There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a product or service get announced, then having to wait an age to try it out. Nintendo hears that, and has announced via Nintendo Direct, that during E3 week, Best Buy will have playable demos of as-y…
Nintendo has announced a handful of games set for launch on the Wii U through the spring and summer. Releases include the exclusive Sonic: The Lost World, a new version of Super Luigi U, and Mario and Sonic: Winter Games. Some of these unreleased games will be available for play at Best Buy during E3 prior to release.
Super Luigi U, which will be available as DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U, will include the character Nabbit from the original game as a multiplayer character that cannot take damage from enemies but is also incapable of getting power-ups. The game will be released as DLC for $19.99 or as a standalone version for $29.99 on July 26 in Europe and August 25 in North America.
Nintendo provided few details regarding Sonic: The Lost World except that it will come to both the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, with more details to come during E3 in June. The game represents a partnership between Nintendo and Sega, two formerly feuding companies. As for the Olympics-oriented Mario and Sonic, playable events will include skiing, snowboarding, skating, and bobsledding.
The release of the Wii U has done surprisingly little to quiet the debate over whether the system is actually powerful enough to stand up to the likes of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, much less the new Sony and Microsoft systems coming later in the year. Recent comments from DICE Technical Director for Frostbite Johan Andersson lends some weight to the argument that Nintendo’s new system isn’t powerful enough to stand up to the next generation.
After mentioning on Twitter that the newly announced Star Wars games from DICE and Visceral will be running on DICE’s powerful Frostbite 3 engine, Andersson responded to a reader concern that this will mean the games will not be available for the Wii U.
“[Frostbite 3] has never been running on WiiU,” Andersson tweeted. “We did some tests with not too promising results with [Frostbite 2] & chose not to go down that path.”
Nintendo is trying to get people to buy the new Wii U, but it just isn’t working, according to recent sales numbers. Now, the Japanese gaming giant is hoping that helping developers port their smartphone content to the home gaming console with conversion software will help entice buyers, according to the Japan Times.
Smartphone apps on a home console isn’t a novel idea: Sony began encouraging devs to bring their mobile phone hits to the PlayStation network a while ago, and continues to add mobile-first titles to the ranks of the Vita’s portable library. But there’s nothing really indicating that’s making a major difference in terms of attracting customers. After all, why would people seek out those titles on consoles, portable or otherwise, when they’ve already got myriad devices to play them on natively, including the iPhone, Android smartphones and the iPad?
Nintendo looking for ports of smartphone titles is a quick and dirty way to build out a larger software library, and for developers, a way to at least explore a new delivery vector to reach customers they may not already be reaching. But it will probably be a limited audience, made more so by the fact that anyone who’s already a fan of the title on mobile would probably be disinclined to pay for it all over again.
Porting is also a strategy that hasn’t really seemed to have been successful for anyone so far. BlackBerry has encouraged developers to port their Android apps over to BB10 using its own super-simple tool, which by all accounts takes only a few minutes to do its magic. But even still, it’s finding it hard to get developers on board, and that’s going from one mobile platform to another. Incentivizing conversions for mobile devs to bring their titles to a home console will likely be tricker still.
It’s been brought up before, but it bears repeating: Nintendo would probably stand to gain a lot more by reversing the situation, and porting its own blockbuster titles to other platforms, the way that Sony has flirted with doing, and the way that other publishers like Square Enix and Capcom have fully embraced. Admittedly, neither of those are hardware makers like Nintendo, but arguably that makes things more imperative for the Mario creator, which is having a really rough go of its hardware efforts, with lots of money sunk into a brand new console just at the beginning of what has been a 10-year release cycle in the past.
I wouldn’t mind having something like Dots on my Wii U, if I had or cared about one, but it’s not going to convince me to go buy that console. On the other hand, I’d love Super Mario World on the iPhone (a legit version, not via emulator) and would pay dearly for the pleasure. You’ve got the funnel all wrong, Nintendo, and it isn’t going to bring the people back.
The hacking group responsible for one of the first major modchips for the original Wii claims to have successfully reverse-engineered the pieces necessary to run copies of Wii U games from external USB hard drives.
“Yes, it’s real,” the Wiikey group posted in an update on its website. “We have now completely reversed the Wii U drive authentification, disk encryption, file system, and everything else needed for this next generation K3y. Stay tuned for updates!”
