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Nintendo's Iwata: A single title could save the Wii U
Nintendo's Iwata: A single title could save the Wii U
May 13, 2014 | By Mike Rose

May 13, 2014 | By Mike Rose
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    23 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Following the admission that the Wii U is dragging the company down, Nintendo has told investors that it is not giving up on the console, as a single game release could turn the tide.

As part of an investor Q&A session, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said that, although the company has only estimated sales of 3.6 million Wii U consoles for the current fiscal year, that doesn't mean the console has already hit its peak.

"In order to recreate momentum and sell 5 million or 10 million units of hardware annually, there are indeed challenges that we must overcome," he said. "The fate of a video game system is often influenced greatly by the introduction of a single title."

For example, he says, many critics said that the original Game Boy was done for before Pokemon came along and single-handedly changed the playing field.

"We do not believe that this year's estimate of 3.6 million units of Wii U hardware will be the peak of its lifecycle," Iwata added, "and we would like to work hard to make sure that we give sufficient momentum to the system so that we can expect good results in and after the next fiscal year, too."

Part of the short-term Wii U solution comes down to the production costs. Iwata says that the loss arising from production costs was taken into account in the previous fiscal year, thus "you could assume that there will be almost no loss this fiscal year for the sales of the 3.6 million hardware units."


"Before the release of the Pokemon game, Game Boy had been showing slow growth, and many people wondered whether it was the end of Game Boy."
And Nintendo isn't giving up on new first-party software for the console either. Iwata noted that, "our internal software development teams directed by Shigeru Miyamoto are committed to developing several titles" for the Wii U.

Some of these titles are nearly complete, he added, and will be unveiled at E3 next month, while others are still in the early stages of development.

Plus, Nintendo has its upcoming figurines business to attend to. "Activision has released video game titles from the Skylanders series over the past three years and Disney Interactive released the software title Disney Infinity last year," says Iwata. "Both video game series are compatible with character figurines and have created an extremely large market for these products."

However, Iwata stresses that Nintendo's primary focus is not to develop software to go with these figurines -- rather, the plan is to take a different approach to Activision and Disney, although the Nintendo president didn't spell out exactly what this different approach entails.


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Comments


Josh Charles
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This is absolutely laughable.

A single title will NOT save a console in this day and age. Maybe in the 90's and early 2000's - but not today.

There are considerably more factors that go into a purchase decision than just a single game -- online capabilities (streaming, competitive play, sharing), where your friends are playing, the perception that more must-have games are coming in the near future, price, OS and controller usability, etc. The list goes on.

Jon Fox
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Tl;dr I think Nintendo will see some sales once Smash Bros hits shelves despite the 3ds version also being available because games have and always will move consoles.

I disagree. I myself have a list of games that I would buy if I just happened to have a Wii U, just like I had a list of games I would buy if I happened to own a 3ds, which when Pokemon came around gave me enough incentive to do. Sure Wii U lacks in a lot of departments but believe it not, graphics and all that other jazz aren't important to a lot of people. It has been, and always will be, the software that sells the hardware and Nintendo KNOWS this. It's how they made their money in the first place, but I feel like they sort of forgot that with the success of the Wii and the pressure to keep up with Sony and Microsoft. I feel like people worry too much about stupid features these days and want their game consoles to do so much more than be game consoles. Why? Don't you own a TV or a computer?

I'm willing to bet that a lot of Wii Us will move once Super Smash Brothers is released, because that's certainly what I'm waiting for. Part of the issue is that they brought the Wii U with no house developed games. No Legend of Zelda, no Mario (New Super Mario brothers doesn't count) and when people I know got the system on release, it was a matter of "I guess I'll get this game and that game" instead of "YO DUDE I GOT THESE GAMES". People had to justify their loyalty to Nintendo instead of it just happening. The other part of Nintendo's problem is their previous stance on being so picky about developing for Nintendo consoles. They're late to the indie game, they're fumbling about getting old games re-released on the Wii U, and dag nabbit, the Wii U just isn't that interesting to develop for.

Innes McNiel
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Why doesn't New Super Mario Bros. count when it's the best selling Mario series?

Patrick Davis
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You talk like most people actually do research before they buy something. This couldn't be further from the truth. Those of us here talking on a business gaming site? Sure. But, most of the casual gamers I know would pick up a WiiU on a knee jerk reaction if there was a must have game everyone was playing. It's no different than when the Wii was flying off of the shelves due to Wii Sports. I'm not saying that one game will save the system, but please don't believe for one second that most gamers actually think about what they are buying before they buy it.

How many people bought Xbox Ones and PS4s on knee jerk reactions? I have 3 friends that have already sold their respective "next gen systems" because they are just collecting dust right now.

In short. Great games "will" sell the system. Regardless of what fringe features it has.

Theresa Catalano
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No, there's nothing laughable about it. Games are what sell systems, and certainly a single game can sell a system if it's desired enough.

Do I think that's the case with the Wii-U? Not exactly, but it's not far from the truth either. There's DEFINITELY a group of people who are waiting for Mario Kart / Smash Brothers before getting a Wii-U... I know they exist because I've talked to some of them. And you have to remember that there are already desirable games on the Wii-U. For a lot of people, it's not going to be so much a case of "a game that sells the system" as it will be "a game that tips the scales in favor of a purchase."

What the Wii-U needs is more games, and every great new game is one that will tip the scales in favor of a purchase for some people. Nintendo has the right attitude with Wii-U in not giving up, I would even call it admirable. Given time and the right games, I think it can come into it's own.

