News Article

Talking Point: Selling the Wii U Concept - The GamePad and eShop

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

All part of a big package

So the Wii U system is now well and truly out in the wild, with Japan being the last major territory to join in. It may seem peculiar that Nintendo should satisfy its home country last, but judging from the area's consistently daunting sales of 3DS it's not likely to be a tough market to crack. North America and Europe — as well as the other PAL regions — are entirely different beasts, and Nintendo is no doubt already letting its focus drift beyond the Holiday spending splurge, and towards what comes next.

There's general agreement that Wii U will perform well in its launch window. Whether it hits its targets and consistently sells out stock is to be seen, but the gaming company will be able to point to millions of sales and say "look, consumers want Wii U", and those with business or emotional interest in the company will breath relatively easily. The goal of this article isn't to broadly speculate on Wii U's credentials for success — particularly as new rival systems are likely to arrive in the next 12-18 months — but to consider two key selling points, both present and in all likelihood part of the future, that will sell the Wii U concept beyond the initial frenzy of launch window hype.

As you may have picked up from our launch day live-text features, some of the Nintendo Life team went along to midnight launches and took the opportunity to quiz fellow early-adopters and retail staff. In terms of early adopters, it seemed to be a mix of eager Nintendo gamers and parents anxious to ensure that their Christmas present was safely purchased and hidden in the closet at home. The main focus and selling point of the system appeared to be the GamePad, not surprisingly, while the Wii brand was undoubtedly playing a role. While it may be a fact that annoys some self-appointed hardcore gamers, the Nintendo Wii brand is still seen by a number of parents as a wholesome, fun, trust-worthy and accessible video game system.

One parent we spoke to was immediately querying whether the GamePad — being used for a Nintendo Land demo in the store — would be easy for his five year old son to grasp and understand. Nintendo's "what is Wii U" adverts in the UK have been excellent, from that perspective, in showing what the controller is all about, and the father in question seemed fairly confident that his purchase would be worthwhile, until the unit's controller started to lose its connection due to a rather iffy and rushed setup. In many senses the GamePad could be considered a controller that's lacking the intuition of the Wii Remote, which is partially accurate, yet if you hand a young child a tablet or smartphone device nowadays you're likely to see them swiping and tapping like an expert in no time. The upcoming generation of gamers are even more tech savvy now, we'd suggest, than they were in 2006.

Moving onto a retail perspective, we spoke to management staff in a relatively small GAME store while waiting for midnight, and the conversation turned to download games. Rather than talk of download games being the potential death knell of bricks and mortar retailers, it was highlighted that some of the store's biggest sellers were download code cards. Two products that have been major success stories have been download codes for Minecraft on Xbox Live, a phenomenon on PC and also a major success on Microsoft's console, and also FIFA Ultimate Team currency cards. Both products can be bought directly on their respective systems of course, but it was explained that parents often like to buy them in-store, or younger gamers buy the cards with pocket money — which is handy if giving your child access to a credit card isn't considered a good idea.

While some may not exactly like the idea of the real money DLC obsession that is FIFA's Ultimate Team model, there can surely be no real objection to download game cards in retail stores. In fact, the Xbox 360 and PS3 areas of a typical game specialist store have racks of these download cards for individual games, representing the highest profile and most popular of these online store offerings. We'd suggest that those of us frequenting Nintendo Life aren't the target for these physical manifestations of download games, but there's a significant market from the retailer's perspective.

As it stands, the Nintendo section of a store has little to entice this target audience — parents and children — to download offerings. There are eShop fund cards, and some cursory references to games that are available, but its not on the same scale as on PS3 and Xbox 360. The store manager that we spoke to shared his belief that Nintendo is keen to resolve that shortcoming in the near future, expecting a greater shift in emphasis now that Wii U is on the scene. That's not a formal guarantee that it'll happen, of course, but if there's retailer optimism that Nintendo's going to push for a greater share of the download card pie, that's good for the company and can only be a positive for high street stores, too. This turnaround to produce racks of enticing download card products won't happen overnight, but we'd certainly hope that by mid-2013 retail stores will have a greater eShop presence, which will hopefully also include some love for the 3DS store.

