Did rescuing the 3DS doom the Wii U?

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#1


So, pivoting off of @Odo's thread over here, I've been wondering about this lately.

I used to write about this a bit. The turnaround of the 3DS always made me chuckle at the doomsayers. It's why I was more optimistic about the Wii U early on - I truly thought Nintendo would figure it out do something for fuck's sake.

But they never did. There was no big marketing push, outside of Mario Kart. There was one lone price cut (which made sense for awhile, but holy hell, it's 2016). There was no real aggression to push the Wii U with killer software.

...which leads me to wonder if none of that could have happened because of the rescue mission for the 3DS. Nintendo went on a rampage to save it. They slashed the price and pushed out a bunch of high-quality software.

There's no free lunch, though. Allocating most of your resources in one place means you're neglecting another place. If you block the head shot, you open up the body.



Nintendo didn't put out a killer app for the Wii U until 3D World in December 2013, over a year after the U's launch (and that game arguably looks like it began life on the 3DS, to boot). It's like a death spiral - no killer apps, no driving the install base, no third parties sticking around, no sales, no price cut because you have to maximize profit, lower sales as a result.

But maybe if the 3DS didn't need saving, the Wii U would have had some more horses behind it.
 

GamingFreak1988

The Platformer Guru
#3
Strongly doubt it, wiiu had far more problems than just too expensive at launch in comparison to the 3ds. It probably slowed the software a bit. The wiiu was way too expensive but unlike the 3ds they couldn't severely discount it without just bleeding like crazy from it, Secondly 3rd parties basically dropped it immediately after launch except for a select few giving it more tries the following year. Horrendous marketing that it was a new system really killed it's possible potential they were hoping for. The fact there are people still asking that today is a big problem. The lack of major first party titles coming really stung, We had to wait practically a year after launch before anything big from nintendo started to show. 3ds fixed that by its first holiday along with the price drop. The hook of the wiiu itself was very weak due to touch screen gaming already being common place in some form. 3rd party launch software having trouble even matching hardware from 2005/2006 killed a large amount of sales potential of the system. First thing people would ask why would i buy this new system that's more expensive if it's already having trouble with old systems. The loads of bad news only made its chance even worse that when people first heard of it, it was negative and a quick put off.

These are just some of the problems, others can vouch in with other issues it had.
 

repomech

resident remnant robot relic
#4
It's an interesting idea, but I don't think it holds up under scrutiny. If anything, the push to save the Wii U probably took some resources away from the 3DS (at the very least 3D World, which was probably 3D Land 2 for the 3DS early on, as you mentioned).

The 3DS was saved with a price cut and 2 first party titles that were already underdevelopment when the 3DS launched (3D Land and Mario Kart 7). Nothing more (except in Japan where Monster Hunter was part of the mix from TGS 2011). They built on that popularity with a couple big first party releases, and a couple big third party releases at a steady pace after that. That's really it. Nintendo released a small handful of big titles each year from 2011-2013, in what seems like a pretty typical pipeline.

Getting back to that implicitly promised scrutiny:

Nintendo whiffed on its launch window titles for 3DS. The turnaround happened as a two-step shift in momentum starting in the second half of 2011. First up was the notorious price cut, followed by Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, both by the end of the year - both of which were obviously well under development before the system even launched. In Japan there was another key ingredient: Monster Hunter. At TGS 2011 Nintendo dropped the bombshell that they'd pried Monster Hunter away from Sony portables and Monster Hunter 3G (here it was 3 Ultimate) accompanied MK7 and 3DLand onto store shelves that December (and Monster Hunter 4 announced for some TBD future). And for North America and Europe, that's really what did it. That's all. A price cut and two first party titles already in development. For Japan there was a 3rd party title as well.

