This is the fifth part of, what is essentially, a Wii U retrospective. With the Wii U’s past out the way, it’s time now to see what Nintendo can learn from it, to help improve its own future.
As we gear up for the next generation of Nintendo gaming, I think it’d be wise to consider the past, as Nintendo assesses its future. The past four parts of this retrospective, of sorts, was put together to give us the opportunity to look into what went wrong for Nintendo following the phenomenon that was the Nintendo Wii. All it did was make me sad.
So, on this day, Switchmas Day, if you will, I’d like to level some pointers Nintendo’s way, to help them succeed as best they can. We’ve looked at what went wrong in Nintendo’s past; well how about how they can get it right in their future?
Communicate the USP clearly
In a way, Nintendo have already succeeded that this. From the very first trailer, you knew what the Nintendo Switch is, what it does, and what makes it different from everything else. It’s a home console that you can also play as a handheld device, and literally everything else on the market requires a TV.
This is being followed up in their marketing since the announcement trailer, as well. Although things wavered slightly, when a big deal was made about the motion controllers, Nintendo have done a really good job of conveying what the Switch can do differently to everything else. Just this morning (written day before launch), I spotted a poster at the bus stop advertising the Switch. All it had on it was the Switch in the dock, and the Switch in handheld mode. That’s all you need to know, and you get it.
Nintendo faulted with the Wii U because their message was blurred. No one knew if it was a Wii peripheral, or what the advantage of having a screen on the controller was, until, ultimately, people stopped caring. The Wii U could have been much bigger than it was with a clearer message.
It’s the games, stupid
Something that isn’t really being touched on outside of IGN comment sections (a cesspool of hatred) is the launch line up for the Switch. Outside of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there is no killer app for the console. Now, for many, the first console Zelda in over 5 years might be enough to see cash leave their wallets. BotW is a game being released on the Wii U also, it must be added, and there is a chance that one massive title might not be enough on the whole.
With 5 physical titles available at launch, the likes of Snipper Clips and Shovel Knight will have to pick up the pieces until the next major release. Nintendo have outlined a new Splatoon, a Deluxe version of Mario Kart 8, and a brand new 3D Mario title will be available by the close of 2017.That’s 4 major first party titles in 9 months.
In comparison, the Wii U didn’t have an absolute must play for, arguably, its entire first year. I shone a light on more than a handful of great titles in part 3 of this series, however Super Mario 3D World was the very first brand new title that could be considered a system seller.
Nintendo failed on the digital front as well with the Wii U. Something that isn’t touched upon in my write ups is how Nintendo failed to utilise their Virtual Console idea to the maximum. Nintendo have one the strongest back catalogue in video games, and they opted to sell these games again…but only released a couple of titles at a time. Nintendo need to compliment with new releases every few months with a steady stream of downloadable titles to keep us busy.
Get online right
This is something I’m more worried about. Unlike their Sony and Microsoft cousins, Nintendo have been extremely slow on the uptake regarding online connectivity. Nintendo cut its teeth in the 90s, with Mario Kart 64 and Goldeneye parties being held across the globe, but Nintendo never really looked to anything other than “local” when it came to multiplayer options following the Gamecube.
The Wii U, Nintendo’s most sophisticated online platform yet, still pushed the value of local multiplayer over the online option that had become so easy to use. Outside of Miiverse, Nintendo’s charming social network, in which people essentially drew things for people to find in certain games, nothing the Wii U did was particularly easy. Adding friends was a chore, connecting to lobbies was slow, voice chat was essentially absent.
This may be something that hurts the Switch. In an age where you can buy a kettle that can connect to the internet, Nintendo have to get something as simple as in game voice chat right. They’ve gone down a route of “everything you do online will be connected to your smartphone”, which begs the question: considering they’re going to be charging a fee to use online services this time…why would people pay for access to voice chat on a smartphone, when they literally have a phone?
Nintendo have not been particularly open about what is in store for the Switch online at all, and it could stand to hurt them unless they get it right.
A home away from home
About 6 years ago, rumour began to circulate that Microsoft had been working on a handheld device that would be as powerful as an Xbox 360, to compete directly with the Nintendo DS and the PSP. Obviously this never came to pass, but it did get people, around me at least, excited at the prospect of playing a proper console literally anywhere they want. Sound familiar?
Nintendo keep pushing the idea that this is a console for the home, but they should be embracing the idea that it’s a bloody powerful handheld console. To many it seems trivial, but the idea that a massive Zelda, or Skyrim, or FIFA or whatever, can be played literally anywhere you want is a huge deal. If they truly pushed this aspect of the machine, I do think it would be a seller with a larger group of people.
Hopefully Nintendo manages to make the Switch work far better than the Wii U. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this new chapter in Nintendo’s storied history and, at the very least, excited to get some time in with the new Zelda. It’s been far too long.
What I plan on doing now is playing the Switch pretty consistently over the next few days, so I’ll deliver a “first few days” style rundown early next week. Until then, I hope you enjoy your Switchmas festivities. If you plan on purchasing a Switch, some games, some accessories, or literally anything else, why not consider following my Amazon Associates link? It costs you nothing extra, however everything you buy through Amazon through that link gives me a kick back of sorts, which allows me to improve the site and stuff. Cheers.