Feature Article

Nintendo's Plan to Quietly Kill the Wii U

Editorial: Tom believes Nintendo's mysterious "quality of life" platform could be intended to quietly nudge the Wii U out of the spotlight.

The Wii U is performing dismally at retail. It's the depressing reality in which we live, and one that has caused us to think up ways to improve the console's fate. What if Nintendo no longer bundled it with the expensive GamePad? Or partnered with outside studios willing to create exclusive games for the Wii U? Then maybe the system wouldn't lag so far behind its competitors. Though such moves might help Nintendo in the short term, they would be mere Band-Aids on an open wound. The Wii U is in a dire situation. I believe Nintendo has reconciled itself to that fact, and has already planned a way to bail from this sinking ship.

Enter the "quality of life" (QOL) platform. No one knows what to make of Nintendo's proposed QOL initiative, partly because we know almost nothing about it. Nintendo wants to improve people's lives in some indeterminate way--using non-wearable technology--and is going to introduce this nebulous product some time next year. According to CEO Satoru Iwata, whatever the QOL platform is, it will be entirely separate from their gaming ventures. Iwata said, “When we use ‘health’ as a keyword, some may inevitably think about ‘Wii Fit.’ However, we are considering themes that we have not incorporated to games for our existing platforms." But what if Nintendo has much grander plans for this mysterious device than they're letting on? This could be Nintendo's next big idea. An idea much more in-demand than their ill-advised tablet controller, and one that could propel the company to the same heights it enjoyed during the peak years of the Wii.

Could Nintendo build an entire platform around the likes of Wii Fit?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, let's take a look back at history. In 2004, Nintendo announced the DS, and positioned it as a complement to the Game Boy Advance and GameCube. It was going to be their "third pillar," another portable system that would coexist alongside their other hardware. Remember, this was a difficult time for Nintendo. The GameCube was lagging far behind the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and though the Game Boy Advance was still in its prime, it wasn't successful enough to prop up an entire company. Nintendo was becoming less relevant. They needed to make a serious splash to turn the attention of the gaming audience back toward them.

What if Nintendo has much grander plans for this mysterious device than they're letting on?

As you may remember, the Nintendo DS was a phenomenon. Nintendo had a masterful software lineup that appealed to its core audience while bringing in newcomers as well. There was nothing else like Nintendogs or Brain Age, so Nintendo was able to expand to the casual market, though they never ignored those who kept them afloat during the lean years of the GameCube and Nintendo 64. It soon became clear that their planned "third pillar" was no more than a shield. If the DS were to fail, they could sweep it under the carpet and release a new Game Boy. But after the handheld took off, the Game Boy name was forgotten, and Nintendo has continued to have one dual-screen handheld and one console ever since.

Now we're seeing history repeat itself. The 3DS is selling well, though not nearly as well as its predecessor, and the Wii U is bottoming out. Nintendo is losing relevance. Its investors are demanding that they develop games for smartphones while its loyal fans are gobbling up the few games still trickling out for the Wii U. It's a sad situation. Excellent games such as The Wonderful 101 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze are being ignored at retail simply because not many people own the system, and third-party studios are sprinting away from the console as if it has Ebola. Is it too late for a price cut? Is it too late to secure exclusive games? The Wii U's fate isn't sealed yet, but the chances of Nintendo turning its fortunes around are so slim that a plan B is needed.

Maybe the Vitality Sensor will make a triumphant return.

And that plan is the curious quality of life platform. When Nintendo first announced this device, I was puzzled. Nintendo has been around for more than 100 years, and in that time they may have transitioned from manufacturing playing cards to video games, but they have always focused on entertainment. Quality of life gives me visions of doing P90X workouts or downing a raw egg after jogging five miles. It makes me think about psychiatric evaluations and acupuncture appointments. People improve their lives in ways that are necessary, but not fun, so I couldn't imagine how a quality of life platform could possibly be appealing.

But then I remembered who we're talking about. There's no way that Nintendo is going to push our minds and bodies to their limits without a carrot dangling tantalizingly before our eyes. I may not have a clue what this QOL thing actually is, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be fun. More importantly, it's going to attract an audience that could not care less about the 3DS and Wii U. Part of the reason the DS and Wii were so popular is that Nintendo broke free of popular gaming conventions to appeal to people who don't want to spend their leisure time stomping goombas or doing barrel rolls. Wii Sports and Picross DS showed those who normally shun games why we spend so much time in front of a digital screen, and elevated Nintendo to the predominant technology company.