The group describes the Wiike U, as it’s being called, as “the first and only optical drive emulator” for the system, running a “powerful embedded Linux system” that is compatible with all regions and models of the Wii U. As described, the device appears to only play copies of official Wii U and Wii games, and not homebrew or hacked titles.
For the first time since the annual industry conference started in 1995, Nintendo will not be holding a major press conference around the Electronic Entertainment Expo this year, instead “working to establish a new presentation style for E3.”
Nintendo announced the surprising change in its promotional plans via an investor presentation by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata overnight. Rather than holding a major E3 press event to appeal to different audiences around the world, Iwata says Nintendo is “planning to host a few smaller events that are specifically focused on our software lineup for the U.S. market” for this year’s show, one for American distributors and another for the Western press. Iwata also cryptically mentioned that Nintendo is “continuing to investigate ways to deliver information about our games directly to our home audience around the time of E3,” suggesting that it might be planning some sort of video presentation directly to consumers via the web (or the Wii U) during the show.
While Nintendo will still be showing off new Wii U and 3DS titles on the E3 show floor, the move represents a significant change in marketing tactics for the major console maker. It’s as if Apple decided to announce the next major revision to iOS not with a worldwide developer-focused keynote address, but by simply setting up a booth at Mobile World Congress and inviting the press and select developers to try it out during a cocktail hour.
Leaked numbers from NPD’s latest report on US game hardware sales suggest consumers aren’t scrambling for new systems from Sony and Nintendo. Numbers obtained and confirmed by sources in a position to know on gaming forum NeoGAF suggest the Wii U sold only 67,000 units in the US during the five weeks running from March 3 through April 6.
The leaked numbers continue a disappointing 2013 for Nintendo’s newest system, which sold an estimated 50,000 US units in January and roughly 64,000 in February. This is after the system sold a decent 890,000 units during the 2012 holiday launch season last November and December.
For comparison, the Wii U is so far selling about 28 percent slower than the GameCube did in the five months after launching in November 2001, and about 50 percent slower than the Nintendo 64 and the original Wii did in their first five months. The Wii U is only about 10 percent behind the cumulative US sales numbers put up by the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 five months into their life cycles, however.
Perhaps poor marketing is holding back Wii U sales for Nintendo. As Spike TV’s GTTV host Geoff Keighley noted on Twitter, a new campaign from Nintendo is using flyers to show just how awesome the Wii U is.
Except, instead of going after console rivals Nintendo decided to aim its attack at its own, older-generation console the Wii. To be fair, the Wii is probably the strongest competitor to the Wii U, yet the consoles treat gaming very differently. The Wii is a family, group console, bringing people together, while the Wii U essentially lets you take your single-player game where ever you want, even if a family member wants to watch a movie with you.
To display the Wii U’s strengths against the many shortcomings of the Wii, Nintendo’s flyer shows a side-by-side comparison. Though the two consoles do share a few features, the Wii’s dots are clearly less awesome than the Wii U’s check marks. As we all learned in elementary school, dots < check marks. Obvi.
Luckily, Nintendo has made it so you can rip one of these flyers right off the wall and take it home with you. Maybe you can post it up in your bedroom, just over your Wii, to remind yourself that you should probably (not*) upgrade. Perhaps you can just store it away in your desk for later reference when someone asks, “What the fuck is a Wii U?”
Because, to be honest, not many people know about the dual-screened Wii U console, despite the fact that it was announced at E3 last year. Again, Nintendo marketing hasn’t really been killing it.
For instance, let’s take a look at this Wii U commercial.
To start, I’ve never actually seen this commercial air on TV. Secondly, a good deal of this ad is dedicated to non-gaming activities, such as drawing, watching TV, weighing yourself, browsing the web, and video chatting. Because, you know, that’s why people buy gaming consoles. It has nothing to do with Netflix, Hulu+ and a complete gaming experience.
But let’s not forget, Nintendo’s awful marketing isn’t a new thing. Remember the Nintendo 3DS commercials, with that girl from Glee and Selena Gomez, I think? If you haven’t seen it, it’s essentially a famous blonde girl sitting in a diner like a hipster trying to draw a piece of pie. Again, Nintendo clearly knows its market: girls who draw pie.
Again, if you find yourself forgetting that the Wii U is better than the Wii, or if you find yourself forgetting that the Wii U exists, march on over to your nearest airport or mall and grab yourself a flyer.
*Here’s our review of the Wii U.