How Nintendo can fix the Wii U right now

Above: Nintendo is losing the Wii U's pulse.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

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

imagine if those were all Nintendo games.

Above: Imagine if those were all Nintendo games.

Image Credit: Netflix

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

It looks out like the Wii menu.

Above: It looks a lot like the Wii menu.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

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

Make this thing optional.

Above: We don’t need this.

Image Credit: Nintendo

“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.

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Diego Alejandro Lafosse
Diego Alejandro Lafosse

1)  I'd wait till end of 2014 (so that the few games that can only be played with the gamepad are left behind) to make it (the gamepad) optional. You see, most Nintendo games really just use the Gamepad for off TV play, nothing more... so the few that really use the only gamepad option that are really few have in the back a drawing that signals that you need to play with the Gamepad, so if you are really interested on playing that game, then buy your Gamepad... then the rest of the upcoming games must have the option to also play with the gamepad and have the optional off TV feauture aswell BUT the main controller should be the Pro Controller... there, the Wii U can now include only the Pro Controller and make costs much lower so more people will find more appealing to buy a Wii U on a lower cost. 

2) Then, Nintendo should find 3rd party companies that are not that well known maybe and see if they can get an agreement on developing good ideas for new games... nobody knows if a new jewel could come out from that. There must be lots of smaller companies that need a little push to pull off a game like Bungie did with Halo.

3) Id try to release a 1st party game every 3 - 4 months tops. Nintendo has a lot of franchises to cover that... a new F-Zero, Kirby, Yoshi, continue the Galaxy series of Mario, Pokemon, Super Smash, Metroid, Donkey Kong, Zelda amongst others. 


4) Upload ALL Nintendo games to the e-shop from all systems. The Wii U should be able to emulate all NES, SNES; Gameboy, GB Advance, N64, and even Gamecube games on the Wii U. 

5) Create NEW franchises, we all love the old school ones, but Nintendo should start thinking on making first party MATURE games to cover the lack of third party Mature games. 

6) Change the image of the system, by that I mean, on the boxes, give priority to the SYSTEM, not the gamepad, change marketing campaign, show the people what the Wii U has and can do and show what they can get for purchasing separately the Gamepad.

7) Make the 3DS and the Wii U e-shop cross with your nintendo ID, so if you buy idk Super Mario Bros 3 on the Wii U you should be able to also download it on your 3DS.

8) With ALL THIS Im DAMN SURE the install base will grow a LOT, people will wanna get a Wii U as a second system to switch with the Xbox or the  PS4 or the PC. A system that has a lot, LOT of exclusives and lots of old school games available. Once these happens try to get some of the big companies back for 3rd party support. If the Wii could get a whole different Call of Duty Black Ops, Modern Warfare 2, etc games... then i dont see why the Wii U being more powerful that a PS3 and 360 cant get Call of Duty, FIFA, etc. And when the graphics evolve too much for the Wii U, try to make those companies make games exclusively for the Wii U like happened with the Wii... The Wii got Red Steel 2, Madworld, No More Heroes, House of the Dead Overkill as exclusives at first... why can't this happen with the Wii U when it has a way larger install base? I think its totally possible.

If nintendo can get to trigger all this im sure the Wii U will be just on the rails to succeed till next gen, taking the place of a second home system for hardcore gamers and a much better main system for Nintendo fans. 

Dre Sage
Dre Sage

Get rid of the gamepad, include the pro controller, bring back star fox, metroid and start catering to us grown folk gamers you abandoned that Sony and Microsoft have rescued from your babying clutches.

Brian Cuellar
Brian Cuellar

I don't think the Nintendo needs to change the hardware design but they do need to change the way it's displayed in advertisements and the box itself. As it is now, the Wii U Gamepad is shown covering the longer Wii U console, making it look like the "Wii U" is just a Gamepad accessory for the original Wii. If they reposition the Gamepad on TOP of the console, people can then see that the console is longer than the original Wii. I was surprised when I first saw the Wii U demo console in stores; I wasn't expecting it to be as long as it was. I like that it's larger, like a real console (the Wii was much too small to be taken seriously).

