Ooh Wii U

Nintendo hopes to buck the tide toward “abundant, cheaper and more convenient mobile game apps,” reports Nick Wingfield in The New York Times (11/26/12). “It comes down to providing consumers new, unique experiences they can’t get anywhere else, experiences that really make them say, ‘Wow, this is fantastic,’” says Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo’s United States unit. This means refusing to make “games for devices made by other companies, including the hundreds of millions of iPod Touches, smartphones and tablets out there.” In many ways, it’s a strategy that echoes Apple, as does Nintendo’s “obsessive focus on both hardware and software.”

Nintendo’s latest game console, the Wii U, does, however, acknowledge changes in consumer behavior, particularly the reality that “the living room is no longer the province of single screen,” with young people, in particular, now watching “TV with a smartphone or tablet in hand.” The Wii U, or GamePad, as Nintendo calls it, “looks like a mash-up of an iPad and a traditional console, with a touchscreen embedded in the middle.” The GamePad will double “as a remote control to set recordings and change channels on their cable and satellite TV services.”

Atari founder Nolan K. Bushnell says he’s “baffled” by Nintendo’s new console, and thinks that “few but the most hard-core players will be willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a new game box.” Others, however, argue that “cheap is cheap” and “mobile and Facebook games … are shallow entertainment experiences, compared with those of console games.” Early demand for Wii U, starting at $300 (versus $250 for the original Wii) is high, selling out its initial shipments. “I think people are starving for innovation,” says GameStop president Tony Bartel, “and Wii U is giving them that innovation.”

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