Five Things the Wii U Needs to Succeed

Nintendo is due to release its next home console, the Wii U, between June and December of 2012. Whilst this means the system is still at least four months away, and likely a good few months after that, now is a good time to look at the successes and failures of their past hardware releases and work out what it needs to be successful, both at launch and in the long term. Below, you will find what I think are the five most important things Nintendo needs to do with the Wii U, all of which I feel need to be adopted from day one.

The Default Hardware BundleNintendo are, without question, the master of releasing peripherals to increase the abilities of their gaming systems, many of which are often only used for a handful of titles (for example the Super Scope, the Transfer Pak, Donkey Kong Bongo’s and the Gamecube microphone). With the Wii, Nintendo had to release the Wii MotionPlus, a remote with increased sensors to more accurately measure the way you move the controller. This did bring the Wii’s motion sensing up to the level of the PlayStation Move, but very few developers supported it. Within six months of the 3DS being released, we were being told about the Circle Pad Pro, a clunky adaptor to add a second Circle Pad to the system. Whilst it’s still in its infancy, I fear the Circle Pad Pro may face a similar fate. The reason for the failure of these peripherals? They were not bundled with the console. If you bundle a system with set hardware, developers will tend to build their games for that version of the hardware, as they know everyone with the console will be able to play their game. Choosing to develop with a certain peripheral in mind means that they’ve already cut down their target audience. I think that Nintendo needs to bundle the Wii U with the tablet controller, a Wii MotionPlus controller and the nunchuck. All of the Wii peripherals listed are fairly cheap for Nintendo to produce at this point, and will vastly increase what developers are able to do on the system.

A Pack-in Game – The Wii sold enormously well for its first five years on store shelves and much of that can be attributed to the inclusion of Wii Sports. Those who bought the system on launch day all had a game in common. That it was a simple game to explain meant that it was also easy to pick up and play. You have this thing that looks like a TV remote, and you can use it as a tennis racket, golf club, or bowling ball to act out the sports on TV. Everyone wanted to try it, everyone wanted to have it to get out at parties. It was the must-have piece of software. People were not buying the Wii, they were buying a way to play Wii Sports. The 3DS had a rather less impressive launch. It came with software, but it was all simple built in titles that felt like demos, lacking the, “I absolutely need this” factor that Wii Sports had. For the Wii U to succeed, it needs to be bundled with a physical game that shows off what the console can do, and make it an essential purchase. Whilst this is a difficult task, it is possible. Options include bundling an enhanced Wii Sports, like the demo shown in the E3 introduction video below, or a game including the playable E3 demos. Ideally the title would not require you to have multiple Wii Remotes or tablet controllers to play, either allowing for the controls to be passed, or for one to use the tablet and one to use the Wii Remote so that people can play multiplayer games straight out of the box like Wii Sports allowed.

Exclusive Title at Launch  – We have been told that games like Batman: Arkham City, Darksiders 2 and Assassin’s Creed will be coming to the Wii U, but many of all of them will already be out on the PS3 and Xbox 360 by the time the new system launches. While they could have additional content, it’s unlikely that ports coming to the system late will encourage hardcore gamers to purchase the console. In order to win over this crowd, Nintendo are going to need an exclusive launch title aimed at the hardcore gamer. This could be either a first or third party title, but what is important is that it needs to feel like something we have not seen before. If it’s a first party title, I feel it would need to be either a new IP or, if it’s an existing IP, be completely different to previous entries in the series. If it’s third party, it needs to be one developed by one of the studios top teams, and given a lot of attention. A perfect candidate would be someone like High Voltage Software, who recently became an official Wii U developer and did fantastic things with the Wii hardware, or Retro Studios, who have recently hired several top industry professionals and appear to be gearing up for a large scale Wii U project.

Multiple Tablet SupportNintendo has been difficult to pin down on this topic and the best answer we have right now is to wait until E3 for confirmation, but the Wii U needs to have multiple tablet controller support. All the demos shown for the system have used one tablet and up to four Wii Remotes and they all work well enough, but if you are limited to one controller, that limits what developers can do with the system. It may even cause fights between children over who gets to use it and will generally disappoint gamers. Nintendo’s reasoning behind focusing on a single controller is not because of hardware, but on things like the price of the tablet being too high for most people to buy multiple and a related issue of not wanting to sell the tablets separately at retail. I feel that they need to be sold separately, if only for those who manage to break one. In terms of the high price being a factor, there are two solutions I can think of. Firstly, allowing users to take their tablet to a friend’s house who also has the Wii U, and second is using the 3DS as a controller. Nintendo has commented on using the 3DS as a controller for the Wii U before, much like the PlayStation Vita can be used with the PS3, but there has been no discussion as to whether you would need the Circle Pad Pro for this (to emulate the extra triggers and circle pad). The additional benefits of using the 3DS as a Wii U controller means that 3DS owners would already have a second controller on launch day and you could potentially play your Wii U games in 3D on its screen. It could also be used to allow SpotPass for Wii U titles, though this may already be possible with the Wii U’s NFC (near field communication) technology.

A Robust Online NetworkSony has the PlayStation Network, Microsoft has Xbox Live, Nintendo has… Friend Codes. Okay, that might be a slightly unfair way to look at it, but you get my point. Nintendo has by far the least featured online network of the three. The 3DS has made a lot of improvements over the Wii, but when the Wii U launches later this year it needs to at least match the features of the PSN and Xbox Live and hopefully surpass them due to the integration of its tablet controller. One of the biggest complaints people have lobbied against the Wii’s online network is the use of Friend Codes (long strings of numbers, which are often game specific) being used to connect online. Nintendo has already confirmed that this will be replaced by personal accounts, along with confirming full game downloads and DLC when discussing the “Nintendo Network” which the Wii U will connect to. I think that on top of this, the Nintendo Network needs to support an optional achievement system that is account specific rather than game specific, and encourages users to connect their consoles online. This could be done by prompting users to connect their system to the internet when first activating it, and offering them an incentive, such as a free game or piece of DLC for doing so.

All in all, I think that these are all achievable things for Nintendo, the big question is whether they will be implemented or not. For now, all we can do is wait for more information on the system to be revealed as we get closer to E3.

Do you think the Wii U needs these to be a success? Do you maybe disagree and feel that it needs something more important? Let us know in the comments below.

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