Wrapping Up Initial Wii U Coverage

Posted November 26th, 2012 at 9:45 am

The outlook for the Nintendo Wii U has never seemed especially bright. There is a level of confusion about what the new system is – many don’t even realize it is more than just a new controller – and it arrives a year before Sony and Microsoft roll out their new hardware that will instantly make it feel as though it is a generation behind. That the console is readily available at retailers even following Black Friday is a sign of either surprisingly low awareness and consumer interest or much greater supply than anticipated. 

Regardless the user base for the Wii U isn’t very deep at this point and that severely hampers the value of multiplayer games. At peak times the number of users on have averaged 40 for Madden NFL 13 and 20 for FIFA 13 and NBA 2K13. Even a massive title like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 only has in the hundreds on at a given time as opposed to the hundreds of thousands active on the other systems. So few being online means finding a head-to-head game is difficult and splintering that group between online-based modes basically kills them. NBA 2K13’s MyTeam or Team-Up modes and FIFA 13’s Online Seasons for all intents and purposes are not available to play on the system due to the absence of competition.

Performance wise third party ports are displaying some early issues. Framerate problems have been the most evident – games are not running nearly as smooth as on the other consoles – and graphically they aren’t matching up favorably. Despite that the tablet features have shown a lot of potential and have proven to be fun to use. It’s just questionable whether that is appealing enough to overcome those other drawbacks.

Madden NFL 13 is the most suited for the touchscreen features and capitalizes with responsive play calling, hot route drawing, and the setting of individual defensive player assignments all available to complete through the tablet. The poor framerate and lack of the physics engine hurts the overall experience significantly however. Full impressions can be read here.

FIFA 13 has the most options at hand feature wise with the tablet controller but all of that is difficult to take advantage of during the natural course of playing the game. It acts instead as the ideal way to play FIFA in Manage mode. Full impressions can be read here.

NBA 2K13 is the least interactive on the tablet with D-PAD functions essentially just shifted over to the touchscreen. It has some framerate issues and takes a step back graphically but content wise is more true to the 360/PS3 version than the other two sports games. Full impressions can be read here.

  • Not surprised. I saw a few Wii U units in stores the other day and was wondering why they were there. I don’t think the Wii U will fail, but this has Gamecube 2 written all over it. If I recall, the Gamecube is the last home console that was very easy to find a few days after launch. It garnered a following, because it’s Nintendo, but never had widespread success. The wild card with the Wii U, though, is how it will hold being a generation behind AGAIN…

    Sad that FIFA doesn’t have people playing online. I was considering FIFA and a Wii U for the sole purpose of being able to play games on the tablet away from the TV. The Vita is ok, but the FIFA experience still isn’t quite up to par with the console. Guess I’ll have to wait and see what is in store with the next consoles offerings…

    • Yeah, the Wii U will sell, but the mania isn’t there for it. The hardware is not that great for a next generation console, so their only hope is having great exclusives. But honestly, I can’t stomach another Mario game. I’m all Mario’ed out.

      • Mike

        I don’t think they’re looking for “mania”. Nintendo sells more game units than Microsoft and Sony combined.

        • Every game company is looking for mania, that’s the whole idea. It’s a sales business. The sales of the regular Wii were definitely mania-level, it’s sold about 97 Million units worldwide, but it hasn’t sold more than 360 and PS3 combined. The 360 has sold 70 million units, and the PS3 has sold 70.2 Million units, combing for over 140 Million units.

          Nintendo’s success with the Wii is the first in a long time for them in terms of being sales leaders. Take for example the Gamecube which only sold about 22 Million units, versus the XBOX 1 which sold 24 Million units, and the PS2 which sold about 154 Million units. The Gamecube got crushed along with the XBOX 1.

          Or let’s go back to the 32/64-Bit generation. The PS1 sold 102 Million units, while the Nintendo 64 sold only about 33 Million units. The N64 got devastated only to do worse sales numbers the next generation with the Gamecube.

  • indycolts

    like many nintendo systems, it will probably be appreciated long after its release. NES, SNES, and N64 are all still loved systems played today and the gamecube, ds, and 3ds are all receiving attention long after their releases

    • GameCube? Really? I don’t see that one happening much. Got any links?

      • FYOU

        You want a link ? The games cost more than the Gamecubes do now because the demand for most Gamecube games is high.

        • There are games for lots of dead systems that cost more than the systems they played on, and that usually has to do with the games being rare. The GameCube only sold 22 Million units and was completed dominated by the PS2 (154 Million units sold), even the XBOX-1 outsold it by about 2 million units.

          I’ll give the nod to the N64, and to the DS which was a run-away success, but the Gamecube just didn’t get it done.

  • Skihawks

    I believe that the extended life span of the 360 and PS3 is hurting the Wii U. Those systems have evolved and offer much more than the U.

    I owned a Wii and this new system doesn’t excite me. I am looking to see what MS and Sony offer up next year.