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Daring Options for Nintendo

Should Nintendo consider selling a Wii U package for cheap without the Gamepad tablet controller?

Recently Nintendo released two key bits of information about its future. The first was that production of the Wii in Japan is halting, and the second is that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will be delayed into February of 2014 from its original December 2013 ship date. Now, it's true the Wii is still being produced for other regions, and that a couple of months delay for a game is hardly unusual. Still, these are disturbing signs that all is not well with Nintendo, and it may be time to look to more daring solutions than just releasing hardware in a new color.

The hardware situation for Nintendo is not encouraging. The Wii U has fallen flat since the initial flurry of enthusiasm, and sales have yet to reach significant levels even with the price cut to $299. The Wii is slowing down so much that Nintendo is giving up on it in Japan, and other regions are probably not far behind. Most households now have an HDTV, and they want a console that gives them HD graphics.

The 3DS is a bright spot, but with every month the pressure on it from smartphones and tablets increases. Take a look at a typical smartphone screen, and compare it side-by-side to a 3DS. Even with revered brands from the past, the 3DS is just not competitive on a hardware level.

The Wii U is suffering in comparison to not just the PS4 and the Xbox One, which are obviously capable of far better graphics and have dozens of titles coming, but even to the PS3 and the Xbox 360. Looking at a PS3 or an Xbox 360 and the titles available this holiday for them, the average consumer will easily choose them over a Wii U - and save some money in the bargain. How can Nintendo regain an edge?

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Steve Peterson

Contributor/[a]list daily senior editor

Steve Peterson has been in the game business for 30 years now as a designer (co-designer of the Champions RPG among others), a marketer (for various software companies) and a lecturer. Follow him on Twitter @20thLevel.

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