back to article Game of Thrones: Where to now for headless Nintendo?

I first met Satoru Iwata three years ago. At the time, the Wii's success was still fresh and the Wii U was still seen as having major potential. This was long before it had been exposed as underpowered and undersupported. Satoru Iwata Satoru Iwata: 1969-2015 Indeed, the Wii U's impending arrival was the chief reason for …

  1. Eponymous Cowherd

    Wrong horses

    "Confusing name, underpowered, inept user interface and a shortage of games – these were the names of the four horses of the Wii U's apocalypse."

    The original Wii had a confusing name and was underpowered and had fewer games than its rivals.

    Yet is was a huge success. There were a number of reasons for this. The first was innovation. The Wii controllers were truly revolutionary. Second was price. The Wii, on release was (IIRC) £170, far cheaper than its rivals. Third was that it appealed to a different demographic to its rivals. It was a family/party console.

    The Wii-U was too expensive, on release it was £300 (for the 32GB version), and its killer feature (the Wii-pad, thingy) was a solution looking for a problem. For most people who owned a Wii (myself included), there was little point in upgrading.

    Eventually I bought an XBox One, but still wheel out the Wii for party games. Wii Sports Resort still knocks the spots off the, frankly lamentable, Kinect Sports.

    1. Captain Underpants

      Re: Wrong horses

      @Cowherd - agree 100%.

      There's a quote around somewhere from Iwata about how everyone feels intrinsically comfortable about picking up a TV remote but non-gamers can feel intimidated by the idea of picking up a games console. The simplicity of the controller coupled with a well-designed UI and straightforward yet fun games was its appeal - the price then meant that people who would otherwise end up hemming and hawing their way to deciding against buying it could pick one up.

      Put it this way, the Wii represents the only time I've ever seen my parents express interest in a videogame console beyond "What's this thing he wants for Christmas then?".

      The Wii U has some interesting ideas - in a party scenario the asymmetric gameplay can be a lot of fun. But it's not a compelling single-player device, especially in the absence of a steady stable of games, and it sort of feels like someone tried to bolt on the DS design onto a home console for some reason. At this point it's doing a Gamecube, I think - it may well get good games, but it's relegated to be an also-ran of the current generation.

    2. Tim Jenkins

      Re: Wrong horses

      I've said it before in these forums, but the great thing about the Wii was (and in our house at least, still is) that each kid could have an identical remote and nunchuk (particularly once 'compatibles' got so cheap). The Wii-U broke that model, and any household where one sibling could seize the GamePad and the other(s) got left with 'stupid sticks' was likely to be an even less harmonious place than before. In this, at least, Mr Iwata was just plain wrong:

      "Asymmetric gameplay is really about ‘what if one person gets a special controller and gets a different role than everyone else?’... ...Our development teams have plenty of ideas for asymmetric gameplay and are proposing a lot of ideas and I think that's a good sign."

      http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/gaming/satoru-iwata-on-wii-u-i-think-it-will-become-increasingly-difficult-from-now-on-to-compete-over-graphics-7936301.html

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Wrong horses

        The pad would have been great as part of a media player in the Wii U but that came to nothing. Same as in the Wii where they said a future update would make it play DVDs then quietly forgot about it. They never quite crossed the line into making the Wii or Wii U something you had to turn on every day, which was a quote from the Wii's launch.

      2. Lamont Cranston
        Unhappy

        @ Tim Jenkins

        I would agree with this, but I picked up a copies of Nintendoland and Marion Party 10 recently, and the kids went ape for them (so did I, if I'm honest*). I think the real tragedy is that only Nintendo have any idea what the gamepad / wiimote+nunchuck can be good for, hence the lack of 3rd party titles.

        *Was playing the Metroid game with my eldest, the other night, and it played like I wish the Wii had - smooth control with the nunchuck, and aiming with the wiimote actually worked (used MotionPlus, I think, which should have been there from the start). Really well done, just a shame it's relegated to a minigame.

        The fact that Splatoon doesn't have 4 (or 5) player local multiplayer speaks volumes as to how underpowered the WiiU is, though - it'd be on my "must have" list, otherwise.

