Published on November 17th, 2016 | by Aykut Donmez1
5 steps Nintendo Switch needs to avoid the mistakes of the Wii U
I love Nintendo, many of my fondest memories involve playing Nintendo games and I own almost every major piece of Nintendo hardware and despite it all this past console generation was the first time I didn’t buy a Nintendo home console. I can go on about why I never felt motivated to buy a Wii U despite a solid library of games but I want to focus on what’s next for Nintendo, the Switch was revealed a few weeks ago and fans have had plenty of time to speculate on all of the details yet to be revealed. But it’s important to focus in on where the Wii U went wrong and how Nintendo can avoid those mistakes with their new system. There’s reason to be optimistic though, just from the reveal video alone Nintendo has shown a clear shift in the direction it wants to go in. One of key aspects of the Switch reveal is that there were noticeably no kids or families gathered around the living room like we’ve seen many times with the Wii and Wii u, instead we got a mixture of twenty to thirty year olds walking their dogs and hanging out at rooftop parties. This change in target audience alone makes a difference which leads into the first point.
1. Stop Targeting The Family Market
Nintendo has obviously found success with the family market in the past, the Wii and DS being prime examples, but the market has shifted dramatically since the mid 2000s. Almost every kid now has access to a phone or tablet which gives them access to hundreds of free games, many debatable in quality sure but the fact is most kids have moved into the mobile market where there’s a variety of games they can play without begging their parents to spend $40+ every time they want to play something different. The majority of the family market is casual which means they can’t be counted on to prop up hardware sales in the long run. What Nintendo needs to do is talk directly to the core gamers, the vast majority whom all started gaming on a Nintendo device. The same people who felt left behind by Nintendo with the Wii and Wii u need to be spoken to directly to show Nintendo hasn’t given up on the hardcore Nintendo fans that have stuck by them through the years. Theirs an appetite in the market for Nintendo to return to form and if gamers are confident that the Nintendo they remember is back they gladly buy-in.
2. Strong launch lineup
We already have an idea of the games we’ll be seeing soon on the Switch. During the reveal video we saw Zelda: breath of the wild, a new mario game, skyrim, and what appeared to be enhanced versions of mario kart 8 and splatoon. What was teased in the video is promising but we don’t know for sure what will be there on launch day. Historically Nintendo will put out one flagship game with a handful of ok games that aren’t must plays, then followed by a dry period where very few games are released thereby losing momentum. Nintendo needs to avoid that situation this time by having several flagship games, perhaps not all on launch day but they should all be close after so that their audience doesn’t lose interest. The Wii u notably had one of the longest dry periods in history with several months between launch day and the next first party game.
3. Unify the virtual console platform
Nintendo has some of the most iconic games in history and most of them are available on virtual console. The problem with their approach is the mysterious segmentation of games and platforms depending on which Nintendo system your playing on. The virtual console stores on the Wii, Wii u and 3ds are very different from each other. For example years after the Wii u’s launch it still doesn’t natively have all the games and platforms the Wii virtual console has. To make matters more complicated the 3ds has its own set of virtual console games and platforms that aren’t on the home consoles including gameboy and gameboy color games. We shouldn’t have to figure out what games are on which systems and worse have to repurchase games depending on which system we choose to game on. To successful here the Switch should have all virtual console platforms and a good amount of games to start with. Let’s not wait several years for the snes and n64 catalogs to fill out again like we did for the Wii. We know their library of games let us decide what we want to play instead of giving us a drip feed of content.
4. Have an achievement system
This one is pretty simple, Nintendo can greatly benefit from adding achievements not only to their upcoming games but to their virtual console as well. Achievements motivate us to play games in ways we might not have done on our own, they give us bragging rights and add a layer of complexity to games. Adding the achievement meta game to virtual console would give fans a a major reason to replay some of the classics that they remember.
5. Online support
Nintendo has definitely gotten better this generation when it comes to online multiplayer but there’s plenty of room for improvement. With the Switch’s main selling point being a console you can take with you anywhere it should be able to download and support multiplayer games as good as the competition can. It would be a major blow to games like Mario Kart and Splatoon if the games were plagued with lag and long wait times between matches. Having a smooth online experience can make or break most games and Nintendo can definitely score points by having a reliable online system.
Those are the major points that Nintendo needs to consider with the Switch. There’s plenty of reasons why the Wii u didn’t sell and Nintendo would do well to learn from them if they want to be successful in games industry again. Whether you agree or disagree with these points let us know!