The Wii U isn’t selling well.
We all know this, and we all have our own ideas on how Nintendo can fix this problem. Some want them to abandon the system entirely and make a new console immediately. Others think a specific title, like a Pokémon role-playing game, could finally sell systems.
Those solutions, however, would take years to implement. The Wii U needs help right now. That’s why we came up with these three solutions that could turn Nintendo’s struggling system around immediately.
Create the Netflix of gaming
People like Netflix. It gives them a huge amount of content options, and they’re willing to pay monthly for it. Eventually, someone is going to capitalize big on this form of digital distribution with a gaming equivalent. But what do you need to make it work? Financing, distribution, and content.
Now, plenty of gaming companies have financing. Even with its recent troubles, Nintendo has more than enough capital to start something like this. Nintendo can also distribute the service itself on the Wii U. That takes care of that of problem. But content is where Nintendo has a giant advantage over all of its competitors.
Nintendo has a huge backlog of classics that go back to the ’80s. Even with just its own software from the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, and Nintendo 64, Nintendo could have a huge amount of games for people to stream or download on-demand.
Of course, Nintendo has something like this already: the Virtual Console. But that’s not cutting it. That digital store has people buy retro games individually. You also don’t see more than a couple new additions every week. Nintendo needs to forget about the Virtual Console concept. Let Wii U owners gain access to a massive catalog of Nintendo classics, and they’ll happily pay a monthly fee for it.
Redesign the system and interface
Since Nintendo unveiled it, the Wii U has had a hard time differentiating itself from its predecessor. Of course, the name itself is confusing. What is a Wii U? How is that different from a Wii? You’ve probably heard similar questions. Now, Nintendo can’t change the name, but it can help by changing the Wii U’s image and moving it away from the same design motifs as the original Wii.
For starters, redesign the actual console. Get rid of all those smooth curves, and let’s actually make the box a little bigger. Like the original Wii, the Wii U’s small frame makes it seem cheap. Hell, maybe we could actually add a hard drive to the system. That’ll add some heft and make it look more like a modern console. Plus, I’m sure gamers would love to have some extra disk space, especially with so many people buying games digitally.
The interface also needs some work. Right now, it’s white, filled with Miis, and constantly soothes you with elevator music. Everything about it reminds you of the Wii, especially the square grid where all your apps and games go. Let’s give the Wii U its own identity. Let’s push the Miis out of the spotlight and focus on functionality.
Make the gamepad optional
“You can’t do that! Too many games use the gamepad!” Sure, some do. But not as many as you think. Nintendo’s last big Wii U exclusive, Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze, didn’t use the touchscreen for a single feature. Super Mario 3D World barely used the gamepad, and when it did, it was only for a few level gimmicks (push this block to make it move, etc.). The upcoming Mario Kart 8 shows you a map on the extra screen and gives you a fake horn button to press. Wow.
See what I’m getting at? Even Nintendo doesn’t know what to use the gamepad for. Sure, it’s nice to play games entirely on it while someone else uses the TV, but that sounds more like a function of a peripheral than a mandatory component of the system.
Nintendo tried to use the gamepad to sell the Wii U. It didn’t work. Get rid of it as a mandatory part of the Wii U bundle. You’ll have a cheaper product that more consumers will buy, and they can always buy a game pad separately if they really feel like they need one.
Hell, Microsoft just did the same thing. When it showed off the Xbox One, it went on and on about how the new Kinect was an integral part of the experience. That was a lie. While the voice commands are nice, very few games use the motion-tracking camera for anything substantial (if anything at all). With Xbox One sales lagging behind the PlayStation 4, Microsoft got smart and decided to remove the Kinect’s mandatory status, and it shaved $100 off the Xbox One’s price.
Nintendo’s position is even more dire than Microsoft. It needs to do the same exact thing with the gamepad. It needs to do it right now.
Of course, we’ll likely find out about Nintendo’s real plans for the Wii U during next month’s Electronic Entertainment Expo event in Los Angeles. We think these are some great ideas, but it’s historically very hard to predict anything Nintendo does.
What about you? Do you think our ideas could save the Wii U? Do you have some suggestions of your own? Or would you rather just see the console scrapped? Let us know.