The Wii U in Japan is already outselling the PS4 hand-over-fist, week-in and week-out. Nintendo’s console already more than doubles the install base of the PS4 in Japan and it looks like that lead will continue on through the end of summer and throughout fall (assuming the current sales trend keeps on running like a marathon sprinter on a treadmill). However, Nintendo still needs to best the PS4 by a large margin in Europe, or by consistently catching up to their sales quotas in America. There are a few ways they could do this within the span of a year.
Now, let’s consider that the PlayStation 4’s sales momentum doesn’t slow down. Let’s presume that things will continue to go as they have been and that the PS4 will continue to move up the ladder at close to a million units or so a month, which means that by summer of next year Sony could have anywhere between 15 to 16 million units installed in homes (take note that this is a really rough estimate and numbers could vastly spur up or down depending on what happens between that time).
So if Nintendo has to catch up to the PS4 – and sell at least 10 million units within the span of a year – they’ll need to put some serious horsepower behind their sales momentum and that means making some keen decisions to keep the Wii U relevant; and propel it into the right direction with the right demographic.
The most obvious thing they can do is the one thing many already suspect they’ll do: Super Smash Bros. Wii U bundle.
It only makes sense and it’s been previously hinted at, as noted in articles by My Nintendo News. The talk continues to build as Nintendo is doing something smart: another Super Smash Bros. tournament. They’ll be conducting the tournament at GamesCom this month and either announcing the bundle pack there or at the upcoming Tokyo Game Show could be one of the smartest moves they make this year.
But they’ll need more than Smash Bros. to maintain momentum outside of the holiday rush.
Wisely Nintendo has the Amiibo figurines. Now I’m not going to get into the details of how these figurines work or specifically why and how they might catch on with certain demographics, but I will say that they tie-in with the needed functionality of the GamePad to store, transfer or interact with data in the figurine. It’s a broader scope of Activision’s Skylanders brand or Disney’s new Infinity line.
In other words, Nintendo has an opportunity to cash-in huge on the casual market with the Amiibo, sort of the same way they did with the Wii and motion controls back in 2006. This could easily start boosting their sales this holiday season to the same level as the original Wii; potentially taking the Wii U from selling 100,000 through 300,000 SKUs a month to 300,000 through 600,000 a month.
Nintendo’s iconic brands fused with the Amiibo could be their ticket to those numbers just like Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot at every turn throughout 2013 was Sony’s massive ticket for success with the PS4.
However, one of the main hurdles the Amiibo line would need to get over is marketing. While Nintendo hasn’t historically been all that great with getting the word out for certain products, they showed with Mario Kart 8 that they know how to work the ad game when they need to. They’ll need that exact same level of marketing dominance with the Amiibo to hit that casual crowd.
Another important thing would be pricing… they need a price-cut on the Wii U by at least $50. Even if it eats into the production costs they should simply bite the bullet for now.
The window of becoming market leader during eighth-gen is quickly closing, and if they don’t make a move to leverage their position this holiday season it’s highly unlikely they’ll get another chance to catch the PS4. They’ll also seriously need the casual audience to help balance shifting units since Sony has a firm grasp on the hardcore demographic.
However, Nintendo can’t forget about the hard/midcore audience. They need them for new IP and to help establish brand growth for lesser known franchises; this is why they’ll need to stick with supporting the FGC.
Nintendo opened up massive acclaim and respect from the core fighting game community by sponsoring Evo and hosting the Super Smash Bros. invitational. They need to take this to the next level, sponsoring events like Apex and GUTS, as well as continuing to host Smash Bros. tournaments (like what they’re doing at GamesCom) to maintain their presence in the scene and raise the profile of their brand, the game and support from the core fighting crowd. Right now Sony doesn’t have a firm grasp on that audience and Microsoft is only concerned with keeping Killer Instinct relevant. This means that the FGC is ripe for Nintendo’s taking.
Last but not least: Nintendo needs to score one big exclusive from an AAA publisher. Front the marketing bill and secure exclusivity for the Wii U (and maybe even a 3DS tie-in of sorts). They need to leverage the hype of E3 to get core, mid-core and casuals talking about the must-have software on their system, as well as convince some of the jaded minds that continue to sprout nonsense about Nintendo having nothing but Mario games. While Xenoblade Chronicles X is already shpaing up to be that game, they’ll need something big from another publisher to show that they’re willing to play ball with the hardcore market.
This could help Nintendo in massive ways if they use it as a leverage to maintain momentum from the casual audience with the Amiibo line-up and an AAA title (or two) from a big studio to silence the naysayers in the core community.
The only thing now is: will Nintendo take the necessary steps to go for broke in order to thwart Sony’s reign on eighth-gen gaming?
TL;DR: Nintendo needs to follow the steps in the article to outsell the PS4 and take control of the eighth-gen market.
(Updated: 4 August, 2014 @ 02:33:13)