3 Days After Wii U's Announcement, Its Future Already Looks Bleak
Preface: Already, I know a lot of you will say it’s far too early to make the bold claim my headline infers. “The console isn’t coming out for another year at the earliest. A lot can change in 12-18 months.” you will say, and I agree. What we know about the Wii U now is not indicative of how the system will fare when it’s finally released. However, that doesn’t mean we should ignore what we currently know about the system until it’s launch.
Another E3, another year of big news and announcements–among them, the Wii’s much rumored successor, the Wii U (previously under the pseudonym “Project CafÃ©”). A new console sporting HD “next gen” graphics, with a peculiar tablet-inspired controller that situates a 6.2 inch touch screen between a button layout typical of most gamepads. Met by the crowd with much applause and fanfare, I can’t say I currently share their same enthusiasm. Right now, it’s still far too early to say anything for certain, but what they’ve shown leaves me both concerned for it’s potential success and filled with questions.
Is another gimmick enough?
It’s also worth noting that this marquee feature may soon be redundant, as the iPad is already showing the same functionality, while Sony boats the PS3 and Vita will be capable of similar feats. Will the Wii U be capable of distinguishing itself from the pack if the similar experiences are available elsewhere? By laying their cards on the table so early in development, they’ve left themselves open to being mimicked and it’s already showing.
Who is the target audience?
Tech demos don’t sell consoles.
Likewise, how much will it set us back? Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, has gone on record stating that it’s unlikely the system will be priced as low as the Wii ($250 USD at launch), while Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter guesstimates the system’s cost of components alone to be in excess of $300 USD. Both signs pointing to a pricey release even if it were to launch tomorrow. Let alone 18 months from now, when it’s likely the competitor’s prices will have dropped even further. Which leads me to my final question.
Will it be irrelevant before it’s release?
Is it too soon to have such a bleak outlook? Perhaps. A lot can change in 18 months and, according to a recent interview with Nintendo of America president, Reggie Fils-Aime, we’ll be hearing more about the Wii U’s online capabilities within the near future, which might alleviate some of these concerns. So there is still the possibility of hope. However, it seems the more we learn about the console, the worse our outlook becomes. I wish the best for Nintendo, but it’s hard to see anything about the Wii U that points towards a successful future.