Sony/Microsoft Could Make Nintendo Very Uncomfortable This Holiday
This last Wednesday, Sony announced the coming of the PlayStation 4. More importantly, it appears that they’ll be breaking from a traditional Spring release in North America to land on shelves this holiday season. Provided Microsoft follows suit with the Xbox 720 launch, Nintendo could find themselves in a very compromising situation with the Wii U.
Nintendo’s latest console, the Wii U is very likely facing stiff competition from both Microsoft and Sony this holiday season across the entire pricing spectrum. With the PlayStation 4 being announced for holiday 2013, and a very likely announcement from Microsoft that the next-gen Xbox will be releasing in the same window, both companies are likely to largely discount the elder-generation consoles, thus sandwiching the Wii U between two systems (the PS3 and Xbox 360) of similar graphical capabilities and vastly larger libraries at a price point below the $299 Basic bundle that Nintendo sells, and two brand new consoles (the PS4 and Microsoft’s next console currently known as Durango) that are vastly superior technologically at what’s expected to be a moderately higher price point than Nintendo’s $350 Deluxe bundle. Industry analysts and rumours are running wild of the PlayStation 4’s pricing, but we think that the $450-$500 price range at launch sounds pretty close to the mark and would be very attractive to early adopters.
But it’s not just the pricing that puts the Wii U at risk for the 2013 holiday season. Nintendo announced the Wii U at E3 2011, showing off an admirable library of both first- and third-party titles to support the console, including Darksiders 2 – a “core” game that wasn’t due to be released until summer 2012. More importantly, they showed off the Wii U’s tablet style controller so much that apparently people became confused as to whether the controller was a stand-alone portable console or an actual controller. The announcement hurt Nintendo in three ways that would lay the groundwork for the new console’s struggles at its inevitable launch in November 2012.
First, and most importantly, it gave the engineers at Microsoft and Sony more than ample time to figure out how to do many of the same things as the Wii U controller using existing devices, eventually culminating in the launch of SmartGlass for the Xbox 360 and Remote Play for the PlayStation Vita/PS3 (and later the PS4). Second, by the time the console released in the 2012 holiday season, most of the third-party games that Nintendo so proudly displayed at their conference would already be released for the 360 and PS3, leaving very little consumer motivation to go out and pick up a Wii U to play games that had been released for months on the other consoles. Third, while we’re still a few months away from E3 2013, it seems as though the third-party support for the console is still very thin. As of this writing, only ten more third-party games are slated for release in 2013 on GameStop’s website, with five of those games already available on the 360 and PlayStation 3. We could be wrong on the third point, and there could be 50 new third-party retail titles announced for the Wii U this holiday season, but it seems unlikely to us.
If Nintendo had launched the console in Spring 2012 – or more ideally, holiday 2011 – rest assured that Nintendo would have enjoyed a significant enough gap to get entrenched in consumer living rooms before the “high end” console announcements came from the Sony and Microsoft camps. As it stands, the increasing number of rumours regarding an announcement from either Sony or Microsoft very well could have fueled a wait-and-see stance from the masses resulting from too late of a launch for the Wii U among other factors. Now with the two core-gaming juggernauts warming up to enter the ring later this year, Nintendo could find itself playing the role of referee in what’s almost certain to be a knock-down, drag-out brawl between MS and Sony, left on the sidelines to spectate, rather than fighting for a chance to win the title in this generation of consoles.
This last Wednesday, Sony announced the coming of the PlayStation 4. More importantly, it appears that they’ll be breaking from a traditional spring release in North America to land on shelves this holiday season. Provided Microsoft follows suit with the Xbox 720 launch, Nintendo could find themselves in a very compromising situation with the Wii U.
Nintendo’s biggest mistake wasn’t the creation of a console whose graphical capabilities were on par with the current-gen Xbox and PlayStation; rather their biggest mistake by and large was not launching the Wii U during the holiday 2011 season (something that we’ve heard from multiple industry sources was the original intent), and revealing all of the key features of the Wii U, especially the features available with the tablet controller. By sitting on the console for over a year, Nintendo effectively gave Microsoft and Sony time to come up with their own solution to parallel the ground breaking features with Remote Play and Smart Glass, thus nullifying Nintendo’s “innovative” new features. 2011-12 was a year wasted, where Nintendo could have been the first to market, with the masses running to stores in droves to pick up the new shiny console and drive sales to get the device entrenched in homes before the competition had time to react.
Instead, Nintendo has barel
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