Much like the Wii no one is quite sure how Nintendo’s new console will feel, and much more importantly, play. Initial impressions indicate that the hardware works well, games look great and the first glimpses of innovation are already poking through the flashy haze of E3 press coverage. But there’s a reason why the rest of the industry isn’t worried – innovation alone wasn’t enough for the Wii and it might not be enough for the Wii U either.
Selling over 86 million units, Nintendo’s Wii console undoubtedly made money since unlike competitors Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo doesn’t take a loss on hardware sales. Unfortunately for Nintendo the Wii’s incredible sales never translated into game sales. On average, gamers who bought Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or Sony’s Playstation 3 bought more games than Wii owners.
In short, Nintendo made tons of money, but studios developing games for the Wii didn’t. In fact, of the top 20 best-selling Wii games to date 16 were made by Nintendo. This quickly translated into a drop in 3rd-party game releases for the Wii deepening gamers’ longing for the quality of classic non-Nintendo games of years gone by. Nintendo has its work cut out for it convincing mainstream game developers to bother with their new console; developers and gamers of Nintendo’s consoles have been hurt before and they don’t want to be hurt again.
The new Wii U controller is raising a few eyebrows as well. Featuring the usual buttons, two analog sticks and a 6.2″ touchscreen (likely resistive) that, in absence of a TV, Wii and Wii U games can be played on directly. Nintendo has made their intentions clear – they want to end fighting siblings over the TV – the Wii U can be played solely on the controller itself streaming wirelessly from the console.
Paired with promises of new 3rd-party collaborations for hardcore franchises like Ninja Gaiden, Assassin’s Creed, Darksiders, Tekken and Batman: Arkham City, Nintendo is making a play for gamers’ attention yet again. Let’s see if they can hold it this time.
For video and more information about the Wii U take a look at Nintendo’s E3 portal.