Wii U still misunderstood by consumers, retailers - Analyst

IHS analyst says Nintendo's messaging troubles persist, people don't understand how it differs from Wii

As the Wii U closes in on its one-year anniversary, the system is still hampered by some of the same problems it faced at launch. Speaking with Benzinga, IHS senior games analyst Christine Arrington said people still don't understand that there's a difference between the Wii U and its seven-year-old predecessor, the Wii.

"I think one of the things that was a real indicator of that was just, anecdotally, if you went into a retailer and you talked to somebody in the games department, they didn't even understand what it was," Arrington said. "I did the secret shopper kind of thing, and they would say, 'Well, there's no difference between the Wii and Wii U.'"

Arrington said she was told the same thing multiple times in her secret shopping efforts. As for why the console was so poorly understood, Arrington lamented the lack of a Wii Sports-like launch title, a game that would let everyone understand at a glance why the Wii U GamePad would allow for different experiences from the Wii.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata acknowledged both the lack of consumer understanding and the absence of a Wii Sports-like title for the Wii U earlier this year. However, he blamed the misunderstanding on Nintendo's "relaxed" marketing efforts for the system.

Related stories

GameStop offers full refunds on selected new releases returned within 48 hours

PlayStation 4 exclusive Days Gone to be the first eligible game under the "Guaranteed to Love It" scheme

By Haydn Taylor

Is it all over for pre-owned video games?

Second-hand game sales remain significant, but the recent decline is by no means temporary

By Christopher Dring

Latest comments (17)

Adam Campbell Game Manager, Azoomee5 years ago
Well, the previous declaration of this is very recent history and even Nintendo agree.

I think the WiiU has incredible potential and the release schedule/library is really picking up lately, but the hardware could do with something to help kill off this confusion. A confusion that has been there since the device was unveiled at TGS.

I would go as far as a re-branding of console to Super Wii or Wii2. A lot of people said about a year or so ago that the name didn't matter, I completely disagreed and we're still in a situation where people thing WiiU is either the same device in some way or a controller attachment.

Not good enough. So many sales will be lost on this alone.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 5 years ago
I'm not sure that the consumer awareness is the only issue here. I fully believe that even the most hardened Nintendo fans and the other consumers that are in -the-know about the system simply don't want to buy it because:
1) Nintendo aren't doing enough to show the value of their expensive controller
2) The alternatives (current gen consoles) are plainly better value for money and offer more services.
4Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 5 years ago
The recent trailors for Bayonetta 2 and SuperMario 3D land have really suprised me. Wonderful 101 suprised me as well. Zelda HD suprised me also. Again Nintendo has suprised me time and time again to the point were Im pretty enthusiastic about getting a WiiU. The only thing I find a problem is how slow its been for them to deliver software.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (17)
George Albanis Artist 5 years ago
I tend to think consumers simply don't want "another Wii". A different name could have helped but the main problem is parents have bought into Ipad's, phone's and other tablets for kids. I see many kids at school use iPad's and iPhone's and on occasion I'll see one with a 3DS. At home it tends to be Call of Duty on the 360\PS3.

As far as gamer's go, I think a lack of software really hurts. If the Wii U was released with an all new Zelda game along with the usual Smash Brothers and Metroid games it would have sold more.

It's slowly coming along but will never in my opinion impact the mass market. Too many other things out there these days. Sometimes cheaper and sometimes better.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tim Ogul Illustrator 5 years ago
What's hard to understand? It's a touch screen controller for the Wii.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
I knew this was going to be an issue before the system even launched. I've talked to many people(both gamers and non-gamers alike) before the system launched and there were lots of confused looks. But that confusion is only one issue. Someone else already touched on the fact that the system still needs games. A killer app like Wii Sports would have helped too but beyond that Nintendo needs a healthy stream of releases, especially first party ones since apparently the majority of third party releases will be bought on a Microsoft or Sony system just as they are this gen.

To correct this problem Nintendo needs to take several steps:

-First, I agree with Adam that they should rebrand/rename it but I disagree with the Super Wii/Wii2 monikers. Sure "we" know what those would mean but I doubt the average consumer would. I think they should start with a new name altogether.

-Second, they need to do some proper marketing. I didn't see many ads for the Wii U before release and the few I did see failed at delivering any messages that perfectly described the value of the new system as far as it's full capibilities. Nintendo needs to work on a new marketing campaign and perhaps do something along the lines of what Sony did with a Kevin Butler type of character. But the main thing is, get more ads out there with a clear concise message.

-Third, they need a killer app game and this will lend itself well with step two. It's much easier to market a system with a must-have game for it. Wii Sports even proved that your killer app could be inferior graphically as long as the gameplay holds up.

