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The Fast Five: How Nintendo can sell us on the Wii U

Posted on January 30, 2014 AT 03:00pm

Each week, the EGM Staff bring you The Fast Five—where we choose a topic related in some way to the week’s news, and five editors pick their top answer to the question.

The Setup

This week, Nintendo announced their quarterly financial report, and unfortunately things aren’t looking so good for the company’s current console. “The Wii U isn’t in good shape,” president Satoru Iwata said as part of the earnings call. “That’s the presumption we have as we consider reform.”

The Question

If we were an average consumer that didn’t yet own a Wii U, what one plan could Nintendo enact that would absolutely sell us on the system?

The Response

Once you’ve read our responses, let us know what Nintendo could do to get you to buy a Wii U in the comments below!

Unique, shared experiences

Thinking about it, the Wii U is a pretty crazy system: a television-based game console with one big controller that has a touchscreen built into it and the ability to allow four other players to join in using other controllers. The problem is, up until now, that setup has mostly been used for mini-games or other small ideas. I think it was Penny Arcade who imagined a Dungeons & Dragons-style title, where four players went on an adventure and a fifth used the GamePad to act as the dungeon master, crafting and controlling the experience the four heroes were having. That’s the kind of games that would really have me feeling a need to own a Wii U—not just another Mario Kart or Smash Bros., but rich, deep experiences that are totally unique, and which allow players to come together in ways that aren’t just bite-sized digital snacks. Don’t be afraid to be different, baby!

Mandated off-TV play

I’m already more sold on the Wii U than a lot of people on staff, but I definitely don’t think it’s living up to its potential, in spite of games like Pikmin 3 and Super Mario 3D World providing some of the best experiences over the past year. A large reason for my lukewarm endorsement of the console itself is the inconsistent use of what, to me, is its biggest selling point: Off-TV Play. The problem is, I often don’t know until I insert a disc whether this feature is supported. Sometimes, like in ZombiU, it’s not an option at all. Other times, like in the case of The Wonderful 101—a game based around touch controls and keeping track of a ridiculous amount of onscreen elements at one time—Off-TV Play completely hampers the experience. I know some people think Nintendo should get rid of the GamePad altogether, but I say the opposite: Come up with a consistent, required use of Off-TV Play for every game, and encourage developers to design their games with this option in mind.

Indies unleashed

What Nintendo needs, more than anything else, is to have the hipsters on their side. I fully believe there’s a lot of awesome, imaginative stuff that can be done with the Wii U GamePad, but third-party devs seem happy to throw a map on there and call it a day, and there’s only so much Nintendo can do with their first-party games. If they started an aggressive push to woo indie developers to put exclusives on the console—much like Sony has done with the PS4—they could build a diverse ecosystem of developers exploring the tech in unexpected ways and developing experiences that are only possible on the Wii U.

Exclusive games

I think, for me, it would take a confluence of circumstances to get me onboard with buying a Wii U. My first instinct is to say “price,” but the truth is that’s just making something so affordable it doesn’t bother me to shell out for it. More first-party allure would also be required, because I’d want the Wii U to represent something that complements my other consoles. Something that offers me experiences I can’t have on the other machines. Finally, I’d need more first-party games across a broader spectrum of genres being produced. I don’t want a cycle of the requisite Mario and Zelda games. I want more, and I want new. Otherwise, Wii U is just a pity purchase. Gamer obligation.

Beefier hardware

This is a question I ask myself whenever I look at Wii U sales figures, and there’s one obvious answer for me: “More Power!” (To quote a cartoon from my childhood—Medabots, for those wondering.) Nintendo needs to stop playing the hipster guy standing in the corner, and start taking itself seriously. Only one thing would sell me on a Wii U: a new SKU with upgraded hardware. Increased power would also fix another issue, a lack of third-party support. A more serious gaming machine brings with it more “hardcore” players, who will happily buy titles such as Assassin’s Creed, CoD, GTA, and Battlefield. Add to that exclusive beautiful princesses and Italian plumbers in all their HD glory, and you have a sale Nintendo.

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