Nintendo's latest gaming console was released November of last year (2012), but sadly their latest hardware has not become a fad the original Nintendo Wii was. Why? There are actually a number of clear reasons now that we are nine months into its life. Some are issues that can be tackled by Nintendo giving money to developers, but one of the most important reasons is sadly because of its name.
For the record, the original Nintendo Wii was not a revolutionary product, but instead a gimmick. It only lasted during its life cycle while many people still played (and even do today) on their PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (the Xbox is not included because game support ended long before the PlayStation 2). Sony initially fell into Nintento's trap, but after games such as Sports Champions (I personally loved playing Archery) and some of the uses on Heavy Rain, the PlayStation Move has proven to be a useful product and not a gimmick as well. And now we know the Move is supported on the upcoming console. On the other hand, Micro$oft's Kinect peripheral was a complete failure and didn't do anything like it was advertised to do (hence, Micro$oft made a 'version two' with their new Xbox, which sadly still doesn't seem appealing. Harmonix's new game, Fantasia: Music Evolved, looks and feels bland. Most importantly, it is not an exclusive Kinect product.).
You'd think the company that brought about a fad in the Wii U could possibly be able to bring another one, but sadly they just haven't thought this out well. Now, it's true I don't watch television at all and Nintendo may have advertisements, but as far as I can see, even on YouTube, there is nothing to suggest Nintendo even has a new console. Nintendo as a company is solely devoted to games. They don't have anything to fall back onto, so considering that, they should be the leaders when it comes to anything game related. But looking at the game market today, it has been dominated by Sony (e.g. Uncharted, The Last of Us) and Micro$oft (Halo). You even hear about them more frequently than Nintendo outside of the gaming industry. Sony makes computers, mobile phones, tablets, peripherals/accessories, films, has signings with a huge collection of music arts in the entire globe, anime production (Aniplex and Animax), and of course, games and related hardware/software. Micro$oft, on the other hand, is the developer of the most popular operating system in the world, Windows. Both of these companies have more to lose than Nintendo, yet Nintendo happens to be worth more (asset value) than both of them combined.
So why hasn't Nintendo just sky-rocketed in sales with their new console?
Well, let's start with consoles name. Wii U. Instead of using a number to suggest that it is a better and newer version of the original Wii, Nintendo chose to go with 'U', short for YOU - a pun, to suggest that you we (Wii) should play with you (U). Or in simpler terms, everybody plays with each other, where as the Wii U was about playing with a partner. Many people believe the Wii U is an add-on for the original Wii. The reason to this notion is because the actual console of the Wii U looks very similar in form as the Wii, so people are saying 'Why can't I just have the tablet, instead?' I find this to be a major setback for Nintendo.
In addition, Nintendo has released its console very 'late into the game'. The whole concept of gaming on a tablet became popular thanks to Apple and the Ipad, but that was a year or two ago. In fact, most child-friendly developers make games/quality games for the iPad than any other platform. Inversely, some console developers have gone into mobile/tablet game development only. The Wii U tablet, unlike a typical tablet, is not a standalone tablet that can play games anywhere you are. It's not really a tablet, but more so an expensive controller with a screen. It's highly unlikely it can be a replacement 'toy' for a child who wants to play video games or an adult that wants to play addictive, hardcore, or fun games anywhere they want, any time of the day, which they can play on a regular tablet. So in short, Nintendo made another gimmicky product, but this time it likely won't impact any audience - whether it be tablet owners or console gamers (except the Nintendo enthusiasts).
Lack of Games
Where are the first-party Nintendo games people come to expect from a new Nintendo console? The Mario, Luigi, Zelda, etc. So far, only a Luigi game has come out and done well, while Zelda is still in development. I couldn't believe the latest tournament game for Nintendo at EVO 2013 was the Wii's Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which looks terrible today. It's true that some games will be coming this holiday season, including a price cut for the system, but Nintendo doesn't have much third-party support either. The Rayman Legends games which was originally Wii U exclusive became multi-platform simply because of the poor launch sales. In order to sell a system, you need exclusive games from first-party developers to the third-party developers. And third-party developers such as Ubisoft expected Nintendo to have a strong line-up. Sadly, they didn't. In addition, there are barely any Nintendo related headlines on gaming and technology sites because the Wii U simply doesn't have a wide array of games for the North American and European audiences, and these two regions are their biggest target audience. Keep in mind, when I say 'games', I mean quality Wii U developed games. Games that take advantage of the controller. It doesn't matter if it is multi-platform as long as the experience is better than the current generation. And that is the definition of 'next-generation'. Otherwise, you'd be better off playing the same game on another platform or a mobile phone/tablet.
Now, I originally wrote the first half of this article six months ago, but decided to hold it back to address the last two points based on more information. Sadly, Nintendo's Wii U still lacks games and now we have arrived to the REAL next generation of consoles with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (sorry, not the 2001 console; terrible name, by the way). I won't be getting into the drama on each system and features, but in comparison to Nintendo, I have a bad feeling that Nintendo won't survive the 2013-2014 year until and unless they can bring quality games every single month after those two new consoles launch. We know the prices of the new systems and according to rumours, Nintendo will most definitely have a price cut for the Wii U (which right now, is only $50 cheaper than the PlayStation 4). Nintendo have to undercut the new generation by a lot and in many factors. Not just games, but services too. When people mention Nintendo to me, I automatically think about Pokemon, Mario, etc. Not Hulu, Netflix, and other on-line services. Nintendo need to bring something that can catch the mainstream entertainment audience as well. What that is, I don't know.
Furthermore, Nintendo needs to reduce the price by a factor of $100 for the Wii U (and maybe another $30-50 for the 3DS. Not just $50 for the console. According to rumours, Sony may reduce the price of the Vita by $50 to a competitive deal of $200 ($165 for the 3DS, $300 for the Nvidia Shield, Ouya at $100) and in a separate deal, bundle the Vita the PS4 for $500 (thereby making the value of the Vita at $100, while the PS4 can be bought at $400; I actually anticipated the bundle to be $600, which is still reasonable because you still get a price cut on the Vita). The latter hurts Micro$oft more than Nintendo because it is matching the price with the Xbox One. Why pay $500 for a home console, when you can get a home AND portable console for the same price? Once again, Nintendo are in a pickle because the rumoured $50 undercut value is not enough to be competitive with Sony.
Yes, if Nintendo were to make their Wii U $250 (and reduce the price of the 3DS to $120), they would be taking a huge loss with every sale, but it is a better decision to be competitive. Nintendo sadly, cannot pull a Sony in the form of original The Last of Us, Heavy Rain, Uncharted games, to help them gain new console sales, so they have to rely on third-parties and the price of the games. I say that because Nintendo heavily relies on the Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon games to bring them success. Which, in my opinion, is a downfall for original gaming from Nintendo.
Nevertheless, we'll have to wait and see what happens come November/December. Will Nintendo be able to pull a stunner like the Wii, or will their Wii U go down like the Gamecube? A bit ironic that Nintendo consoles are up and down, each generation, since the N64.