The Wii U preview event in New York City has come and gone, and now Nintendo has rolled out their specific plans for their next-gen console. A release date, price point, and TWO different SKUs were unveiled along with the promise of Nintendo’s new video service, Nintendo TVii. At the time of the various reveals, it seemed obvious that Nintendo was finally living up to the promise of a new way to play, especially after a disappointing E3 press conference last June.
However, after the lights turned on and dozens of gaming journalists scurried off for interviews and demos, I was left with more questions than answers and a tad bit of concern. These questions, which may be answered soon, consist of the price of a separate GamePad, the exact details of what games will launch with the console, and further details of the Nintendo Network and their online community, Miiverse. These lists of concerns may seem like a bunch of complaints, but they are relevant to how successful the console will be out of the gate.
Hit the jump to see how I feel Nintendo’s Wii U preview event left me excited, yet slightly concerned for their newest console’s future.
As a life-long Nintendo fan, I want to see the Wii U prosper in an equal or greater capacity from its predecessor. Yet, I couldn’t help but notice that the company is again playing a quick game of catch-up with their competition. This, of course, is prevalent in terms of how they’re planning to offer a streaming video service out of the box with Wii U, one that promises to offer users a new experience. What can Nintendo do to convince the core gamer or the even casual front that the bells-and-whistles of the Wii U is the console to own?
First-party titles? Obvious check. Third-party titles? Yes, they’re there, but it’s still up for debate, considering the approach of Sony and Microsoft’s newest consoles in 2013. Hardware? Specs are still unknown, yet signs point to the Wii U being on par or just above the PlayStation 3 in graphical and processing prowess (Update: Kotaku has posted the official Wii U specs, which are just vague descriptions). Video-on demand? Streamlined service, yet how many will use it? It may take time for the service to be fully grasped, but Nintendo has no room to cut corners early in their launch.
Once again, some of these concerns are mentioned to get a grasp of what Nintendo is facing with having their new console be the first out of the gate this generation. And this is where I return to Nintendo TVii, which is what Nintendo is betting will be the forefront of their online network. In essence, Nintendo is trying to replace your cable box with the Wii U.
The idea is novel, but will it catch on, much like how Microsoft and Sony are doing with their respective consoles? The company aims to be as interactive as possible with this new TV app. You can chat with your friends, while watching a sporting event or comment or live-Tweet your favorite moments of a TV show. The options themselves are aplenty, but the risk here is the hope of hooking in the core audience that Nintendo so desperately wants to rekindle with. Can they do it? Well, that’s tough to decipher. It’s all based on Nintendo’s promise to bring us the most enjoyable console gaming experience that they have released. That alone may or not hold a cloudy future for the Japanese gaming giant, but bringing in the core audience is a must to ensure it doesn’t stumble out the gate.
As far as games go, we are left to wonder what first and third party titles will be launching with the system. We were given a glimpse as to what third party companies will offer with the announcement of Call of Duty: Black Ops II and the exclusivity of the once-thought cancelled Bayonetta 2. In addition, a sizzle reel of games was show to close out the show and labeled as “launch window” (November 2012 to March 2013) titles.
As I break down all the concerns and supposed promises, let this be known: Even if the Wii U doesn’t sell gangbusters like its predecessor, it certainly doesn’t mean the end for Nintendo. The company has done a good effort in resurrecting the sales of its 3DS handheld with last year’s price cut and its subsequent 3DS XL release. Plus, despite playing catch-up with its restructured Nintendo Network online service and the introduction of Nintendo TVii, it’s certainly better than nothing.
Until then, we shall wait and see what future the Wii U holds for casual, core, and Nintendo-loyal gamers. Like when the lights came on after the Wii U preview event, a new era in Nintendo gaming is shortly upon us. The concerns may still be there with pricing, online, and the specifics of launch games, but hopefully the old Nintendo magic will not be absent. I for one will be there come launch day, and see where and how Nintendo can do to improve the gaming infrastructure like they have been touting for a year and a half.