Many people liken the Nintendo Wii U to another one of many Nintendo consoles, the Nintendo GameCube.
It’s the lack of interest and support from third party developers and publishers. It’s the growing abundance of core game titles from the likes of Mario, Zelda and Smash Bros. And, it’s the pressure of competition from consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation 2 (the Sega Dreamcast had long since bowed out).
Now, the Nintendo Wii U faces competition from the successors of those consoles, the Xbox 360/One and PlayStation 3/4. Not only that, third party developers and publishers are actively ‘avoiding’ the console. And, its potential trump card – its games library – isn’t as diverse as the GameCube library yet.
But, it doesn’t mean people should count out the Wii U. Although the console’s sales and shelf life fluctuates from month to month, it’s still a hardy player in the console wars. It will, however, take some time for it to catch up and blossom.
Mobile gaming versus the Wii U
The Wii U’s greatest rival isn’t the Xbox/PlayStation combo. It’s actually mobile gaming.
According to Statistics.com, mobile gaming has ‘significantly contributed to the high growth rate of the use of mobile platforms.’ The mobile gaming industry generated $7.8 billion in revenue throughout 2012.
That figure is expected to grow to ‘more than $12.6 billion by 2016.’ The share of mobile gaming in overall video gaming revenue is also expected to grow to 17 percent from 14 percent during the same period.
Here’s an interesting statistic. Out of all of the mobile gamers in 2013, as much as 146 million accounted for gamers in North America. The most mobile gamers are located in the Asia Pacific region. The total number of mobile gamers worldwide is as much as 909 million.
Those statistics show exactly why the Wii U is having difficulties developing a concrete audience. Most mobile gamers are casual gamers; the ease of mobile gaming appeals to their interests more than devoting themselves to a home console, specifically Nintendo consoles.
The losses and the future
Toward the end of July, the company reported another fiscal quarter that revealed ‘lackluster’ results.
They found that sales had fallen 8.4 percent (year-on-year) to 74.7 billion yen (about $700 million) during the 3 months leading to June 30. Their net loss was 9.9 billion yen (about $100 million), considered ‘nearly double’ the previously forecast 5.4 billion yen loss made by analysts.
According to industry analysts, Nintendo’s strategy, which focuses on the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS, may be alienating the consumers that comprise ‘casual gamers.’
It’s mainly at odds with how ‘casual gamers’ consume games. Many casual gamers play mobile games due to their low cost and, subsequently, lower barrier of entry when compared to Nintendo consoles.
Mobile and ‘free to play’ game developers and publishers, such as GungHo Online and Nexon, have entered the casual gaming market to compete against Nintendo consoles. As a result, they’ve captured these consumers.
Although Nintendo is seeing losses, there’s still hope in recapturing the market. Unfortunately, recapturing the market may involve having to completely reevaluate their approach to gaming today.