ONE YEAR AGO, THE WII U LAUNCHED.
It had a successful worldwide launch, selling 3 million units in essentially one month, and with a launch lineup that was generally well rounded and represented a full range of genres.
However, problems began to seep in almost immediately: the OS had problems at launch, causing console lock ups, freezes, and crashes; the much touted Wii backwards compatibility was a patchworked, sandboxed mess; the UI was so slow it often took 20-30 seconds to respond; functionality was missing at launch (such as Nintendo TVii); there was little to no marketing and mainstream visibility, and brand confusion right off the bat; and though the launch lineup was fine, the games slate beyond looked a bit dire.
In the year since, the Wii U has sold a grand total of 860,000 units worldwide. It's been one of the most visible and high profile mainstream bombs, with absolutely no marketing, third party support being pulled, third party publishers being openly contemptuous of the platform, games being canceled, and Nintendo's own games suffering major delays (with the ones that do release being high profile flops), leading to one of the longest droughts in console gaming history.
The Wii U, now one year old, has had a rough year. Where does it stand today?
- The Wii U now retails for $299 for one SKU, the 32GB 'Deluxe' model. One year ago, it retailed with two SKUs, the $299 8GB Basic Set, and the $349 32GB Deluxe.
- Wii U sales have been tepid, but they have seen some positive response variously since the Wii U price cut, and the release of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.
- Wii U marketing still leaves a lot to be desired, but Nintendo has been kicking up the ads on the eve of the launch of Super Mario 3D World, advertising the console heavily to families, and billing it clearly as an upgrade.
- The Wii U OS has seen general improvements: major features like Folders are still missing, but functionality like TVii is now integrated into the system, Miiverse has been heavily expanded, the eShop has been unified with the 3DS eShop, and overall, UI navigation is a lot more responsive, just taking 2-3 seconds to respond, which is a much more acceptable tenth of where it used to be.
- Nintendo is still screwing up the Virtual Console: releases are rare, and only the NES and SNES are represented, for some reason.
- Over the last one year, the Wii U has steadily built itself a nice library: major multiplats like Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Skylanders: Swap Force, Skylanders: Giants, Disney Infinity, Assassin's Creed III, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Rayman Legends, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Batman: Arkham Origins, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Batman: Arkham City, FIFA 13, Madden NFL 13, NBA 2K13, PES 13, Mass Effect 3, and Need for Speed: Most Wanted are all available on the platform, in addition to great exclusives like New Super Mario Bros. U, New Super Luigi U, Lego City Undercover, ZombiU, Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and Super Mario 3D World. The exclusive lineup in 2014 looks great as well, although third party support looks like it might be drying up.
- There is still a very small community of online gaming on the console: Nintendo needs to address this immediately.
One year since the Wii U, what do you think of its first year on the market? Where do you think the console is going? Have you bought one? What do you think of it? Will you buy one if you haven't gotten one? Do you think Nintendo will be able to keep the platform relevant going forward?