As a friend of mine liked to say: I’m gonna break this shit down.
When the Wii U came out, it had a LOT of issues, some self-inflicted (*really* bad marketing, poor developer support), some pushed as a narrative by the media who ABSOLUTELY knew better (“Whaaaaa I don’t know if this obviously new console is an addon or not!”) I won’t deny that, I’ve said it on Twitter. The Wii U was poorly marketed, and that led to a host of problems.
To me, and most people who follow the industry, the Wii U concept was obvious. A game system with a controller that allows you to play games without the TV being on. I for one loved that idea, as did a lot of other people. The name was…not the best, but I absolutely knew it was a new system. A big part of the problem was that Nintendo assumed the system would succeed off the “Wii” name alone, clearly that wasn’t the case. That combined with the bad marketing and admittedly high price is why the system didn’t take off.
Even though Reggie said “new system” during the initial reveal, AND there were rumors before E3 that said it was a new HD console, AND the trailer showed off graphics the Wii had no chance in hell of pulling off. Even with all that, the media still went and ran with the nonsense clickbait “confusion” narrative. It was ridiculous. If an ordinary idiot like me knew it was a new console months before E3 when it was shown, the damn gaming media sure as hell did as well.
The reason the Wii U didn’t take off had nothing to do with it being “weak” and everything to do with marketing, poor developer support for APIs (which led to fewer games) and the high price and pre-launch perception of the system.
Which brings us to the Switch.
From the first teaser in October, Nintendo has been NAILING the marketing for this system. They’re even doing a Super Bowl commercial for the first time ever (the Pokemon ad was done by The Pokemon Company, not Nintendo.) Not just the marketing though, the name is perfectly on point as well. It fits exactly what the system is, a home console that can “switch” to being played on the go whenever you want. But the name and marketing are not the only thing they’re getting right this time.
The system itself is much easier for developers to work with. The development tools and API support for the system is MASSIVELY improved from the Wii U. The hardware itself is much more familiar for developers, and like I said has full support for the APIs and engines developers are already familiar with. This will result in much better support for the system, both now and throughout its entire life.
Marketing that’s 1000x better, a much better price for the system itself, and vastly improved developer support for the system will allow the Switch to succeed in every area the Wii U failed. Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima commented that the system could reach Wii numbers because it offers a new way of playing, like the Wii did. Now, Wii numbers might be reaching a bit. But, there is absolutely no chance it doesn’t beat Wii U numbers by a MILE. None. The portability aspect alone will help sell it in Japan, and Splatoon 2 will also do crazy numbers.
There’s a few more things that will help the system in its first year.
The Wii had the same thing in its first year.
A Zelda game at launch and a 3D Mario game for the holiday season. Wii Sports helped drive sales of the Wii, but Twilight Princess was a HUGE draw as well even if it was also on the Gamecube. Super Mario Galaxy was a perfect cap on the first year for the Wii.
This will also be the case with the Switch. It won’t hurt the system’s sales having Breath of the Wild release on Wii U at the same time.
Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey will ensure the system sells at launch (which it is), and at the end of the year. The Switch teaser trailer is the most viewed video on Nintendo of America’s Youtube channel, at over 26 million views. The Super Mario Odyssey trailer at over 11 million views is the most viewed game-specific video. Guess what game’s trailer is the second most viewed? Yep. Breath of the Wild. Also with over 11 million views.
The lineup for just this year alone is really good, but that’s not even the entire first year (remember it actually lasts to March of next year.) Breath of the Wild, Snipperclips, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (which WILL sell systems, as well as the Wii U version sold there are still a lot of people that never owned it), ARMS, Splatoon 2, Fire Emblem Warriors, Super Mario Odyssey, and assuming it makes it for this year, Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Nintendo is doing exactly what they should, by spreading out the lineup throughout the year.
That’s a fantastic lineup, and it only includes currently announced first party games.
E3 is only a few months away as well, that will reveal even more games coming to the system.
The Switch’s future is MUCH brighter in its first year, than the Wii U’s was. Nintendo is very confident in the system, and it shows in everything they’re doing.
But, even with all the problems the Wii U had. I don’t regret buying it for a second. It’s an incredibly under-appreciated system, that quite frankly, deserved to sell much better than it did. It would have, if it had gotten better marketing, improved API support and the games that would have come with it, and actual fair coverage from the media. But despite everything, it has a lot of great games on it.
The Switch has fixed so many of the problems Nintendo had with the Wii U, it has a bright future ahead of it and I can’t wait for March 3rd.