        Oh, and Dan55 is spot on about media player functionality. Our old Wii was hacked to play DVDs and stream across the network (although it wasn't particularly good at this), which was a real boon. Sony recognised the value of this when the PS2 came out (DVD playback was a major selling point), but Nintendo don't. OK, there's Amazon Prime / Netflix as standard, but no chance of any other media player getting added to it, so it'll never be the entertainment hub that it should have been - a real missed opportunity (and the presence of the TV remote functionality of the gamepad suggests that it had occurred to someone at Nintendo).

  2. Dana W

    The only thing keeping me from the newest 3DS is my lack of $200 I can spare right now. They have great games, but $40 for a handheld game is just too much in a market where simple games are $1 to $2, and big content us usually $10.

    That and the fact you just can't charge the same $40 for downloaded games when the same games cost $40 in their hardware cartridge versions. There is no impetus to spend as much for a game that is only there as long as Nintendo feels like providing it.

    1. Shrimpling

      If you are comparing the per game cost you should also consider the per device cost... An iPhone 6 or similar spec Android phone would cost 4 times as much as a 3DS, so the big game titles costing 4 times as much seems fair to me.

      I have had over 200 hours of enjoyment from Pokemon Omega Ruby... On a pound per minute basis this is better than any phone game I have paid for with the possible exception of Football Manager!

      1. Dana W

        True enough, but a phone is a necessity, a handheld dedicated gaming unit is a luxury. I OWN a 3DS XL. I want the new one to cut down on the terrible load times.

  3. Steve Medway

    Pretty offensive article.

    1. WiiU sales have been higher than PS4 and xbone in Japan for the last three weeks.

    2. Japanese lifetime sales of 3rd gen consoles put the WiiU ahead of PS4 and xbone with the lead growing.

    3. Everybody knows US and Euro WiiU sale haven't been great so worldwide it's behind, not a big deal.

    4. WiiU games work properly at launch instead of requiring massive day zero critical patches and often month+ long waits for real game repairs (hello PS4 & xbone).

    5. Lack of third party support is a blessing not a curse, you don't get the 3rd party crap that appears on the 'lead consoles'. These titles only get bought by mummy, daddy or another idiot, trust me no gamer would ever buy one of these 'games'.

    6. If you count the 3rd Gen titles that are 'must haves' the WiiU is still ahead of the PS4 and xbone put together.

    7. There's no fees for online WiiU gaming, Splatoon + all it's dlc has been free, compare that to CoD and xbox live / PSN.

    8. The Wii was too 'family', The WiiU is like the spiritual successor to the SNES in glorious HD (just look at it's game library). Single players have never had it so good.

    9. Most games for the WiiU are half the price of PS4 and xbone titles.

    Sorry, but I think the article is pretty offensive considering he's only just past away, and all because you jumped on the internet slag the Wii U bandwagon (which became out of date about a year and a half ago) and are obviously not a true gamer.

    1. gregthecanuck

      Re: Pretty offensive article.

      In our house we have a Wii U and an Xbox 360. The Xbox gathers dust while the Wii U gets used a lot by the wife, the kids and their friends.

      I wouldn't say the prices for Wii U games are much lower than PS4/XB1 titles, but there is a lot of content/value for the money.

      Great console - the gamepad gets a lot of use - especially in situations where the TV is in use for other purposes.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Pretty offensive article.

      Glad you like your WiiU, Steve, but I must take issue with a few of your points:

      4. WiiU games work properly at launch instead of requiring massive day zero critical patches

      Not entirely true. Of the half dozen WiiU games that we own, only 1 has not gone online and downloaded stuff on its first run (it's a console, I expect all of the games to work out of the box - the kids certainly don't want to sit there and watch a progress bar fill up).

      5. Lack of third party support is a blessing not a curse [...] no gamer would ever buy one of these 'games'

      "Third party" doesn't have to mean shovelware. I certainly enjoyed Arkham City on the WiiU, and I don't think that was developed by Nintendo.

      7. There's no fees for online WiiU gaming, Splatoon + all it's dlc has been free

      All the Splatoon extras might be free, but this isn't true of, say, Mario Kart. I can't say I was particularly put out by paying for the extra tracks/karts/characters, but there's no point in pretending that Nintendo are just giving this stuff away. They'd like you to by some amiibos, too. Still, it is nice that there's no charge for the privilege of online play.