Bob Johnson
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A single title could easily save a console. You only have to go back to last gen and WiiSports to see an example of this. The Wii sold a ton without checking off all your requirements for a console purchase. Where would it be without WiiSports?

Maybe you're laughing because realistically these types of games come out only once a generation or so. And so the chances aren't great at all that it happens on the Wii U.

Dane MacMahon
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I don't think one game could save a PS4 or Xbox One, unless it became a phenomenon like Minecraft. However Nintendo is a different beast. Their previous consoles outside the Wii have shown there is a ~30 million strong group of people that want what Nintendo sells. The WiiU should be able to reach that figure if they make classic Nintendo games that group will feel the need to play. One game like that, say another Zelda, could shift the tides.

Unless that group of people is finally "over it," in which case Nintendo is probably screwed in general. I doubt they are though.

Melanie Struthers
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Well, Mike Rose, you certainly took what he said (as answer to a question) out of context by chopping it up. He didn't actually say that he expects the Wii U to recover with robust growth due to a single game. But you didn't bother to include the full 2 paragraph answer or a more holistic summary of the answer.

Ian D'Aprix
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Iwata certainly implied that it could happen with his Pokemon answer. Also, why should Rose include the full answer when it wasn't his question?

Jim Burns
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This was part of a much larger statement

Seth Scoville
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The answer is in the article. A full fledged Pokemon game on Wii U. You could even have it work with the 3DS.

Innes McNiel
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"Before the release of the Pokemon game, Game Boy had been showing slow growth, and many people wondered whether it was the end of Game Boy."

By the time Pokémon came out, the Game Boy's sales were slowing because it was a six year old handheld. Likely the only thing that the release of Pokémon did was slow the release of the Game Boy Colour.

Theresa Catalano
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Pokemon would be the single biggest system seller they could have, there's no doubt about that. But I think the games they have coming will be fairly effective as well: Mario Kart, Smash Brothers, and Bayonetta 2. All of those games are certainly going to sell some systems. And if that X game turns out as good as we hope, you can put that on the list too.

Kyle Redd
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I would scratch Bayonetta 2 from that list in a heartbeat. No adult-targeted action game has ever had a material impact on the sales of any Nintendo console, and I don't think anyone is expecting Bayonetta to be an exception.

Bob Johnson
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Yep no chance Bayonetta will be a system seller.

Theresa Catalano
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For a huge amount of people, no. But for some people, it definitely will be.

John Flush
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I don't think a single game will tip the scales, but then again I bought a 3DS for Fire Emblem alone and later picked up a few games here and there.

The problem is their franchises have begun to stagnate again... after only one generation. NSMB on the Wii was great... for the first few hours. Then the competitive play got in the way. I was all about looking into a Wii U when I heard they were going to lead with NSMB 2, but then I realized it had all the same problems the first one had (wonky motion controls for the spin jump, the little pause when someone dies that messes up everyone else's jumps, and more) And realized I didn't want the same game with no reasonable and expected improvements.

IDK Nintendo. I don't think the console can be saved at this point from a lot of perspectives. You should tread water and try to rethink next gen.

Theresa Catalano
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Super Mario 3D World is quite a bit better and fresher than NSMB2. I would give Nintendo some credit, they may stick with the same IP's but in terms of gameplay they are always mixing things up.

Not to mention, the Wii-U has Wonderful 101, one of the freshest and most innovative games in the last few years!

John Flush
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but that is 3D... hasn't someone proved to Nintendo yet that their 3D stuff sells worse? Zelda's, Mario's etc...

Joshua Marshall
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Star fox
Fzero
Fire Emblem
Pokemon MMO (i know The N is terrified of the internet, but this would fix all there problems)
Zelda not a fudging remake!!!
Mario/Sonic Platformer 2d or 3d
Mega Man (possibly X comeback?)
Eternal Darkness
Nintendo version of kingdom hearts
Zombies ate my nieghbors
mario 64 2 bring back the pictures
... and wait for it wait for it.... a partnership with a major phone manufacturing and make a nintendo phone

Joshua Marshall
profile image
Star fox
Fzero
Fire Emblem
Pokemon MMO (i know The N is terrified of the internet, but this would fix all there problems)
Zelda not a fudging remake!!!
Mario/Sonic Platformer 2d or 3d
Mega Man (possibly X comeback?)
Eternal Darkness
Nintendo version of kingdom hearts
Zombies ate my nieghbors
mario 64 2 bring back the pictures
... and wait for it wait for it.... a partnership with a major phone manufacturing and make a nintendo phone

Joshua Marshall
profile image
Star fox
Fzero
Fire Emblem
Pokemon MMO (i know The N is terrified of the internet, but this would fix all there problems)
Zelda not a fudging remake!!!
Mario/Sonic Platformer 2d or 3d
Mega Man (possibly X comeback?)
Eternal Darkness
Nintendo version of kingdom hearts
Zombies ate my nieghbors
mario 64 2 bring back the pictures
... and wait for it wait for it.... a partnership with a major phone manufacturing and make a nintendo phone

Eric Harris
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Iwata is completely right. Having a strong IP is a wonderful branding tool. Matter of fact, it is one of the reasons Sega and Nintendo held so much market share between the late 80's through the 90's. You have to look at how the market is made. You need 1st party exclusives to sell your system over competitor's systems. Then, you need third party titles to continue to keep market share. Now they just need to get the results from the R&D they bought, and get some great games for the Wii U.

@ Joshua
I was with you till the mobile phone bit, but to each his own I guess.


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