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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2171 comments
yurikoma
yurikoma

People seem to forget that the wii u came out around the same time as PS3 and Xbox360. The reason for its unpopularity wa mainly due to the fact that there were no decent games released for it untill late last year.

With the ps4 and xbox1 now out, it is easy to see why Nintendo want to get their next gen on the shelves.

xantufrog
xantufrog moderator

My thoughts: every console has a life expectancy. Nintendo doesn't typically go in for a 10-year plan, so... If we keep posting doom-and-gloom about the Wii U every 6 months or so, eventually enough time will have gone by that a new console will be announced and thereby our prophesies will gain the illusion of truth :-P

TheLeftHandDoom
TheLeftHandDoom

I think it's pretty obvious that Nintendo is developing a sexbot.

binarylad
binarylad

"The Great Nintendo Conspiracy"

elessarGObonzo
elessarGObonzo

an awesome idea like the Powerglove, or the Virtual Boy?

toecutter00
toecutter00

Nintendo could have turned things around this holiday season with a price cut. They had finally had some decent games, the system has been out for a while now; it was the perfect time. But they did nothing and nothing was the result. MS cut their prices and it did wonders for them.  The original Wii sold well because it was the cheapest console on the market. Nintendo needs new leadership because it's one thing to "drop the ball", but there was no effort to dig themselves out of the very big hole they made for themselves. And again, compare that to MS, who arguably had the worst console launch in history, have been aggressive in their efforts to get back on track (to mixed success).

williaint
williaint

Even a (almost) year ago this article was plagued with erroneous facts.

nothingformoney
nothingformoney

Why are you promoting this year old article again, GS?

zeldafan195
zeldafan195

No one should let this article at all influence their view about the Wii U. This article is propaganda and lies. The QOL platform isn't even a gaming system, and Nintendo has said that themselves. It's going to be in a completely different market.

And I have no clue why he's comparing the Wii U to the GBA getting replaced by the DS. The GBA was a very successful system. It sold over 80 million copies. The DS came out 5 years after it, so it was simply a new generation for portables. It didn't replace it due to poor sales. It replaced it because it was a new generation. The N64 came out 5 years after the SNES. They weren't abandoning the SNES because of poor sales. They were just moving to a new gen. Same thing will happen with the Wii U. They'll probably release its succesor 3-5 years from now. They'll simply be moving on to a new generation.

sonicblast19
sonicblast19

Another shitty article written by a shitty journalist,PATHETIC.

Subterfuge71
Subterfuge71

Just release a damn console with regular non-quirky controllers, and people will buy it.

hermitkiller
hermitkiller

Don't worry my fellow gamers. 

Wii U emulator will keep the flame burning bright.

Only wussies buy consoles.

sasami_adachi
sasami_adachi

Nostalgia rules. This rule seems to apply to articles as well. ;)

spazicle
spazicle

Um, this was first posted almost a year ago. Why is this back up on the front page now?

Metallicwolf29
Metallicwolf29

This. Article. Won't. Die.

Just like the wii u :)

Alex4789123
Alex4789123

I guess Eddie wasn't around today to post some click bait article, so they just dug up this irrelevant piece. Good job Gamespot.

djezhel619
djezhel619

Seems like fanboyism @ gamespot is real, out to kill Nintendo I see. By bringing up this old article over and over. 

