Nintendo is a company on the verge of drastic change, one that is potentially bigger than when the late Satoru Iwata introduced to the Wiimote or the original Nintendo DS. While the Wii may have been an overwhelming and surprising success when it came to sales, support from third party developers dropped off and the console’s successor, the Wii U, suffered as a result. Since then, the company’s profits have been dropping.
Despite the console seeing a number of well-received exclusive titles, like Super Mario Maker and Splatoon, those releases have only offered a slight boost, rather than the sought-after surge in console sales. Even the big N’s entrance into the Toys-to-life marketplace with amiibo hasn’t quite had the desired effect on the company’s bottom line. Sure, the figures are popular, but there’s a large portion of Nintendo fans who have a big collection of amiibos and still don’t own a Wii U. As such, 2016 will be a pivotal year in Nintendo’s history, as they prepare to finally reveal the NX — a release that could become even more important as a report has surfaced from Japan that claims Nintendo may cease production of the Wii U.
According to Polygon, an article on Japanese publication Nikkei states Nintendo has already stopped manufacturing certain accessories for the Wii U, and are now planning to halt production on the console altogether, just four years after it was released. Nikkei states the lack of consumer interest in the console as a main reason for stopping production. As a quick comparison, the Wii U has sold more than 12.6 million units since 2012, whereas its predecessor, the Nintendo Wii, sold over 100 million units. The marketing of the Wii U was also cited as a problem point, as many uninformed consumers believed the Wii U was merely an add-on or optional accessory rather than a new system. In addition, the report also claims that the next piece of hardware from Nintendo, the NX, will not be released this year.
Despite allegedly leaked images of the new system’s controller, many questions remain about the NX console as a whole. Those images showed an oval shaped device, with two thumbsticks that nevertheless appears to be mostly touch screen-based. It’s been long rumored that the NX could be a hybrid of home and portable gaming machines, with an unusual amount of patents, sketches, and concept designs doing the rounds online, stirring up rumor after rumor about the new system. There has even been speculation that the NX could have gesture controls in the same manner as Xbox’s Kinect.
Every Nintendo fan has his or her own list of changes they believe Nintendo needs to implement in order to save itself. Those changes range from introducing a reimagined eShop, having several virtual console titles available to cross-buy between Wii U and 3DS platforms, and even giving up the hardware game to better concentrating on what they do best: making games, even if it’s for other platforms. It would have been unthinkable less than 10 years ago but now, if the NX fails, Nintendo’s smartest move could be making a Super Mario Galaxy 3 for the PS4, because it certainly sounds like they won’t be making it for the Wii U.
Screen Rant will have more updates for you on the future of the Wii U and NX as details are made available.
Update: Nintendo denies claims that they’re cutting production of Wii U in a reported statement to IT Media.