Written by Brandon Miracle. Media by Stephen Hillrich.
The Wii U needs all the help it can get right now, but nobody wants to give it until Nintendo pushes units through its own first party software. So what does Nintendo have coming down the pipeline? Well, two of Nintendo’s biggest franchises are landing on the platform this year, one of which is only weeks away, Mario Kart 8.
Media via Nintendo youTube channel
Mario Kart has always been Nintendo’s go-to guy when they need to pick up some speed. Terrible pun aside, Mario Kart has traditionally sold really well across all of Nintendo’s platforms (video). In fact, Mario Kart is the second best selling video game on the Nintendo 64, the Gamecube, the Wii, and the Nintendo 3DS. It lands in the top 5 in every other applicable case. Why is that? Well, because it’s Mario Kart.
Other than the branding, Nintendo is taking the appropriate steps to make sure that this game sells well. From the new tracks to the beautiful visuals, there’s a lot to take in here, but let’s focus on the things that are really going to help push the game where it counts.
The reinforced focus of online play will really play into the longevity of Mario Kart 8. On top of the traditional Mario Kart online features, Nintendo is adding the ability to create user-made tournaments, upload race highlight videos to Miiverse and YouTube, and use voice chat, though in a rather limited form. These are the kinds of features that speak to players on the other teams. PlayStation and Xbox owners are all too familiar with features such as these. The benefits go beyond just the player and start targeting non-consumers. Other than “being Mario Kart”, non-consumers will look at these online features and feel more inclined to jump on the Wii U bandwagon. But, you don’t want to buy a system for just one game, right?
Alongside the release of Mario Kart 8, Nintendo is marketing a brand new Wii U bundle that features the game. On top of having beautiful box art, there is one key promotion that will really entice the average consumer. If you purchase a copy of Mario Kart 8 or the Wii U bundle, between launch and the end of July, you will be given the option to download one of four first party Wii U games for free. The games include: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, New Super Mario Bros. U, Pikmin 3, and Wii Party U. Now the consumer has not only one, but two triple-A Wii U games for their brand new Wii U. That will leave a long lasting impression on the customer, and will likely result in the wonderful chain that is word-of-mouth. As more consumers hear about the promotion and bundle, more and more Wii U’s will start coming off store shelves. But, will the new consumers have anything to play in the future?
Coming out at the end of this year is Nintendo’s other smash-hit, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. An even worse pun aside, like Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros. finds itself in the top 10 best selling games on every platform it has ever appeared on. But as explored previously, Nintendo is relying on more than just branding to make sales.
Media via Super Smash Bros. youTube channel
As you may have heard, Super Smash Bros. Melee is a pretty popular game. Still being played by millions of people daily 13 years after launch really proves just how strong its community is. However, most of that community doesn’t spend much time playing Melee’s successor, Super Smash Bros. Brawl due to a severe lack of attention to competitive detail. Melee’s strong competitive community has since shunned the game and continued to play Melee for years to come. The community has traditionally been ignored, and even dismissed, by Nintendo and Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai until recently. April’s Super Smash Bros. Direct (video) threw many bones to the competitive community by offering them exclusive online modes and game play quirks that really play to their style.
Following that up, Nintendo revealed its 2014 E3 plans which included two very important Super Smash Bros. related events. The first is the “Super Smash Bros. Invitational” tournament being streamed live in the Nokia Theater for millions of players to see. Those lucky to be invited are likely to come straight from the community that made Melee so strong. This will be Nintendo’s sure fire way to regain all of the lost support from the competitive community. This tournament alone could help sell millions of copies to that singular community. As for the rest of the consumer-base Nintendo is also holding a Best Buy exclusive “Smash-Fest”, which will give everyone the opportunity to play Nintendo’s all-star fighter during E3 this year. Both of these events are sure to convince many a gamer that they need to own a Wii U to play this game.
With Nintendo’s new marketing schemes for both of these new games, as well as the appeal of these games in general, one could expect several million Wii U’s to come off of store shelves in the coming year or two. But the question remains, are these two games going to be the saving grace for the Wii U?
If they’re not, there’s always Zelda.