In Japan they started getting more content right away, but a lot of it was 3rd party. I think we forget how bland that 2012 was for the 3DS in North America. Nintendo didn't drop everything and stuff the 3DS library - they practically followed up the end of 2011 with a drought. Kid Icarus finally hit store shelves, but that was a launch window title that had faced multiple delays. They had a B-team pump out New Super Mario Bros. 2 mid-year. In Japan New Leaf and Fire Emblem Awakening hit shelves, but Fire Emblem wasn't a resource intensive game developed to be a hit, they didn't even appear interested in localizing it outside Japan (anyone else recall it's localization was finally "announced" as an off-stage answer to a press question at E3 2012?) - it was a passion project for Intelligent Systems, and was slated to be the end of the series since sales, which had never been stellar, had been declining for the series for some time. Nintendo kind of pooped out Paper Mario Sticker Star and some flotsam and jetsam for the eshop to round out that year - but that was all she wrote. There was some third party offerings like Kingdom Hearts, Zero Escape and Resident Evil: Revelations, but that wasn't Nintendo and really only kept the system afloat from the jolt Nintendo gave it at the end of 2011, none of those were commercial powerhouses.

We forget this in hindsight because 2013 was the year of the 3DS. Especially for those outside Japan. We started getting the localizations from Capcom and Atlus, NoA finished its localizations of Animal Crossing New Leaf (a smash hit) and Fire Emblem - which wound up a surprise hit, along with Etrian Odyssey 4, because they took advantage of having everyone's undivided attention in February of 2013, appealing to the system owners who had bought in at 3D Land and MK7 or based on the DS brand and were so desperate to try anything new and substantial after the underwhelming 2012 and a near total absence of RPGs on the system, something the DS had excelled in. 2013 was the year Phoenix Wright, Monster Hunter and Shin Megami Tensei hit. Gamefreak finally brought Pokemon to the 3DS with X & Y, yet who would seriously argue that took any resources away from a console? But when you look at original newly developed releases from Nintendo proper that year, the line up is top heavy, but not long. They put out Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon in the first half, and then finished the year with the sublime A Link Between Worlds and a Mario & Luigi title. There was a port of Donkey Kong Country Returns to the 3DS, but I'd wager that was mostly outsourced resources.
 
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isturbo1984

Whoremonger & Cokefiend
#5
The hardware killed it. It was a last gen machine released on the eve or next gen. I think the 3DS probably helped the Wii U more than anything.--The two came out relatively around the same time and fed off each other, giving us some great games. Lots of people who had a 3DS needed to get a Wii U.

But I guess there could have been ways so it wasn't so bad. Better marketing could have helped. But if Nintendo really wanted to do the low risk/low buy in option, it would have been better to just release the Wii U at $200 with a regular controller and no gamepad.--The thing just isn't being supported well at all, sorta like (exactly like) Kinect. Both great pieces of technology. The latency tech in that thing is awesome.

Off-topic, so I'm still confused with the "Nintendoomed" thing. I gets its a joke, but where is the joke exactly?
 
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EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#6
Many good points (I didn't post this as an op/ed-ish post; I was bored and we need discussions). The biggest ones against the original point:

-Price is the big one. Nintendo couldn't steeply discount the Wii U without taking big losses. The 3DS was overpriced to high hell, and there was room for a much more substantial price cut to make it more palatable to the masses.
-Software was mainly concentrated around a few titles.

But I'd say it was more than just a few titles. Just look at anything from '11-'13. Maybe there's more flotsam, but that's not the point. Flotsam doesn't make itself; it takes people. And pretty much every base that could be covered for software did get covered.

The Wii U? Nope. Not even close. The early life of the console never brought our Excite racers or Battalion Wars or Prime/'Troid or Wii U Sports-type killer app or crossover Wario weirdness. Even if you want to argue on Nintendo's behalf with 3D World or WW HD as kickstarters, the supplementary titles weren't there.

That's not to say I'm disappointed with the Wii U's library. I have plenty to play. But I'm not everyone. And it's telling that EAD's resume is thin on Wii U; you can argue that there's more quality content from Platinum and Ubi and Capcom than Nintendo. You can't sell a Nintendo console when Nintendo isn't providing a reason to buy one.

Perhaps they thought the GamePad would be it, but they never communicated why it was special. And tbh, after all of these years, they still haven't proven why it's in any way integral.
Off-topic, so I'm still confused with the "Nintendoomed" thing. I gets its a joke, but where is the joke exactly?
Because the internet overreacts to bad press.



