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After the failure of Wii U, Reggie says Switch was a "make or break product" for Nintendo

Do or die

The Wii U was one of Nintendo's biggest missteps. The platform failed to find an audience, which led to a colossal drop in fortunes for Nintendo following the heights of the Wii and DS. Everyone knows Nintendo was in a bad position, especially Reggie Fils-Aime.

In a New York Gaming Awards Twitch stream, Reggie opened up about the slow Wii U sales and resounding success of the Switch. Reggie shares just how important that Switch breakthrough was for the Big N, which you can read below.

"You know, Nintendo has done so many innovations in the space... I think what Nintendo did with the Switch, after the poor performance of Wii U, I think to me and what I was part of, that's my lasting memory."

"People forget, when the Wii U launched, the performance over that life cycle was so poor, I mean it was the worst-selling platform, I think maybe Virtual Boy was a little bit worse, but Wii U underperformed pretty radically in the marketplace."

"And when your only business is video games that next had to be successful and the Switch continues to be a dynamic platform - selling exceptionally well. And the ability for the company to come up with the concept, to bring it to life, to bring it to the marketplace, to have not only great first-party content but great third party and independent developer content - that is going to be something I will always be proud of."

"Along with so many of the other things I was part of, but the Switch really was a make or break product for the company and luckily it was a hit."

Categories: Top Stories, Consoles
Tags: wii-u, switch

Comments

Top Rated Comment
bakfug
Sat Jan 30 21 03:07pm
Rating: 3

Maybe its time to take a break from video games and relax my dude. The Wii U isnt some diamond in the rough you need to keep defending now that its long dead, especially with the amount of worthwhile games not ported to Switch being countable on one hand, and it failed for easily identifiable reasons.

The branding was god awful. I was working part time at a game store when it launched and on and off through its lifetime, so i saw firsthand how unknown it was to the public. People still have no idea its a different system and not just a controller for the Wii. The marketing was almost non-existent to rectify the mistake. The release schedule throughout its life was abysmal. The controller screen wasn't utilized in any interesting or way to justify the price. The list goes on.

Sure, Nintendo philosophy generally is at odds with industry trends, but Wii and Switch both how they can find success with an unorthodox approach. But thats because those systems had clear passion and effort behind them, whereas Wii U reeked of complacency and status quo for their waning Wii brand. No amount of gamer bros or PS4 or any of the tenuously related things you are ranting about change the fact that Nintendo had no strategy for the system having a poor start and let it snowball into obscurity and failure.

socar
Sat Jan 30 21 12:46pm
Rating: 1

I can't say much about the Wii U since I don't own one. But I can tell that the Wii U is some hidden gem console that had potential..but just wasn't realized.

Good thing the Switch improved Wii U's original concept.

fylo
Sat Jan 30 21 01:03pm
Rating: 1

It was ill conceived, mainly because it felt old before it released compared to next gen. But also didn't had third party support and Nintendo couldn't deliver their games as fast as they hoped they would.

I personally don't dislike the controller, is more comfortable than it looks (and more durable than the joycons). But it was more integral system wise than game wise if you catch my drift.

IMO on hindsight as it is the Wii U mainly needed to be a bit more powerful and more importantly be easy to develop, since it was still using a programming architecture Nintendo had be using since the Gamecube era. So by that time most developers found it more cumbersome to develop since other consoles were more similar to PC programming. (From what I understand).

Yepp! Actually, the Wii U, with the Gamepad of course, has so much untapped potential that if I win the lottery I'll get agreat team together and make a WiiU exclusive that really uses all it's bells and whistles =)

If I remember correctly there was little to no advertising not only for the Wii U itself, but the games themselves. I barely even remember any advertising for Nintendos own big releases.

One of the biggest mistakes Nintendo did imo regardless what anyone thinks of the game was with Devils Third. They paid to get the game made, but later let it die by the wayside. No advertising. Heck those Digital Release Blurbs (can't remember the official name) that they did had it under "other releases" instead of an actual top mention like their other own published games. Then they didn't even set up a proper online review session for publications and finally they printed such little physical copies and to make it worse it was GameStop exclusive.

I remember even someone pointing our Sony and Microsoft (I think it was mostly Sony at the time tho) were making their own ads for 3rd party games, but Nintendo wasn't. For a company hurting for 3rd party support they really didn't seem to care whether they sold well...

Don't get me wrong I love the Wii U. In fact it has some of my most favorite games, but they kept dropping that soap and wondering why the soap kept slipping from their hands...

vinlauria
Sat Jan 30 21 01:49pm
Rating: 1 (Updated 2 times)

It never should have performed poorly in the first place. I blame the gamer demographic for refusing to accept it because they still had a hard-on against the original Wii. If it weren't for their grudge against the "soccer moms and grannies", we'd be looking at a very different industry landscape right now and I place the blame entirely on gamers for the poor shape of the industry overall these days, but they never even gave the thing a chance because it was too much of a threat to their egos.

vinlauria
Sat Jan 30 21 02:15pm
(Updated 4 times)

God, it infuriates me that the system is seen as nothing but a dark spot on Nintendo's history and a mistake only to be corrected and then forgotten. And Switch for all is its financial success is just the product of a creatively neutered Nintendo running scared.

