Miyamoto on Wii U's poor sales - "people didn't understand the system"

Poor Wii U. Given the lack of games shown off at Nintendo's E3 2015 conference (opens in new tab) last week, it's easy to see how far the console has fallen. In a frank interview with NPR (opens in new tab), Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto is honest about the challenges that the console has faced. When asked about the price hike between the Wii and the Wii U putting people off upgrading, the team doesn't see that as the only factor.

"So I don't think it's just price, because if the system is appealing enough, people will buy it even if the price is a little bit high," Miyamoto says. "I think with Wii U, our challenge was that perhaps people didn't understand the system." He doesn't say exactly why this was - anyone remember when people just thought it was the gamepad? - but is clear on what the mission statement was for the console in the first place.

"I think that we had a system that's very unique — and, particularly with video game systems, typically it takes the game system a while to boot up," he explains. "And we thought that with a tablet-type functionality connected to the system, you could have the rapid boot-up of tablet-type functionality, you could have the convenience of having that touch control with you there on the couch while you're playing on a device that's connected to the TV, and it would be a very unique system that could introduce some unique styles of play."

Yet the appearance of second screen apps for other consoles really undermined the progressive ideas behind the Wii U. "I think unfortunately what ended up happening was that tablets themselves appeared in the marketplace and evolved very, very rapidly, and unfortunately the Wii system launched at a time where the uniqueness of those features were perhaps not as strong as they were when we had first begun developing them," says Miyamoto. "So what I think is unique about Nintendo is we're constantly trying to do unique and different things. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they're not as big of a hit as we would like to hope. After Wii U, we're hoping that next time it will be a very big hit."

The use of 'next time' suggests that the Wii U is already somewhat behind the company as it looks forward to the NX console (opens in new tab) that we'll hear more about next year. You can read the full interview with NPR here (opens in new tab).

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Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in gaming, technology, and entertainment. She is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s monthly Sound of Gaming show and has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland. She can also be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, Netflix UK's YouTube Channel, and on The Evolution of Horror podcast. As well as her work on GamesRadar, Louise writes for NME, T3, and TechRadar. When she’s not working, you can probably find her watching horror movies or playing an Assassin’s Creed game and getting distracted by Photo Mode.