Nintendo is increasingly making noises that the Wii U might not be long for this world. And, truthfully, for all the system’s net positives, that might be a good thing.
Probably the best example of this recently was the hubbub surrounding Satoru Iwata’s remarks about “extending the definition of entertainment” and that Nintendo can do whatever it wants. To be fair to Mr. Iwata, he was very explicit when he said that Nintendo was not abandoning video games… but realistically, he appears to be laying the groundwork for stepping away from the Wii U with a relative minimum of embarrassment.
There is, unfortunately, excellent reason to do so. The Wii U is not selling, and increasingly, Nintendo has demonstrated its strength lies in not imitating Sony and Microsoft, but in brands like Pokemon. They may sell millions of consoles, but Nintendo has a reach into younger markets that has constantly eluded both companies even as they’ve built their brand on older gamers.
It’s created a divide: Sony and Microsoft are for “adults” and Nintendo is for “kids.” It’s vaguely absurd in that all three companies create games worth playing; Nintendo may not have much in the way of original characters but you can’t argue the company has refined the platform game or the kart racer to a science. But you also can’t argue that expertise has helped the Wii U at all, even as the 3DS had what was arguably the best 2013 out of any console critically, and certainly commercially. They’ve salvaged what was seen to be a disaster when it debuted into possibly the best system on the market.
There’s more at play that just Nintendo itself, of course; gaming is shifting rapidly as a market. But the simple fact of the matter is that the Wii U, while a noble experiment, has failed, and it might be time for Nintendo to cut its losses and focus on what it does best.