The Wii U’s launch has had its ups and downs, though the approaching January filled with almost zero game releases from Nintendo (aka one) can’t be too good for the console. With one of the Wii U’s most popular games, Black Ops II, online attendance has been mediocre at best, and this is during launch week. With the coming lull of game releases, this is Nintendo’s chance to emphasize advertisement and marketing. And the best feature that they should focus on? Why, those empty online multiplayer rooms.
Focusing on a feature that has proven to be underwhelming might be counterproductive, but it’s essential to the success of the Wii U. Online gaming is what made the XBOX 360 so successful in its generation, and if the Wii U wants to emulate that type of service, they also need to advertise it. It wouldn’t be unusual if these ‘hardcore’ gamers opted to skip out on the Wii U because they didn’t know about its online capabilities. Since that’s one of the Wii U’s major target audiences, they need to know about it as soon as possible—through commercials, online advertising, social media campaigns, whatever works.
Online growth is what powers continuous play, and the number of pending players on the Wii U is not up to snuff for a new system and might be a grave indicator of the console’s future. It’s impossible to find the sales for an individual version of Black Ops II, but as its most successful game, having less than 0.25% of the console’s purchasers online at peak hours—right after launch—is not a promising number. It received a small boost during the European Wii U’s launch and should receive another boost once the game is out in Japan, but after that, there’s no indication that these high numbers will stick. Without aggressive advertising of online-compatible games, these multiplayer rooms could quickly become deserted.
Encouraging online growth and encouraging online play increases the number of people using the system consistently. The higher those numbers are, the more likely the system is to gain new customers because old users want more people to play with on the system. Likewise, it encourages old users to continue playing the Wii U and grab other games to make the console worthwhile. And, let’s be honest, a little more people in those rooms will keep these multiplayer-focused games from getting boring. While 1,000 isn’t anything to scoff at, it’s still a small enough number that people are probably running into each other multiple times in that game.
It’s only a matter of time before a group that small peters out and leaves the game deserted, with only the most dedicated fans inhabiting the online rooms. The Wii U might have wonderful online compatibility, but if no one’s using it or aware of it, what’s the point of having it? Since its online features are one of the console’s strong points, advertising it a little more heavily should be Nintendo’s priority, especially with very few game releases in the future to drive more console sales.