-Fourth, this goes without saying but they need more games. Obviously they need first party stuff because thats pretty much what sells any Nintendo system but they also need to work on getting many of the third party games they get deprived of. Sometimes this is due to the inferiority of the systems power but there are still cases where developers have skipped the Wii U for the 360/PS3. So Nintendo needs to try and get atleast a few more exclusives as well as any multiplatform titles they can get developers to agree to. But most importantly is delivering their legacy list of titles, atleast once every three months.

-Fifth, cut the price. Actually they just did that so I don't need to go into any further detail. No further price cut will be needed should Nintendo follow the first four steps....atleast in theory.

If Nintendo can adhere to those steps I think that they will be able to turn their console fiortunes around, much like they were able to turn the 3DS around. This doesn't neccessarily mean they will become the console leader this gen but they'll atleast be able to make the Wii U a very profitable system.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 18th October 2013 5:47am

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tanya Rei Myoko Programmer 5 years ago
Ids say wiiu only has as much potential as ps3/360 have left

Which is why ps4/Xone are coming out
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago

I'd say you're right. When the 360 versions, which Nintendos port tools are centered around stop, they're screwed
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nintendo's messaging troubles persist, people don't understand how it differs from Wii
They got it wrong big time and are paying the price. What ever happened to the claim it was a Next-Gen console, or you could have two tablets into one system,, or that it had comparable power to other next-gen systems. Wii-U = Virtual Gameboy!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by kevin williams on 17th October 2013 2:34am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tom Wilhelm Ødegård Dpt. head Gaming, Spaceworld AS5 years ago
If they only would've chosen a more coherent name for their new console. Like Wii 2. Much easier for the consumer to relate to, and it's a much clearer message than Wii U.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
It is very easy to understand.
WiiU = Dreamcast.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tom Wilhelm Ødegård Dpt. head Gaming, Spaceworld AS5 years ago
Ah, I miss the Dreamcast days. They were wonderful times of awesomeness.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Keldon Alleyne Strategic keyboard basher, Avasopht Ltd5 years ago
@Bruce: that's such a broad sweeping statement?

In what way is it a Dreamcast? Because it will make Nintendo stop hardware development? Because it has lots of stellar games that are highly underrated? Because it has innovation but was a generation too early to capitalise on it? Because it didn't sell as well as its competitors? Because it caused damaging losses? Because it had some of the highest quality games that unfortunately will not come to another console like Shen Mue 2?

Humour me please?
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Sasha Yelesin Student 5 years ago
So then where's the ads? If Nintendo seriously believe customers don't understand what the Wii U is, then we should be seeing ads all over the place to explain the dang thing. I still remember Wii commercials everywhere when it first came out. Nintendo would be shooting themselves in the foot if they don't have an equally massive marketing push.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
@Bruce - not the best example from history. Dreamcast was an issue for Sega on a different level.
The Virtual Boy is a better illustration, with poor branding, misguided development, and blinkered marketing.
I would even pick a system from a period you may find easier to associate with - Wii-u = Konix

Edited 1 times. Last edit by kevin williams on 17th October 2013 11:25pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Keldon Alleyne Strategic keyboard basher, Avasopht Ltd5 years ago
@Kevin: now that is much more sensible.

But we can judge its performance better when the titles that sell the most are available. I often forget that the machine even out until I am reminded by a Wii-U carcass in a CEX window. There are plenty of excellent games on the machine, of course, but given Nintendo machines are primarily used as a gateway to playing the latest Mario and Zelda I'd rather just wait and see.

I do think they made some bad decisions with this machine. Why they made it an entire generation behind is beyond me. The least they could have done is made it 50% more powerful than the last generation like they did with the Wii with a few additional next gen GPU capabilities.

I can see how an underpowered machine could have worked but only if it was cheap.

So when Nintendo's offerings are out we will see whether they can justify the second screen. I'm a lot more doubtful of that now though. When I first saw the demo of the machine I was excited by the possibilities for gaming but I don't know if Nintendo have done enough R&D to make real valid use of it. So we'll have to see.

Maybe it is just another failed experiment from Nintendo. Maybe that's why they've gone light on the advertising.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Sanjay Jagmohan SQA Lead, Sumo Digital Ltd5 years ago
I believe that the Wii U has some incredible potential.
The problem in my opinion (as everyone here knows) is visibility. My sister who does play games thought the DRC (tablet) was the "U" and didn't realise that it was a new piece of hardware.
As we've seen time and time again, what it *can* do is irrelevant - without a strong user base developers will be hesitant to commit...

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.