The numbers are boring, but the long and short of it is simply, even with the WiiU slowly piecing together a decent, unique slate of titles over the last 6 months, with more coming this year, it isn't translating to Shut Up And Take My Money kinds of love from the general public. So, they're regrouping. Satoru Iwata's voluntarily taking a 50% paycut, his underlings taking a symbolic hit as well. There's rumblings of some sort of grudging deal where Nintendo's properties show up on mobile devices. They're starting to explore their options in terms of farming out new titles to more successful developers. And they're slowly but surely trying to tweak the WiiU's capabilities for optimum user friendliness.
None of these mean a god damned thing for the people Nintendo needs to be reaching.
Basically, all of these things Nintendo's announced in the last few days are trying to soak up the blood, without sealing up the gaping wound. It's like these people never played Trauma Center. Solutions in terms of making the WiiU a better system have been obvious to everyone who's not in the company, because they're mostly solutions for making Nintendo into Microsoft and Sony. We HAVE a Microsoft and a Sony, and us folks in the industry need to be slapped for not knowing that this will never be the way Nintendo rolls. Nintendo, like most of Japan, is insular. Whatever they end up doing is going to be unique to them alone, and at this point needs to be, because there's no chance in hell of them catching up to the big boys in terms of horsepower.
There's only one single issue that matters as far as Nintendo surviving 2014 goes, and that is the fact that the WiiU is invisible.
Nintendo, on the other hand, is a niche. A name. It's a niche built on fun and forward thinking game mechanics. This is not what's being sold to the people who don't already own a WiiU. This particular devil's been floating around their heads since the WiiU launched. Their non-player base is two sets of people: People who don't see a reason to buy the system, and people who DO NOT KNOW IT'S A NEW SYSTEM.
No matter what technical insanity is cluttering up both systems, and discounting the ones selling the social media/online stuff (though even those do a pretty effective job), zero doubt, both Sony and Microsoft nailed it with the current run of commercials for their new systems. Simple, amusing, selling the games, not the interface. But looking at those two commercials back to back, it's another factor: It's not trying to sell TO the player. It's inviting them. To Don Draper this down a little, Sony's selling a day with your best friend, the comfort of escaping to fantasy worlds on a day off. The Microsoft commercial is selling it from the other side, with the fantasy worlds offering real people a way out, an escape. In the past 6 months, there have been ZERO commercials for the WiiU in the States. The UK, however, got this campaign. Granted, they got one part right, in explaining that YES, the WiiU is NOT the Wii. It is also being narrated by a paranoid schizophrenic, talking to themselves the way no one does with the playfulness of a man who clearly has a doll collection in his attic, next to his knife nook.
See that picture above? Remember those two guys? Those two guys were the best thing to ever happen to Nintendo marketing. It was Nintendo sending two Japanese guys around America, introducing normal folks to the Wii, letting them try out this weird new technology for themselves, and having a blast. THESE GUYS SHOULD'VE BEEN STEP ONE. They stepped in, and brought the shiny and new to American homes, and CLEARLY SHOWED what kind of games they could play on their quirky little system. We are being sold the WiiU like it's an add-on. Part of that's Nintendo's fault, since the WiiU controller is a misstep to begin with, but it's not one without potential, and we're being sold the technology, not being shown why we should give a damn. There's a reason I used the title for this post I did: Jordan Belfort might be a fucking asshole, but he's at least knows that you're not selling a god damned thing unless you can identify what need you're trying to fulfill here, and make others recognize the same need. What exactly is Nintendo's customer base is being catered to with Nintendoland and WiiFitU? The MS/Sony commercials? They're selling fun. They're selling a day off. They're selling gaming as a fantasyland. What that WiiU UK campaign is selling me is a list of random features with no context. What the US WiiU campaign is selling me is OH WAIT NVM.
What it ultimately comes down to, though, is that when it comes to their handhelds, Nintendo owns this shit there, and it is almost entirely based on the strength of their libraries. Diverse games, big games, underrated gems, ambitious little experiments. Despite being way underpowered compared to the Vita, it's the Vita that's got its work cut out this year to catch up, because the library just doesn't cut it yet. The other important part is that what comes out for the 3DS generally only exists on the 3DS. It's a unique experience, on the only game in this particular next gen town. The WiiU needs to function much the same, and encouraging the system's plusses when it comes to new games compared to the big boys is the only way this thing survives 2014. Nintendo's definitely got the scrappy underdog status under their belt. They need to start putting together the titles to start throwing punches, and they need to do it this year. And the only way that happens is by getting the world to pay attention. Nintendo's ethos with its consoles and its third party is that their name is enough. That name is now synonymous with "I remember when everybody had an NES." Nostalgia isn't gonna cut it for the next gen. Whatever new tricks the WiiU has to give the world, it better be attached to something we need, not something we had.