NOTE: Though this console may not be bad in itself, it did very poorly on the market, which is what this article will primarily focus on.
The Wii U is a home video game console developed by Nintendo, and the successor to the Wii. Released in November 2012 and discontinued on January 31, 2017, it was the first eighth-generation home video game console and used to compete with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Why It Flopped
- Poor marketing: Advertisements were fairly uncommon and the ads also focused too much on younger kids and families. The ads also focused more on the game-pad rather than the console itself (the console sometimes is barely visible in the ads as well")
- The name "Wii U" and the overly kid-friendly marketing made many people confused about whether the system was a new console or an add-on for the Wii (especially with how Nintendo made many Wii games and Wii accessories with the title Wii slapped on it). In contrast, the PlayStation's successor was called the "PlayStation 2" which made it easy for everyone to know it was a new console.
- It lacked third party support due to its poorly designed hardware that made it difficult to program for. When the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released, developers immediately fled the Wii U in favor of them. Some poor hardware designs include:
- The PowerPC-based CPU was essentially just three Wii CPUs overclocked and thrown together onto the same chip (It didn't help the fact that the Wii CPU was also just 3 GameCube CPUs overclocked as well, which meant that the Wii U was based on severely outdated technology.). According to some developers, the CPU has less than half the power of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
- It only has 2 GB of shared system and graphics RAM. Meanwhile, neither of its competitors had less than 8 GB of RAM.
- Internal storage space is very small on standard models, with only 8 GB (with only about 4.5GB of that actually available to the user, as the rest is taken up by the OS), while deluxe models have 32 GB. Either option severely limits digital downloads of games. The only ways to expand storage were via an external USB or an SD card.
- Just like its predecessor, the Wii U lacks an Ethernet port, forcing you to get an adapter if you want to use it.
- Like its predecessor, it uses a proprietary disk format and cannot play DVDs or Blu-rays, unlike its competitors.
- The console's hardware was far weaker than the PS4 and Xbox One. While many developers were willing to make downgraded versions of PS3/Xbox 360 games for the Wii, they weren't willing to make downgraded PS4/Xbox One games for Wii U due to the aforementioned issues with developing games for it and due to the large difference in hardware power.
- While Nintendo gave it a large amount of first-party support, they completely ignored many of their IPs; most of the first party games were either Mario games or Mario spinoffs. There wasn't even a new Metroid game, or a Zelda game until after the Switch had already been released; there were only HD remasters of the GameCube games in the series.
- The console didn't get a lot of sports video games, unlike other consoles. It never got a MLB or a NHL video game. Plus, it only got only a single NBA video game called NBA 2K13. The same goes with the Madden NFL and FIFA series. Additionally, it never got a PGA Tour video game, and to make things worse, many of Nintendo's sports games like Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash and Wii Sports Club were lackluster, with the latter simply being a reskin of a game that was released for the Wii.
- The GamePad, the Wii U's main focus, was often underutilized or poorly implemented: even Nintendo's own first party games didn't use it much except for Off-TV play. The GamePad's battery life is also terrible, which further reduced the usability of Off-TV play, as did the fairly short WiFi range. The TV button itself is also hardly ever used, and the GamePad itself is a very large controller. For more examples:
- The four face buttons on the right side of the GamePad are awkwardly placed.
- Likewise, third-party developers often didn't know how to implement the GamePad into games that were not originally designed with the Wii U in mind.
- Only one player can use the GamePad during multiplayer games, as the system cannot connect to multiple GamePads, despite Nintendo promising it could use two.
- Nintendo never sold GamePads separately for over three years, and even then, you can only buy them in Japan. If the player broke their GamePad in any means possible, they would either have to ship their GamePad over or buy an entire new console.
- Some games use the Wii Remotes, which don't come included with the Wii U, instead of the GamePad, and even required the MotionPlus add-on at times.
- While the Pro Controller is often available for players that don't like the GamePad, some games such as Lego City Undercover, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Mario Party 10 made it mandatory to use.
- Despite knowing that the system was struggling, Nintendo kept the price at or slightly above $300 during its entire lifespan, when you can get a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One for cheaper. Same goes for many first party games, which are, to this day, still sold at their launch price.
- The stylus is very slippery and loose meaning that you could easily lose it.
- While it certainly did not have as much shovelware as the Wii did, Nintendo exercised very little quality control over indie developer content. Games like Meme Run, Bigley's Revenge, and The Stonecutter ended up on the Wii U as a result.
- Most of the Wii U's games are simply redone versions of Wii or 3DS games.
- It's home to what is considered not only the worst Sonic game but one of the worst games of all time: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric.
- Very few of the PS3/X360 games released between the Wii U's launch and the launches of the PS4 and Xbox One were ported to Wii U. The games that were ported didn't have any real performance advantages, and were frequently stiffed on content compared to the other versions. A particularly infamous example was EA releasing Mass Effect 3 for Wii U but not the Mass Effect Trilogy.
- Most of the Wii U's original games have been remastered for the Switch and/or the 3DS, and given the fact that the Switch is a hybrid console, this makes it another reason to not buy the Wii U.
Despite being a commercial failure, the Wii U did have enough redeeming qualities to be on Awesome Games Wiki.
The console was well received by reviewers, though developers were distinctly more skeptical of the system due to its weak hardware, and struggled to find non-gimmicky ways to use its various unique features. Only 13.56 million units were sold as of March 31, 2017, lower than Nintendo's previously lowest selling home console, the GameCube. It should be noted that this is only the lowest-selling because Nintendo claimed the Virtual Boy was a portable system; the Wii U at least outsold that.
The Wii U's failure caused many to become concerned about Nintendo's future as a hardware manufacturer. Many were quite critical when their next console, the Switch, was announced, wondering if it would turn out to be a similarly gimmicky piece of hardware that would struggle to find a place.
The Nintendo Switch's success help undo much of the damage caused by the Wii U, with many saying Nintendo learned their lesson from the Wii U. Several of the Wii U's ideas have been implemented for the Switch and done better.
The Switch also got remasters of many Wii U games with extra content, to the point that some of them outsold not only their Wii U version, but the Wii U itself such as Mario Kart 8 selling 24.77 copies on the switch alone (more than the Wii U version and the Wii U itself combined)