Not that long ago, the Nintendo Wii was the most sought-after gaming console in the world. Going up against high-definition powerhouses like Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, it created a niche market for itself and re-introduced social motion-controlled gaming.
Back in the 80s on the Nintendo Entertainment System, children would shoot ducks and wanted criminals with Nintendo’s Zapper gun pointed at the television screen. Nintendo used the same concept and introduced the Wii-mote, a small remote that would easily fit in your hand and depending on the game, could be used for any type of motion. It could be used as a tennis racket, golf club, bowling ball, hell even a light saber.
The Wii launched a new craze of motion controlled games from fitness to dance titles. Seeing this trend Nintendo’s competitors Sony and Microsoft decided to cash-in on the craze. Both companies launched add-on peripherals for their respective gaming consoles.
Sony had their Wii-mote clone with a colored light ball called the PlayStation Move, while Microsoft added the Kinect camera to their Xbox 360. Microsoft introduced a hands-free experience by which the Kinect camera would track all movement of a person facing the camera making the one’s entire body the controller.
The Kinect stole Wii’s thunder, while the PS Move became a moderate success. In order to take back their market, Nintendo launched the successor to the Wii, simply titled the Wii U. The console was a sooped-up version of its predecessor. It packed more power, high definition graphics and the controller would act as a second screen. Unfortunately for Nintendo, the Wii U was a little late to the party — its technology was just on par when compared to competing consoles that had already become five or six years old.
The console didn’t introduce anything new or groundbreaking as the original Wii had done back in 2006. The Microsoft Kinect already did a lot more than the Wii or Wii U could do with the introduction of voice control and hand gesture-based menu navigations which were later improved on Microsoft’s Xbox One.
A year from the release of the Wii U, Sony and Microsoft both launched their next generation consoles: the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One respectively, both of which were far more advanced and powerful than the Wii U. The Wii U’s market share plummeted to the growing popularity of the new monsters, making it unattractive to major software publishers. Electronic Arts and Bethesda Softworks have already pulled back support for the Wii U.
Nintendo seems to be content with third place in the gaming industry as they seem to cater to the casual and social gamer more than the die-hard ones owning Sony and Microsoft machines. The one-time industry leader of the 80s and 90s may soon see the same fate as its one-time rival Sega if it runs out of ideas. Sega gave up on the console market and restructured itself to be a software publisher. Similarly, Super Mario would need to do something radical to save the Japanese giant from exiting an industry it first pioneered.