Recently, I posted an article about how the Wii U was initially met with lots of fanfare and strong sales, but after that initial push, things began to go way downhill for the console. Nintendo has done a lot to help support the Wii U, from having a solid lineup at launch, keeping the cost of the games and console down and promising a lot more in the future. For all intents and purposes, the Wii U should be a crazy success, following the lead of the Wii and how big of a brand Nintendo was and has become thanks to the success of the Wii.
The question originally posed was; can the Wii U compete with the Xbox 720 and the PlayStation 4? While we’ve seen that sales of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have continued to be strong while the Wii U’s sales have dipped, there is another factor to take into account when trying to predict how next generation consoles will fare and that is that the market might not be in the right place right now for new gaming consoles. There is a chance that the Nintendo Wii U’s apparent failure to captivate audiences has nothing to do with brand loyalty of gamers or shortcomings of the Wii U, but that the market is simply not ready for new consoles right now.
Those poor sales that the Wii U have seen could, in fact, carry over into the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720, which would be a disaster for both Sony and Microsoft. Both companies have historically lost money in the first few years of selling a game console due to the high production costs and trying to build up a baseline for said console. As a recent Forbes article surmised, people might just not be ready to move on to another console generation yet. Part of the big sales we are still seeing for PS3’s and Xbox 360’s are that gamers have a library of games for the systems, but they break down over time and need to be replaced.
Some of us are definitely left wanting more out of current generation consoles, which are woefully underpowered compared to even mid range PCs on the market right now. This means that there will always be some group of consumers looking to buy the latest and the greatest, but game consoles just might not have the same appeal as buying a new iPad, iPhone or Android device does to the general public. Take into account that we see tons of smartphones and tablets being sold on a regular basis and that a lot of the “casual gamer” market has shifted over to those devices and no longer need a game console to play quick games or to view Netflix movies anymore.
We are at a pivotal point for gaming where the last generation of consoles was able to offer the full home entertainment center experience on top of great games, but just about every consumer device offers the same entertainment options now and lots of casual games can be played on everyday devices like phones and tablets. It might not just be the Wii U that sees a drought, but the entire console industry, which would force everyone to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate what consumers want from their entertainment devices in the future.