So right now, Nintendo is taking a cautious approach with their quality of life platform. They announced it at the same time they said Mario Kart 8 is coming out in May and Satoru Iwata is taking a paycut, news stories that would deflect attention away from this mystery. They're carefully saying that it's separate from their gaming division. Nintendo is trying to make the QOL as inoffensive as possible, something that gets mentioned during investment meetings instead of taking center stage during a Nintendo Direct. But they're only going to stay quiet for so long.

A model for our future wellness.

For the rest of 2014, Nintendo is going to continue with the plans we've already seen with the Wii U. Mario Kart 8, Yoshi's Epic Yarn, Super Smash Bros. and Bayonetta 2 are still going to come out this year. Maybe we'll even see X and Zelda come out next year. But after that? Don't expect much. Nintendo is treading water with the Wii U, but that's not a long-term strategy. Once the QOL platform comes out next year, you're going to see their focus shift. Advertising and store kiosks will force this device into people's consciousness, and Nintendo will distance itself from the failing Wii U. It's a smart strategy. Nintendo doesn't have the third-party support to prop up a console, and can't produce games quickly enough to keep good software flowing. They have to reinvent themselves.

This sounds like a scary situation for someone who was weaned on Nintendo games, but it doesn't have to be. Nintendo will never stop making the video games that we know and love. But it's no longer financially viable to have two separate platforms that cater to the same audience. By having the QOL alongside the 3DS, Nintendo will be able to appeal to the dyed-in-the-wool gamers and the casual populace at the same time. And we'll see traditional games such as Super Mario 3D World released only for dedicated gaming devices, while everything else comes out on the QOL platform. Everyone will win. It may be a rough transition, but I believe Nintendo's quality of life platform will greatly improve the fortunes of the Kyoto company and push the Wii U quietly into the sunset.

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Discussion

1923 comments
blazechickhen
blazechickhen

Nintendo doom speculations since the Sega Genesis, anyone still remember 'Sega do what nintendo'nt'?

Believe me Wii u is doing just fine and so are its games.


suppaphly42
suppaphly42

why is this back on the main page it was stupid writing back when it first showed up and is just ludicrous now 

gfields2020
gfields2020

Nintendo product cycle:

Mario

Mario kart

Zelda

Pokemon

Donkey kong

Super smash bro

Wash, rinse, repeat 5x.

They are GREAT GAMES. But I think they lost it with hardcore gamers after gamecube.

If I could go back in time, and ride the buzz off of Resident Evil 4, and yall know RE4 WAS EPIC due to the combat and customization, they should have partnered with capcom and kept this, Okami, and Viewtiful Joe alive (typo) and then just saavily evolved the tech and games as the times went on.

Tabarnaque
Tabarnaque

From what I hear stores get shipments of 60 Wii U per 2 weeks while they still have to finish their stocks of 20 PS4, killing the Wii U? While they are actually at the highest point with SSB and Bayonetta and Zelda coming up?

Tabarnaque
Tabarnaque

Another "NINTENDOOMED" thread.

Wait am I on one of the chans right now?

ramtracker42
ramtracker42

Man ... I was planning on getting a bundle to sit next to the PS4, now I don't know if it's worth 300$ if nintendo is planning on sinking it.

sloan7991
sloan7991

I don't know who wrote this, but they suck at research. The QOL platform only monitors sleeping habits, then gives tips and advice for people to live better based on how they move in their sleep. Duh

dmx8372
dmx8372

Hahaha! What wild speculation! The Quality of Life "Platform" is a Quality of Life Sensor that monitors a user's sleeping patterns.

scamarot
scamarot

This road that nintendo is on seems to be the same one sega travelled before they went belly up as well. Realeasing a new system every couple years is not profitable. people feel like they are getting ripped off when they invest in a system buy all the peripherals and then a new system comes out and you have to start from scratch. My thoughts are that thaey need to support this system for another five years at least while developing a new system that could surpass micrsoft and sony. 

