Just yesterday I was talking about how Microsoft spent their time at E3 displaying all sorts of new functionality and content for the Xbox 360 in order to diversify their market. Well today Nintendo had their E3 press conference and they’re planning on doing the same thing. The face of Nintendo America, Reginald “Reggie” Fils-aime, spent his time at E3 discussing the Wii-U and all of the things Nintendo is doing to attract a wider audience. While Microsoft is upgrading the good-old Xbox 360, Nintendo is releasing a whole new console to compete in the ever changing market. So, while some of what these two companies are doing is similar, the fact that one is technically a “next-gen” console will most certainly effect how this all plays out with consumers. Nintendo has been a niche product ever since the Wii was released, but it appears as if they are hoping to change all that with the Wii-U.
Although the Wii was an enormous success, it also isolated Nintendo from larger titles typically associated with “gamer” platforms; the Xbox, the PS3, or the PC. While they carved out their niche market with nothing but “Nintendo” games other companies learned to share large releases, like Call of Duty, over multiple platforms in an effort to at least get a part of the pie. While Nintendo did announce some very traditionally Nintendo-ish titles for the Wii-U at E3, such as Pikmin 3 and New Super Mario Bros., they also announced a few that traditionally aren’t, such as Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition and Mass Effect 3. This is no surprise as Japanese game sales have floundered in recent years, with many offering their opinion as to why. So with Nintendo traditionally being the console for exclusive Japanese titles, and those titles not doing so hot, they’ve decided to jump back into the mainstream and offer bigger “premium” titles. Perhaps this will remove the barrier Nintendo has put between itself and other platforms when it comes to releases.
While granting access to a wider variety of Triple A gaming titles is important for Nintendo’s success, they’ve also got their eye on the non-gamer market as well. Much like Microsoft, Nintendo has a handful of partnerships lined up for the Wii-U in an effort to make it a one stop shop for movies, music, and games. According to VentureBeat, Nintendo has agreements with YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon: Instant Video, all available upon release. Nintendo is hoping, like Microsoft, to make their console as standard as the VCR once was, a seemingly mandatory item for any who own a television. By offering these additional services, they’re hoping that a broader market of consumers will purchase the Wii-U for their home.
Also according to VentureBeat the Wii-U will allow two of their tablet-like controllers to work at the same time, stating that each tablet would work with one system at a time – meaning I can’t bring mine to a friend’s house. They are essentially just fancy controllers so it’s not a shock that each one is assigned a specific console. But there isn’t really any new functionality, like Microsoft’s Xbox SmartGlass, that would allow a normal consumer to use the Wii-U with existing smartphones or tablets. Essentially if you want to use a tablet with the Wii-U, it has to be theirs.
I’m sure we haven’t seen everything that Nintendo has to offer when it comes to the Wii-U, just the highlights. Still, compared to what we saw yesterday from Microsoft, Nintendo has a long way to go if they’re going to escape the niche market they’ve put themselves in. The extra content is a step in the right direction and so is the decision to release more popular cross-over titles, but without tablet and smart phone integration it may not be enough in the face of more synergizing technology.