Nintendo has been doomed since there was Nintendo, if you listen to the internet.
 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#7
As @Koenig said, I hardly see any connection. Nintendo could have deployed more resources to Wii U, yes, but DS didn't kill Wii either, so I think Nintendo can (and have to) handle both consoles.

Nintendo problems with HD development is more related to the lack of Wii U games than the 3DS division backlog.
 

repomech

resident remnant robot relic
#8
Well, if Nintendo did panic in the wake of the 3DS's poor launch and throw a whole bunch of resources at 3DS software development beyond what was intended to be committed - where is the glut of software from that panic? What year did it hit? What are the specific titles that might be evidence of that having happened? Because all it looks like is a steady pipeline putting out the types and quantity of first party titles one would expect on a Nintendo handheld.

Nintendo is an overstretched organization whose development demands have grown in recent generations - but that doesn't appear to have expanded much as a company. So it's possible to see any resource committed somewhere as a resource not committed elsewhere in zero sum fashion. But I don't see the evidence for some kind of extraordinary resource commitment to the 3DS. Is it not more likely that it simply takes a lot more resources to produce fewer titles for the Wii U, that the shift to HD tripped them up, and that a decision has likely been made well over a year ago to shift resources increasingly away from failed Wii U to the successor NX?
 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#9
I think (I don't have the figures) that Nintendo used to deliver more games. GC + GBA library is really impressive. GC has 2 Pikmin games, 3 Zelda games, 2 Metroid prime games. GBA also has a Metroid, 2 Zelda games, etc.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#10
As @Koenig said, I hardly see any connection. Nintendo could have deployed more resources to Wii U, yes, but DS didn't kill Wii either, so I think Nintendo can (and have to) handle both consoles.

Nintendo problems with HD development is more related to the lack of Wii U games than the 3DS division backlog.
You can't allocate all of your horses to HD development while working on a non-HD system, though. And of course the DS didn't kill the Wii; Nintendo put out a lot of quality stuff on the Wii. But the Wii U? Well, not so much.
Because all it looks like is a steady pipeline putting out the types and quantity of first party titles one would expect on a Nintendo handheld.
That all took time to make. That's the point - shifting development to do something doesn't mean it's done overnight. Kart, 3D Land, Pilot Wings, Pokemon Rumble Blast, SF64 and OoT port (with the promise of ALBW incoming), NSMB2, New Leaf, Fire Emblem, Kid Icarus, Luigi, all of the stuff they had a hand in publishing (Bravely Default and Fantasy Life, notably, but also all Level-5 stuff in Japan), etc. done circa 2011-2013.

The Wii U? Well...that ain't a steady pipeline early on (which would make sense if development priorities were aimed elsewhere). To have a steady stream of content, you have to have your development pipeline behind something. I'm not gonna complain about 2012 and 2013, because honestly? My gaming tastes at the time were well served (I wanted to play COD with pointer controls, and gahdammit I did). But the majority of gamers aren't me. The cupboard wasn't completely barren, but the Wii U's first year-ish on the market was not kind with Nintendo software.
 

MANGANian

Megalomaniacal Robo-Zombie
#11
If there's one thing that I believe majorly killed any kind of steam from the Wii U, it's the marketing. I have never seen the price as an issue since the cost had been sitting in a suitable range.

Nintendo's marketing team just wasn't sure which direction to go with it. Months were spent trying to prove it wasn't a hardware extension to the Wii, and other months had Nintendo at a loss, moreso NoA, at whether they should market it towards the Wii crowd or the regular gaming community. The name was another mistake. To make matters worse, third-parties made lots of half-baked attempts during the launch window, and overall Nintendo didn't seem to be prepared to sustain the early advantage they had.