It's illuminating to talk to retailers and parents about Wii U, as it's easy to get lost in the industry's debates about CPU speeds, third-party support and various issues that matter a lot to many enthusiastic gamers. It can be overlooked that a significant proportion of Nintendo's customers aren't fiercely loyal to the big N's products, nor are they experienced gamers who'd willingly devote 40 hours to completing a title in The Legend of Zelda series. A lot of consumers like video games, enjoy having fun with them, and see them as one of many sources of entertainment for their families. It's with these consumers that Nintendo's branding — including the continuation of the Wii name — makes such sense, and the GamePad controller's visual hints at being a tablet do it little harm. It's not a tablet in the typical sense, and we know that, but that's what we heard at least one parent call it at a midnight launch.

So, much is being done right in these early stages by Nintendo, and its new console has a chance, at least, of attracting gamers of various levels to its concept. There are big improvements surely on the way, however, as the high street environment is still so relevant to parents and younger gamers. It's not just about discs in DVD-style cases, but having simple cards that are little more than codes to download content from online. The eShop library — Wii U and 3DS — can truly flourish if it moves from the cloud and onto store shelves, and whether we like it or not DLC and real-money obsessive modes in big franchises will also have a role to play. There are a lot of people ready to buy these products, and we suspect that Nintendo is anxious to join in.

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User Comments (28)

SanderEvers

#1

SanderEvers said:

I really love my WiiU, couldn't stop playing all day today. Got mine with New Super Mario Bros U (awesome game) and Nintendo Land (also good) and I already downloaded 2 eShop games (lttle inferno and Nano Assault Neo, which both are cool in their own way. Nano Assault Neo being a bit difficult :p). I'm loving it every single bit.

Reala

#2

Reala said:

Not likely to buy much online with a credit card at their prices, not a fan of forcing people to go instore to get the best deal takes away a large point of online imo.

TheAdza

#3

TheAdza said:

MiiVerse is really really good. I don't know how they are going to advertise that as a selling point other than a Facebook/Twitter for games on Wii U, but it is definitely a highlight of my Wii U experience thus far. Sure it's a bit buggy now, but it is still a time waster and a fun one at that.

ToxieDogg

#4

ToxieDogg said:

Definitely think Nintendo have got the online aspect right this time. The EShop is simplicity itself to use and navigate, and Nano Assault Neo is a superb launch day ambassador for the service...was addicted to it for ages last night. Miiverse is excellent and love the communities for each game. I was able to jump in and out of my games with no hassle and was communicating with other players and comparing experiences and making new friends in no time :) Also really think it's cool that you can post your own in-game screenshots with your comments as well.

astroshamu

#5

astroshamu said:

I've seen new super Mario bros 2, and otheer games retail download cards at GameStop here in California

Ren

#6

Ren said:

it seems like the internet/download software side has been done great this time but there is still a bit of a disconnect with the hardware. To try and push all this online and download functionalty out of the gate but not have BUILT IN hardware that can store still seems short sighted to me. Sure, all of us here don't care and will plug something in, but there are surely millions of missed sales for the more casual players with a white system (impulse buys) that would just have easily bought a full price download game for it's "on the couch" convenience, but wait! theres not space! I really just can't imagine what the rationality was behind that. For price the 32gb one should have been 350 and called basic, and then deluxe with 120gb at $400. Same with not having the OS software done at launch; and all that about "learning their lesson from 3DS launch". I went out a got a 3DS at launch like the rest of us Nintenerds, but after that it's a tough sell for 'mom and dads'. We'll see. I also learned my lesson from 3DS launch; don't buy Nintendo's at launch anymore. And I'm finding them everywhere anyway, so I can get one as soon as I change my mind.

SilverArrow

#7

SilverArrow said:

Once it's ready, there might be an update to merge the shops. Besides, you can already search Nintendo 3DS eShop stuff on Nintendo Wii U eShop already. Might as well make it whole.