Everyone calls this system "kiddie" or for children and nintendo seems to be agreeing with this with the type of games and peripherals it has come out with. Make your systems as powerful as you can and dont worry if its kiddie. People will decide what games they will play, not you.

tinatimemachine
tinatimemachine

Okay, all I'm seeing in these comments is complete ignorance. Nintendo is doing not so well in America!! Oh my god, must totally suck! Rather than reading totally bias articles (kinda like this one since GameSpot has pretty much claimed Nintendo is over), really look at facts. Actually the Wii U has sold more consoles than either PS4 and Xbox One. Why? Because Nintendo is more worldly than either. Japan has the offer of all three and chooses what? Nintendo. So many Nintendo games have KILLED the release of other platform games, such as animal crossing with whatever it was GTA or CoD. Literally PS4 and X1 are only prevelant in America, Canada, England, some of South America, Japan, and partially Germany. Go anywhere else and most people are like "what's an Xbox?" All I'm seeing is ignorant Xbox fan boys holding onto the fact X1 will be amazing, no sorry, it's on a lower tier than Nintendo. As for the 3DS, it's the best selling console in the WORLD. Like its doing WAY better than the original DS, walk on a small college campus and you'll easily pass 50+ (including states like Arkansas!!!) Really. Stop looking at stats for the US, and check world wide, because Nintendo still owns it. Yes, more Wii Us were sold than either PS4 or X1, and with the new N3DS (which has the comparability of a 360 in your hands, better graphics, and will support 40+ hour RPGS), like Nintendo is improving. Honestly it's only doing bad because people read articles like these and regurgitate with little research. Also, if you've actually owned one, you'll know online play doesn't suck. Like hell, I've had more problems playing with the more recent Assassins Creed online than I've ever had playing online games for Nintendo (including games like MH3U). Really, it's a great system, and it doesn't matter whether a console is great or not, what does matter is peer article reviews. Which has condemned, as we saw, the X1, because let's face it, their more recent huge price drop says it all. Also, stop complaining for a price drop, is a new gen console. The original Wii was expensive as well, and all I'm really seeing is people being like "Nintendo, just convert to a PS4 or X1", which Nintendo has already said they won't do. So stop. Don't like it, don't play, but stop posting inaccurate information on the console (as in the comments, the article had good points, this is mostly towards these ridiculous comments being completely stupid).

II_ARROWS
II_ARROWS

"Nintendo has been around for more than 100 years, and in that time they may have transitioned from manufacturing playing cards to video games, but they have always focused on entertainment"

Well, you could say that Love Hotels are "entertainment"...

DrDuncs
DrDuncs

I was going to buy the Wii U to replace the original Wii I have and that my two boys now play. I decided not to largely because I knew there would just be arguments over who got to use the gamepad.

Horndawgie
Horndawgie

The Wii U is doomed because it's a relic at a high price point. Some great game for sure- and ones I want to play- but why bother when the price point right now is more than an X1? Nintendo is stubbornly holding onto the past, which has benefited those of us who grew up with Mario, Zelda, etc. The same thinking is also dooming them to eventual demise. I hope I am wrong but the lack of any Black Friday deals are disturbing and telling. MS is the leader, Sony is in the middle and Nintendo is dead last on what they can offer consumers this holiday season. It is a reflection of their bottom line and what they can afford to lose. That's your truth, gamers.

jonb4play
jonb4play

well i wish they would hurry up and kill so they can drop that price. i refuse to pay more than $199 for this system. but i really want to play zelda.

Reagan2791
Reagan2791

I love games I grew up on such as Mario and Donkey Kong, and I would still enjoy playing those games alongside my children.  But, I'm not going to invest in a Wii U because money is tight and as much as I enjoy those games, I prefer the 3rd party titles and exclusives on my Xbox One.  Both X1 and PS4 have solid infrastructure for social and online gaming.  They both appeal to game studios and offer the latest in graphics available for consoles at a reasonable price.  They don't use gimmicky game pads that my kids would fight over which one gets to use it.  They keep the game on the television where my attention is focused.


This is what frustrates me about Nintendo.  If they produced a console that would match what the PS4 and X1 do, in terms of their social networking, appeal to 3rd party developers, storage and graphics, and then add the fact that they have some of the best franchises under their belt that appeal to families, children, and an older generation that grew up on Nintendo, they would be the one stop shop, the destination console for millions of gamers.  One place where you can have everything.  I would snap that up in a heartbeat.  But, I believe they'll continue their practices of releasing consoles that are outdone 2 yrs later, limited in support and infrastructure, and continue to try to sell the market on what they think we want, rather than what we actually want.

mjr5304
mjr5304

I will put my opinion out there as simply as this... "opportunity costs" why spent money on the Wii U when the games I want to play are on PS4 and Xbox One. Not to mention paper thin 3 rd party support. It's not that the system is bad. For me it's just why bother.