The 3DS rescue did have a definite impact, I just dunno how big. Why focus on the Wii U when the 3DS was the more successful platform at the time?
 

isturbo1984

Whoremonger & Cokefiend
#12
So basically, a video game company that fucks up so much, the fanboys had to give a nickname to those who are tired of Nintendo's shit.
...is kinda what it sounds like you are saying. But I have a hunch that is not what you meant at all. I'm just not getting it, so my bad.
 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#14
You can't allocate all of your horses to HD development while working on a non-HD system, though.
I couldn't follow you. I mean, what you say is true, but you can't allocate all of your horses to GC games while working on GBA games is also true. When 3DS came out, the 3DS team was basically the DS team. Wii U team wasn't overworked because of 3DS.
 

MANGANian

Megalomaniacal Robo-Zombie
#15
I couldn't follow you. I mean, what you say is true, but you can't allocate all of your horses to GC games while working on GBA games is also true. When 3DS came out, the 3DS team was basically the DS team. Wii U team wasn't overworked because of 3DS.
Well Nintendo did say development was taking them longer than it should for Wii U titles, and Nintendo isn't the type to suddenly hire a bunch of employees to fit their workload. They're a relatively compact company. Game development isn't shared between divisions based on the platform, but rather by title, if I recall directly. It's definitely plausible to think that development of the 3DS and Wii titles were shared. And of course Nintendo relied on outside help the most this generation.

This can be backed up slightly by the rumours that the NX might work as both a handheld and console platform, and also from the way Nintendo handled the Virtual Console for the Wii U; by putting handheld DS titles on the console than on the 3DS. That would virtually eliminate the time between game releases.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#17
I couldn't follow you. I mean, what you say is true, but you can't allocate all of your horses to GC games while working on GBA games is also true. When 3DS came out, the 3DS team was basically the DS team. Wii U team wasn't overworked because of 3DS.
True. I'd argue, though, that it's a balancing act to support two systems well; a push and pull between devices. Nintendo hasn't ever been great at it, but they used to be a touch better at the task, and - crucially - handhelds didn't use to have development teams that would've rivaled home console teams in size. But they also really didn't have a handheld in need of an intervention before, either. I'm just looking at Nintendo's early work on the Wii U before 3D World - you basically come up with a tech demo (NL), NSMB (admirable, but basically an upscaled version of what they did on Wii), NSLU (a DLC add-on of the same), Pikmin 3 (probably started life on Wii), and WW HD. If they weren't preoccupied killing it on the 3DS, then they really, really, really didn't understand the need to have supporting software and a killer app during Wii U's early life (which is extraordinary, because they seemed to fully understand it on Wii).
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
#18
I couldn't follow you. I mean, what you say is true, but you can't allocate all of your horses to GC games while working on GBA games is also true. When 3DS came out, the 3DS team was basically the DS team. Wii U team wasn't overworked because of 3DS.
One thing to keep in mind in a general sense is game development has significantly gotten more and more complicated and difficult over the years. Back in the NES days, Iwata and a couple guys made Ballon Fight in I believe a span of about a month. Make that same game today, and it would take at least a couple dozen guys 6-9 months easily to do. HD development has made things more complicated, expensive, and in general more difficult for developers. GBA games back in the day were a lot more trivial (i.e. simpler), than compared to the 3DS, let alone the DS. Another thing to keep in mind is the stark contrast of architectures between the 3DS and Wii U, which while hasn't changed much in the scheme of things with the GBA/GCN, and DS/Wii, it still presents itself as another hurdle for developers.

I also think part of the issue for Nintendo is less about working on multiple systems than they got too comfortable working on non-HD games. If you think about it, they spent a good decade making non-SD 3D games on GCN-level hardware. While I had originally thought it prepared them for HD development because they could learn from what everyone else was doing for the 360 and PS3, Come to find out that Nintendo hardly looks to the competition for anything really, which doesn't help the issue at all. They were simply undocumented and unprepared for HD development. It's as simple as that.

But manpower is also a general concern, not to mention the skyrocketing budgets for these games, as well simple development time. The big AAA blockbusters are taking upwards of three or more years to make, and that number is bound to get larger in the coming years. I seem to recall a statistic that in total, for Assassin's Creed 3, around 1000 people worked on that game (I think that number has stayed with ACIV, Unity, Rogue and Syndicate as well). Would help explain why the credits were over a half-hour long when you have to include all those names.

