The Wii U will be desirable for a full year, sating anxious gamers who’ve grown impatient with the protracted console life cycle.
But Nintendo isn’t hoping it can win the next generation by getting a running start on the competition, instead it’s redefining the console life cycle, although perhaps not by choice.
Wii sales fell sharply and quickly once the market had become suitably flooded. It happened so suddenly that Nintendo lifted the curtains on the Wii U earlier than they would perhaps have liked.
The first Wii U showing was light on details, and title announcements weren’t exactly charging out the gate either.
So, what’s the plan then?
The Wii U hasn’t been given a new moniker, but rather a tacked on brand extension of a title. This gives Nintendo an easy out if the Wii U doesn’t work.
“It was never intended as a next generation console”, they’ll say as they distance themselves from it three years down the track and come out with a ‘real’ successor which can match the grunt of the next Sony and Microsoft offerings. “It was part of the Wii family, but this is what we’re actually doing for the future of gaming.”
The reticence on Nintendo’s part to definitively say that it’s a full next step from the Wii is also quite telling.
So there’s the map as it stands from my perspective: 3DS wasn’t selling as well as it should’ve (at least, not in the short term), the Wii just stopped moving and the stock price needed some good news. That news was and is the Wii U.
Nintendo are quite happy for everyone else to sing about the Wii U being the next big thing for now. It only helps them satisfy investors. Just remember when the next Nintendo console comes out and the Wii U appears to be a little less next gen than you were expecting, it wasn’t Nintendo who made the claim – it was hungry and desperate gamers tired of the current generation, eager to herald the new era without properly waiting for the flag to drop.
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