      9. Most games for the WiiU are half the price

      High street prices are around the £40 mark for new releases. I do hope PS4/Xbone players aren't paying the best part of £100 for their games?

      I don't think it's offensive to the dead to consider the fortunes of the company he was running.

      1. Steve Medway

        Re: Pretty offensive article.

        4. Wii U games sometimes do have minor launch day patches, but not whopping great 40gb+ ones (Assassin’s Creed: Unity I'm looking at you). Nintendo QA levels are simply higher than the 'beta' or dare I say 'alpha' releases that come out on PS4 and xbone.

        5. Arkham City is a great game on any platform. Yes 3rd party doesn't always equate to drossware, but going by the percentages PS4 and xbone have far more of it. For the really good 3rd party games a PC is usually the much better platform.

        7. The Mariokart DLC tracks are cheap and the extra content nice. Doesn't mean you can't play online without them, there's plenty of content in there already for superb free online racing. Amiibos are never required for core gameplay functionality but I too have a more than slightly cynical opinion of them, but at least you get something physical instead of a DLC that should have been included at purchase to get the 'proper' game experience.

        9. I've never spent over £35 squid (sorry, splatoon pun) on a new Wii U game, 65 quid is the norm for PS4 / xbone games worth buying.

        I don't think it offensive to consider the fortunes of Nintendo now he's passed away, however slagging off a man's legacy based upon incorrect, out of date 'Wii U internet hate' so soon after he's dead pretty offensive.

  4. Banksy

    It's what you do with it that counts....

    As I'm at pains to point out to the laydeez it's what you do with it (the power) that counts. There are some lovely looking games on the Wii U like Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 2 and even Bayonetta 2. More power wouldn't necessarily improve the way any of those games play.

    I've also had more fun playing MK8 and Super Smash Brothers with two of my young nephews on local multiplayer than just about any other gaming experience this generation.

    I will admit the GamePad isn't always utilised that well outside Nintendo's own games. It's too easy just to use it as an inventory/map view. The ability to play on the GamePad rather than a TV for some games is also a boon, particularly for families.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: It's what you do with it that counts....

      They're not striving for "realistic" graybrownland like Call of Duty, so "serious" gamers will always diss them. But I'm pretty impressed by the consistent frame rates they deliver at HD resolution.

  5. sisk Silver badge

    Please NOT Miyamoto

    No offense to the man. He's a genius. But he's an engineer and a game designer, not exactly the areas of genius needed to run a company the size of Nintendo. I, for one, would much rather see him continue to do what he does best than trying to do a CEOs job.

  6. Andy 73

    Mindshare

    As our boy (age 10) was pretty invested with the Wii, we eventually upgraded to the Wii U. The Gamepad is a boon - he plays on the large screen, then carries on playing on the pad when someone else wants to watch TV. The production values remain as high as ever (he's just rattled through Yoshi's Wooly World, which is beautifully realised).

    The problem is that the Wii U is not seen as a success - it doesn't get talked about the way the PS4 and XBOne, or even tablets do. That's perhaps the effect of Nintendo's attitude to third party developers finally biting them on the backside. The massive number of throwaway games in browser or on tablets and phones only serve to highlight how few third parties develop for Nintendo. Whilst the quality benefits, it means there are only a handful of cheerleaders for the platform. Rovio and the like benefit from network effects that mean in certain circles you only hear about their preferred channels. Our son knows all about every variation on Angry Birds etc. and that keeps him coming back to the tablet for yet more throwaway games as much as he will spend hours on a single game on the Wii U. In our household, the two platforms have parity, but only because we cared to find out about Wii U titles.

    On top of that, the positioning leaves people confused - it's neither cheap nor powerful. What are you actually getting for your money besides access to well known Nintendo IP? The other consoles still sell on the idea of 'new stuff' (whether that's genuinely the case or not), whereas Nintendo has fallen into 'same old stuff, but prettier'. The benefits of the gamepad are not obvious when you see it in the store, and they've failed to capitalise on the extra screen where every other platform has embraced 'two screen media'. Every game and tv show has a back channel these days, yet Nintendo fail to provide that on their own platform that's designed from the outset to have a second screen.

  7. Morten Bjoernsvik

    bean counting dept

    Under the first picture it says 1969-2015 is he 45 or 55? No offense :-)

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