Hekteur
Hekteur

Most recent Nintendo activity is saying this article is now good for trash, whether the hater like that guy below like it or not. And let alone 3DS' success which totally owns the handheld market. Nintendo is just not leaving the console market anytime soon. 

TRMDYL
TRMDYL

Nintendo consoles need to die. I wouldn't have said this if they sticked only to their own franchises and left other games alone but throughout the years they've been responsible for decreasing the potential customers for big franchises like Resident Evil and Bayonetta by making them exclusives to their consoles. 


Nintendo should keep making their franchises for their target audience (kids and nostalgic fanboys) and just opt out of hardware altogether. 

furryalchemist
furryalchemist

I just wish nintendo would stay consistant with their core gamers. I've owned all systems up till the nintendo wii, and I have no intention of buying nintendos anymore because the only consistency is just a short list of games that although are fun (Mario platformers, zelda, etc.) Are just not enough for me to support Nintendo anymore.

I guess I miss the days of rpgs that nintendo use to be known for when it came to the solo gamers.

Tuckpoint
Tuckpoint

How's that speculative 'journalism' treatin' ya, Tom?

ecs33
ecs33

Fail article. Wii U is a perfect system for casual gaming (platformers, Zelda, etc.). Since I already own a next-gen capable PC I didn't see any reason to get a PS4 or XOne....though Silent Hills may force me to get a PS4.

CaptWaffle
CaptWaffle

I've never been a big fan of Nintendo rehashing the same 5 games over and over and over. I dunno.... i played Zelda and Mario as a little kid and regardless of what their actual content is in Mario 13 or Zelda 12..... i just have trouble forking over 300 bucks to play the same games i played when i was 5 or whatever.

swavo13
swavo13

@gfields2020

Bayonetta, shantae, shovel knight, monster hunter, sonic, kirby, splatoon, maybe later metroid, star fox is coming out, even some of the spinoffs of mario(captain toad, yoshi woolly world), xenoblade chronicles X, etc.

swavo13
swavo13

@ramtracker42


You should worry more about that ps4 of yours. Wii U is doing fine right now.

Bigjoe275
Bigjoe275

I have a PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox one, PS4. But no Wii or Wii u. Why I grew up with nintendo in my life and expected them to release a nextgen console. Obviously they didn't listen and I spent my money on Sony and Microsoft. So you and nintendo can make excuses why there system sold horrible here in the states and any other country. And nintendo will end up like sega. And that's a good thing then we all can play Zelda Donkey Kong etc on all platforms. So it's not hurting me in the slightest if nintendo doesn't want to appeal to there real fans instead of catering to the "kiddies". R.I.P Nintendo

chimpmeister
chimpmeister

@tinatimemachine What a bunch of fanboy gibberish.  You obviously have NO IDEA what you're talking about.  The Nintendo of today is all about silly gimmicks tied to cheap, feature-lacking hardware.  The Wii U has failed, shame Nintendo didn't do a better job on the design.  They only have themselves to blame.

moxxidude
moxxidude

@jonb4play Agreed. But I'm cheaper than you. I want this thing for $99. I don't care if I have to wait 6 years. I will not pay a cent more than $99 for this and I'll get the games cheap as borscht. Now if Nintendo actually did something RIGHT for a change and released a REAL system that could hold its own against MS and Sony, instead of pretending that failing miserably is their mission statement, I'd pay the cash. 

Horndawgie
Horndawgie

@jonb4play I think 199 is the correct price point that most consumers would pay now for this system. The fanboys already have theirs. They have to convince the rest of us to buy it now.

swavo13
swavo13

@Reagan2791


Good, letting your children play games well above their age. you're an amazing parent you know. Instead of teaching them to share, you're teaching them to kill!

Overglock
Overglock

@mjr5304 On those same lines though, why spend money on a PS4 and XBox One when I have a gaming PC that has the games I want to play, typically in higher quality, and can buy those games for much less than the console price? Sure, there are a small handful of future exclusives I might want to play (Silent Hills comes to mind), but as for multiplatform games, they greatly outweigh the exclusives and are nearly all available on PC.


I can't get the couch multiplayer experience on any other console or my PC the way I can on my Wii U. That's what drew me to the system initially, plus the fact that I didn't have a Wii, and since the Wii U is backwards compatible I didn't miss out on an entire generation of games.


It's all different strokes for different folks, though. No Gamespot article or internet comment section is going to change someone's mind about how to play games. I think most gamers just have to play something to determine if they like it, and I would wager that most of the Wii U haters haven't even tried playing one, they're simply picking on it because it's the "weird kid" at school.

