The Wii U arrives in less than two months, and the general consensus seems to be that the console has some promise, but is likely doomed to be an also-ran. I’ve done my share of naysaying, speculating that the Wii U is probably doomed to a Dreamcast-esque fate.
But wait just a minute — is it possible the Wii U could not only compete against the Xbox 720 and PS4, but actually beat them? I think it is, for the following reasons…
People Are Eager For Something New and the Wii U is Going To Have a Huge Launch
It’s been a long time since a new gaming console hit — the Wii and PS3 are both almost six-years-old. The Xbox 360 is almost seven. Meanwhile companies like Apple are training consumers to expect new hardware upgrades on an almost yearly basis. When the last new video game console launched the iPhone didn’t even exist yet — now there’s six of the things.
This is what an iPod looked like last time a new gaming console came out.
People are eager for something, anything new. The Wii U is already almost entirely sold out just based on pre-orders. It’s going continue to sell out for months after launch. By the time the 720 and PS4 arrive in late 2013 or 2014, the Wii U may already have a substantial 10 – 20 million unit head start.
Nintendo Isn’t Sega
As mentioned, the Wii U is being labelled the next Dreamcast a lot, but the comparison isn’t really that apt. The Dreamcast was a final, desperate Hail Mary from a cash-strapped company coming off a major flop (the disastrous Sega Saturn).
By comparison the Wii U is the follow up to one of the most successful consoles of all time, from a company with over 10-billion in cold hard cash in the bank. Nintendo is not going to cut-and-run halfway through the Wii U’s lifespan — at the very least this machine is going to get a solid five or six years of 1st party Nintendo support.
The Xbox 720 and PS4 Aren’t Going To Be Cheap When They Arrive
There’s a lot of speculation about what Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles are going to deliver when they arrive — mind blowing Avatar-level graphics! A projection system that can turn any room into a holodeck-like 3D gaming environment! Sounds fancy. Sounds expensive.
Holodecks don’t come cheap.
If Microsoft and Sony are as interested in pushing the bar with their next consoles as rumored, they’re not going to be able to offer them at the $250 – $300 sweet spot most consumers wait for. Not at first at least. The scenario many are laying out where the next Xbox and Playstation arrive and obliterate the Wii U with their superior tech probably isn’t going to happen. Microsoft and Sony’s new machines could cost as much as $400 or $500 at launch — meanwhile Nintendo will be able to knock $50 from the cost of the Wii U and rake in another year or two of sales at a nice mainstream-friendly $250 price tag.
Nintendo Is Snapping Up 3rd Party Exclusives
Several months back we reported the rumor that Nintendo was going to help revive other publishers’ franchises in exchange for exclusivity. At the time the only example we had of this was Sega’s quirky Seaman series, but recently the potential of Nintendo’s new strategy really became evident when they announced Bayonetta 2 as a Wii U exclusive.
This won’t be the last cult favorite series to go Wii U exclusive.
It isn’t just unorthodox stuff like Seaman and Bayonetta either — Nintendo is also locking more conventional games like Dragon Quest X and the Monster Hunter series into exclusivity deals. They’re almost surely working on other deals as we speak. Mark my words, a surprising number of interesting Japanese games are going to end up being Wii U exclusives next generation.
Nintendo Aren’t Pinning Their Hopes On the Wii U becoming an Entertainment Platform
The Xbox 360 and PS3 were supposed to be all-purpose entertainment boxes — your one stop shop for all your TV, movies, games and more. So far it hasn’t really worked out. Why? Because Microsoft and Sony are just too invested in the idea. In the case of Microsoft it’s pretty much the entire reason they created the Xbox in the first place.
Nintendo on the other hand, doesn’t give a s–t. They only really care about games and only created Nintendo TVii in order to stay competitive. They have no interest in creating walled gardens where they control all the content, making users pay monthly fees or forcing Bing, Internet Explorer or Blu-ray on people. Nintendo TVii is just a straightforward, free “ultimate universal remote control” concept I can see catching on with average, mainstream consumers.
Basically, by not having a dog in the hunt, Nintendo may actually be able to outmaneuver Microsoft and Sony, by offering simple, open services that people other than hardcore online gamers may actually use.
Nintendo’s Back Is To the Wall a Bit and They’re Going To Make Some Great Games
Which console actually had the best games — the super successful Wii, or the third-place Gamecube? I think most gamers would say the Gamecube. A company having their back to the wall a bit, having something to prove, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Also, let’s not underestimate what Nintendo will eventually be able to do with HD graphics and Xbox/PS3 level processing power.
Bottom line, Nintendo is going to make some f–king amazing games for the Wii U. Yeah, what we’ve seen so far isn’t pushing the bar too hard, but once we start seeing stuff from Nintendo’s Zelda team or the Mario Galaxy team or Retro Studios, I have full confidence we’re going to be wowed.
The next game from the Mario Galaxy team is going to be rad, I guarantee it.
So there you have it — a few reasons why I think the Wii U has a better chance than many are giving it. What do you folks think? Think Nintendo could pull this one out, or are they thoroughly Dreamcast-ed? Leave a comment and let me know.