This year's E3 was no doubt all about Xbox One and PS4. Both Microsoft and Sony duked it out with explosive press conferences and show floor booths filled with new games. But what about little Nintendo and its somewhat sinking Wii U that's failed to attract third-party publishers?
Nintendo didn't have a flashy E3 press conference this year. Instead, it chose to invite select journalists to its booth to get hands-on time with the Wii U's newest games. The company also chose to skip a press conference for another reason: social media via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is apparently a better alternative for distributing information to fans. Not only that, but Nintendo partnered up with Best Buy to install Wii U stations with demos of the E3 games to really let fans experience the E3 game announcements for themselves.
Walking around Nintendo's E3 booth, I was quite impressed by the smiles and fun everybody was having. From what I could tell, the folks trying out Nintendo's games looked more relaxed than the gamers sweating up Sony and Microsoft's booths.
During my own press tour, I had the chance to play Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Wind Waker HD, and Pikmin 3. Mario Kart 8's new anti-gravity wheels and 60 frames per second runtime was easily the the most-exciting Nintendo game on show, followed by Super Mario 3D World, a game that's best played with four players co-op. My impression is Nintendo still knows how to surprise with its games, despite working its mascots hard in game after game.
By the time I got through the entire Nintendo booth, one thing became abundantly clear: the best Wii U games won't come until next year. Super Smash Bros. Wii U? 2014. Mario Kart 8? 2014. Bayonetta 2? 2014. The list goes on, including Monolith's open-world RPG titled X and Wii Fit U.
Wii U fans will just have to do with Pikmin 3 (a game that got delayed), Super Mario 3D World, Wind Waker HD, The Wonderful 101, and Wii Party U. And those are only Nintendo games. Where are the third-party games? I'd count Sega's Sonic Lost World, but Nintendo is publishing that game, so it technically counts as a first-party published game. EA, reportedly doesn't have any Wii U games in development for release this year. Ubisoft's EA's usual suspect of Just Dance 2014, Rayman Legends, Skylanders Swap Force will all launch later this year, too. However, "hardcore" first-person shooter Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut is no longer a Wii U exclusive; it's also launching on Xbox 360 and PS3. Call of Duty: Ghosts is reportedly getting a Wii U port, but no details on release are still unclear. It may launch alongside the Xbox One and PS4 version later this year or it may not.
It sounds terrible that the Wii U will be turning one and its first year has been anything but exciting. The Wii U certainly isn't the breakout hit the original Wii was and there's definitely a surplus of un-bought consoles sitting at retail stores. Can Nintendo turn things around for the Wii U next year, or will it be too late by then? My two cents: price drop. The 32GB Wii U is currently priced at $349, $50 less than the higher-performance PS4 that'll launch later this year. If Nintendo's learned anything from the 3DS's poor launch reception, a small price cut can do wonders for a fledgling console. A price tag of $299 might be all it takes to get more Wii U consoles into homes.