Doge

#8

Doge said:

eshop is on the verge of success, i can feel it in my gut, and it says its gonna be epic

bonesy91

#9

bonesy91 said:

already bought NSMBU and little inferno off of the eshop. And I can say, I don't regret either purchase and may continue to buy from the shop :) and the Deluxe deal means I get money back in the long run on titles

farfromsleep

#10

farfromsleep said:

They really seem to have learned their lesson with the eshop this time around. If they can just do something about accounts being locked to one console I can see myself going on quite a few spending sprees there in future. They're really raising their game online, and it's great to see it.

Tsuchiya

#11

Tsuchiya said:

Wii U eShop is what Xbox Live wishes it was.
I love you XBL but you have a freshed faced contender here. The layout alone makes XBL look a complete mess. It's early days but it'll start to turn heads ;)

Taceus

#12

Taceus said:

Loving my Wii U, the GamePad and the eShop. Can't wait for sales and specials. I can't pass up a bargain. Although, if retail downloads stay at those prices I'd prefer going instore or shop online.

Realgamer4life

#13

Realgamer4life said:

Love my wii u. I have owned every nintendo product and to to this day I'm happy I have a next gen beast.

SCAR392

#14

SCAR392 said:

Ya. It's all good... When is the Deluxe Promo starting? Nintendo said it starts today, and it hasn't from what I saw on my account. Maybe once Japan gets the Wii U.

SCAR392

#15

SCAR392 said:

Oh ya, Nintendo is officially certifing a PDP 320 GB HDD for $80. Before you go off and say 'shutup fanboy', how the hell are we supposed to know that it's not optimized for Wii U, possibly have a game preloaded on it, or have any other benefits over a 2 TB for $30 more? For all we know, Wii U might run off 5649.976 RPM to be more clear, which would be the only reason I would buy one if it did that, but unless there's some benefit like these, I'm not getting it. Something to think about before it's released if you don't have one yet...

defrb

#16

defrb said:

Wiiu is an awesome machine with loads of possibilitys, i'm a bit dissepointed about the launch games. The problem i have with the E-shop > i like to have my games in boxes. I would like to see a minimum of -20% retail prices before i consider buying in the e-shop, otherwise i stick with my plastic boxes :P

Also, it safes nintendo a lot of money, when you buy at the e-shop, so -20% would only be reasonable..

AhabSpampurse

#17

AhabSpampurse said:

I havent stopped playing mine since Friday. Hell, I'm writing this from the gamepad right now whilst taking a break from Mario U.
Miiverse really is amazing though, got tons of yeahs from my pictures and friended lots of good people from all over, its genuinely brilliant. And I've yet to meet a total ass on there, that in itself is a modern day miracle in my opinion.

rjejr

#19

rjejr said:

Was shopping among a throng of holiday shoppers Sat. afternoon and my local Target had 3 - 1, 2 , 3 - Basic Wii Us in the display case. I didn't see 3 Wii on the shelf for about 11/2 years after launch. The Gamestop I was in just before that also had Wii U in stock.
I'm not saying they won't sell, but having anything in stock a month before Christmas means it is selling like the Wii did.
Nintendo should have never made the Basic bundle.
And you can't sell DL if people don't buy the system to begin with.
Glad I waited, there will be deals to he had on the Basic by spring. Can the Wii U box fit in an Easter basket?

SCAR392

#20

SCAR392 said:

The thing is, is that if you never buy from the eShop, they won't see it as being a good medium for buying retail games at a cheper price. I'm already going to get $16 back from the program from buying NSMB.U, Nano Assault Neo, and ZombiU from there. The only reason why I would ever even buy a game from the store is if I didn't have internet, or if they don't have the digital copy like COD BO 2. They probably do save about $12-15 for every disc that they sell as a physical copy, but they also lose money for an actual copy not sold at the store since it's left at the store, and still have to pay for contracts with factories that make multiple products.

gavn64

#22

gavn64 said:

the miiverse is brilliant but when on it the wiiu freezes A LOT its frozen on me about 5!!! times already i hope they can fix this with an update

arrmixer

#23

arrmixer said:

@rjejr
you might be right.. though I'm happy there are wii u's in stock so people don't have to pay $$ on ebay or amazon.... and if there is a price drop then that means another amabassador might be in the horizon? :)

