As the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One approaches, we seem to forget that the next gen has already started. Or has it? The Wii U has been available for almost a year at this point, and nobody seems to care. Although it may have started the “next generation” of consoles, Nintendo is only now catching up to what the PS3 and Xbox 360 can do, with its first high definition console and many of its games being ports from other multiplatform titles that perform better on the PS3 and Xbox 360. It has some great new ideas, but way too many setbacks to be thought of as an actual next gen console.
It is fairly obvious that not many people seem to care about the Wii U. In just under a year, it has sold fewer than 4 million units. The console’s name may have something to do with it, as it seems like something that would be an add-on for the Wii, which so many people have, instead of a new console entirely. It is also much too expensive. Even with the recent price cut – the console is now $299 – it still is only $100 cheaper than the PS4, something that will turn out to have much more value in the long term. Plus, Nintendo is losing money with the Wii U, and is lucky that the 3DS sales are so high. The console is being sold at a loss, and the software sales aren’t high enough to make up for that margin.
Also, the fact that it doesn’t do anything extraordinary hurts the sales. There is nothing that will really stand out to a consumer that would make them really want to buy the console. Even the main selling point for the Wii U, the second screen functionality and playing full games on the handheld, is no longer exclusive to that console, as the PS4 and PlayStation Vita have a very similar feature, called Remote Play.
Another main reason the Wii U is not considered a next-gen console is that it is just now catching up to what the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 can already do. It is Nintendo’s first console with high definition graphics, something PS3 and Xbox 360 have had for a long time. Nintendo is also just now learning how to make an online network, which is still not coherent or makes sense, as there are no usernames, just friend codes. There are few games that have good online multiplayer on the Wii U.
There are also few third party publishers that consistently make games for the Wii U, making the game catalog small. This causes many people to choose other consoles instead of the Wii U, and forces Nintendo to make most of the console’s games themselves. While the first party games are good, with Mario, Zelda, and Smash Bros, there aren’t enough to make the entire package worth it over another console. Ubisoft and Activision seem to be the only third party publishers that are consistently releasing on the Wii U, but other publishers, especially EA, are less so, and seem to not take the Wii U seriously.
Let’s talk about some good things with the console. Despite its lack of hardcore games, the casual market will find something to be happy with on the Wii U. Co-op games like Mario, Wii Party U, and soon Super Smash Bros. are always a hit and appeal to the casual market. Also, while the main feature of the console is no longer exclusive, it is still a good idea that works and is fun to play. Finally, it has some experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. Games like Pikmin, Mario, Zelda, and many more games exclusive to the Wii U are special and unique, and it would be difficult to try to find something like it on other consoles.
The Wii U definitely has its upsides. It has some great unique games, some innovative new ideas, and is a fantastic console for families and casual gamers. However, it is just not a next-gen console. The price is a bit too high, the name is confusing, there are few third party publishers that support the console, it has an incoherent online system, and it lacks general mind share among gamers. The console is not a next generation console, and is no match compared to the PS4 or Xbox One. It has its own unique ideas, but nothing that will blow you away. It’s great in its own way, but it is not next gen.