How New Nintendo Hardware At E3 Impacts Everyone
You’ve probably heard the rumors that Nintendo will announce new hardware at E3. It isn’t just that E3 web page thing either, Industry sources say third parties are talking about this new hardware too.
If this new hardware rumor is true, what could it be? What does it mean for the newly released Xbox One and PS4 consoles? Not to mention the Wii U and 3DS?
Well let me get the biggest bit of speculation out of the way first: I don’t think we’ll see a Wii U or 3DS successor at E3. If the device is set to come out in late 2015 then maybe Nintendo is courting third parties now but I wouldn’t imagine a reveal any sooner than E3 2015.
Announcing a Wii U successor right now, despite the console’s struggles, would be commercial suicide. It would be truly following in the footsteps of Sega during the 90’s. Consumer confidence would be damaged irreparably, just like how consumers didn’t want to invest in Sega’s consoles after releasing the Sega CD (1992), 32X (1994), Saturn (1995) and Dreamcast (1999) in a 7 year period.
If they did release a Wii U successor, it would have to be truly unique to withstand negative consumer feedback. It would have to be at least as powerful, if not more so, than the PS4 and Xbox One. The Wii U Game Pad would not be an option and releasing an uber-powerful console for $400 seems very anti-Nintendo right now. I just can’t see a Wii U successor coming anytime soon, 2016 at the very earliest.
As is, I don’t think Sony’s PS4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One console would have much to worry about. They’ve already or nearly outsold the Wii U’s entire lifetime to date so suffice it to say they’ve got their own part of the market that is loyal to them.
I suppose a 3DS successor wouldn’t be out of the question. The 3DS is three years old and the Game Boy Color/Game Boy Advance were 3 years old when they were replaced. With more pressure from smartphones and tablets then ever, maybe Nintendo will pull the trigger on a new DS sooner than we think. I still don’t think that will happen but its more plausible than a Wii U successor.
3DS sales are on the decline despite the releases of the 2DS, Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Pokemon so maybe Nintendo has accelerated next-gen plans after seeing this decline. I’d be open to a Nintendo HDS that tries to be more powerful than the PS Vita, at least marginally, depending on what it brings to the table.
Still, I think the most likely scenario is we get a Wii U redesign. There is always the chance of a 3DSi Lite XL or something like that but the Wii U is in dire need of a price cut. Nintendo loses money on each Wii U so a price cut is not possible right now. If they were to re-model the Wii U and cut costs, a la the PS3 Slim in 2009, then maybe they could price the Wii U at $199 or $249 and sell it for a profit instead of at a loss.
Software isn’t the only key to selling systems. After a steady flow of great first party games it seems consumers still aren’t that interested in the Wii U. This is despite The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, Wii Party U, Wii Fit U, Pokemon Rumble Blast, Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country, Wind Waker HD and improving the system’s software lineup.
Reducing the size of the Game Pad’s screen (the controller costs $80+ right now to make), taking out Wii backwards compatibility, swapping the slot loading disc drive for something cheaper (top-loading) are all options on reducing the Wii U’s production costs.
If the Wii U gets re-modeled and a price drop then maybe Sony and Microsoft will have something to worry about. Nintendo’s marketing will have to improve dramatically but a $200 Wii U with Nintendo’s great first party games could turn the system around to at least respectable levels. I’d doubt we’d see the Wii U outsell the Xbox One or PS4 during any period, but it would probably do better than 50k-70k per month in the US if it was half the price of the PS4 while also delivering new exclusives like Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros.
In the end I don’t really think we’ll get new Nintendo hardware this year. If we do, its much more likely to be a new model of something that already exists. Their upcoming Quality of Life platform and their recent trademark for a “video playing” device point at something happening at Nintendo, I just don’t want to get my hopes up for something bigger than what we’ll likely receive.