The Wii U Needs a Makeover
To say the Wii U is in a bit of a pickle right now would be an understatement. Nintendo‘s latest console hasn’t been warmly embraced by the public like its predecessor, the Wii, was with only 160,000 Wii U units sold worldwide in the last three months. Now, a lot has been said about why the Wii U has sold horribly so far: premature launch, severe game drought that followed afterward, lack of a definitive game to display the Wii U’s potential like Wii Sports did for the Wii, and so on. However, perhaps the most important reason why the Wii U is failing to take off is because people are still confusing the system’s touch-screen Gamepad as an accessory for the Wii. This problem popped up when the Wii U was originally unveiled at E3 2011, didn’t go away after E3 2012, was made worse on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and continues on in this recent Target ad.
With Wii U sales being as bad as they are now, the last thing Nintendo needs is confusion over whether or no the system’s Gamepad is a Wii add-on to continue. Nintendo certainly did themselves no favor by naming and designing the Wii U too similarly to the Wii, then focusing only on its tablet-like controller. Other Nintendo branches are making it worse by excluding the Wii U console from its game advertisements and placing a 3DS instead. Which is why, if Nintendo wants the Wii/Wii U confusion to end, they need to give the Wii U an old-fashioned makeover. First, let’s starts with the Wii U’s packaging.
The problem with the Wii U’s marketing as a whole is embodied here: Wii U Gamepad first, console second. It’s no wonder why people are confusing the Wii U as a Wii accessory when the plain-looking console is hiding behind its controller like a scared child. Both the Wii U Gamepad and console should be sharing the spotlight; not fighting over it. Making matters worse, the Wii U console just looks too much like the Wii in structure and color. The only thing the Wii U has to distinguish itself visually from its predecessor is its bigger size (which isn’t apparent in the packaging), easy-to-miss curves, and inability to stand up.
When looking at the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, the difference couldn’t be more night and day. The PS4‘s sharp angular sides and trapezoid design clearly sets it apart from slim PS3. Even the Xbox One, which has been criticized for its VCR look, faces no fear of being confused with an Xbox 360. (Although, the 360 could be confused for an Xbox One, given its latest redesign.)
So, what can be done about the Wii U’s design? Ideally, a redesign Wii U that actually looks stunning and sold at a cheaper price would rejuvenate some much need life into the system. Even a simple color change–like what Jools Watsham from Renegade Kid suggested when he addressed this topic–could make a world of difference for the Wii U. If rumors of a Wii U Wind Waker HD bundle prove true, then it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce a Wii U of a different color.
Realistically, Nintendo could push the black Wii U deluxe model more for a quick fix. While it’s true the deluxe Wii U shares the same black color of its competitors, it’s less likely to be mistaken for the commonly white Wii. In fact, judging by the way Nintendo of America‘s Reggie Fils-
Admittedly, Nintendo needs to do more than change the Wii U’s look if they want sales to skyrocket, but giving the system a much-needed redesign would be the first step towards achieving that goal. It would also stop embarrassing moments like this from happening.