Nintendo’s Wii U console is a pretty good piece of gaming hardware with a few technical hiccups, but tons of innovation potential. The problem, though, is two-fold: not that many people bought the system, and there aren’t that many exciting, must-have games that have been released for it. Those two issues feed each other…no one’s going to buy a system without games, and no publishers are going to release games if no one buys the system. The catch-22 is pretty familiar in the video game industry, but it’s always worth watching the ways console-makers try to find their way out.
According to a post on CVG, Nintendo has been talking with retailers about its plans for the Wii U in the second half of 2013, partly as a way to assuage their fears that the console isn’t getting enough support from the top. The post cites one source, who says Nintendo is holding back big game releases like Pikmin 3 and Platinum Games’ The Wonderful 101 in order to jam-pack the second half of 2013—another source, however, denies the hold-back is intentional.
Regardless of whether or not the delays were done intentionally, they happened, and now the second part of 2013 may wind up helping to boost the Wii U’s credibility in the eyes of retailers, and—hopefully—their customers. On the list for release are the aforementioned Pikmin and Wonderful 101, but a new 3D Mario title is set for an October release. This jibes with earlier statements Nintendo’s made about a forthcoming Mario game, though the October time-frame is a newly specific detail. A new Mario Kart—set to be unveiled at E3 next month—is also scheduled for a late-2013 release.
While a Wii U resurgence may feel kind of hard to believe, never underestimate the power of Mario. When the 3DS was foundering, a deep price cut suddenly got people talking and buying the handheld. Then, when Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land came out, people started buying them in droves, making it the success Nintendo had hoped it would be.
It’s possible that, in the face of more expensive next-gen competition from Microsoft and Sony, late-2013 could belong to Nintendo. The Wii U will already have a decent lineup of software from the previous year, not to mention whatever higher profile games Nintendo’s been holding back. Compared to the Next-Box and PS4 (with the former rumored to be not backwards compatible with old Xbox games, and the latter confirmed as such), the Wii U and the entire library of Wii games may seem like a steal to parents looking to get their kids something this holiday.
Now, that’s an optimistic view—one that’s certainly not being shared by retailers in the UK. Yesterday, reports came through that Asda had cut the price of the Wii U console by £50. Like clockwork, the retailer’s competitors have followed suit, according to an update on Eurogamer. Amazon UK and Base.com have both dropped the prices of the Wii U Basic console to £150, while Base.com also lowered the deluxe model’s price by £50 as well.
It seems doubtful that those stores will be swayed by Nintendo’s plans for late-2013, since the price of the system has now been cut by a total of £100 in less than a year since its release.