Five better ways to market the Wii U

If you were an early adopter of Nintendo’s 3DS last year, like myself, you can probably recall like it was yesterday the raw fury immediately followed by some measure of bitter calm. This was all caused by the announcement of the handheld’s early price drop, and by default, your induction into the ambassador program, where we all got 20 free games that we played 10 of. I mean, seriously guys, this thing dropped in price by 80 bucks like, six months after it came out! Nintendo must have done SOMETHING wrong when the successor to the best-selling handheld platform literally ever is throwing out lifelines before the end of its first year!

First order of business is to never let this guy speak. He talks with the uncool cadence of everyone’s lame “me-too” stepfather.

Okay, yes — it's fine now. Everybody’s buying the 3DS, and everything’s going great yada yada yada. I see that. Cool beans. But guys, the Wii U is around the corner! Nintendo unveiled their console at E3 last year; I saw it, played it, and I’m really excited about it.  However, after experiencing firsthand how they presented it to the majority of people, I’m not surprised that following the announcement, Nintendo’s shares fell to their lowest levels since 2006. Basically, I’m just mad because I can see Nintendo is marketing this thing poorly, and I don’t want to see a repeat of the infamous 3DS bungle of 2011. Anyway, here’s five ways they can do a better job at E3 2012 and save themselves from a bunch of embarrassment.

This might not make a ton of sense at first, but guys, think about how many different features can be implied by looking at the main menu! For example, as far as the Wii goes, imagine you know nothing about it, and look at what you can tell just by looking at the main menu screen: online store, downloadable games, web browser, live news and weather, Netflix, photo support, Mii’s, a messaging system, SD card support, etc.

Also, whatever the hell the “Everybody Votes” channel is…

It’s all there, right in the one picture! If Wii U gets Netflix and Hulu support out the box, or if it’s backwards compatible with the Wii, or you can buy and rent movies now, a great way to show us in a subtle and badass way would just be to flash a pic of the menu on the screen during your presentation. The internet will run wild with it! Instant press! Buzztopolis! Theorygasm! Answerquest?

Also, the less it looks like the Wii menu, the better the video game buying public will understand that the Wii U is its own system and not just a neat, new controller for the Wii, which probably every mom thinks everywhere. Ugh.

Also, a group who’s not super sold on the Wii U right now is the hardcore gamer. They like two things a lot: blockbuster games that use regular controllers, and excellent graphics. Conceivably, the Wii U can deliver in both of these areas. I saw it in person last year, and the graphics were not totally where Nintendo says they can be, but they were close.  The controller, though seemingly unwieldy, was surprisingly light, had a bunch of easy to reach buttons, and was comfortable to hold.

However, while this was convincing to me, it probably doesn’t exactly do it for most gamers, and when they see a tech demo of a bird flying around a serene pond, forgive them if they’re not breaking down GameStop’s doors on launch day. What I mean is, give us some side by side graphics comparisons! For example, Batman: Arkham City has been announced for the Wii U. This is perfect, because a lot of hardcore gamers already know this title, and they’ve been playing it since October. Showing us this game running on a Wii U does two things for us:

First, it gives us context for how good the graphics on the Wii U can be. Telling us it’s more powerful than current gen systems is one thing. Showing us a game we’re already familiar with that looks better than we’ve ever seen it sends us an unmissable message (Hint: The message is BUY THIS). Second, it lets the hardcore gamer know for sure that the kind of gameplay experience he/she’s looking for is not going to be ignored here. Everyone wins (except the Joker…)!

At E3 last year, there were a whole bunch of game announcements for the Wii U, but at the same time there were like none, because practically every game besides Arkham City, Darksiders II, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online were more hinted at than actually announced.

No one’s going to by a Wii U so they can play three games that are all already going to be out on other systems before the Wii U’s even released, but if this year, right out of the gate, Nintendo’s like, “Guess what? Super Smash Bros. at launch!”, E3 2012 will be remembered as the place where Reggie drowned in a sea of geek boner juice, and the gates of heaven opened to receive him.

