Wii U 'struggling mightily' : Is it lights out for the mighty Nintendo console?

By James Dohnert , Updated Jun 08, 2013 01:28 PM EDT
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Nintendo launched the Wii U a full year before Microsoft and Sony are projected to launch their next generation consoles. The early launch date was suppose to get the device in gamer's hands early and grab Nintendo an early marketshare.

Instead, the console has failed to entice gamers. The Wii U has failed to meet sales goals. Many potentials buyers have been turned off by its tablet-esque controllers and dual screen gameplay.

In a recent note to investors, as reported by Gamespot, Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz said that the Wii U is "struggling mightily." He noted that Nintendo will not even be holding a press conference at E3 2013. The analyst said Nintendo decision proves that the prospects for the Wii U are not looking very good.

"After seven months on the market, Nintendo's Wii U is struggling mightily. We note that the company has essentially abandoned the field to Microsoft and Sony at this year's E3 as Nintendo will not be holding a press conference," said Creutz.

The company's decision sheds light on the fact that after only about seventh months the Wii U may already be old news. Nobody is really paying much attention to the console because of its lack of state-of-the-art hardware and its dearth of must-have titles. 

An attention grabber for the first Wii was its unique controls. However, while the original Wii's controllers grabbed the attention of both casual and hardcore gamers, the Wii U has left them confused. Adding to the problem is the fact that not enough games are showing off the potential of the Wii U.

The unique controls of the console require developers to create stand-alone titles that properly utilize them. Unfortunately, developers have shown disinterest in creating games for the Wii U because of failing sales.

Poor sales and a lack of developer support have left Nintendo in a Catch 22. Without enough consoles in the wild, many developers are turning their back on Nintendo.

The lack of developer support speaks to the larger issue of the Wii U not capitalizing on the gaming market early. With the Playstation 4 and Xbox One on the way, any hype around the Wii U is dying.

While things look dire, Creutz thinks Nintendo still has one big announcement to make. In his note to investors, Creutz said that Nintendo may announce a price cut to the Wii U at E3 2013.

He said that a price cut would bring some attention to the console and boost sales. Something Nintendo desperately needs with Xbox One and Playstation 4 set to launch.

"We do think there is a decent chance that Nintendo could announce a price cut for the Wii U at E3 in an effort to bring attention to the console and boost sales," Creutz said in a note to investors.

A price cut would make sense for Nintendo. By dropping the price, the Wii U could become a viable alternative to the high cost consoles like the Xbox One and Playstation 4. With rumors of the Xbox One and Playstation 4 costing upwards of $350, on top of a monthly fee, the Wii U could be a low cost alternative for gamers.

Yet, even if the Wii U is cheaper than the competition, it still needs games. Ubisoft EMEA executive director Alain Corre said the Wii U could be saved by having some must-have titles. Corre told MCV that good games makes console sales pick up.

"We've seen in the past that when more games come, the console picks up. That is what we believe will happen for Wii U. There is a place in the market for each console, and with the right games Wii U will find its public and sell in the long-term," Corre said.

With new Wii U games from Nintendo coming out starting in August, sales of the console may jump. While the console won't have much third-party support, its first-party line-up may get the job done. The first-party games may even ignite the gaming community, causing third party developers to jump on the bandwagon.

Nintendo consoles will always be the counter-programming to the competition. A price cut and new games on the horizon mean that the Wii U isn't dead yet. While some may want to write off the device, it's just too early to call it dead. Nintendo still has enough time to prove it belongs in the upcoming generation of consoles. 

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