Nintendo Will Be Fine; Don’t Worry about the Wii U Yet

Well, with the reveal that the console has only sold about 50 000 systems in its third month on sale in the US, people seem to have gone into panic mode about the Wii U and Nintendo as a whole.  It’s doomed they say, Nintendo’s going third party, the video game industry crash is near!  All those are comments I seem to get from these articles and people in the industry in general.  But honestly, I think this panic is all a bit overblown.

I mean sure, the sales aren’t exactly great. No, they’re pretty terrible in fact for a new console.  But what did people expect in a console with such a mediocre game library, a high price point and such a lack of appeal in the midst of an economic recession?  All these things are putting people off the system and stopping them buying it, not some perceived death of Nintendo that people like Micheal Pachter seem to blame everything on.

Let’s start with the lack of games/mediocre game library.  Whether people like to admit this or not, the current selection of games was just not good enough to sell the system.  Part of this can be blamed on third parties and Nintendo’s desperate attempts to please them by not putting out as major games on launch day, no one’s buying a system purely for ports of games found on existing platforms.

The original games didn’t help the system much either.  New Super Mario Bros U?  Decent enough game, but it’s not really exciting enough to buy a brand new console for.  ZombiU?  Good for people who like that kind of thing, but horror games in general are not mainstream, and overly difficult survival based ones are even less so (like it or not, people prefer easier games to titles like ZombiU or Dark Souls).  And Nintendo Land was just doomed from the start, it just didn’t have the neutral, mainstream appeal of Wii Sports or Wii Fit.

But all this will change.  Many people are refusing to buy the Wii U because there aren’t enough games to justify the purchase, and will probably switch over when the likes of Mario Kart, Mario, Smash Bros, Zelda, Metroid or any other major Nintendo games are released (I’m in this group at the moment).

If the console is still failing after E3 or in 2014, then’s the time to panic.  But when a game only has about three new exclusive games and only one has even the slightest mainstream appeal, it’s kind of unfair to expect the system to do any better.

The price is the second reason the system isn’t catching on as well as expected.  And you know what?  After how the 3DS originally did, I’m surprised Nintendo didn’t catch on to this before the console was even released.  Either way, people are holding out until the price drops, and when it does sales will likely go up significantly.

And when you add in the recession and what seems like a general reluctance to spend money in these dark days, the two things mentioned above are amplified 100 fold.  For all the people arguing that the Gamecube launched better or other doom filled proclamations, keep in mind that the Gamecube launched in a time of relative economic prosperity.  People had cash to spare, they were buying more luxuries and were willing to throw money away on what was basically a punt.

Nowadays though the market is tougher and the crowds not quite as willing to spend money on the untested and unproven.  Many people are out of work, money is harder to come by and people are mostly trying to spend as little money as possible to get by.  What did you think was going to happen with a system based on an unproven gimmick with mostly ports of old third party games and a high price tag in times like this?  That we’d get another Wii phenomenon?

Times are bad at the moment but they will get better for both the Wii U and Nintendo, so don’t go panicking and assuming the worst just yet.

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