Reggie LOVES geek boner juice…

Also, come on third-party developers! Stop pussyfootin’! If you’re going to confirm that a title in your franchise is coming out on the Wii U, just tell us which one instead of leaving it a mystery, so that the Wikipedia page has to say Untitled Battlefield game. I would rather not know that an Untitled Assassin’s Creed game is coming until you’re ready to say which one, Ubisoft. Otherwise, I’m going to spend a whole year wondering if my anticipation is just going to result in a special edition of Revelations! Fix all of this this year, or we’re all still going to be as half-excited as we already are.

This seems simple, but hey, Nintendo, your main obstacle in selling the Wii U is how much everyone who likes video games kinda sorta hates the Wii. Sure, there’s a few games on it that are just PERFECT, but no one doesn’t have at least a little bit of a bad taste in their mouth about how this console generation went for you guys. There’s simply just been more to complain about than to praise, and that’s that.

So dudes, admit your mistakes! Sure, last year you guys were all “Sorry for ignoring the hardcore gamer”, but like, no duh! That was your platform! You MADE money because you ignored the hardcore gamer! This time, get specific. The online multiplayer was horrible. Tell us how it won’t be this time. The store was a joke. Show us how you’re going to fix it. Admit your reliance on shovelware, and give us some examples of how you’re not going to let that happen again by announcing more development deals with big-name franchises and game studios.

PLUS, if there was literally just an ad that was a nice dude in a suit who was like, “Hi. The Wii U is coming out soon! It’s not just an add-on to the Wii; it’s a whole new console that’s way better than the Wii. Goodbye!”, it would solve one the biggest problems facing the system — the fact that a whole bunch of people aren’t even sure what it is. How can you have that problem, Nintendo? How can the last two major game systems you’ve announced, 3DS and Wii U, actually have been hampered by the fact that a large number of consumers didn’t even know what they were? Oh yeah, the names are super confusing for no reason!

Hey idiots! The Wii U is a stupid, confusing name, and no one gets it or fully likes it. It is literally just the name of the last system with a “U” after it. This is bad for a number of reasons. Firstly, the whole point of the calling the Wii the Wii is because it sounds like the word “we," as in a group of people. It was meant to symbolize the universal appeal of the system to everyone. The “U” at the end sort of ruins this. Now it sounds like “We You," which is not a thing that anyone says, and almost seems to exclude some of the people who were welcome to use it before, as in “Not We, You”. Weird.

Also, when something is a successor to something else, you put a number after it, not a letter. Everyone immediately understood that the PlayStation 2 was the successor to the PlayStation, and that the PlayStation 3 came after that. It’s simple. Here, the U almost leads you to believe otherwise. Check it out. Your brain hears it and goes “Wii 2? Oh, no, not Wii 2, Wii U.” It sounds similar to 2 and isn’t, and so you immediately think it’s not the Wii 2, which it really sort of is. If Nintendo still wants to call this thing a Wii, the smartest thing to do would be to call it the Wii 2.

Of course, getting away from the number system is not unheard of, especially not for Nintendo. The Nintendo Entertainment System was followed by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Most of the name is the same, but the word “Super” is in there, so you know immediately that it’s a better version of what has come before. The U in Wii U is not already universally understood to mean better, but rather that whatever it’s following now has something to do with college. So, Nintendo, if you’re not going to go with Wii 2, then at least call it the Super Wii, or something along those lines.

Just DON’T do this. No.

Or just come up with something entirely different to call it! Abandon the word Wii altogether! It’s basically just nonsense, anyway. I’m not going to suggest anything myself — that’s pointless. But remember how amped we were in 2005 about the Nintendo Revolution, and how “HUH? It’s called WHAT NOW?” we were after they announced that it was now the Wii? Remember that, Nintendo?

The Wii U is not out yet, guys; you still have time to fix this and all the other things I’ve mentioned here. I love you guys! I’m going to buy your product anyway, but please just launch this thing right so I can feel cool about owning Nintendo stuff again. And for God’s sake, can we PLEASE get an Earthbound sequel at E3? Just kidding.

Alex Faciane is a freelance writer who loves video games about as much as you do, probably. He spends most of his time reading or writing about weird mysterious stuff or doing comedy in Los Angeles. If you love him or hate him, follow him on Twitter @facianea.