Overglock
Overglock

@TRMDYL And I don't recall Resident Evil 5, 6, or Operation Raccoon City coming out on a Nintendo console. Hell, Revelations 2 isn't even slated for a Nintendo console, and it STARTED there.

Overglock
Overglock

@TRMDYL The only reason Bayonetta 2 was made was because Nintendo funded it. Sony and Microsoft didn't want to spend any money on it.

thegroovenic
thegroovenic

@furryalchemist


Nintendo themselves never really created those RPGS you were so fond of though.....that was them being publishers for developers like square and what not.

gfields2020
gfields2020

Hey, I am totally pc illiterate. What's a good build on a solid pc under $2000.00 that I won't have to upgrade in 2 years?

CaptWaffle
CaptWaffle

Why worry about the PS4? It's the least worrisome console at the moment.

swavo13
swavo13

@Bigjoe275 Sales nearly 8 million.

Xbox One 5 million.


Also why the hell would you get both those systems if the libraries are nearly the same? If you want to spend money, give it to charity lol.

aryoshi
aryoshi

@chimpmeister @tinatimemachine Nintendo of back in the day ALSO heavily relied on gimmicks. Just look at the Power Glove, R.O.B., the Super Scope, the ungodly (and awful) gimmicks they released throughout their years. It's one of the things they've always been known on. It isn't just the Nintendo of today. It's been Nintendo since they started making video games. Hell, gimmicks are what PUT them on the market in the first place.

Bigjoe275
Bigjoe275

With taxes that'll be $110.00

gfields2020
gfields2020

You must be a single mom, I play tons of games with my daughter on ps4 that are rated for kids like pix the cat, geometry wars 3,and child of light to name a few.... Then when she goes to bed, CODAW, Destiny, Assassin's Creed and Diablo.

Fix your console Nintendo.

swavo13
swavo13

@Overglock @mjr5304


The wii u + pc combo is the way to go. Besides those handfull of exclusives, there is no reason to buy a ps4 or x1. But that's also cause people are generally too dumb to figure out how a pc works. And the dumb pay more to gain something easier to use with worse qualities.

weegee753
weegee753

@Overglock There's a bunch of franchises that start out in one platform, and move to another.

swavo13
swavo13

@CaptWaffle


I'll admit it's doing well. But concerning it's library..it feels like an extensive paperweight. The only reason I see to get one is for either Silent hills or bloodborne.

vFlare
vFlare

@swavo13 I don't know where you get your numbers, but the Wii U has only shipped something like 7 million units as of September 2014. Shipped, not sold.


The Xbox One comes pretty closely behind considering it's been out for a year less than the Wii U. Yes, the Wii U is inarguably ahead, but it's also inarguably in an inferior position to meet future expectations. It will lag behind terribly unless something is done.


The Playstation 4 has already surpassed the Wii U in number of consoles shipped worldwide.


Source: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/10/updated-numbers-show-ps4-with-at-least-65-percent-of-two-console-market/

swavo13
swavo13

@gfields2020

 pix the cat, geometry wars 3,and child of light.


Yes cause why should I buy a zelda game, a mario game, kirby, smash, splatoon, monster hunter(you can turn of the blood), shovel knight, shantae, sonic etc. when I can play those games *Sarcasm* and child of light is even on the wii u!

gfields2020
gfields2020

Pc is not stupid, as an example, how about you tell us the price to create a decent pc rig? I think the issue with PC is actually ignorance, as most people can't even tell the difference between a Intel or amd cpu, processing power needed, power supply needed, etc... Console is just.... Easy .

swavo13
swavo13

@gfields2020

For just a decent pc? €600(mine was 700 but I went overkill)


Intel cause it's the most common, you can look at the back of a pc box to see the needed specs. Just get a high end game and build a pc to that standard(preferable above it). And it's not like there aren't pc's you can instantly go buy with everything build in for you if you're too lazy to learn the specs yourself.


Preferable I'd say an Intel 5 with around 3.0-3.4 ghz quad core(amd processors seem a bit dangerous from what i've heard), a newer generation video card(nvidea is more official but amd radeon works fine too), 8 or more gb ram and the amount of space, whatever you eant. Thjat should really confirm all the basics for you. 


Besides, there's also store personnel that can help you(?)


Once again, if you don't take a bit of time to just learn this or ask someone for help, you're lazy. The ONLY thing I'd like a ps4 or x1 for is to resell my games since they're so expensive.