Wonderful 101 Bomba Hints at New Lows for Nintendo’s Wii U
For someone madly attempting to resuscitate a flatlining console, Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime has found the time to talk an awful lot of shit this week. Both the PS4 and Xbone launch line-ups look to tread a middle-ground when it comes to compelling content. Both console’s libraries include [forgetting PC for the moment] definitive versions of highly popular third party titles, along with a couple of appreciable, if non-essential, exclusive titles [Killzone: Shadow Fall, Infamous: Second Son, Knack, Forza 5, Dead Rising 3]. The launch of these next generation consoles will not set the world on fire, but it will provide plenty of compelling content for console gamers to play on their significantly more powerful new machines. By contrast the Wii U launched with an inundation of late and overpriced seventh generation multiplatform titles that were only ever going to be of any allure to people who never owned a PS3 or 360. Now, many months later, the Wii U line-up is home to only an emaciated smattering of first-party Nintendo titles, all of which seem heavily derived from previous installments of Nintendo franchises. A wiser man than Fils-Aime might have though to hold their tongue considering the Wii U’s own emphatic glass jaw, yet the giddily oblivious Reggie’s body was ready to direct a very public “meh” in the direction of consoles with actual honest-to-goodness games on them:
“It’s all about the games. The competitive systems have announced their launch lineups. I’m allowed to say ‘Meh.’ I look at our lineup of titles and I feel good about our lineup. We’ve got Zelda. We’ve got Mario. We’ve got Donkey Kong. In addition to great titles like Pikmin 3 and Wonderful 101, I feel very good about our lineup, and I feel very good about the value proposition we’re putting out there for the consumer.
Systems that generate pretty pictures by themselves aren’t selling propositions, and all you need to do is look at the last generation to see the evidence. And that’s true whether you look at the home console space or the handheld space. It’s not about the graphics by itself. It’s about the entire experience.
I don’t think consumers buy hardware just because it’s sexy and new. I think consumers buy hardware because of the experiences they can have on them. That’s why, for us, having a strong holiday line-up is so critically important.”
Over the coming months the Wii U will indeed play host in a quantitative sense to all the franchises mentioned, yet the games in question are all either reheats of prior interpretations of Nintendo franchises as seen on other Nintendo systems [Wii, 3DS, GameCube], or, in the case of Wind Waker HD, a simple HD port. Saying “We’ve got Zelda” does not really tell the whole story when the game in question is a ten year old port of a GameCube title.
The only wholly Original title that Fils-Aime mentioned was Platinum Game’s The Wonderful 101, and it is fitting that he did, because while Reggie was busy saying “meh” to the launch catalogs of the PS4 and Xbone, Europe and Japan were saying “meh” to The Wonderful 101. The Wonderful 101‘s UK debut saw the game place at a paltry #22 on the top-forty all-formats chart, while only managing to sell a humiliating 5,258 copies during its first two days on sale in Japan. Nintendo appears to have given The Wonderful 101 the very worst possible start in life, scheduling its release for the same month as Pikmin 3 [which has sold 400,000 copies world-wide], while failing to promote the game outside of Nintendo direct – essentially sending it out to die. Given the scale of the production and the amount that Platinum Games has riding on it, it is a genuine tragedy that such a colourful and original game is having such a difficult time at market, yet, sadly for Platinum, pushy Nintendo fanboys are making it increasingly hard for one to feel sympathetic toward the game’s prospects.
Nintendo: Wii U Name Not to Blame for Console’s Woes
The Wii U has been performing horribly at retail, shifting just 160,000 units during the previous quarter – but according to Mr. Reggie Fils-Aime that has absolutely nothing to do with the system’s name:
“The challenges we’re facing with Wii U are not issues of the name. The issue is the lack of a steady rate of software launches to motivate the consumer to drive buzz and engagement and to highlight the wide variety of uses of the GamePad. That’s the issue.
The consumer understands that we have a new system. But the consumer is saying: ‘What am I going to play? And what am I going to play that’s a new and unique and compelling experience vs. what I can do today, whether it’s on the Wii or any other system?’
And that’s why experiences like Pikmin 3, like Wonderful 101, like Zelda Wind Waker HD, with the off-TV play, experiences like Super Mario 3D World – that’s why it’s critical that we launch those, have consumers experience them in malls across the country, which we’ll be doing. It’s critical that the consumer see for themselves the range and breadth of compelling software for the system.”
