Its no doubt that the Wii U as a system has delivered on what it promised. It has HD, the most power we’ve ever seen in a Nintendo console; and plenty of potential in the GamePad. What is has lacked; however, is the promised third-party support, truly killer software and a solid marketing campaign.
As a massive Nintendo fan, the above goes without saying as I am yet to pick up a Wii U myself due to a rather mediocre launch period. A passionate fan has written an open letter to Nintendo airing many of these grievances over at Polygon. Read on.
Dear sir or madam,
I’m an early WiiU adopter. On
January 13, I purchased the Deluxe console with a pair of games. On that
day, I was elated – there were new games to play, and literally
infinite possibilities running through my mind as I brought the system
home. Nintendoland appeared to offer just a taste of what was to be, and
Ninja Gaiden was the update to the franchise I had been craving since
the second game. And Mario – Mario was just a masterpiece… truly what I
asked for in a Super Mario game (aside from the music… but thank you
for passing up the 3D!) Rayman was just around the corner, and both
Monster Hunter and Lego city seemed like they couldn’t come fast enough!
I felt happy with my purchase – I was confident that we’d get games
that couldn’t be found elsewhere, and that a small slow-down was
something that could be dismissed by “launch window issues.” The system,
with its line-up of games new and current, seemed like it would be a
perfect solution to somebody who would want t o play as much as
Then, as February rolled in, I
started seeing the news roll in. Rayman was delayed twenty days before
release (leading to a lost pre-order, and a lost sale on Ubisoft’s
part), Ninja Gaiden got ported elsewhere (which left me somewhat annoyed
that I spent $60 on a game that would be available for far less in
April), and game announcements started coming through with truly
peculiar asterisks attached: “This won’t run on WiiU” or “It’s not WORTH
releasing this on WiiU”, despite developer claims otherwise (Dead
Island, Crysis 3), sales data that points to contrary realities (ZombiU
being the best-selling third party game on the platform, and Dead
Island), and an INCREDIBLY vocal community asking for content (various
Miiverse boards, websites, and blogs).
Instead, we’re receiving
received half-hearted ports, some of which up to TWO YEARS late to the
party (Deus Ex: Human Revolution), while developers say they don’t
“want” to make games for the platform. Yesterday’s Battlefield
announcement was the biggest, most egregious offender of this – where we
have XBox360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Next XBox versions in
development – there’s no reason this SHOULD NOT be on the platform.
But it won’t be.
And seriously, this is where my argument is coming in. As a customer, I
feel as if I’ve been lied to. Nintendo, who trotted developers onstage
over the past two years to proclaim “unprecedented support”, who gave
promised a steady stream of incredible content for the platform, is
delivering nothing. They’ve given total radio silence on the platform,
with no real advertisement, no real commentary, and no real push to even
SELL the thing! We’ve had FIVE games release in two months. Sales are
in the toilet, retailers are talking about ditching the thing. And, more
and more, we are left feeling like we bought the proverbial “bridge in
I’m not going to get angry and
cry “MAKE MORE GAMES!” as if it’ll do something to fix anything. I’m a
software developer by trade – I know that, more than anything, good
content takes time. And I know that third party relations don’t work
like some crazy Willy Wonka contraption where one pushes a button and a
game pops out. I’m just asking, BEGGING your company to acknowledge us,
and to grow a pair of proverbial testicles in content acquistion. The
3DS is on an upswing. And, while it needs help still, the WiiU is simply
in dire straits. It’s not selling, developers are abandoning ship, and,
let’s face it, the system is a running joke among industry circles.
We need Nintendo to return to
its days when Howard Lincoln was at the helm. We need an attack dog that
will relentlessly chase content down and drag it into Nintendo owners’
living rooms. We need to see investments in the future – new franchises,
new content, and a fighting spirit that seems to be strangely absent
from the company in more recent days.
