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Firebrand Games: "Nintendo Needs to Charm the Mass Market" With Wii U

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"People still need Nintendo"

Now that the Wii U hype train is getting closer to its final destination, there'll be much analysis and opinion on what Nintendo needs to do to make it a success. There'll be plenty of talk about its technical capabilities as well, of course, but for developers and Nintendo itself it's really all about how many Wii U units sell, and whether it can prove to be a worthy successor to the hugely successful Wii.

Although early sales don't give the full picture — early 3DS sell-outs were followed by struggling sales until there was a price-drop — it seems as if Wii U is off to a decent start, with pre-orders selling out in the U.S. There's little doubt that early enthusiasm from Nintendo fans will only work for so long, however, and Scottish developer Firebrand Games, working on an un-named multi-platform title that'll arrive on Wii U, has weighed in on the marketing challenges facing Nintendo. Here's what the developer's creative director Peter Shea told

I think there are two main challenges. The first is getting the message across that this is more than "just" a Wii with better graphics and HD output. I think there is a danger here of the message getting confused, especially to the casual market. Nintendo needs to charm the mass market in the same way it charmed people so successfully with the Wii. You could almost argue that the unprecedented success of the Wii makes it almost impossible for Nintendo to compete with its successor. I do believe that with the right titles, the right price and Nintendo's excellent marketing they can do this but I expect it to be the focus of next year – Christmas 2013 – rather than at launch or in the coming months.

The second big challenge is selling the machine to gamers who already own one or more HD consoles, and handheld devices and smartphones capable of gaming. I don't entirely subscribe to the view that Apple and Android are Nintendo's biggest rivals from here as I think the different devices will always offer different experiences and there is still high demand for both those experiences at differing price points, be it £40 or 69p, even in a recession. The traditional markets we have grown up with are definitely in a state of flux but to me that doesn't mean there isn't scope for at least one more generation of traditional gaming device under the telly.

While the games market is evolving and posing new challenges, Shea believes, like others no doubt, that Nintendo's first-party strengths will be vital for the new system's success.

Nintendo is still among the best game developers in the world, and you can only play Nintendo games on Nintendo consoles – as much as the market changes these facts remain. People still need Nintendo, its popularity has not waned despite the growth of new devices, platforms and franchises – it's bigger than ever.

It's this fact alone that makes me optimistic for the Wii U despite the difficult times and the ever changing market. The majority of the game development community wrote off the DS before launch and almost everyone wrote off the Wii on first look too – both went on to be extraordinarily successful. The lesson is clear: never underestimate Nintendo!

So, what do you think? Is it a big challenge for Nintendo to convince consumers that this is more than Wii HD, and will the Nintendo brand be enough to convince millions of gamers to take the plunge? Let us know in the comments below.


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User Comments (21)



Xilef said:

For a moment there i though a new Gargoyle's Quest game were coming to the Wii U...



WOLFER said:

Yea its gonna take some convincing in order for me to purchase the WII U...its all about software.... Once Nintendo releases its HD Zelda.... Oh its on... Better Believe it...



Rekiotsu said:

It is as Shea says "never underrestimate nintendo". It is true that casual gaming market is crowing but I think that trough that the audience for real gaming is also growing so casual gaming will never replace real high quality games. And there are millions of loyal nintendo fans so Wii U will be succes no matter what because those fans just won't disappear all the sudden.



Ben_Rage_V2 said:

I'm convinced that the Wii U will be a successful system, possibly on par with the success of the Wii, but I admit my point of view is a little bias. It's hard to predict how the market will play out. I think the Wii brand and the games that the world has grown to love (Marios, Zeldas, & Donkey Kongs) will be enough to lure people in.



Alienfish said:

I'm getting sick of all this gloom and doom whenever Nintendo launches a console. Is it going to do better than the last one? Can it compete with MS and Sony? Will bananas still be yellow in five years? So Nintendo managed to sell to a few grandma's last gen, that isn't to be expected all the time. The best selling console of all time only sold well because of a great form factor and it was a DVD player (PS2). The Wii, I believe, sold well because of a great form factor (motion controls actually put a lot of people off at first since there was no gyro). Now, WiiU will have that same great look and be an entertainment hub, capable of controlling the TV itself and it will also include almost everything you've ever seen on any other console (disc based players and analog triggers need not apply). It will do just fine, and the same people who bought a Wii are going to hear about WiiU through the same people they did last time: the real Nintendo fans. WiiU will be fine.



rjejr said:

— early 3DS sell-outs were followed by struggling sales until there was a price-drop —
I don't think we'll know anything about WiiU sales until March or April. Low initial supply + holiday shopping = sold out everywhere until Feb. And then we'll see while people start to wait for big E3 unviels.

"The first is getting the message across that this is more than "just" a Wii with better graphics and HD output."
It's also a Wii w/ a tablet. Which would have been news a few years ago but everybody already has one now. Oh, and this one is connected invisibly to your tv. I guarantee somebody in America is going to return their WiiU b/c the tablet doesn't work in their bedroom or kitchen even though they have whole house WiFi. Trust me, it will happen, maybe more than once.