Reggie is quite right to point out that consumer awareness of Nintendo’s Wii U console has nothing to do with the system’s poor sales, after all, he did personally send out an email to Wii owners to inform them that it was time to buy the new system – and we all know that Wii owners have never been known to disconnect their consoles from the television [especially not during the the Wii’s busy release schedule over the past two years]. Thus, we can be reasonably certain that almost one-hundred million consumers received the message that the Wii U is a completely new console, and not an add-on for the Wii. No, the problem is the desire of consumers for access to compelling content at an affordable price, to which end Nintendo has this week done the bare [and arguably insufficient] minimum.
Nintendo has this week knocked fifty dollars from the price of the Wii U, and has announced a new bundle featuring the deluxe system and The Wind Waker HD – download code only, because Nintendo is fucking classy like that – which the company has pinned the Wii U’s retail hopes to. In the past one has repeatedly opined that the bare minimum that Nintendo had to do in order to achieve some measure of success this holiday season was to offer a 32GB model of the Wii U for $250 [or a $300 bundle including Super Mario 3D World, and maybe another lesser game on top of that] – One is of the opinion that a frugal and threadbare Nintendo has failed in this task. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a fine game to be sure, but a ten year old port is not going to excite consumers in the same way as a brand new Super Mario pack-in game would.
On a related note, one is bitterly disappointed that Nintendo have decided to delay the physical release of The Wind Waker HD by two weeks in relation to the digital version, in order to increase profit by maximising sales through their own digital storefront [one assumes]. Wii U owners have suffered through enough of Nintendo’s shit without having to be inconvenienced in this way too – and this approach is doubly unforgivable on account of the pathetic amount of storage available in Wii U units.
Microsoft: Xbone Is Worth $100 More than PS4
Microsoft has heard recent criticisms regarding the exorbitant pricing of their Xbone console, yet the organisation is very happy with the value that this presents to consumers – or at least this is the position put forward by Microsoft’s Phil Spencer:
“Price is important, there’s no doubt about that, especially in today’s economy.
What we’re seeing in the pre-order numbers is the overall value of what they get in Xbox One. I feel really good about how things are trending. People see a box that has the gaming stuff, a great lineup of games, and a commitment from us that great games will continue to come.
And then Skype and communication, and the camera that’s in the Kinect sensor that allows you to Skype and communicate with all of your friends wherever you go. It’s interesting, when you think about all that Xbox One is capable of.”
Yup – one hundred dollars is a small price to pay for Skype, a camera, and a more convoluted way to access TV [for the small additional price of a Gold subscription]. All in one! Xbox’s senior director of product planning and management, Albert Penello, goes one step further, outlining precisely why Xbone is worth that extra hundred dollars:
“It’s up to us to prove that it’s worth $100 more. I think it is.
I think we do more. I think our games are better. I think as people start to experience Kinect and see what it can do using voice, I think that’s better. I think the ability to have an all-in-one system where you can plug in the TV, that’s better. I think we’ll have a better online service.
I just believe that we’re going to have a better system.
Ultimately, consumers want to buy the best thing.
$100, when you’re talking $400 vs. $500 [shrugs shoulders]. I don’t believe it’s going to be the deal-killer.”
If wishes were horses then Microsoft would have a nag on hand to pull themselves out from this mire they have created for themselves. Xbone is worth more because of TV, and all games are better with Kinect – everyone knows that, right?
By contrast Sony are actually offering real value with their PS4, especially in Europe where for the price of an Xbone consumers can purchase a Killzone: Shadow Fall bundle, which includes the system, the game, two DualShock 4 controllers, and the Playstation 4 camera. There is no confirmation as yet of the bundle making its way to the US, though one should be very surprised if it remains a European exclusive.
In other Xbone news for the week, it would seem that Microsoft’s recent decision to decouple the Kinect requirement from Xbone usage may have had nothing at all to do with NSA/Prisim concerns or plans to lower the system price by offering a stand-alone unit. Rather, it would seem that Microsoft is so far behind the 8-ball that Kinect voice commands will not be compatible with all [or even most] launch regions upon release. Voice commands will be compatible for US, UK, Canadian, French, and German users, yet will not be compatible with with the languages and accents present in the Xbone’s eight other launch regions. It would seem that the Austranglish and New Zealandese languages are just too exotic for Kinect to be able to decipher – that is a really smart camera that Microsoft have built for themselves.
When Microsoft recently cut launch regions from twenty-one to thirteen, they were keen to stress that the reason for it was due to Kinect localisation issues rather than supply constraints – this recent move appears to give lie to that assertion.