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COMMENT | It Might Be A Merry Wii U Christmas After All...

Jonathan Lester
Nintendo, Wii U

COMMENT | It Might Be A Merry Wii U Christmas After All...

The Wii U hasn't had a great year, to put it very mildly. Despite a smattering of absolutely sensational first-party software, Nintendo's machine has stumbled and struggled to attract customers thanks to a near-total dearth of third party titles, mixed messages and a release slate that's more gaps than games. With two next-gen consoles releasing next month, along with plenty of multi-platform titles for other platforms, it's tempting to suggest that the Wii U is going to have a lean old Yuletide. Standing outside the foreclosed orphanage, perhaps, clutching its frostbitten teddy bear.

But then again, miracles happen at Christmas.

We tend to see consoles as pieces of gaming hardware, a means to the end of playing fantastic games. That's our perspective as gamers, that's our context. However, in December, they transform into something else entirely, at least for the majority of consumers. Consoles stop being consoles... and become presents. Once you shift your context and change your perspective, barging through the crowds with bags in hand or racing to meet the last postage deadline, things are very different.

COMMENT | It Might Be A Merry Wii U Christmas After All...

Be honest: have you started your Christmas shopping yet? I'm sure that some of you have, but trust me, most people aren't that organised. No, once the Christmas rush starts in earnest, the vast majority of us are going to be dashing about like mad things trying to get gifts for our partners, little Timmy and Nell, not to mention weird Uncle Frobisher and the rest of his commune. Just me? Huh.

Little Timmy and Nell want a console for Christmas, so let's face it, you're going to want to buy them a PS4. "You" being a strictly hypothetical thought experiment construct, of course, along with the non-existent Nell and Timmy. I've never met someone called Nell.

COMMENT | It Might Be A Merry Wii U Christmas After All...

Sony's next-gen console is the real deal, in any sense of the phrase. Powerful hardware, a surprisingly comfortable controller, some neat boxed games AND plenty of F2P games that won't run you a penny? You'd be mad not to. Which is what everyone will be thinking. Meanwhile Sony is still facing a logistical mountain in manufacturing enough consoles to satisfy their pre-order demand, let alone flooding high street stores with bundles to spare.

I'd love to believe that everyone who wants a PS4 is going to be able to walk into a shop and buy one, a fortnight before Christmas. Gosh, that would be lovely. But can you see it happening? Really? There'll probably be a few knocking about on eBay, mind, marked up to insane levels.

COMMENT | It Might Be A Merry Wii U Christmas After All...

Microsoft have pledged to get plenty of Xbox One consoles into stores in time for Christmas, and they probably will. Unfortunately the Kinect-enabled machine faces a very different problem. To be blunt: it costs £430, and that's the absolute bare minimum. If you want a game or two, perhaps an extra controller, an Xbox One will run you somewhere between £500-£600, and that's a lot of money at a very expensive time of year. Sure, some great parents and gaming enthusiasts will buy one for their kids (sorry: themselves, who are we kidding), but it's still a huge expense even if you got a decent Christmas bonus.

However, there is another option. An affordable option, budget even, that's practically guaranteed to be in stock. A console from a manufacturer you can trust, especially if you don't religiously follow gaming news and keep up to date with the latest. A console with brands you can trust, such as Mario, Pikmin, Zelda and Sonic (who people still have faith in, weirdly, hopefully Lost World will break the trend). For a fraction of the price of an Xbox One or PS4, you'll be able to net a relatively new games machine, GamePad, controller and some excellent extra games to boot, many of which will provide plenty of local multiplayer fun over the Christmas break.

In fact, where is the local multiplayer fun on Xbox One and PS4? There's FIFA, I suppose.

COMMENT | It Might Be A Merry Wii U Christmas After All...

Remember, many customers and parents will just be looking for a console to put under the tree, a present, and the Wii U is both present and correct price-wise. With retailers already rolling out some phenomenal unofficial bundles to supplement Nintendo's own official offerings, the little black or white box has never been more tempting.

We're not suggesting that the Wii U is going to run rampant this Christmas and crush the competition. Let's not be silly. This is very much a next-gen party, while plenty of current-gen titles are enough to keep many gamers firmly rooted with their existing hardware. Plus, XCOM: Enemy Within is happening.

But it's likely that the Wii U will end up selling modestly well, and expanding its user base significantly over the Christmas break - even if it's just as an impulse purchase or last-minute compromise for those of us who aren't clued up on the latest news or particularly worried about specifications. With the likes of Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros, X and Bayonetta 2 waiting in the wings, perhaps this was Nintendo's plan all along.

Then again, you could go ahead and buy a 3DS instead.

Add a comment4 comments
ChrisHyde  Oct. 10, 2013 at 16:43

I actually LOL'd at the last line!

And kudos the N64 image - love that video.

But to the article, I think it could go either way. I certainly think the games alone right now are enough of a reason to own a Wii U at its current price, with Mario, Wind Waker, Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, Rayman, etc etc - and those Shopto bundles are simply amazing value.

But people like new and shiny - for good reason - and there's much to be said for people pushing the purse strings because its Xmas.

But let's hope it sees a bit of a turnaround, otherwise it'll just be me and Jon playing our Wii U's this Xmas...

kristianity77  Oct. 10, 2013 at 19:52

Yeah the thing is, this could of happened last xmas when the Wii U had no competition whatsoever from anything even remotely next gen but there it sat, on the shelf, all alone.

I just think now that the people that grew up with Nintendo, and love Nintendo are now the older demographic. If they wanted the console, they wouldn't wait until Xmas to buy one. Sure, sales will go up slightly over the festive period like most things. But the kids now are growing up accustomed to things like FIFA, COD, Uncharted etc and you can be sure most will either want the Shiny new Xbox or the PS4 (speaking from what I'm having yelled at me on an almost daily basis!)

imdurc  Oct. 11, 2013 at 00:50

Yeah the thing is, this could of happened last xmas when the Wii U had no competition whatsoever from anything even remotely next gen but there it sat, on the shelf, all alone

Wrong. As everyone has been saying for the last year, the Wii U has been sorely lacking in the games dept. Last Xmas was kinda scarce for games.

Speaking as someone who has owned one since last xmas, it was an especially quiet time between february and april. I definitely didn't play much until the Rayman challenge app came out. Then a couple of nice deals came out and it's been steady play ever since.

Xmas will be all about Xbox and PS4, sure. But, I agree there will be a fair amount of new Wii U owners with some nice games to checkout. Interesting time.

googleberry  Oct. 11, 2013 at 01:05

WiiU is cloud white and conveys cute and cuddly fun. Both Xbone and PS4 are darth vader black and convey the spirit of violent hardcore teen shooter mind pollution. Crucially WiiU is quite a bit cheaper too.

Methinks it's a venus fly trap for the semi-informed, responsibly minded parent tasked with buying a games machine for the young 'uns.

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