The Wii U is dead. In a case of history repeating itself, the next Legend of Zelda release will be coming to both Wii U and it’s successor, the NX. Nintendo’s presence at E3 2016 will seemingly consist of a huge focus on this very game, with very little focus on other games at all, and not even any playable demos of anything other than Link’s next adventure.
It’s no secret that the Wii U has had a less than stellar presence. While the Nintendo 3DS still lives on with games like Yokai Watch and the next generation of Pokemon games, Nintendo’s home console has experienced a continually dwindling release schedule since it’s release at the end of 2012. Star Fox Zero seems to be the last bit Wii U game we’re going to see for some time; unless Nintendo have something special to announce in June.
For all of Nintendo’s bravado in its initial announcement, promising new gameplay experiences and a groundswell of third party support, the Wii U never really got going. It always felt destined to share the fate of many a Nintendo console – A solid system, with a handful of truly amazing games, but lacking a varied software library. I bought it close to launch, fully aware that it would always be a secondary system, one with some of the very best gameplay experiences available, but I’d have to rely on a rival system to sustain me between releases. And I was fully correct in that assumption.
Thanks to the Wii U, I’ve had the pleasure of playing some truly great games – Games like Bayonetta 2, Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo Land, Wind Waker HD, Splatoon, Xenoblade Chronicles X, to name but a few. But there could have, and should have been more. Despite having initial support from the likes of Electronic Arts, Activision, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Games and more, this support quickly dissipated, along with the console’s chances of being successful.
The unique Gamepad controller had potential, but even Nintendo struggled to understand what they could do with it, save for menus and maps. It’s only real success was its enabling of off-TV gameplay, something that Nintendo’s rivals have now mimicked. Any uniqueness that the Gamepad had, has since been nullified by mobile phones.
The Wii U is Dead.
And now, it’s safe to say that after it’s first original Legend of Zelda adventure arrives in 2017, the Wii U will be dead. Many will argue that the system is too young to be scrapped. Far from it – By that time, it will have had a similar lifespan to the Gamecube, system that would also share a Legend of Zelda adventure with its successor. Now is exactly the right time for Nintendo to cut their losses and start anew. The Wii U is dead, and it’s time to start afresh.
As for the rest of 2016, Nintendo have already made it clear where their focus lies. New mobile application experiments based on Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing will follow up their successful Miitomo app. The 3DS still has some life left, but will be winding down in preparation for whatever NX may be. It is a logical step for Nintendo to write the rest of 2016 off as a failure. Following the sale of their share of the Seattle Mariners baseball team, they’re amassing the funds to heavily push the NX in 2017.
Personally, I think it’s a sensible move. At this late stage, both the 3DS and Wii U have already peaked and are unlikely to win new customers – Both systems are admittedly in the shadow of their highly successful predecessors, and it’s time for some new blood.
We know nothing of NX. We know it’s coming, and we think it might be a hybrid of home console and portable – But your guess it as good as mine. iOS and Android rule the roost on mobile gaming, while Sony and Microsoft have gone too far ahead this generation to catch up. So, much like how they did with the original Wii, Nintendo are going to have to be disruptive. They’ll need to embrace and implement modern technologies and infrastructures, something they have failed to do for many years, which has ultimately harmed them in the long run. They’ll need to understand what gaming means in 2016 and is going to be in 2017. They’ll need to be a more open company, one that’s easier for third parties to work with.
But when all is said and done, Nintendo will need to do something that’s more disruptive than anything they ever have done in the past decade: Compete with their rivals.