No, that alluring title is not an introduction to Gamers Association’s grandest giveaway of all time. Rather, it’s an honest question concerning Nintendo’s newest console after considering some informal evidence from the system’s first week on the streets.
Honestly, who wants a Wii U?
Let’s rewind our brains back a bit to the tail end of 2006 when hype for the Wii was obviously off the charts. I’ll never forget coming home from high school for weeks to have an automatic daily date with the telephone, calling every store in town with an electronics department to see if any received Wii shipments while I was whiling away the hours with the public school system — and, if so and more importantly, if any still had the system in stock. For anyone with other pressing priorities in life, the things were impossible to gets your hands on.
That sensation of finally finding one at the local ShopKo is still unlike anything I’ve ever experienced around a console launch. Admittedly, the high excitement didn’t persevere as predicted through the life cycle of the system. However, it was there nonetheless, and lives on in my memories.
To contrast with the present, GameStop continued to have Wii Us in stock a full hour after opening at midnight for Black Friday, despite the fact that the system launched five days before this extravagant annual shopping event. And this wasn’t a middle-of-nowhere GameStop, either. This wasn’t a connected-to-a-gas-station-in-a-backwater-barren-desert GameStop. No, this was a GameStop located within the largest shopping center for hundreds of miles. And it still had to send its employees out into the mall’s hallways to make the Wii U availability apparent.
Perhaps I should’ve expected something of this underwhelming sort beforehand when informal reports from Twitter were saying the same thing during actual launch events on Sunday. Many of my followers went New Console Questing less than an hour early to Targets, Wal-Marts, and Best Buys, only to be confronted with lines that were no more than five people thick. Surprisingly, nearly everyone who went hunting for one managed to obtain Nintendo’s new object of (maybe not so much) desire.
When checking store stocks Black Friday night, things got even weirder. Inspired by observations from Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann, I went online to search through the in-store inventories of my city’s big-box retailers. While Best Buy was sold out, both the nearby Wal-Mart and Target still had systems in stock. The former, in particular, even had the blatantly-better-deal 32GB Deluxe Set on its shelves. Even now, at this very moment, Wii Us remain available at these two stores within mere miles of my Minneapolis, Minnesota location.
So I ask again: Who wants a Wii U?
The Thanksgiving day paper, a slaughtered forest that could stop a bullet, didn’t even mention the Wii U in many of its gaming-related electronics advertisements, opting instead to showcase competitively-priced Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and even original Wii bundles. Personally, I offhandedly asked my own family about Nintendo’s Wii U. Although my parents own its predecessor — and Mom continues to use it as a Just Dance device – they had no idea that an evolution existed. My brother, a competitive Bro Gamer to the core who scored a solid 300 in Wii Sports bowling long before I gave up trying, hadn’t even heard of the thing. What’s more, none of them showed any interest in finding out more about the Wii U, let alone purchasing one. Like so many of us, maybe they were rightfully assuming outright that it simply isn’t for them.
Really, though, who wants a Wii U? And what will make the rest of us want a Wii U after all of that New Video Game System In Stores shininess says goodbye?
From what I’ve picked up through the all-knowing grapevine, most early adopters are apparently treating the system as an insurance policy. By safely securing the system when it’s available, they’re already prepared for the hopeful eventual flow of fantastic first-party Nintendo titles, never facing the future fears of not being able to find one when they need it most. For now, however, there isn’t much to do with it. New Super Mario Bros. U is what it is, and ZombiU, while quite good, is still a very niche title for a very niche market. Sure, Nintedo Land is a strong showcase of the multiple directions developers may go when creating games for the system, but it’s essentially nothing more than a collection of amusing tech demos. Pad the launch lineup with a few old ports and I cannot find a convincing reason to own the console at the current time.
For one final time, I’ll ask it again: Who wants a Wii U?