This goddamn industry and these idiot gamers, they wouldn't know true potential if it hit them in the face. Just circlejerking over dull, generic rehashes of a console like the PS4 because of one dank meme video back in 2013 and their "#GamersRiseUp" compulsion to prove how superior gamers are to everyone else. If it's not garbage like this, it's eSports and VR transhumanism. What a wretched subculture. The actual medium of video games is too good for them.

This isn't how any of this was supposed to go.

How is the Switch a product of a creatively neutered Nintendo compared to the Wii U? I loved my Wii U and the games it had, but it was such a boring piece of hardware, with an awful and slow user interface, and a controller that didn’t need to be a second screen.
It was like they tried to make it a DS/3DS but it doesn’t work when the screens are significantly further apart. The only thing it worked for, and it was just a convenience thing, was for game maps or inventory management.
There was very little creative or unique about the Wii U. Hell, the name was the most creatively bankrupt thing Nintendo has ever done.

I dunno what the second half of your post is on about. Seems like a rant about some personal issues tbh.

bakfug
Sat Jan 30 21 03:07pm
Rating: 3

Maybe its time to take a break from video games and relax my dude. The Wii U isnt some diamond in the rough you need to keep defending now that its long dead, especially with the amount of worthwhile games not ported to Switch being countable on one hand, and it failed for easily identifiable reasons.

The branding was god awful. I was working part time at a game store when it launched and on and off through its lifetime, so i saw firsthand how unknown it was to the public. People still have no idea its a different system and not just a controller for the Wii. The marketing was almost non-existent to rectify the mistake. The release schedule throughout its life was abysmal. The controller screen wasn't utilized in any interesting or way to justify the price. The list goes on.

Sure, Nintendo philosophy generally is at odds with industry trends, but Wii and Switch both how they can find success with an unorthodox approach. But thats because those systems had clear passion and effort behind them, whereas Wii U reeked of complacency and status quo for their waning Wii brand. No amount of gamer bros or PS4 or any of the tenuously related things you are ranting about change the fact that Nintendo had no strategy for the system having a poor start and let it snowball into obscurity and failure.

mereel
Sat Jan 30 21 06:07pm
Rating: 2

People still have no idea its a different system and not just a controller for the Wii

Here’s the money quote. No one understood what it was. I don’t think the Wii U’s failure is indicative of Nintendo’s unpopularity or anything like that. Nintendo is still a great company whose products are appealing to families and children, women, etc (non-typical gamers). And their fan base (people like us on GoNintendo) are fiercely loyal to them.

The Wii U was just a confusing product mostly. All the rest of its problems were just downstream consequences of that product confusion. Mostly I agree with the earlier commenter about how wretched gamer tastes are in this industry. But there’s still plenty of room for Nintendo-like products, thankfully.

Two flops in a row would have indeed been disastrous for Nintendo’s reputation. Hopefully they learned that launching a system around a specific gimmick is only a good idea if it’s a damn good gimmick. You could tell from the initial announcement of the Wii U that the only thing people were excited about was that Twilight Princess tech demo, and it wasn’t even a real product.

The danger now is that they rest on their laurels too long, as now they only have the one product. It’s 4 years old, selling well, but technology wise could do better. I’m sure if they released a *new* Switch that was backwards compatible same as Gameboy Color or 3DS was, in that all games still work but are enhanced for new console.

It would be a huge fumble if the next system is not backwards compatible with both physical game carts and digital purchases. Any iteration of the Switch will undoubtably be backwards comparable but I’m talking about the true next system.

Nintendo being Nintendo, I don’t think the Switch games would be in any way enhanced other than potentially performing better on new hardware.

Backwards comparability has, finally, been taken seriously by Microsoft and Sony. It’s now an expected standard. Nintendo has been fantastic with backwards comparability in their handheld lines in the past and pretty good in the disc-based consoles. Hopefully they don’t f**k it up with the next system.

The danger now is that they rest on their laurels too long, as now they only have the one product.

You could argue that MS and Sony have been “resting on their laurels” for decades, releasing more powerful variations of the same hardware for decades now. Perhaps with the Switch, Nintendo has finally landed on the magical product that plays to all their strengths and uniqueness amongst their competition. I wonder if simply iterating on more powerful Switch-like consoles from here on out is possible a winning strategy. It’s been working well enough for MS and Sony.

