Nintendo’s Post-Launch Season: Past and Present

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So everyone seems to be criticizing Nintendo’s early 2013 game release forecast for the Wii U in North America. An unusually dry post-launch season, or is this in line with past Nintendo consoles?

If you look at the list here and compare it to what Nintendo has been telling us since E3, the main change is of course that The Wonderful 101, Game & Wario, and Wii Fit U have slipped into quarter 2 (Pikmin 3 was delayed a while ago). That leaves us with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Lego City, Rayman Legends, and a few other games for quarter 1.

And by quarter 1, they pretty much just mean March. The very earliest release on that list is Rayman coming in at the end of February. Everything else is March, leaving literally nothing for January and most of February. Of course that’s on top of the total absence of almost all multiplatform games coming out on the other platforms this season.

That’s what the basic running story has been. I wanted to look at where that sits however compared to previous Nintendo console lineups in the same timeframe. Some quick searches of past January announcements from Nintendo reveals what I see as a somewhat downward slope of third party support, but somewhat of an increase in exclusives. This also didn’t really affect the following months in each time period.

The Gamecube actually started out getting healthy representation of the multiplatform games everyone else was getting according to Gamespot back in January 2002. The only notable “exclusive” was Bloody Roar: Primal Fury. Oh, and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle if you really wanna count that. Both of them were actually just enhanced ports.

It should be noted though that the Gamecube did probably have a better launch software-wise than the Wii U. In the early weeks of 2002 we were still having fun with Super Smash Bros. Melee, Luigi’s Mansion, Rogue Squadron II, and Pikmin. The Wii U doesn’t have nearly as much right now.

The Wii, being the Wii compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360, of course couldn’t get most of the multiplatform games so it basically got hand-me-downs in the first part of 2007. This is according to IGN. Most of the games it did get around that time though were exclusives for what they were worth. Oh, and there was Sonic and the Secret Rings.

I would say that for the Wii U the notable exclusives include Rayman and Monster Hunter (admittedly an HD Wii Port). For the Wii U, as with its predecessors though, this period usually ends up being a prelude to an overall good first 12 months. The gamecube ended up getting some of its best games like the Resident Evil remake and Metroid Prime in the following months of 2002. The Wii got Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 in the later months of 2007.

It’s very possible that Nintendo pushed back 101, Wii Fit, and Game & Wario because what we know of now is all we’re getting on the Wii U until E3. Those four Q2 exclusives along with Rayman are still making me consider getting a Wii U sometime this year, just probably a little later than I originally imagined.

I’m still interested in seeing how Wii Fit U does in particular. It’s the successor to two games that sold 20 million copies each. The Wii U in my opinion is facing a crisis of marketing — whatever word of mouth that helped the Wii succeed just ain’t there for the Wii U. I don’t know if Wii Fit U can start to spark that, but Nintendo needs to do whatever they can to let Wii Fit’s original audience know that another game is out and that it’s on a new console.

To write off all of 2013 for the Wii U because of this list though is probably unwise. You can argue all you want about Nintendo’s new policy of not announcing new games until they’re just about done, but that still means they’re probably holding back announcements for the second half of the year until E3. Whatever big fall game Nintendo has planned ain’t been announced yet. Actually, how much do we know about Q3 and Q4 2013 gaming for any platform?

Anyway, the 3DS on the other hand is looking much better for Q1. I actually just played the Fire Emblem Awakening demo which has totally convinced me to at least put the game on my eventual purchase calendar (I’m already building up a 3DS backlog). In March you’ve got Etrian Odyssey IV and the 3DS version of Monster Hunter, along with Luigi’s Mansion and some other games people other than me care about.

Similar to Wii Fit U I’m also interested in seeing how Brain Age: Concentration Training does, which comes out on February 10th. Brain Age was one of the DS’s casual hits and it’d be nice if Nintendo could get the word out about that too.

I can at least say that I’m glad I own a 3DS now.

BULLETS:

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2 thoughts on “Nintendo’s Post-Launch Season: Past and Present

  1. Matt Mason says:

    I think the early release calender for Wii U. Then again, I play video games slower and more deliberately than most, so I don’t mind months in between titles I’m interested in. I’ve still got Assassin’s Creed III and Scribblenauts Unlimited to topple, which likely won’t happen by the time Rayman Legends even comes out.

    I’m also excited to see both Brain Age and Wii Fit making new outings, and I can tell you my wife, the eponymous casual market these reach, is equally excited. Although, she knows about them because she has a game-crazy husband, which doesn’t say much for how Nintendo will market them.

    It’s funny how people were quick to point out the dearth of new releases for Wii U in the next few months, but beyond BioShock Infinite I don’t see a whole lot on the horizon for PS3 or 360 either…

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