rjphllps7
rjphllps7

I would love to see them actually improve to a system that I could get Zelda at Assassin's Creed graphics, Mario Kart at need for speed graphics, or even the wii sports at EA style graphics would be the only reason I would invest in another Nintendo console. Join the future Nintendo, you were awesome and great once and now your always in 3rd place

griess543
griess543

The worst article I have ever read. This should have been posted as fiction. He goes on and on about how Nintendo will for sure kill off the Wii U after they release this QOL console. The link on "entirely separate from their gaming ventures" leads to an article that tells us that "Iwata announced the company’s big plans to create a third platform to complement the Wii U and 3DS." Iwata never said anywhere that  they were planning on replacing the Wii U with this QOL console or whatever it is. What even makes him think they will kill off the Wii U. The Wii U has currently sold 7 million consoles. If Nintendo just stopped making games just two years after the release, a lot of people who spent $250- $300 on this new console will be very angry with Nintendo, and they will end up losing even more support for their company. From what I heard, when Mario Kart 8 launched, Wii U sales skyrocketed. I assume that since Super Smash Bros was released, sales rose again. I've even heard that Nintendo is even working on a Pikmin 4 for the Wii U since Pikmin 3 was so popular. Even here on Gamespot, the president of the company in August said that the Wii U could still be a hit. 


The main problem with the Wii U is the machine is not powerful enough to play many of the new games being released by third parties. That is why so many don't support the Wii U. Today people love games with great graphics, so most play third party games on Xbox One or PS4, so companies make all of their games for the Xbox One and PS4. I don't get at all the love for great graphics in video games. I think that if a game is fun, who cares how great the graphics are. I would still play CoD Ghosts on Wii U even though the graphics may not be so hot on the Wii U. The game is still fun regardless of the graphics. Super Mario 64 is still a fun game today, even though the graphics are terrible compared to the games we have today. If only so many people did not misunderstand the Wii U, it would be far more popular.


He says that the Wii U GamePad was ill-advised. The GamePad is also completely misunderstood by most. I believe the GamePad was an excellent idea. I just bought a Wii U over Christmas, and I can already see the potential for having two  screens for games. In Nintendo Land, the GamePad is used in many multiplayer games in one-verse-all style minigames. In Mario Chase, one controls Mario with the GamePad while the others control Toads in a search to find and catch Mario. Also in Pikmin 3, the touch screen of the GamePad makes it very simple to control what you are aiming at in the game, instead of having to change what you are aiming at with the joystick. It's a shame Nintendo hasn't put it to good use in many of their other titles. The GamePad has lots of potential, and third parties should consider putting the GamePad to good use in some of their titles. If there was not so much emphasis put on graphics today and third parties actual made games for the Wii U the Wii U would be selling much better.

bjsampson
bjsampson

I was going to go out and buy a Wii U tomorrow but I guess I'll wait.

joshrmeyer
joshrmeyer

A 10 month old article is "recent". Com'n I need some new news!

btroof
btroof

burn this f*c*ing article already... I didn't agree with it 9 months ago and now It really don't make sense. 

triforce616
triforce616

Imo it wasn't Nintendo spreading itself too thin between the 3DS and the Wii U that caused the Wii U to be such a failure, it was Nintendo's "shooting themselves in the foot", so to speak, with a series of bad decisions regarding it. First of all, they rushed the console out before they had games developed that could utilize more than one gamepad, and without sufficient third-party software. Imo the gamepad situation was much more costly than the lack of third party software. The fact that the Wii U comes packaged with only one gamepad (although consoles packaged with only a single controller is a problem that is common to all systems on the market as of late), and additional gamepads cannot be purchased separately, in addition to the fact that there are no games supporting more than one gamepad, is a very serious issue. Currently, when playing multiplayer games, only one player uses a gamepad, while the others use the old Wii remote and nunchuck (Although the apparent industry-wide trend of slowly killing off the cherished tradition of the split-screen multiplayer in favor of online multiplayers, causing games to suffer from the same problems computer games faced in the era before widespread use of laptops, may be partly to blame for this). Imagine what it would have been like if the N64 had only allowed one player to use the three-pronged, control stick-featuring controller we all know and love, and in multiplayer games the other players had to use SNES controllers. That's what it's like with the Wii U. In fact, if I remember correctly, early commercials for the Wii U showed not only every player using a gamepad, but a feature where someone could be playing a game on the console, and then, if they had to go somewhere, take it with them on the gamepad and continue playing on the go, using the gamepad like a handheld system. I'm not certain, but I think the main reason these features never saw the light of day was because Nintendo rushed the console out for fear of taking a long time developing it, which seems to be all too common these days. It's especially sad because Nintendo themselves proved just ten years earlier that a lengthy development period does not automatically hurt a console, and in fact can do just the opposite. The N64 was originally supposed to debut in 1995, but development was delayed and it didn't actually get released for another 2 years. When it did finally get released, it was a smash hit, and remains to this day one of the greatest consoles of all time.

