Yesterday Nintendo announced that their upcoming system, the Wii U, will release on November 18th this year, in two SKUs. One will contain the Wii U system in white, along with the new controller, for $299, while the deluxe version will feature a black Wii U with additional accessories and Nintendoland packed in. While I think that perhaps they should’ve run just a bit cheaper, I think that Nintendo might be on to something. Their advertising and presentation of the Wii U is still horribly muddled – many people still seem to think its an add-on for the existing Wii system – but word of mouth helped sell the original Wii, and I think there’s a possibility it’ll work here.
First, Nintendo is already doing a bit of a better job with their latest marketing materials, trying to clear things up. Hopefully their TV ads will help as well. But I think Nintendo TVii and the pad controller might have a stronger effect on casual gamers than the “hardcore” might think. If TVii is all Nintendo’s trailer says it is, it could really help pull people into the streaming world and unify their living space. The downside of course being: you have to own a Wii U in the first place.
The option of a fifth player is also a big change. In many of these games it’s a full-fledged part of the game, but in others it serves as a way to dip your toes in the water and have a little fun without committing. Tap around and give Mario a few extra platforms, or knock enemies out of Rayman’s way – I know many gamers will ridicule this shallow “fifth wheel” experience, but I theorize it’ll help pull in a few stragglers who might’ve otherwise just stuck to observing. The Wii U isn’t perfect, and Nintendo needs to kick up their online game, but there’s something unique here that just might catch on.
Also, someone at Nintendo clearly loves Se7en.