Nintendo Boss Says That High Price Point, Tablets Led to Wii U's Struggles

The Wii U got to the tablet party a few years too late.

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Nintendo's Wii U system has struggled to keep up with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It has sold 9.5 million units as of May since its launch in late 2012, in contrast to the PS4's 22.3 million since late 2013. Nintendo executive and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto believes that its lackluster commercial performance is due to its cost and its launch environment.

In an interview with NPR, Miyamoto explained that the Wii U's price was probably too high to be attractive to consumers. Launching at $300 for the basic set and $350 for the option with more storage, the Wii U was not much cheaper than its more powerful competitor, the PS4. "So unfortunately with our latest system, the Wii U, the price point was one that ended up getting a little higher than we wanted," he said. "But what we are always striving to do is to find a way to take novel technology that we can take and offer it to people at a price that everybody can afford."

Super Mario Maker will let you build Mario levels.
Super Mario Maker will let you build Mario levels.

He went on to describe how Nintendo attempted to push tablet technology forward with the Wii U's gamepad, but ultimately released the console too late to take advantage of the popularity of tablets. The company positioned the gamepad as the console's selling point prior to launch, and it was supposed to accompany games as a second-screen companion. Nintendo, however, didn't anticipate the proliferation of tablet technology.

"I think unfortunately what ended up happening was that tablets themselves appeared in the marketplace and evolved very, very rapidly," Miyamoto explained. " The uniqueness of [the Wii U's tablet] features were perhaps not as strong as they were when we had first begun developing them."

Miyamoto also went into depth about how he came up with the concepts for Mario and The Legend of Zelda. He was heavily inspired by his childhood experiences, and he drew from European comics to make the iconic plumber. Further, intuitions about human psychology led him to make the original platforming games. You can read the whole interview at NPR.

Even though it is selling slowly, the Wii U is getting some big games in the coming year. Super Mario Maker will let you build your own Mario levels, and, at E3 2015, Nintendo showed off the upcoming Star Fox Zero game for the system. Additionally, Yoshi's Woolly World, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival, and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash are coming to the Wii U.

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