One other thing I want to point out is that imo the Nintendo's decision to focus more on casual gamers and on people who wouldn't normally play games with the Wii and DS, which the author of this article praised, was actually more of a bad thing. Back when the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 were the big new consoles, I remember a lot of my friends saying that the reason they liked the other two more than the Wii was because, in addition to better hardware, the PS3 and 360 had more games of the traditional, button-pressing type, which put more emphasis on story and on graphics and such than on gimmicks like motion controls and fitness programs. I can testify from experience that having to swing the Wii remote around just to attack in Marvel Ultimate Alliance got boring, not to mention tiring, rather quickly. Imo what Nintendo should have done, and needs to do again if they are ever to regain their former glory, is to focus less on creative gimmicks and more on taking the time to develop a quality console with hardware at the same level as the competition, and with plenty of good old button-mashing style video games.

This isn't coming another stubborn "old fart" who doesn't like change in general either. I consider myself very liberal, a hippie in fact, not to mention I'm only in my early 20s. It's just that in some cases, such as this, I believe that, rather than go in a new direction just for the sake of change, it's better to follow that old maxim, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Ice-Cube
Ice-Cube

The hell is Gamespot doing bumping up old articles to populate their slow news feed?

BLKCrystilMage
BLKCrystilMage

As someone who was a diehard Nintendo supporter during the GCN/PS2/Xbox years, it's weird to think of Nintendo potentially having to resort to such desperate measures. Then I remember, E3 2007, and I know that the Nintendo I grew up with has been dead for a long time.

hover389
hover389

why is a article from 9 months ago at the top of the home page on gamespot?

monoderaza1
monoderaza1

Gamespot, what if you kill this silly article, after all you killed the guy who wrote it.

steaminpotatoes
steaminpotatoes

3DS XL worth it ? Smash Bros is smashing my thumbs after extended gameplay :(

nicholasbbyrd
nicholasbbyrd

@yurikoma Uh, sorry but you are WAY, WAY off. Unless you meant the PS4 and the XBox One.

The launch dates were nearly six and seven years apart!
The PS3 was released on November 17, 2006 in NA/EU
The XBox 360 was released on November 22, 2005, nearly a year earlier, in NA/EU
The Wii U was launched November 18, 2012 in NA, again, six years and a day after the PS3.

Maybe you meant the PS4 and Xbox One launches...they were quite a bit closer?
See, either way, the Wii U was launched as part of the 8th generation of consoles with the PS4/XB1. The original Wii was a 7th generation console meant to compete with the PS3 and XBOX 360. Frankly the Wii U was a "Wii Update" A jump to 1080p and the new tablet controller were the selling points, that was pretty much it.


Now don't get me wrong, I have been a gamer from the beginning, and no I don't think graphical computing power is everything. Super Mario Galaxy for the sorely underpowered Wii, for example, was awesome! Still, a system needs to be capable of being relevant, non native porting attempts on the Wii U have had huge setbacks and largely been failures. I know that this author is speculating a new "Pillar" type of approach with a "quality of life" centric mindset, I am personally hoping for a brand new Nintendo branded console with a solid online system as good as PSN/Xbox-Live and a breathtaking amount of a capability. I would love to see a console on par with the PS4's hardware and a refocusing on building a powerhouse system and a full, optional, monthly subscription service giving the player access to every single first party Nintendo release since the NES itself instead of selling virtual console games, just open the library up. 978 NES rom files for a PC emulator only clock in at 220MB, thats a start right there.

