Nintendo has seen better days. Just last month the Japanese giant posted its first ever annual operating loss. A lukewarm response to the 3DS, an aging Wii console, and pressure from Apple and other smartphone/tablet manufacturers are all responsible for the company's latest batch of troubles.
But the game is far from over for Nintendo, as it's expected to begin selling its next generation console, the Wii U, in November 2012. Given the current state of affairs, the manufacturer is understandably hoping for a successful launch and massive consumer enthusiasm to reverse some of its poor fortunes. But is the upgraded Wii U strong enough to take on Microsoft, Sony, and Apple in a new world where casual gamers turn to apps to fling angry birds at green pigs? A dealnews survey suggests that the Wii U might not be the saving grace that Nintendo is hoping for.
Nintendo's Return to Hardcore GamingLikely in light of the now-strong competition presented by smartphone gaming, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently stated that the Wii U will cater specifically to hardcore gamers rather than casual gamers. Iwata feels that the original Wii console catered too much to the mass market and thus lost its core audience of gamers in the process. "Regrettably, what we prioritized in order to reach out to the new audience [on Wii and DS] was a bit too far from what we prioritized for those who play games as their hobby," he said. "Consequently, we presume some people felt that the Wii was not a game system for them."
But Iwata plans on rectifying that with the Wii U, which Nintendo is positioning as a console dedicated to core-oriented games. "In promoting the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U, we have announced that we would like 'width' and 'depth' to coexist. This time, we would like consumers to be satisfied in both aspects." In other words, Nintendo will focus on promoting their core titles like Super Mario and Kid Icarus rather than flood the market with less involved games like the Brain Age series or Wii Sports.
Our Survey Suggests it Might Be Too Little, Too LateUnfortunately, Nintendo has a huge battle ahead of itself. Its once popular and hard-to-find Wii console is now a has-been as Microsoft's (also aging) Xbox 360 console has remained the number one console system for the past 15 consecutive months. Making matters worse, a recent dealnews survey that polled 1,551 people indicates that 75% of current gamers are not planning on purchasing a Wii U. Moreover, of the respondents who already own the original Wii, a full 64% said they won't purchase the upgrade. Thus, neither serious gamers, nor those already invested in the Wii gamescape, seem excited about the rumored console.
But Nintendo isn't one to go down so easily. Next month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, Nintendo is expected to showcase and release more details about the Wii U, and the company continues to insist that it has learned from its past mistakes. The question is do gamers still care? As casual gamers flock to smartphones/tablets and hardcore gamers stick with Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo finds itself stuck in the middle, priced too high for cheap casual gamers, but not serious enough for those willing to invest more. Can they take the top spot once again?