On the bright side - E3 could also unveil some good 1st party games or way overpriced console competition. Only time will tell, and I'll be on the sidelines watching.



SuperSinSlayer77 said:

@Xilef I too thought Firebrand from Ghosts n Goblins was going to have a new game on the Wii U. Something that I would like to see is if Gargoyle's Quest 2 and Demon's Crest shows up on the Wii U's store. But getting back to the topic of the Wii U, I'm looking forward to getting the Wii U and I'm pretty sure nothing is going to change my mind on that.



Lalivero said:

@rjejr Did you only read a little bit of the article?

It isn't another gloom and doom article, they're basically saying that Nintendo just needs to stay sharp and convince not just Nintendo gamers but the more 'core' gamers who left and the public in general that this isn't just going to be a Wii with a U on the end and HD. They'll want to show everyone that Wii U can be just as big an entertainment center, if not moreso, than this recent gen's rivals. With the little extra tricks to keep up with the market, they believe Nintendo should just be Nintendo and deliver excellently like they always have.

@Alienfish I thought it wouldn't just be tied to right next to the console? You probably won't be able to travel 2 floors up and still have connectivity, but I thought the general area would still be a decent range.



Ren said:

rjejr said it perfect. beginning of next year is a crucial time. how will it fair with news of the next consoles, and how much will the launch buzz fall off? Those are the biggest questions looming. it already has to compete with current consoles that do lots of what it does. Sure it has a screen, but it we have to remember the other 2 already do all that media stuff in HD now, it's really not a selling point if you have one of those already.
What we don't know is: how powerful is it actually? I know that's an overstated point, but the end of the current HD consoles shows the peak of capability for those machines in it's games and the WiiU is showing us that it does those games slightly better at launch. What will it have up it's sleeve once the dust has settled? I'm a negative Nancy about it so far but I have a feeling it's true capabilities are far beyond what they're showing now and it may stand up nicely with the new consoles being a year ahead in development time. Look at early 360 games; junk, but it had a long way to reach from there. I think the WiiU may truly be the console to have about a year from now when the solid games start dropping (so far the Nintendo games look like overly-safe junk).



TruenoGT said:

The Wii U has a chance of getting somewhat "Dreamcasted", i.e. when the pre-launch PS2 hype really slammed the Dreamcast, but the market is so much different now and Nintendo's games have broader market appeal than Sega's ever did so I think they'll be fine. Honestly 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, as long as there's a small place for Nintendo to innovate and make games with their own hardware, I'll be happy. The homogenization of platforms has no interest to me, so hopefully Nintendo can maintain their success. Personally, I think Sony is going to get rolled out of hardware before Nintendo. If Sony wasn't riding on PS2's success, didn't have Blu-ray and the 360 would have been more reliable, I think Microsoft would have crushed them.



kyuubikid213 said:

I'm fairly certain the Wii U will be a big hit. Maybe not the unseen surprise like the Wii was, but it won't be "Dreamcasted." I personally think it'll be fine because of where the other 2 of the Big Three will have to position themselves to be competition price-wise. The Wii U can easily manage the end-of-life PS360 games, so it won't be too far behind unless Sony and Microsoft really ramp up the power behind the 720 and PS4. If they do this, however, they will have to ramp up their prices or sell at a loss. I also find it highly unlikely that the other consoles will be able to match $300. With parents still buying games for kids and poorer gamers (like myself), the price NOW plays a big part. Yeah, a couple years down the line we'll get a super sexy game that pushed everything like Skyrim, but as of right now, we have to decide between price. Even if they manage to have their prices as low as $400, $350 seems pretty valuable.



Voodoo said:

There is no company that can or probably ever will be able to compete with nintendos first party icons. Nintendo is a icon itself to "video games" Arcade, Home Console and Hand helds. Sony is to stereo's and Tv's and Microsoft and Apple PC Software. This isnt going to change, in the "video games" department anyway. The only things that have changed are Apple taking a bite out of SONY's walkman with its iPods. Noone should be worried about Nintendo as they easily have this in the bag already...



Moshugan said:

@WOLFER #2 If you need killer First Party titles, such as Zelda, to get a new Nintendo device, you already can buy it with confidence. There's sure to come great 1st Party games, no doubt.
But yeah, we might have to wait for as long as 2014 for the new Zelda.
@grimbldoo #14 Agreed!!



Banker-Style said:

Nintendo are a stone cold company,that only cares about money.
Oh wait that's all companies,ha ha ha.



k8sMum said:

i fear the solo gamer is going to be forgotten by ninty this time. not all gamers are kids with friends who come over to play. i enjoy playing solo (online some, also, but ninty will never get that part right). our family unit is small so that is not appealing to me. i have always enjoyed solo more, tbh.

i am getting my moneys worth out of my 3DS XL for now and will wait on the WiiU.



Grodus said:

@k8sMum That was last time. There're trying to correct it this time, and thats why they called it "Wii" last time, for We, and "Wii U" this time, for We AND You. So hopefully they do a good job of that.

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