But, more than anything, we
need hope. We need assurance that our boxes won’t be paperweights in six
months, and that we’ll have options to play that aren’t limited to the
off Nintendo gem, and lackluster third party “tests.” We need Nintendo
franchises that kick ass and get people EXCITED again – and again, sorry
but Zelda hasn’t been exciting since Ocarina, and Metroid is dead to
many of us unless a full reboot from a capable group occurs. We need
games like StarTropics, old-school Zelda, and Excitebike. We need
classics, timeless legends that show the real fighting spirit of the
company and a willingness to shoulder some risks. But, more importantly,
we need a company that will fight, argue, and negotiate with third
parties until they get what the hell they want. We need a company that
will act like a winner, not as the arrogant geek from high school.
Someone who will say “the chips are down, but we have a solution”, then
TELL US the solution instead of just giving plea santries.
We saw flashes of this last
generation. Wii adhered to the Blue Ocean strategy, which emphasized the
logic of “crappy products for crappy consumers.” And, when this was the
focus, things worked. Wii Sports showed a return to the NES Classics
Sports series, and New Super Mario Bros. brought people who were thought
to be lost from gaming forever back into the fold. We saw Metroid rise
to its highest sales peaks with the Prime series! We saw Xenoblade – the
little game that could – go from a write-off by Nintendo of America to
one of the most talked about and most-sought-after role playing games in
a decade! And, most shocking, we saw the market grow, to the point that
a slow sales month for Nintendo was a disastrous event for the industry
But at the same time, we saw a
strange combination of greed, and arrogance, and childishness arise. We
saw developers, both inside Nintendo and out, move from products that
customers wanted, to products that they wanted to make. We heard
Sakamoto prattle on about “maternal instincts” and how we needed to know
Samus “as a woman” (Bullshit! we wanted to kill aliens and feel badass
for doing it!). We saw the Mario team put their most requested ideas,
like Giant Land, and the like, get put into two Mario Galaxy games that,
their sales combined, didn’t come close to matching the sales of New
Super Mario Bros. Wii. And, more and more, we heard the same Nintendo
buzz about how “developers should be happy” arise. And again – as a
software developer myself, I can sympathize… however, I also know that
“being happy working on a product” and “making a product that sells”
are two different things entirely. Sometimes, the products we want to
make least are the ones that have the great est sales of all.
But I digress.
Years ago, Hiroshi Yamauchi
stated that “Nintendo was a box people bought to play Mario.” And,
really, he was right – Nintendo means a lot to people around the world –
many of us grew up in a world where Super Mario Bros. 3 was a
phenomenon, Zelda II sold out completely, and games, regardless of who
made them, were “Nintendo Games.” We grew up in an age when the brand
wasn’t some “lame” moniker, but something to respect and admire. It was,
and still is for many of us, video gaming itself. However, without the
games, it’s just a box – a sad, empty box that hungers to be used, even
though nothing draws people to it.
As a customer, I’m afraid that
Nintendo, as a company, lost sight of what was important. That they’d
rather make silly experiments and half-hearted sequels than return to
their former glory. They’d rather be “the nice guy” that people smile at
in person, but laugh at once he walks out of the room. The company’s
western support is a joke, and the company itself is a joke to the west
(why are these developers tripping over themselves to make PS4 and 720
games, and why did they go to the point of bankruptcy in some cases to
keep feeding the PS3 and XBox? Respect.), and a risk to the east. And,
more and more, Nintendo is growing irrelevant to the consumer.
And, to me, you are also
losing face. I fear that, unless the company can drastically turn things
around, you will lose me, and many others as customers forever. And, if
you recall your Blue Ocean literature, customers like me are the
hardest to win back.
While I don’t expect you to
have all of the answers, whoever reads this, I do feel that this needed
to be said. And, more important, needs to be addressed… not to me, not
to the core consumer base, but to everybody watching. Take it as an
open letter, and please, forward this as high as it can go.
I thank you for your time – all of your time – and hope you have a fantastic day.
A passionate fan.