I think you're on to something here. Although the 3DS didn't come close to outshining the DS in sales, it still did well in sales and the amount of absolute gems the system produced was imo, better than the DS's, helped by the emergence of the eShop. The system was basically a stronger DS, after all. There was also a bit of time when the 3DS was Nintendo's clear "main" system for new releases and with Nintendo always being the leader in portable gaming, they probably played that to their advantage by falling back on the concept of the Switch.

kilroy
Sat Jan 30 21 06:15pm
Rating: 1

I can't recall the timeline, but Nintendo did basically say (paraphrasing): "The Wii U is a transitional system; an experiment we're conducting that's years in the making, but the true final product won't be ready for a bit."

That true final product was the Switch. Looking back in hindsight, you can easily see how the Wii U was mostly the Switch in its infancy. Yes, the two screens were very easily compared to DS/3DS and for good reason, but very, very few games utilized it well for that purpose.

Star Fox Zero had the right idea, but (ignorant) people couldn't comprehend the fact that you could press Select to change the view instead of forcing yourself to watch the gamepad. Same with motion controls, although I think there were some parts that were still forced. That's pretty much why SFZ failed and that wasn't even a fault of the devs (mostly), but people who were too lazy and impatient to look at the Options menu (same reason Kid Icarus: Uprising received so much flak). The rest of the game shined, imo.

ridleysaria
Sat Jan 30 21 08:44pm
Rating: 1

I’m seeing a lot of blame being placed on gamers for Wii U’s failure. Face it, Nintendo and only Nintendo is to blame. It was their job to make a system people would want, or effectively communicate why they should want it. They didn’t do that, so it deserved to bomb. I’m glad they got their act together eventually. Although Switch has faults, it’s a much more appealing product.

I think he's playing it up a bit with "make or break".
The massive success of the Nintendo DS and later the 3DS cannot be understated. Nintendo's handheld market dominance can let them have a few flops and take some risks in the home console market. That along with Nintendo's stake in the Pokémon Company, which has the IP with the highest revenue, means they're not really in danger at all aside from their home console reputation.

I think you’re right. Two failures in a row would be bad but they’d come back and try again. They’re not in the same position a company like Sega was. I imagine there would have been a dramatic change in their philosophies though.

Nintendo also didn't have major turmoil between their American, European and Japanese divisions like SEGA did. That greatly contributed to their downfall. Had everyone been in sync, it's possible the Saturn and Dreamcast were more financial successes.

It sure was, Nintendo was the uncoolest thing it had ever been before that Nintendo Switch trailer.

Reggie slightly overstating here. The sheer volume of liquid asset that Nintendo have at their disposal is kinda absurd: A war chest like no other, and I believe they are still the highest valuation of any Japanese company, no?

Financially they would have survived no question, but investor confidence would have plummeted to near zero if they hit the market with back to back flops. The hearts and minds battle would have been lost quite hard, but their story would not have ended, not by a long shot. They still wouldn’t have sold to another company, not as long as majority stakeholders give a shovel.

Their intellectual property, ability to attract and employ and cultivate some of the industry’s finest talent, and commitment to quality were and are their strongest assets. Sure they have more than their fair share of anti-consumer antiquated and fiscally conservative frustrating approaches to issues, but as long as those previous core qualities remain they will not break.

Also lol this comments section

There's a lot to say about the Wii U when talking about Switch. The Switch is the Wii U evolved. Nintendo dumped the outdated Wii branding, and stuck with the market they know best and are most successful in, the handheld market.

Not everything is rosy in my view though, despite its success. The power leap is no better than from Gamecube to Wii. The primary controller is awful, Joy-Con drift is only one issue. The Wii U could have done far better, had Nintendo marketed it better and not given up on it in favour of the 3DS. Some things were better on Wii U than they are now on Switch. We had a proper Virtual Console, we had Miiverse, we had a web browser, apps, etc. It's so annoying to hear people defend the Switch had having something like Netflix, with the defense that, oh my toaster and electric toothbrush has that, the Switch doesn’t need them. I suppose we don't need free Internet gaming anymore either?

We've gone from a cheap 25GB(Wii U disc) medium, to where it's prohibitively expensive for some companies to even use 8GB Switch cartridges. The use of 32GB cartridges are as rare as hen's teeth. So many Switch games lack physical releases or have "download required" plastered on the boxart.

We had cheap,large capacity memory storage in HDD's. Now we've to use more expensive, limited capacity, Micro SD cards. HDD's aren't even an option for docked players.

We're being charged $60 for barely improved last gen ports, for the most part. Digital purchases on Wii could be transferred from Wii to Wii U. Nintendo didn’t allow digital purchases on Wii U to be transferred to Switch, even though it would have been possible. That’s another thing that gets overlooked. I think Microsoft have backwards compatibility to the original Xbox, while it's start from scratch on Switch, even if you bought 1st, 3rd party and Indie games on Wii U. You've to buy them again on Switch, at full price.

There's a lot more I could say. The Switch is doing well and it's good that Nintendo are in a healthy situation, but so much irks me, to say the least.

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