One last thing I'll mention is I believe this is the primary reason why Nintendo merged their handheld and console divisions. Yes, there are some obvious reasons for doing it, but I think Nintendo were forced into doing it as a result of struggling to make games for the Wii U at reasonable schedules. I mean, it took Retro Studios 3 or more years to make DKC: Tropical Freeze, which some people think is stupid, but RS had not worked in HD development before, so there was that learning curve as well. Naughty Dog experienced the same thing when going from the PS2 to the PS3, and when you compared their first Uncharted game to the next one, it's clear Drake's Fortune was rushed into market. Had Nintendo done the same with Tropical Freeze, I can guarantee it would've suffered as a result.
 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#19
One thing to keep in mind in a general sense is game development has significantly gotten more and more complicated and difficult over the years. Back in the NES days, Iwata and a couple guys made Ballon Fight in I believe a span of about a month. Make that same game today, and it would take at least a couple dozen guys 6-9 months easily to do. HD development has made things more complicated, expensive, and in general more difficult for developers. GBA games back in the day were a lot more trivial (i.e. simpler), than compared to the 3DS, let alone the DS. Another thing to keep in mind is the stark contrast of architectures between the 3DS and Wii U, which while hasn't changed much in the scheme of things with the GBA/GCN, and DS/Wii, it still presents itself as another hurdle for developers.

I also think part of the issue for Nintendo is less about working on multiple systems than they got too comfortable working on non-HD games. If you think about it, they spent a good decade making non-SD 3D games on GCN-level hardware. While I had originally thought it prepared them for HD development because they could learn from what everyone else was doing for the 360 and PS3, Come to find out that Nintendo hardly looks to the competition for anything really, which doesn't help the issue at all. They were simply undocumented and unprepared for HD development. It's as simple as that.

But manpower is also a general concern, not to mention the skyrocketing budgets for these games, as well simple development time. The big AAA blockbusters are taking upwards of three or more years to make, and that number is bound to get larger in the coming years. I seem to recall a statistic that in total, for Assassin's Creed 3, around 1000 people worked on that game (I think that number has stayed with ACIV, Unity, Rogue and Syndicate as well). Would help explain why the credits were over a half-hour long when you have to include all those names.

One last thing I'll mention is I believe this is the primary reason why Nintendo merged their handheld and console divisions. Yes, there are some obvious reasons for doing it, but I think Nintendo were forced into doing it as a result of struggling to make games for the Wii U at reasonable schedules. I mean, it took Retro Studios 3 or more years to make DKC: Tropical Freeze, which some people think is stupid, but RS had not worked in HD development before, so there was that learning curve as well. Naughty Dog experienced the same thing when going from the PS2 to the PS3, and when you compared their first Uncharted game to the next one, it's clear Drake's Fortune was rushed into market. Had Nintendo done the same with Tropical Freeze, I can guarantee it would've suffered as a result.
Yes, I think the problem with Wii U is more about the fact that Nintendo couldn't handle HD development (they still can't properly as someone from Nintendo Metroid team has pointed out last year) than about the team being overworked by the existence 3DS backlog of SD games.
 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#20
Well Nintendo did say development was taking them longer than it should for Wii U titles,
Mostly because they used to be rubbish at HD development.

Game development isn't shared between divisions based on the platform, but rather by title, if I recall directly. It's definitely plausible to think that development of the 3DS and Wii titles were shared. And of course Nintendo relied on outside help the most this generation.
Yes, it was shared and it still is.

The later EAD Group 1 developed MKWii, MKDS, MK7 and MK8.

MK8 was a trouble for them because they're not trained at HD development as it's been known. There's no evidence that they took too much time to develop MK8, because they had to rush MK7 for make things better for 3DS or something like that.

This can be backed up slightly by the rumours that the NX might work as both a handheld and console platform, and also from the way Nintendo handled the Virtual Console for the Wii U; by putting handheld DS titles on the console than on the 3DS. That would virtually eliminate the time between game releases.
I don't see the connection between rumours of hybrid console or DS VC. The time between game releases can be sorted out by an unified OS as Iwata has stated and as I'm sure they're already developing such OS.
 
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