Is the Wii U the new Dreamcast?
And their off! The Playstation 4 and Xbox One have achieved record breaking numbers at launch. Both consoles sold 1 million units within 24 hours of hitting the shelves. This is an outstanding start by both companies; just for perspective, the Wii U has sold 3.91 million units as of September, according to a sales chart from Nintendo. The Wii U has been out for over a year. It’s very likely that both the PS4 and XB1 will the eclipse the Wii U within six months; the UK Sales of the Xbox One are already about to overtake Wii U sales in that region. Overall I’m surprised by both consoles’ success.
While I imagined that the PS4 and XB1 would have some form of success at launch, I wouldn’t have guessed either console to break records, let alone both. I’ve been pessimistic about the new consoles, and considering the sales of the Wii U, I don’t blame myself. This is great news for video gaming, but the reason both consoles have sold so well is hinted at by the way people refer to the next-gen.
Every video game console is a part of a generation, that is, a line of consoles that are in direct competition with each other. A console that’s released within two years, and has similar technical specifications to the competition is considered part of a generation. The PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U are part of the eighth generation of consoles. For the sake of this discussion, I’m ignoring handheld gaming devices like the Playstation Vita and the Nintendo 3DS.
When the Playstation 4 arrived in North America earlier this month, I noticed at the launch party that almost everyone there mentioned at some point that the next (eighth) generation of gaming had arrived. I find this odd because the Wii U was released in Nov. 2012. This sentiment was repeated in the Xbox One launch. In fact, most gaming websites referred to both consoles as the arrival of the next-gen. People must be aware of the Wii U, so what is going on here?
The Wii U is not as graphically capable as the PS4 of the XB1, but is that the only factor? The Wii was nowhere near as powerful as the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, yet it’s still part of the seventh generation.There are some great games available on the Wii U, but the fact that it isn’t even considered part of the eighth generation of gaming ultimately implies that gamers don’t see anything new or innovative in the system. You can’t argue that there’s potential in the PS4 and XB1, it’s why both have sold so well. Obviously people don’t see potential in the Wii U and come to think of it, it’s beginning to remind me of another console, that’s almost no one talks about anymore.
The Sega Dreamcast, according to Wikipedia, is actually part of the Sixth Generation of gaming consoles, alongside the PS2, Gamecube and Xbox. Much like the Wii U, it was the first console of it’s respective generation and also like the Wii U, it’s been forgotten about. As long as I’ve been playing video games, I’ve never heard the Dreamcast mentioned in comparison to it’s competitors. People I know mention that the PS2 outsold the Xbox and Gamecube, the Dreamcast is never talked about. Is this where the Wii U is headed?
I won’t go into details as to why the Dreamcast failed but I will say that it was a capable gaming machine and it died in less than three years, mostly because of the overwhelming success of the PS2. Obviously there’s more to it’s failure but that’s the basic idea. The Dreamcast was practically dead before the Gamecube and Xbox even arrived. The Wii U has little to no chance of outselling the Ps4 and Xbox One, and while I don’t think the Wii U is dead in the water it’s mostly in the back of everyone’s mind. So I have to ask, is the Wii U the “Dreamcast” of this generation.
Once again, the Wii U has potentially great games coming next year (Super Smash Bro. and Mario Kart come to mind), but then again so do the Ps4 and XB1. The Wii U is going to need some sort of killer app that does something different. Nintendo needs to do something different, maybe even risky. It doesn’t matter how good the next Mario game is, it might not even matter how good the next Zelda game is. Even if the Wii U survives, it needs to do more than that, if the Wii U is forgotten about Nintendo’s gonna have a huge problem. When the the inevitable ninth generation rolls around in seven years, how is Nintendo going to sell a console outside of the handheld market?
Interestingly enough, thenegligent attitude towards the Wii U was something it’s predecessor, the Wii, faced. The Wii was never in direct competition with the PS3 and Xbox 360 (it focused on a casual market), yet it outsold both by about 20 million units, for a lifetime sales of 100 million. The Wii pushed boundaries, unlike the Wii U. Nintendo’s casual and hardcore audience don’t see anything new in the Wii U, and unless this changes the Wii U might become the next Dreamcast, the console that no one remembers. Nintendo may not be in trouble, but the Wii U certainly is.