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Wii U sales projected downward

Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013

Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013 23:02

On Wednesday, Nintendo down-scaled its projected sales forecast for the Wii U, its new console that launched just over two months ago.

Nintendo originally projected to sell 5.5 million Wii U consoles by the end of March, but following less-than-stellar sales through the holiday season, that number was cut to 4 million.

“Why are people surprised when a console with no killer games has relatively poor sales?” wondered Markus “Notch” Persson on Twitter.

A “killer app” has long been a term in the video game and computer industries to describe a piece of software that makes the hardware worth owning. Windows 95 was the killer app for a generation of new PC users.

Iconic video games like “Super Mario 64,” “Halo,” and “NiGHTS into Dreams...,” were considered killer apps for their respective systems.

The knee-jerk reaction for a self-admitted Nintendo fan like myself might be to disagree, to make “Nintendo Land” out to be more important than it really is, or to profess that “New Super Mario Bros. U” is in fact worth owning the system for.

Alas, I can’t honestly do that. I’ve really enjoyed the Wii U thus far, but there’s nothing yet that could or should justify its price if you’re not a big Nintendo fan. Notch is right, and neither Nintendo nor anyone else should be shocked by the disappointing sales figures thus far.

But does this mean the Wii U is irrevocably doomed? Not at all
The video-game industry has changed. Back in the day, a new hardware launch could rock the very foundation of what you thought games were capable of, and having an amazing new game built to take advantage of that was critical.

That all started changing with the release of the PlayStation 2 in 2000. Sure, the tech was pretty impressive, but aside from being a cheap DVD player, the system had one thing going for it: hype.

It would be nearly a year before the PS2 started recieving killer apps like “Final Fantasy X,” “Metal Gear Solid 2,” and “Grand Theft Auto 3,” great games that really pushed the system,
The Xbox 360 didn’t hit its stride until the launch of “Gears of War’ in 2006. The PS3 took about three years before it finally shed its baby teeth and became profitable.

To use a more recent example, have we already forgotten the nervous feeling that permeated the early days of Nintendo’s own 3DS in 2011? The most appealing game at launch was a port of the 2-year-old “Street Fighter IV,” and it was followed by NOTHING for months on end.

It took four months before another game really worth picking up came out, and that too was a port: “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” was awesome, but unless you were a die-hard Zelda fan, would it really be worth it?
Sales continued to flounder until Nintendo slashed the price by $80 that Fall and released a bevy of killer apps like “Mario Kart 7,” and the 3DS finally got on the right track.

Hardware launches aren’t what they once were. Tech development has slowed, but the architecture of the systems has gotten more complicated.

Developers can put out some pretty good rough drafts at launch, but typically need some time to really harness the power of a new console, especially one with as unique a mechanic as the Wii U’s GamePad.

The quality of the Wii U’s launch library was miles and miles ahead of the 3DS’.

It may not have featured a true killer app, but we know plenty of those are on the horizon. Don’t count the Big N out.

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