Arts & Entertainment

Turning around the Wii U’s failure

Is creating an entirely new console Nintendo’s last hope of surviving on the fiercely competitive market?

By Matt McIlnay

At this point, nothing short of a miracle will save the Wii U. Dismal holiday sales and a mass exodus of third-party developers have all but sealed its fate. Nintendo can keep the console limping along for a few more years, but they’re almost certainly going to keep hemorrhaging money in the process. The only thing I believe that can save Nintendo’s home console business is to phase out the Wii U as soon as possible and launch an entirely new console.

Nintendo seems to be thinking along those same lines, since rumors have begun to spread about a new Nintendo home console codenamed “Fusion.” Pretending for a moment that Nintendo is actually working on a new console (and that they actually name it Fusion), let’s talk about what this console would have to do to succeed.

The first big change I would propose with the Fusion is the removal of the mandatory Gamepad. It sounds harsh, but bear with me. The Gamepad is wonderful for party games like “Nintendo Land” and offers some fascinating second-screen mechanics for games like “Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” but it has issues that are hard to ignore. The Gamepad’s sizable bulk makes it a lot more awkward to hold than a regular controller, the battery doesn’t last that long, and it’s driving the whole cost of the system up. That said, the Gamepad was the most memorable part of the Wii U, and it would be a shame to not give it a second chance.

The solution is to sell the Fusion in Gamepad bundles and Wii Pro controller bundles. If you love playing games that utilize the unique features of the Gamepad, you can buy a more expensive bundle that comes with one. If you just want to play games the old-fashioned way, you can buy a bundle that comes packaged with a Wii Pro controller and save yourself some cash in the process. This will keep the Gamepad prevalent enough for developers to keep making games that use it, while also creating a cheaper option for consumers.

The Fusion will have to match the PS4 and Xbox One in graphical power and preferably surpass it. Hardware components get cheaper every year, so it should be possible for Nintendo to at least match the power of the PS4 and Xbox One without breaking the bank. There are few better ways to show up Microsoft and Sony at their own game than by matching or even surpassing them in hardware power at a competitive price. Using the easy-to-develop-for X86 architecture that Microsoft and Sony have taken to using would be preferable, but may prove difficult if Nintendo makes the Fusion backwards compatible.

At minimum, the Fusion will have to be able to play Wii U games. The Wii U may have a sparse lineup of games at the moment, but it will have accumulated a decent collection of exclusives by the time Nintendo is ready to release a new console. This way, early adopters will have a good library of Wii U titles to choose from while they wait for more Fusion games to come out. It also gives the Fusion another bragging point over the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which abandoned backwards compatibility.

Backwards compatibility, competitive pricing, eye-popping graphics, and tastefully integrated Gamepad support makes the Fusion sound like the dream Nintendo console. It’s impossible to know for certain just how feasible all of this is, but I’m confident that the Fusion could succeed if Nintendo listens to their fans and learns from the mistakes they made with the Wii U. One thing we can know for certain though is that Nintendo is in real danger of being pushed out of the home console market entirely if they don’t hit a home run with their next console.