Can Wii Sports And Wii Fit Save The Wii U?

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Did you know there was a Nintendo Direct covering Wii Sports and Wii Fit this week? I didn’t, and I’m usually on top of those things.

A few days ago Nintendo made some announcements essentially about how it plans to introduce those franchises to the Wii U. While they sound pretty smart, I’m still worried about the potential lack of awareness of them, especially considering they’re the Nintendo franchises that benefitted the most from mass market exposure.

Wii Sports and Wii Fit are franchises with entries that have sold upwards of 40 million copies. They were killer apps for the Wii, so one would expect they might do pretty well for the Wii U, but look at what’s happened to that system (and to some extent the 3DS) in contrast with the Wii.

One of the Wii U’s main problems is lack of awareness — most o f the customers who made the Wii a success either don’t know the Wii U exists or aren’t aware it’s a distinct console from the Wii. Nintendo launched the Wii U expecting New Super Mario Bros. U — the sequel to games that have sold in the tens of millions, to be its killer app. Anyone looking at sales figures knows how that turned out, and Nintendoland didn’t become the killer app Wii Sports was. Even the 3DS versions of games like Brain Age and Nintendogs went by completely unnoticed compared to their explosively successful DS predecessors. I’m afraid these upcoming Wii Sports and Wii Fit releases will fly right over mass market consumers’ heads.

If you don’t know, Nintendo’s going to release this fall digital versions of the Wii Sports games on Wii U that will be in HD and have online play. In addition, starting in November a digital version of Wii Fit U on Wii U will be free until the end of January (I think). That’s great and all, but how are they gonna get people to know that if there’s no retail presence?

Nintendo Direct itself probably has problems with exposure — it’s primarily available either at Nintendo.com or on Nintendo devices. I don’t know how much the YouTube channel get’s around, but I don’t think this brand of advertising is nearly as effective as the commercials the original Wii got towards its launch in 2006. Nintendo’s gonna need to advertise the crap out of this new stuff (and everything about the Wii U really) this fall.

Should Nintendo put posters all over their retail space advertising enhanced Wii Sports? Should “Free Wii Fit” be plastered all over the box of each Wii U in November? I still don’t know why I’ve seen basically no Wii U-related commercials (in the US) since spring. The same goes for other upcoming Wii U software like Mario 3D World.

It’s great that Nintendo’s handling the digital releases of the Wii’s staple games so well (except the lack of a proper account system). I just don’t think Nintendo Direct by itself is enough to let the intended audience know about it, and I’ve seen no indication yet of the fall 2013 marketing push that Nintendo needs.

BULLETS:

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2 thoughts on “Can Wii Sports And Wii Fit Save The Wii U?

  1. Nope. Revisiting two fads won’t save the Wii U at this point. Nintendo needs a miracle if they don’t want to be left behind by the PS4 and Xbox One in a flash.

  2. volvocrusher says:

    Nintendo’s actually been advertising quite a bit on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Saw ads for Lego City Undercover and Pikmin 3 up to a month before they came out. They just know their target audience for those two will be kids and gamers like us who don’t need commercials, so they are advertising at least. I see them advertising this the way you described, but don’t think people are going to want to pay that much for those games in HD. I think Smash and Mario Kart will help the Wii U really gain sales, but nowhere near Wii levels.

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