The Fall of Nintendo:
I've always said "the Wii is a gimmick—an insanely successful gimmick—but a gimmick nonetheless". Motion sensing technology can be fun but is much more of a sideshow attraction than a main event and is no way the future of gaming that Nintendo (Or Microsoft and their Kinect) thinks it is. Besides, making a console focused on motion sensing is doomed to be second rate—especially when you can't even do it right. Now I don't want to go into the details of how Nintendo is only using the x or y axis and not fully utilizing the z (Why a flick of the wrist registers the same as a full baseball swing) and I understand how successful the Wii has been, but rather, I want to focus on why the Wii was so insanely successful and why the Wii-U will fail.
When the Wii-U was announced all I could think of was, "Oh wow—this is going to be as bad as the Virtual Boy was all over again." Let me explain: The Virtual Boy was like the stock market crash of fails for Nintendo. The idea wasn't just bad—it wasn't practical, tested, or properly developed and came at a time when Nintendo considered themselves the Titantic of ships in the gaming world—unsinkable. The Virtual Boy failed for many reasons, (poor design, health issues, and limited games among others) and not only bent the rules of console creation but outright broke them. The Virtual Boy took everything Nintendo had done right over the past few years of success and threw it out the window. It was too much at once, not thoroughly tested, and was discontinued the following year after its release. In short, it was a complete and utter failure.
3D Graphics and Headaches Included
Jump ahead to just after the GameCube era when Nintendo was in dire need of a blowout hit to avoid going the way of Sega. Something had to be done—something innovative—or Nintendo would surely disappear forever from the console race. They were desperate, unable to compete with Microsoft or Sony, and the time to sink or swim was upon them. As the sun began to set on the Nintendo Empire, the brilliant minds of my favorite childhood system rallied, created the Wii, and saved the day while altering the future of video games forever. Without the Wii (and its success), I highly doubt the PS Move or Xbox Kinect would have ever seen the light of day. Nintendo took a gamble, placed all their chips down on one spin of the roulette, and won big time.
The Wii was a massive success because it did what no system had done since the original NES: It brought casual gamers to the table in masses and put the "family" back in the family room. It was affordable, the controls were simple, the games were harmless, motion controls were innovative and fun, and the Wii was something new and exciting for all ages. Though Nintendo lost some of their hardcore fans due to the gimmicky and broken controls (flicking your wrist to hit a home run, box, or dance?), they still hit a grand slam in sales and paved the way for the Wii-U.
Why Nintendo will Fail:
The Wii was successful because it appealed to non-gamers and casual gamers, was innovative and new, inexpensive and approachable, and was very family friendly. The Wii-U however, takes the original Wii's formula for success and egotistically flushes it down the toilet.
Sporting an obese, bulky, and undoubtedly heavy touchscreen controller as one of the major console selling points is as interesting as it is ambitious. It doesn't look cheap, probably isn't durable, and may be too heavy for a young child to play with for long. Aside from the issues of the controller itself, Nintendo has announced that there will only be one controller per console. No, the system doesn't come with just one controller—it only uses one controller (tablet). You're stuck with one Wii-U monster/sumo/levitation controller—and that's it. Period. How's that for family friendly?! On the bright side, Nintendo has announced that you'll be allowed to use the Nintendo 3DS as another controller (marketing at its finest), as well as the traditional nunchuk controllers but only one Wii-U controller can be used at a time. I guess your kids will finally learn to share—or your living room will transform into a UFC fight pit every time someone hits the power button.
My forearms are burning!
Though a very limited amount has been said about the Wii-U's motion control, I can't help but wonder how Nintendo plans on implementing it. I can't imagine Nintendo requiring you to lug that controller around or swing it like a tennis racket unless they actually want you to get the workout that the Wii-fit only promised? With motion controls being the central focus of the original Wii I'd imagine Nintendo wouldn't bypass incorporating it into the Wii-U—but with the way they're going I wouldn't be surprised.
When it comes to the Wii-U's affordability, Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, said in a recent interview with Nikkei Business Daily that the Wii U would likely be priced at more than $250 (The original price of the Wii at launch). Nintendo has yet to announce an official price and probably for good reason considering their stock value dropped over 5% immediately following the announcement of the Wii-U at E3, dropped another 4% the following day, and the Wii-U doesn't look cheap at all. An expensive console, especially when the economy is still on the rebound, isn't a sound investment and is exactly the opposite game plan Nintendo had with the Wii. No wonder stock holders are pulling out in masses.
On another note, Nintendo seems adamant to express their "Mature" 3rd party developer support in a bid to attract the attention of hardcore fans. Though the idea of broadening your fan base isn't a bad one, I do feel that Nintendo is going about it in the wrong direction with the way they're marketing the system. By heavily touting "mature" games, Nintendo is alienating the very fans that made the original Wii such a success. The Wii was bought by parents for younger children and marketing to the wrong geography will result in a decline of sales. The Wii, after all, was made famous by blogging moms—not game crazed teenagers.
As for being innovative the only thing the Wii-U has going for it so far is a touchscreen built into the controller. Touchscreen technology isn't exactly new, hardly breakthrough, and is far better suited to handhelds and cellphones than a console based system.
Finally, the Wii-U will be graphically inferior to its competition. Now wait, wait, wait—I know that Nintendo has announced that the Wii-U will graphically be better than the Ps3 but only barely. My point, however, is we're quickly approaching the end of this generation of consoles and when Sony and Microsoft release their console sequels to the Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3—Nintendo will be behind—badly. Now I hesitate to bring this point up because it's not entirely critical. The Wii was the same way graphically but still managed to sell ridiculous amounts of units though their appeal was directed towards casual gamers. With the Wii-U, Nintendo is obsessed with bringing back their hardcore fans but are lacking the graphical appeal (compared to the upcoming generation), and can only hope to have a limited allure in the short timeframe they'll have before the next lineup of consoles are released.
The Wii-U will be expensive, graphically outdated, lacking in appeal to hardcore gamers, and too far of a stretch for its already established family-oriented fan base. Nintendo is trying to be too much to too many people and the Wii-U will suffer from it. Stockholders are weary, fans are divided, and only a true fan-boy would have the nerve to outright support the Wii-U in its current state. While the Wii-U won't sink Nintendo, unless they get their priorities straight, a successful business plan finalized, and recognize who their fans and market are—it could spell the beginning of the end.