Nintendo must rethink their Wii U marketing strategy
The reports are in, and Nintendo sold 400,000 Wii U units in the United States during its launch week — a good, but not mind-blowing number. Supposedly sales were capped by Nintendo's inability to meet demand, but regardless, something needs to be done about the Wii U's marketing.
As evidenced by the First Lady, who had no idea what a Wii U even was, Nintendo is clearly not getting the message out to people. I understand Mrs. Obama may not be the perfect example as I'm sure she's busy doing all sorts of First Lady stuff, but I'm also sure there are moms and dads who find themselves in a similar position.
The fact is, parents are likely the ones who are going to be purchasing the Wii U for their children. They need to be informed; they need to know what the hottest electronic on the market is! A lot of them have no idea what the Wii U even is.
"[Wii adverts] showed someone pantsing around and having loads of fun," Don McCabe, boss of UK independent retailer Chips, explained to Eurogamer. "With the Wii U they show people messing around with the GamePad. When I talk to people they don't get it - they think it's just the GamePad. They think it's like a big DS or iPad - that you can stick it in your back pocket and walk around with it."
"There's an awful lot of misunderstanding among consumers and it will only be when the machine is out there and there's a couple of killer apps that get under people's gaming skin that people will start to talk about it," he added.
In a local GameStop, I talked to a middle-aged man who honestly believed the Wii U was an extension of the Wii. I can only venture to guess that the reason he thought this was because all of the ads Nintendo has run has been focused on the GamePad. I recognize that's the Wii U's biggest draw, but a lot of people aren't even aware that it's a standalone console.
Let's take a look at Nintendo's Wii U advertising campaign.
Sure, you see people playing around with it and having fun, but at a simple glance it looks like the Wii U is nothing more than a tablet add-on for the Wii. And upon looking at the price, it may seem totally unreasonable for an add-on. Let's not even get started on the atrocious UK Wii U advertisement.
It doesn't help that Nintendo chose quite possibly the worst naming structure possible. Naming issues aside (since it's definitely too late to change that), Nintendo has to find a way to reach the older crowd. They don't need to appeal to them, but they need to at least inform them. The thing is, with the Wii almost everybody knew about it. Even my parents, who don't know a thing about video games, went out and purchased a Wii. They haven't played it since they first bought it, but they sure as damn had to have one. Why? Because at the time it was the most talked about, hottest system that everybody had to own.
For comparison sake, let's watch a trailer for the original Wii.
Yes, this commercial also focused on the Wii's gadgets, but you have to understand that at the time nothing on the market was like this before. This was totally revolutionary technology. These days, we're acustomed to tablets so the Wii U doesn't appear - at first glance - to offer anything new. Sure, dedicated gamers know that's not true, but we're talking about parents and casual gamers who may not be up-to-date on the latest systems.
As legendary designer Peter Molyneaux said, "Competition is not just consoles anymore." You can sure as hell bet that everybody knows what an iPad is. The Wii U, from my limited experience with it, is a great system; however, something needs to be done about this marketing.