therefore were very different types of games with distinctly different appeal i.e. Just Dance, or games with "Ronseal" and impulse purchase pricing i.e. Carnival Games.

This time around, there is no problem with this commitment of new resources, at least for a year until the advent of powerful new loss-leading consoles. Nintendo seem to have implemented two further strategies to support a healthy third party ecosystem. At the low end, they have loosened rules, taken away some of the egregious size requirements and payment deferrals, and licensed Unity tools to encourage more smaller development teams to appear on the eShop.

For larger budget games, like on the 3DS, they seem to have given a window of Nintendo game free launch with only Nintendo Land and NSMBu, though this may have more to do with the delay of other games than an intentional move. They have committed resources to supporting niche titles like Bayonetta, and especially in Japan, tying up major franchises like DQ. Overall, their pitch will be that, when the new graphics-chasing machines come out, there will still be a maintainance of current budget levels for Wii U development so when the gaming industry stratifies once again there will be a place for mid budget development to thrive.

Finally, your examples of industry that 'st[u]ck their neck out' for Wii is pretty poor. THQ had Wii hits in de Blob and the uDraw, before failing when both of those were brought to HD consoles. Disney's Epic Mickey sold well despite disappointing review scores, though without full figures for average price it is difficult to assess it's overall profitability. Take 2 dipped their toe briefly into Wii territory with Table Tennis and Bully (and myriad shovelware), but can hardly have been described as sticking their neck out. EA made several baffling decisions- such as trivialising their Madden franchise, releasing spin off genre bending games from series that never appeared on the platform (Dead Space: Extraction) but had successes too, such as Tiger Woods, FIFA, Sports Active, and Rock Band.

For the resources they put in, they were no worse or better off than had they released on other platforms instead, in my opinion.

evan c
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It's really hard to doubt Nintendo considering how well the Wii did and after they turned the 3DS around. If there's one thing Nintendo good at it's supporting and selling their products. Unlike a certain company...

john stark
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Well I like the direction Nintendo took recently.

Things like Nintendo Direct or the general appearence of Nintendo Execs/Staff around the Internet suggests Nintendo finally embraces the not so new reality of tightly linked masses and the opportunity to get directly in touch with them. Though its still does not not feel overly interactive it at least is a Window for consumers into Nintendo, it feels very Nintendo.

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I think he is right about his business and how it should run. I sure however he knew this was a soft launch and that the plan to get the ball rolling on up to the event at the next e3, where they can showcase the real games that are being built around the Wii U concept. The shipment after Christmas will most likely come with preloaded Wii U services ready to go right out the box.

kevin williams
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"Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has apologised to early Wii U adopters for the system's initial firmware update and the unavailability of some features at launch....The exec told IGN he was sympathetic to users experiencing firmware download issues and regretted there being restrictions on console features."

They have a serious problem, now how will they address it? Taxi for Reggie!

wes bogdan
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The wii u expects u to have wi fi and if all u have is a wired connection or no connection there still should've been an update on games like mario preinstalled so everyone wouldn't cram the servers....heck ninty should issue retail update discs so it's not dec 26th when formerly silver dollar eyed kids expected to plug n play the new mario were waiting all day n then some as it will take longer on christmas than launch day as more users will be online @ one time and very disinchanted with a day 1 update/whipe n re install.

While amazon works hulu,netflix and you tube freeze my system as they boot so it might be update 2.5 on christmas.

Even after i updated the system and transferred my wii games and saves mario itself needed a small update.

Granted it did ask launch software but wanted to update and i knew it would ask update every time until i broke down and did it so even before i played mario i updated it so it was over and i could finally play it.

NOW YOUR STILL WAITING TO PLAY WITH POWER will be christmas day and the bad press will roll in.

I've at least told everyone i can unbox update then wrap it up and get the black wii u as the white set is junk lacking memory,accessorys or decent memory.

Leon T
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They did mess up with the updates , but people can still play their games while the update installs in the background. They are already shipping systems and games with the update installed . If someone is lacking wifi there is an attachment they can use for ethernet.

wes bogdan
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I meant to say a pack in game,accessorys or decent memory oh whell there's the fix.

Jed Hubic
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I don't think Nintendo has anything to worry about. Sooner or later people are going to want to play a slightly different, slightly newer, slightly upgraded version of Mario or Zelda. Thus is the predictable cycle of Nintendo.

Matt Cratty
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Its like watching a once mighty eagle go plummeting into the swamp.

(Just a touch of exaggeration there).