Despite boasting a rock-solid lineup of exclusive games, and some genuinely cool and/or useful features, Nintendo’s Wii U has failed to catch on in a big way, selling just under 10 million units to date. Well, NPR recently interviewed Shigeru Miyamoto, and it sounds like Nintendo’s master designer is thankfully aware of where the Wii U went awry.
According to Miyamoto, price was/is an issue, but not being able to properly communicate what the Wii U is all about has been the biggest stumbling block.
“So unfortunately with our latest system, the Wii U, the price point was one that ended up getting a little higher than we wanted. I don’t think it’s just price, because if the system is appealing enough, people will buy it even if the price is a little bit high. I think with Wii U, our challenge was that perhaps people didn’t understand the system.”
I can confirm from personal experience that most folks didn’t understand what a Wii U is. Almost everybody I’ve introduced the Wii U to in real life has thought it was just a new controller, and didn’t quite know what to make of the GamePad when I put it in their hands.
Confusion wasn’t the only issue, though. By making a second-screen experience the focus of the Wii U, Nintendo pitted themselves against the very competitive and rapidly expanding tablet market, and they simply couldn’t keep up…
“I think unfortunately what ended up happening was that tablets themselves appeared in the marketplace and evolved very, very rapidly, and unfortunately the Wii system launched at a time where the uniqueness of those features were perhaps not as strong as they were when we had first begun developing them.”
Add “a total lack of third party support” to the mix, and that’s pretty much the reason why the Wii U hasn’t been a success. Thankfully, Nintendo is already developing their next console, and to hear Miyamoto talk, it sounds like they have their heads back in the game…
“What we are always striving to do is to find a way to take novel technology that we can take and offer it to people at a price that everybody can afford. We’re constantly trying to do unique and different things. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they’re not as big of a hit as we would like to hope. After Wii U, we’re hoping that next time it will be a very big hit.”
Maybe Nintendo’s next thing will be a hit, maybe it won’t, but at least it will be unique.