The Truth: Nintendo Needs It’s Core, The Casual
Will the core help turn Nintendo’s next console into a powerhouse?
With all the talk of what the Wii U will do for Mario and Link and Samus, the real question is what will the Wii U do for your Mom and Dad’s Mii. The fact is that Nintendo needs to address it’s core if it wants to do well next generation and that means embracing the casual once again.
They did it perfectly on the Wii. Bundling Wii Sports with the Wii was brilliant. They followed that up with Wii Play and Wii Fit, two games that fit the casual perfectly by offering a game with legs plus hardware.
From the get go the Wii was a casual console and it thrived.Companies like Ubisoft and EA took notice and created an entire line of games aimed at the core Nintendo user; casual games that looked like a good value.
Following up on that, Nintendo worked the retail channels and had the global shopping channel QVC dishing out their console day and night. Even nationwide sports and apparel company, The Sports Authority, had demos of Wii Fit in every store.
From top to bottom it was a campaign that took a direct path straight to the core and casual players responded adamantly. The Just Dance franchise sold close to 30 million copies, Wii Play sold close to 30 million, and the powerhouse Wii Fit franchise sold over a whopping 45 million copies. It’s clear that the Wii resonated with the casual, but that doesn’t mean it is a guarantee that the Wii U will as well. There is a few deciding factors.
Will Nintendo’s core be ready for new hardware?
I think that they’re ready. The average casual user wants to get the most out of their purchase and the Wii’s starting price of $249.99 lasting over a 4-6 year span would be considered a sound investment.
Will Nintendo’s core be swayed by other hardware?
This one is harder to determine. I think that it’s going to be a very hard sell for Nintendo when the other two consoles on the market offer so much more then just games. Nintendo’s failure to adapt has them quite a few steps behind their contemporaries and this will be at the forefront at the Wii U’s launch. Not only will the other consoles offer more entertainment content but they will predictably be significantly less expensive.
Will Nintendo’s core be enticed by third party software?
It’s a good sign that companies like Ubisoft are supporting the Wii U with games like Dance Central, but as I said above, the content exists elsewhere right now. It is going to take a solid effort from third party companies dishing out dance, party, and exercise games to show Nintendo’s core that it has the same style of long lasting software it saw with the Wii.
Now what happens if the core doesn’t gravitate to the Wii U?
I don’t have much hope if the core doesn’t want to leave the Wii, or worse yet, chooses an alternative console brand after their run on the Wii is over. Nintendo’s smaller niche markets, which are big supporters of the Mario and Zelda type games just don’t have the manpower or the buying power to support a console, let alone make it rise above the rest.
Wii Fit sold 45 million.
Nintendo’s premiere Mario franchise on the Wii, Mario Galaxy, sold 18 million. Now don’t get me wrong, 18 million for a franchise is wonderful, but compared to 45 million it’s not even in the same league. Heck, Wii Fit is in the majors and Mario Galaxy is playing AA ball. Sure, you get to say you’re a part of the team and you might even get called up in the worst of times but no one is waiting for you to enter Cooperstown.
Now Nintendo did have some success with New Super Bros Wii and it did draw in the casual very well but then they tried to follow it up with Donkey Kong Country Returns and that only sold around 6 million.
Everyone in recent memory also remembers the Gamecube. That was Nintendo’s experiment to aim towards the Mario and Zelda part of their audience and it almost crippled the company.It took the combined success of the DS and the Wii to get them back on track.
For anyone doubting what I’m saying I want you to do this…. Take the number of Wii Fit copies sold (45 million) and subtract it from the overall number of Wii’s sold worldwide. That equals out to about 50 million Wii’s sold, close to one half of it’s total sales and a good 15 million less then it’s competition.
I selected Wii Fit because it was the title designed to be most core friendly. The design paid off, with the title selling to half of all owners.
Like I said, Nintendo needs it’s core, the casuals, for it to be a force next generation.