Retailers will next week be assessing the potential of the new Nintendo Wii U - and whether it’s the console to bring casual gamers back to the market.
Nintendo is to release details of the successor to the Wii - which tapped into a new market by appealing to families and women and has sold 86 million units since its launch - at the E3 electronics show next week.
Announced a year ago, the Wii U is expected to feature a tablet-style controller with a six-inch screen, motion sensors, camera, microphone and speakers and will be compatible with Wii games, accessories and Wii Remote controllers.
The question many experts are already asking is whether it will win over casual gamers who have left console gaming. Some 95% of the £100m decline in the UK games market during 2011 was the result of falling spend on Nintendo products, claimed Kantar Worldpanel.
However, there was still a gap in the market for the Wii U to exploit in the wake of the launch of motion-control devices by Sony and Microsoft, said Kantar’s Laurie Krohn. “Playstation’s Move and, to a lesser extent, the Xbox Kinect, didn’t capitalise on non-typical gamers to the same extent as the Wii,” he said. “This audience is still available for the Wii U to appeal to.”
But Nintendo faced a real challenge, said analyst Nick Gibson of Games Investor Consulting. “The tablet makes this a novel console proposition but a substantial proportion of the casual user base the Wii attracted has turned to platforms such as smartphones, tablets and social networks.”
Observers also warned against Nintendo trying to appeal to all gamers. “They have found great success in casual gaming but the Wii U may try to play to casual and hardcore gamers at the same time - which would be quite a gamble,” said one.