It’s been barely over three months since Nintendo launched the Wii U, and yet many already seem eager to write the console’s epitaph. The growing consensus seems to be that Nintendo’s bungled the Wii U launch and the system will swept into history’s dustbin as soon as the Playstation 4 and Xbox 720 hit.
Not likely. I’m not sure which console will stand tall at the end of this generation, but I do think the next machines from Microsoft and Sony are going to suffer through launches every bit as rough as the Wii U’s. In fact, I think the debut of the PS4 and next Xbox will mirror the Wii U’s launch in a number of ways…
Slow Initial Sales
Don’t expect any of the new consoles to burst out of the box with huge sales initially. Rumor is the PS4 and next Xbox will cost around $400, which isn’t as bad as the PS3’s initial price of $600, but is still well above the $200 – $250 sweet spot most consumers wait for before buying a new gaming machine. The Wii U’s $350 price tag is already proving a hard pill to swallow in the current economic climate — the other next gen systems are going to have it even worse.
Besides the price thing, ask your average moderately serious gamer what they think about the latest Xbox 360 and PS3 games, and most will tell you they think they look great. In fact, many of those not-casual, but not-exactly-hardcore gamers that make up the majority of the gaming population probably only bought their Xbox 360 or PS3 two or three years ago when the price dropped to a palatable level. To a large chunk of gamers, the Xbox 360 and PS3 are still fairly new purchases they’re still totally satisfied with.
Also, the PS4 and next Xbox will be launching around the same time likely, and will end up eating each other’s lunch. Also also, there’s the whole competition from tablets and phones thing the last round of consoles didn’t have to worry about when they launched.
Much like the Wii U the PS4 and next Xbox will probably move an impressive amount of units on day one, then sales will drop off a cliff.
Just…give…me a…launch date Nintendo.
Exclusive Software Droughts
After a solid launch, Wii U owners have been left waiting for months with no new exclusive games. The waits will be just as bad, if not worse, on the PS4 and next Xbox.
At it’s recent Playstation 4 unveiling Sony showed off a grand total of five Playstation 4 exclusives that were, you know, actual games and not old man face tech demos or whatever. If you think those five games are all going to be playable at launch you’re crazy, and if they are, you won’t be getting any more exclusives for a year afterwards.
Microsoft will likely have even fewer exclusives to announce, because come on, what exclusives do they have left? They’ll announce Halo, Fable, and something from Rare nobody cares about.