Now I know you can't do them all, and so, so many wouldn't be first party licensed Nintendo games. But a true open access to the Nintendo Classics up to the N64 and a modular controller that could actually add on a cradle to the "classic controller" giving you the central analog stick and z buttons and two additional face buttons to give you the full N64 layout. That would a hell of a way to kick it all off, enter a new era, and encapsulate the old without having to constantly rebuy everything, Virtual Console could become "Nintendo Legacy" and make sure to include all the handhelds prior to touchscreens, or have them too if they insist on leading with touch and motion again. I know they love it, but I wish they would have a handheld clamshell style tablet with HDMI wireless out and both it and the console would be upgradable by the user, hell even in the N64 was! That is my pipe dream for Nintendo, watch em flush it.

hakesterman
hakesterman

@toecutter00 I agree, the president of Nintendo Minoru Arakawa must be fired in order to turn Nintendo around, he has been a complete failure.

xantufrog
xantufrog moderator

@toecutter00 I too was surprised that there was no clear price-cut - it could have given the sales a big boost

jasspur
jasspur

@hermitkiller We play on consoles, because there are less hackers and bloat software necessary for game installations. A high number of PC games aren't even monitored for hackers, so their online elements are broken. Emulators have their own issues, and can be a headache if you have to keep switching plugins to get the audio or video to function properly. Less of you're friends are likely to play on PC than console as well, because they're pricey to build and even pricier to buy.

zeldafan195
zeldafan195

@rjphllps7 Actually they are in 1st place right now. The 3DS has more sales than all the other consoles combined.

chronomakers
chronomakers

@griess543 This article is dated March, 9 2014. Before both Mario Kart 8 and Smash.

No idea why Gamespot is releasing this article now.


djezhel619
djezhel619

@bjsampson Dont believe this article, these punks from gamespot are Sony and Microsoft fanboys

zeldafan195
zeldafan195

@BLKCrystilMage What desperate measures are you talking about? They have billions in the bank. They're now profiting again, despite the low sales. If anything, the Wii U is a lot more similar to the Gamecube than the Wii. So I have no clue what you're talking about.

rushiosan
rushiosan

@steaminpotatoes 3DS XL is basically the best portable system of this gen, and even a strong competitor to home consoles and smartphones. Mine is my #1 game system with over 1000 hours of gameplay in 2014. Take a look on the game library and make your decision. I'd say you can't go wrong with it.

77injection77
77injection77

@zeldafan195 @BLKCrystilMage The Wii-U has sold around 6 million this year, 2 million more than nintendo estimated themselves, and 500,000 more than their original estimate in 2012. People wondering about bank, Nintendo has more money than every division of sony combined... They are the biggest Japanese company that previously (last year) owned 60% of the japanese market. Even last year in their poorest year ever on record they made millions of dollars.

Despite what many media outlets are letting people believe, Nintendo has never had a year of loss, EVER. The Wii-U has still sold around 9 million in 2 years (3.3 and 5.7 million per year) and since this year the Wii-U has experienced a huge popularity boost in western countries its likely that the wii-U will sell ever better next year, I'd estimate 7-8 million.

zeldafan195
zeldafan195

@BLKCrystilMage @zeldafan195 I've read the article, and it makes no sense. Why the hell would they be focusing so much on it and be announcing games like Zelda, Star Fox, Splatoon, Yoshi's Wooley World, Xenoblade X, and others, if they were trying to "quietly" kill it?

If that were the case, they'd do what Sony did with the Vita, and stop supporting it, and try to draw the attention away from it. Instead, they've been adding more support to it, and supporting the 3DS less. If they wanted to kill it, they'd be making all these games for the 3DS, and be focusing on that to draw the attention away from the Wii U.