When a business creates a smash-product, the question that’s on a lot of people’s minds is: ‘What’s Next?’
Humans are curious by nature, and so to discover what the next product could be after the Wii in 2006, many just weren’t sure as to where Nintendo would go to after this.
Rumours would be abundant of a ‘Wii HD’ between 2009 and 2011, until Nintendo announced a ‘new console’ in April of 2011, which would become the Wii U.
Unfortunately, the messaging of the console from the start hindered a lot of its success, so here’s why it was a wasted opportunity.
An Add-On this was not
When Nintendo announced the console and the game pad, I remember feeling confused. The name ‘Wii U’ spoke to me that this was an expansion of the existing Wii Console; much like its 64DD from the N64, or even SEGA’s Mega Drive 32X.
But it wasn’t until after E3 concluded in 2011 that this was indeed a new console. This was its first mistake. Having a ‘Wii U’ as a name gave the impression that the Gamepad was an add-on to the Wii, similar to how the ‘Motion Plus’ was an add-on to the Wii Remote.
Wii U didn’t sound like a new console, it sounded like an expansion.
But it wasn’t. The press shots of the Wii U Console gave an impression that this was a more streamlined Wii console than before, but no, it was a new console.
The messaging of this overall was incredibly confusing; People didn’t know if they could just buy a Gamepad and have it work with the Wii U, and use the games showcased below.
A Four Year Failed Experiment
In 2014, this is how I knew that the Wii U was doomed to fail.
There was a time where I was in a GAME store, and as I was looking at a PS3 game to buy, a woman and her child were looking at the ‘new’ Wii U. The child was unaware of the Wii U, but had a Wii, as he kept saying about Mario Galaxy and how good a game that was.
The lady went to a store clerk, and just asked ‘My son wants to find out more about this Wii U; where does it fit into our Wii console? Do we get a discount for owning a Wii, as this is only something you clip on isn’t it?’
To me, that was the death knell of the console. Regardless of how Nintendo could spin upcoming games such as Mario 3D World, Wonderful 101 and even Tekken Tag 2, the general public’s decision was made. If anyone in 2013 was told (correctly) that it was a new console, and the woman would have to pay full price, there’d be some irritation there.
From the name, the look of the console, and the Gamepad, it all gave the impression that it was trying to rid off the back of the Wii’s success. Which is definitely the right thing to do for a business, but in this case, Nintendo did it so wrong, and in such a confusing way, that it in-fact made the console one of their worst selling consoles ever.
It was a console heaped in confusion.
Granted, the game library was fantastic, such as Mario 3D World, Zombii U, Wonderful 101 and many more, but they were hindered by the console. It’s a great thing that some of these games are seeing a better life on the Switch now.
The Wii U was officially discontinued in Japan in 2015, two years before the Switch arrived; Nintendo knew they had a dud on their hands. Looking back, it seems as though the console was a prototype for the Switch; a console that lacked focus but its method in playing games had potential.
We all know what happened to the Switch; it’s a runaway success with no signs of stopping. But it could have been so much different if the Wii U was given a bit more extra time, and a different name.
Let’s just hope that games that are currently only playable on the Wii U, are coming to the Switch soon.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Retro page.