Well, it’s not exactly like he’s going to say anything else given that he’s one of the more well known Nintendo employees around and given that all the games he’s involved in will only be available on either the Wii U or 3DS, but it’s still refreshing to hear someone say the obvious already. Here’s what he says about the Wii U and its future prospects:
I think that the Wii U still has a long future. We really view it as being the ideal device that families are going to want to have connected to that screen in the living room that everyone is going to gather around and watch. Certainly in the short term I would want to see it performing with probably a little more momentum. I think in the long term I’m not at a point where I’m concerned yet.
We look at it in terms of what kinds of experiences do families want in the living room in front of the TV? Because we don’t think that families are going to go away, and we don’t think that TVs are going to go away.
As well as:
As long as we’re able to provide an entertainment experience that people want to play, they’re more than happy to purchase another device to carry around with them alongside their smartphone.
The bolded points are the most relevant ones. Yes the Wii U is underperforming a bit in the short term… okay, underperforming a lot in some regions like the UK, but the console’s prospects for the future still seem pretty bright.
After all, what are the reasons the console isn’t doing well at the moment? The price and the economy in general may have some affect on that. But the most honest to god important reason is the games line up. It’s empty. And as someone else said, what is a console?
A box to play video games on.
That’s it. Forget the fancy technology. Forget all the new innovations and interfaces, the social networking crap or multimedia functionality, those are all extras which don’t have appeal on their own. People buy a games console like the Wii U for its games, so ignore that at your peril analysts. In fact, take that as a warning to the entire industry. The games matter more than anything else does, and the minute you forget that is when you start being too obsessed with ‘minor’ side factors like piracy or free to play or whatever other buzz words and things you spout off.
And for reasons unknown (could be Nintendo’s grand plan, could just be them screwing up and not having enough games available to buy throughout the year), there are few games available for the system and hence sales will be low.
That doesn’t doom the console for ever more. It doesn’t say that the concept has no interest in it, that the ‘gimmicks’ were a bad idea or that Nintendo made a marketing misstep (although they probably also made one of those with the poor TV commercials). The console will do well when more games (and better exclusive ones) come out. Like The Legend of Zelda Wii U. Or Mario Kart. Or Super Mario 3D. Or Super Smash Bros 4. Or the new Metroid, Kirby, Star Fox or Donkey Kong games.
Miyamoto’s right on all these counts. While the console could certainly do with selling more in the short term (more immediate momentum), it’s not right to count it out like too many critics have done based only on early sales and a lacking lineup of games.
But it’s not just the whole ‘Wii U not selling now doesn’t mean it’s dead’ thing I like about this interview, it’s Shigeru Miyamoto’s great counter to the myth that smartphones and the like are killing gaming and will replace video game consoles. People are always going to want to play video games on a TV screen, they’re not going to stop just because they can get games on mobile phones. And more importantly, people will spend the money on dedicated hardware when there’s a good reason for them to pay. Give people good games, and they’ll buy your system for them. Will everyone do this? Maybe not, a lot of gamers who play games on iPhones don’t value gaming enough to spend tons of money on it. But most of those weren’t exactly the main console audience in years gone by either.
Either way, the Wii U will eventually sell. Will it sell as well as the Wii did? Perhaps not, but that was very much a different situation altogether. Arguably nothing can really ever compare to how motion controls revolutionised gaming, it was a simple but effective idea that few people had previously took seriously that worked well and made Nintendo millions. But that doesn’t mean the Wii U has to fail or that the Wii U has already failed.
What do you think about this? Do you agree with Shigeru Miyamoto about this stuff? Or for whatever (likely misguided) reasons are you one of those people who sees no positive ending to the Wii U story?