The Wii U may end up as Nintendo’s least successful console. Why? Legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto has an answer.
Miyamoto thinks the Wii U has failed to be competitive in the console market for a number of reasons.
“Unfortunately with our latest system, the Wii U, the price point was one that ended up getting a little higher than we wanted,” he told NPR in a lengthy and fascinating interview.
“I don’t think it’s just price, because if the system is appealing enough, people will buy it even if the price is a little bit high. I think with Wii U, our challenge was that perhaps people didn’t understand the system.”
“Sometimes they work, and sometimes they’re not as big of a hit as we would like to hope. After Wii U, we’re hoping that next time it will be a very big hit.”
Miyamoto said that the Wii U is unique among consoles in that the Game Pad offers touch control on the couch and switches on instantly without needing to boot up the TV. Sadly for Nintendo, gamers and general consumers weren’t as impressed by this technology as they might have been a few years earlier.
“I think unfortunately what ended up happening was that tablets themselves appeared in the marketplace and evolved very, very rapidly, and unfortunately the Wii U system launched at a time where the uniqueness of those features were perhaps not as strong as they were when we had first begun developing them,” Miyamoto said.
The designer said Nintendo is always trying to do unique and different things rather than “just end up in a race to have the highest-tech specs”, but that it doesn’t always work out.
“Sometimes they work, and sometimes they’re not as big of a hit as we would like to hope. After Wii U, we’re hoping that next time it will be a very big hit,” he said.
“But really what’s most important to us is, how do we create a system that is both unique and affordable so that everyone can afford it and everyone can enjoy it.”
Elsewhere in the article Miyamoto discusses Mario’s origins, how he joined Nintendo and his approach to game design. Whether you’re interested in Miyamoto and Nintendo or just in video games in general (which you must be, because you’re here), I really encourage you to go check out the full interview, which is full of interesting insight into games design, the industry and Nintendo’s past.
While the Wii U may not be competitive with the PS4 and Xbox One, it has sold 9.5 million units and Nintendo is profitable. The huge popularity of games like Splatoon show there’s life in the console yet, even with the NX on the horizon.