Long before the Wii U’s dismal performance post-December, a common complaint about the system has been it’s design. At issue for many e-critics is how the software neither looks nor runs any better than current gen offerings. One alternate approach I heard someone wish for on NeoGAF was, essentially, a beefed up Wii; a box that continued to use the Wiimote as the main controller, abandoning the $100+ Gamepad for a console closer in power to the PS4 and NextBox.
That certainly would’ve given the Wii U a stronger argument against sticking with the PS3/360. At the end of the day, neither Nintendo nor the third parties have done much to convince people it’s a truly “next-gen” experience yet. Indeed, it’s likely that it will never convince many Sonyheads or MS fans anymore than the Wii did. The tablet being utilized in a genuinely intriguing and sellable way is also still an open question.
But I’m still not convinced a more powerful box with no Gamepad would’ve sold any better.
To begin with, a central reason for the Wii’s success was that it offered a more accessible experience for less. The fact is, the Kinect has already proven itself to be a viable alternative for the casual/family set as the Wii’s sales have fallen off in the past few years. Right now, Kinect Adventures is far and away the top selling game on the 360, and with Kinect 2.0 in every NextBox it’s sure to have an even bigger impact. A more powerful Wii-mote box would have a hard time differentiating itself in light of that.
Price would also be an issue as well; a $300 box may not have offered a big enough leap to satisfy the core unless it was sold at a big loss, while anything more expensive would be too close to the likely PS4/NextBox prices for comfort. And there’s also the issue of Nintendo fans sitting on their hands until the next Zelda or Metroid game come out, which would have depressed sales no matter how the WiiU was built or priced.
The main issue for me isn’t that the Wii U is designed too poorly to do well. I’m still not convinced of that. The problem is how badly Nintendo cocked up the system’s launch; the barren software landscape and stupid decisions with the networking functionality and OS would’ve screwed up any consoles early months on the market. Indeed, I expect the dismal sales it has now to stay dismal through to fall at least.
And there’s also the long-standing bad blood between Nintendo and MS/Sony fans, most of whom were probably never going to buy a Wii U no matter what. I doubt Nintendo has much purview to take their advice in light of that.