Ren

#24

Ren said:

hmm, from what I'm reading now about the promo it sounds like a great idea, if a little convoluted. Also the proprietary HDD is really appealing to me if it's a form factor that sticks on and looks pretty seamless with the console (like Xboox HDs). Call me a prima donna but I just don't like the idea of being REQUIRED to stick my own ugly HDD to it via USB all the time just to download anything. I have a very minimal setup under a large screen, and I like it that way.
With all the hate I dish out here about WiiU, that promo and a HD solution (and all the love here for the E-shop) could sway me to getting one pretty soon, since I really like the Wiiware kind of stuff most, I want a big drive and some deals and I'll be happy. I'm more than happy to go all digital if the setup is right, I have no more interest in an extra plastic box since it's really irrelevant these days, why cling to it? (no instructions, no useful extras, etc., just a formality; why bother?). For me to be totally secure doing that, though, the account HAS to be independent of the system or it's too big of a gamble. Fix it, Nintendo, and I'll dump a lot of money there.

brooks83

#25

brooks83 said:

@Ren - I completely agree with you about the independent account. In this day and age, that should be standard. Another reason I am holding off is to wait and see what they plan to do with the VC. Will it finally merge with the eShop or will it be contained to Wii Mode? Will the games that transfer over eventually be able to be played from the Wii U's OS or will they be stuck in Wii Mode? Or worse yet, will I be charged again for the same game to play it out of Wii Mode?

When Nintendo can give some info on this, I'll consider getting a Wii U. For now, I'm perfectly happy playing my VC games on my Wii.

Ren

#26

Ren said:

agree back at you, Brooks. I largely play Wiiware and VC as well, and having to switch to "Wii mode" is ridiculous for tiny games that have always been downloadable and SD.
Maybe there is some tech issue I don't understand, sure, so just take the time to put all those games into the new shop then and find which ones are owned through the account, re-download if needed. But the tethered account makes this a further mess. There should be a way, though, at least through the system transfer to see which ones are owned and then get new E-shop versions. Why is this not a priority like all the other obvious things that consumers want?

I spent a lot of money on Downloads for Wii and they didn't get any message that I want a good DL system and hire some tech grunt to spend a year or 2 getting all that crap to run on WiiU natively. They apparently don't want my money this time, or I'm the only one who wants to buy stuff online and just click it and play it. whether you like Apple or not they've proven that practical functionality is a BIG part of selling machines, console manufacturers often don't see this, especially when the thing is selling anyway, just on brand loyalty.

SCAR392

#27

SCAR392 said:

Ya, they just need to incorporate the Wii Shop downloads as eShop downloads as well, like they did going from DSi to 3DS. Or make the Wii Menu an app you can access through the Wii U OS instead of just completely switching over. The gamepad could just sit there like it does anyways if you want 2 people to play as characters instead of Boost mode in NSMB.U. It would take alot of coding to make the Wii format part of the Wii U's, but it really would benefit everyone including Nintendo if they did that. Maybe developers would like combing the shops too, because then they could still make Wii Ware games, and not be under pressure to cater to the new really powerful Wii U compared to Wii, and just add some gamepad support and HD aside from the Wii version. They already combined Wii's controllers with Wii U, so I don't see why that can't combine backwards, and add some new functionality to the Wii through the Wii U only... It would be just like if Nintendo had released internet attachments for GBA/DS, and let people have access to the VC games compatible on that system from their account. Don't throw your GBA down the stairs yet! Haha... DS could emulate N64 easily if you had them on there running the VC software.

3dsgamer02

#28

3dsgamer02 said:

I actually purchased Mario U from the eShop. Never thought I would pay full retail for a download, but I really wanted to play Mario with the kids on Sunday. Since the file size is very manageable (1,7GB) it took only 40 minutes to download and 10 minutes or so to install.
I also like the idea that Nintendo gets the total profit from my purchase and that it is not split up between Nintendo and the retailer. Nintendo takes huge risks with every hardware release and I really want them to survive to supply us with great and innovative products for a long time to come.
I still don't believe that I will use the eShop for large titles, since I do not want to run a harddrive permanentely with the WiiU.

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