Also I agree with you on the optional Gamepad point. Unfortunately there are too many first-party games at this point to easily get away with removing the Gamepad, but if they offer a $250 Wii U console that foregoes the Gamepad in lieu of a Pro Controller, I could see that being very promising. They should also update the software so that a single tap of the power button puts the Gamepad into sleep mode. God knows, that sucker's battery life is bad enough without having to always be on regardless of whether it is in use. I hate that when I pair my phone with my Wii U to browse YouTube, I still have to keep the gamepad on showing a mirror of what my TV is displaying. That is hugely inefficient. I should be able to put the Gamepad into sleep mode when not in use (a sleep switch would be ideal but its a little late to go changing my existing hardware, so the power button should do nicely).

All in all, I love the Wii U. I believe in it and I would like to see it succeed. For any cross-platform games I can find that also support the Wii U, I choose to buy the Wii U version instead of the PS3 edition, as those are the 2 main consoles I have. Regardless of its hardware, all major consoles output the same screen resolution of 1080p (except games like Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U can run at native 1080p at 60fps, unlike most upscaled next-gen consoles).

I support the Wii U and I think that these kind of public image and hardware requirement changes can only serve to benefit them. Sure, Microsoft has done a lot of back-tracking in what they were originally adamant about (i.e. online-only, game DRM, and the required Kinect) but changing what needed to be changed and listening to their customers -- regardless of their original plans -- has only helped their sales. Nintendo would do well to consider thinking outside the box with their Wii U. Low sales are not a time for stubbornness.

Michael Hood
Michael Hood

All of those reasons are superficial. Someone who is interested in buying the system isn't concerned with those kinds of details. All they'll see is that it's called the Wii U. It doesn't sound like a new system. People think it's a Wii with a fresh coat of paint. And before you cry "Well that's what I'm trying to say. That's why I suggested the detailed changes!", when I played the Wii U and saw how pretty Nintendo's franchise games were on it. That's what made me want it. The title Wii U isn't bringing people to that point of desire. It should have been called the Super Wii. ;)

Eric Davis
Eric Davis

I have REFUSED since day 1 to waste my money on a pad that has no true usage on the TV, but would cost me $100+ to buy.  I don't want to play off the TV on the pad, I have a smartphone for that which has it's own unique games that I use on the go.  If I want to play Nintendo, I want to play on a TV. 

I think the Nintendo CEO is a bit out of touch in failing to see these bad sales, and not equate it to all of us who haven't bought it knowing that the bulky controller is nearly pointless and a waste of 1/3 of the cost!  I could get 3 awesome games for that money.  I will keep using my other older systems (still getting new games I never had for the N64 and GameCube) until they make that LEAPFROG looking tablet controller that has old tech for its screen, and really serves no purpose to me, as an optional purchase.

DO THAT, Mr CEO, and I will buy the Wii U. I promise!

Stealth Stealth
Stealth Stealth

I disagree with making the gamepad optional.  Every game uses it. Off tv play is the best feature it has. You cannot stop with that. There are econonmic differences between kinect and the gamepad

James Lin
James Lin

The CEO is trapped in Mario Land circa 1981


@ogro_himself Isso meio que me incomoda por que não sei o quanto ele ficaria mais barato. E se isso realmente faria a diferença.


@ogro_himself É daquela coisa: eu entendo mas é a mesma coisa da MS de mijar em cima da filosofia do produto.

Brian Cuellar
Brian Cuellar

@Michael Hood  It also doesn't help that pictures of it show the console covered by the gamepad. You can't really tell that it's a different device that way. I think they should redo the photos to look somewhat like this photo (but with the Gamepad propped up, of course). Here you can clearly see that it's a different console.

Brian Cuellar
Brian Cuellar

@Stealth Stealth  Most games that use the Gamepad also support the Pro Controller. If Nintendo released a cheaper $249 Wii U with a Pro Controller instead, people would not only be more tempted to buy for the low cost, but the box cover and all images of the console would clearly show that it is a larger, different console from the original Wii. The indistinguishablility between the Wii and Wii U stems largely from the fact that all advertised images show the console itself obscured by the Gamepad so people can't see that it's actually a noticeably larger device than its predecessor.


@Ivesaguiar Vai sair o Mario Kart, q deveria alavancar as vendas, e a grande funcionalidade da tela touch é... BUZINA.


@Ivesaguiar acho q ficaria BEM mais barato. Mas a moral do Wii U nao é o preço, mas, novamente, o SUPORTE da Nintendo

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