I’ve mentioned this to a few people and they’ve all told me that Nintendo wouldn’t release a new 3D Mario and Mario Kart game so close to each other. I don’t argue with this logic. Under normal circumstances I’d agree that it would be better to space these two major games apart from one another. But this holiday Nintendo’s Wii U console won’t be under normal circumstances as Microsoft and Sony launch their next-generation consoles.
Back in 2011 the Nintendo 3DS wasn’t doing so well. A major price drop helped to spur the system from terrible sales to somewhat above average sales. The driving factor that holiday season that turned the 3DS around was Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7.
It may seem outlandish to some, the idea of releasing a brand new 3D Mario game and a Mario Kart sequel within 30 days of each other. But that’s just what Nintendo did in 2011 to get the 3DS off life support. They knew that releasing those two games close to each other had to be done to get consumers interested in the 3DS at a faster rate.
Super Mario 3D Land released on November 13th, 2011 and has since sold over 8 million copies. Mario Kart 7 debuted on December 4th, 2011 and went on to sell over 6 million copies. This combination was just the thing the 3DS needed in the wake of its $80 price cut.
Software sells systems and Nintendo knows this. If they had pushed one of these two marquee 3DS games back into 2012 things may be different for the 3D handheld. Perhaps it would still get to the place it is today but it surely would’ve taken at least a little bit longer.
Nintendo should take note of this and prepare their latest 3D Super Mario game and Mario Kart U for release this holiday in a similar fashion. If anything the Wii U is in far more need of this one-two-punch than the 3DS ever was.
Granted, the 3DS had the looming presence of the PS Vita in the horizon but for the most part there wasn’t a huge threat to the 3DS’s success other than its high price tag. Nintendo’s new home console, the Wii U, has to convince holiday shoppers this year to purchase their new HD system over new consoles from Sony and Microsoft.
Perhaps Sony and Microsoft drop the ball with their new consoles. Maybe the launch prices will be too high, maybe consumers will be upset if these devices don’t play used games. There are a number of factors that could help to tip the scales in Nintendo’s favor, but Nintendo can’t rely on Sony and Microsoft making mistakes. They have to make an aggressive move to get consumer attention the Wii U regardless of what Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles bring to the table.
There is a strong chance this might actually happen. Nintendo has confirmed that both Mario Kart U and the latest 3D Mario game will be playable at E3 in June. The fact that both games will have playable builds hints that they may be nearing completion. Nintendo is known for not showing off playable builds of games until they are within six months of release. There have been exceptions to this in the past but Nintendo is generally pretty good about not letting the press play something if it isn’t almost ready to ship.
If Nintendo can manage to get a brand new 3D Super Mario game as well as Mario Kart U on store shelves by the end of 2013 they will surely make the Wii U one of the hottest gifts during the holidays. Sony and Microsoft’s press teams will be blitzing consumers with messages of more powerful hardware and other unique features of those consoles.
It won’t be an easy holiday season for Nintendo. No matter what they do, new consoles from Sony/Microsoft are sure to be looming over their every action. Their best defense against these new consoles would be releasing both of these games before the year ends.
I think launching the 3D Mario game in early November and Mario Kart U in December would be a good fit, just like in 2011 on the 3DS. This holiday season Nintendo needs to come out swinging and I can’t imagine two better heavy hitters than 3D Mario and Mario Kart U.