Throughout the Wii U’s first year Nintendo’s strategy appeared increasingly–and frustratingly–mysterious to many of us. Mixed marketing messages, including the choice of Wii U for a name, coupled with an initial software drought have justified extra pressure for the Kyoto-based company to buckle down and prove the console is worth owning.
Hey, but look at them now! As if Nintendo truly had their ears open to the serious tone of industry concern, the Wii U’s outlook is beginning to improve. The New York Times and other major publications rave that big holiday titles like Super Mario 3D World might just pull off the task of rescuing the little white console that (seemingly) couldn’t. Nintendo has even begun to ramp-up marketing: Free Wii U’s for everyone! …well maybe if you were a lucky Southwest Airlines passenger, at least.
As many Wii U owners, and many more non-owners know, serious questions remain for Nintendo regarding their Wii U strategy. One of the biggest of these, I believe, revolves around Nintendo TVii. What’s next for one of the most underused services on the system?
While it’s hard to argue that much of anything about the Wii U has been truly mass-marketed in the year since launch, Nintendo has been the most tight-lipped regarding its integrated TV service. Off to a decent enough start–albeit launching late–the general consensus of the press was that the service showed potential. Nintendo TVii offered a truly unique way to experience television. In fact, it was one of the first of its kind to attempt the integration of both live TV and streaming services into one social platform.
But what now? Of course it’s perfectly reasonable to argue the age old mantra that great games–and great games alone–are the foundation of Nintendo’s success. Being a dedicated Nintendo fan myself, I believe there is some serious truth to the company’s oft-repeated message to consumers and investors: “Software drives hardware in this business.” Indeed, great games are the main reason for the recent praise of the company. But as many sit at home barking commands at their new Xbox One console, Nintendo’s effort to innovate upon its own entertainment service has been nonexistent.
Other than a brief reference on the latest official Wii U info-graphic the last time Nintendo TVii received any real attention from Nintendo was in March. For those of you that can remember that long ago, it was when Netflix was added. The increased focus on Wii U marketing by Nintendo is fantastic, and seems to be an effective restart for both the company’s P.R. strategy and the public’s perception of the Wii U.
However as the media spotlight finally starts to turn onto the console, Nintendo’s recent successes might not be able to completely outshine some of the Wii U’s ongoing problems. Nintendo TVii may not be critical to the value of the Wii U as a gaming machine, but it may be critical to the system’s future commercial success. Bottom line: for the sake of my own ability to continue playing great Nintendo franchises, I’d like to see all aspects of the Wii U strategy succeed.
Is it fair to compare Nintendo with Sony and Microsoft for its console’s entertainment capabilities? Do you use Nintendo TVii? If so, how would you like to see it change? I’m curious to hear your thoughts!