The Wii U’s Unsuccessful Start is a Marketing Problem

Nintendo Family

The Wii U should have dominated the home console market during the last holiday season. The Wii U undercut the PS4′s price by $100 and the Xbox One’s price by $200. The Wii U also had a much wider selection of games:

  • Super Mario 3D World
  • Rayman Legends
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
  • Pikmin 3
  • Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
  • The Wonderful 101
  • Super Luigi U

So, why didn’t the Wii U sell? Marketing. Ask your average parent if they know what a Wii is, and more often than not, they’ll say yes. Hell, I’m sure most adults in the US have played a round or two of Wii Sports Bowling as well. Now, ask that same parent if they know what a Wii U is. They wont know what you’re talking about. If Nintendo is going to shake things up internally, the first thing they need to change is their marketing strategy.

The Wii U is only being marketed towards children right now. Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network are filled with Wii U adds throughout the day to build hype for kids. Hell, when I hear a GameStop employees sharing information about the Wii U to a customer, the first thing they usually say is, “Well, it’s more for younger children.” This isn’t the right approach for Nintendo at all. Nintendo needs to market the Wii U as an “All-In-One” entertainment box not just for kids, but for every single person in the family. The tablet market is huge and Nintendo needs to be able to market to an older generation that the main peripheral for this entertainment box is a working tablet. Can the Wii U’s resistive touchscreen GamePad compete with flagship Android and iOS tablets? Absolutely not, but when Nintendo shows that a consumer can have a tablet (that doubles as a universal remote) included with their entertainment box for only $300, it won’t matter how well the tablet competes because of how inexpensive the cost of entry is.


Nintendo also needs to do a huge marketing campaign on sports channels like ESPN to promote their Nintendo TVii. Watching football with a Wii U is actually a very impressive experience, and Nintendo doesn’t talk about it at all. Nintendo needs to show sports fans that they can follow their favorite NFL teams and get live updates from the Wii U GamePad while they’re watching other teams play on their TV. If Nintendo can obtain premium services like NHL Center Ice and MLB TV on the Wii U, then Nintendo can truly cater to almost any sports fan.

Nintendo doesn’t need to market towards us, the core players that follow gaming news. Their current and future game lineup is impressive, and the only convincing people like us need is a solid lineup of games to play. Nintendo needs to market towards the majority. The non-gamers. These are the people that will sell consoles. And by advertising the Wii U as the complete entertainment system at a cheaper cost than its competitors, Nintendo could possibly see some sales increases.


  • Jelani Thompson

    Nice article :D

    • CouchSquadNick

      We appreciate the feedback!

  • 1grub

    ” it won’t matter how that how well tablet competes”

    “and Nintendo advertise this experience at all”


    • CouchSquadNick

      Thanks for the heads up. Not sure how it slipped through, but it has been corrected.

  • Anthony Abney

    I’m not trying to be hypercritical, but this seems like the article was written by someone with a huge Nintendo bias (seeing related articles by the same guy below somewhat backs the claim). if it was just a marketing problem, they have had over a year to fix that. its so much more.

    The Wii U has a software AND hardware problem and they refuse to admit it. The nintendo core gamers of old have grown up. We don’t want to buy a console just for Mario and Zelda anymore. We want a console that will have a variety of games that will please everyone…and the hardware to back it up. As for the casual gamers? They see no reason to upgrade. Nintendo got them into the market with the original Wii and the ones that know the Wii U is an actual new console still don’t want it because the magic has worn off. They want something new as well.

    Third party developers have gone on record saying that they would never develop for the Wii U due to Nintendo’s inability to work with them the way Microsoft and Sony does. They have also criticised the hardware as being closer to the last gen with more gimmicks than the current gen. And it creates a drought in the third party department. Out of that list you made, there is very little interest in anything there. Heck, two of those games are remakes of old games. The “new features” of using the touchpad while playing the games also seems very buggy from what I’ve played at PAX. In fact, it was my experience of playing the Wii U at two conventions now that convinced me to not touch the console.

    I’m a gamer of any platform. I have or had a PS3, Xbox 360, PC, 3DS, PSP, Wii and Android devices. I have yet to buy any ‘next gen’ console. If you want me to buy your platform, you have to make something more than the same games I’ve been playing since I was 6. Nintendo does a great job with the DS/3DS. They have the ‘killer apps’ that people want to purchase the system. The Wii U simply doesn’t have that. And with the alienation of third party developers and a lot of core games wanting to push hardware limits, I find it difficult to see a future where the Wii U is competitive. I’m not saying its impossible, but until Nintendo admits this is more than marketing blunder its hard to believe they will improve from here.

    • CouchSquadNick

      I agree with your point of view. Nintendo as a company needs all sorts of restructuring.

      The other articles you may be talking about were actually written by another author (myself), and we try hard to be platform neutral. Nintendo has been dominating the headlines this week, and with this article, the author was simply sharing his opinion on what he believes Nintendo could do to improve their bottom line.

    • Dave

      Third party devs are also intimidated by competing with Nintendo’s industry-leading game development. Theres been several people who’ve reported that Nintendo isn’t any hard to develop for, so that theory is iffy at best.

      Point is, Nintendo completely missed the market that made the Wii so successful. That is what killed the console. When my wife invites friends over, people who know absolutely nothing about video games, they say things like “Wow you guys have a Wii? Cool!”

      These are the type of people that should be buying Nintendo’s console! Yet they don’t even know it exists! They have no idea what the gamepad is at all, and assume its just an optional accessory.

      • Anthony Abney

        I understand your point, but that in itself is a highlighting some of the problems I’ve talked about.

        Why would you make a console look just like your previous console? Why can’t people see that its a direct upgrade? That mistake has never happened in previous generation jumps.

        Take the PS2 and the PS3. One look at the hardware itself would tell you its different. Now imagine you can’t see the physical console. You load up a game on the PS2 and the PS3, you can see a huge difference on screen. The PS3 was clearly better than anything in the previous generation. It blew the Xbox and PS2 out of the water. That’s what generates that word of mouth hype you are describing.

        Now look at the Wii and the Wii U, a lot of the their ‘classic games’ don’t look too much different. Even when you look at their more realistic graphical games (Deus Ex for example) it doesn’t look much different than the PS3 or 360. Its hard to be impressed by it. That makes it hard to hype up to your friends.

        So is it a marketing problem? Partially. But as you say, the word of mouth hype is not there. And that’s largely due to a hardware problem.