Is New 3DS a Sign of Wii U’s Future?

Nintendo’s announcement of the New 3DS surprised everyone, but it really shouldn’t have been too shocking. With the exception of the GameCube, Nintendo has frequently altered their hardware during its life cycle. The original DS was supplanted by the DS Lite, and both were rendered obsolete with the release of the DSi and the DSi XL that added a camera and debuted DSiWare games that couldn’t be played on either a DS or DS Lite. In the case of the original Wii, Nintendo left it alone for the most part until the tail end of its life. They released a version of the Wii bundled with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and took out the GameCube functionality and made the system a far worse overall value. Still, this was a better value than the Wii Mini, which slimmed down the form factor, but gave you composite video-output and eliminated all web features, including the eShop and its vast library of games, and online play.

Now, Nintendo finds itself in the familiar position of  doing its best to make a new version of the hardware seem like a must-buy to people who already own a version of the original system. The DSi was a hard sell because it wasn’t a huge power upgrade, but offered up a whole new storefront to use and a camera. The DSi XL came out afterwards and finally addressed an issue people had with the DS for years – the small screen size. Nintendo is helping to alleviate frustration caused by staggering the DSi and DSi XL releases (and after that, the 3DS and 3DS XL) by releasing both the New 3DS and New 3DS LL at the same time. This means that people won’t be buying one system and wind up blindsided when another variant of it hits the market — a good move in the long run.

WiiMini

With Nintendo announcing new Wii U bundles, one also has to wonder if they’re going to phase out the Wii U in its current form in favor of one with a bit more horsepower. The system has come under fire since its launch nearly two years ago for being incredibly underpowered – with only a few third party games like Need For Speed: Most Wanted U and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag really taking advantage of the increased power compared to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. However, Nintendo has already released two versions of the system before – with the white 8GB basic model being phased out in order to simplify things. Why offer up two different variations of the same hardware when neither version is selling well? Nintendo realized this issue and focused on the 32GB model. They also including a variety of top-notch games to give people a reason to buy the system, which they’re continuing with this year’s holiday bundle SKUs.

The difference between all of the hardware revisions done before and the Wii U is that those systems, whether they were consoles or portables, were exceptionally popular. The NES got the first major revision, and that came out with the SNES in full force and was a budget-minded version of the hardware that stripped things down to an RF connection, but was otherwise far more reliable a system than the original front-loading model, and it came with a more comfortable SNES-style pad to boot. The SNES got a Super Famicon-style revamp when the N64 was released, while the N64 got absolutely no revisions made to the hardware beyond new colors. The same story was told for the GameCube, while the Wii’s revisions were stealthy with the full-sized model, and made more apparent during the more limited release of the Wii Mini.

 

SNESVersions

With the Wii U just gaining traction and still having a ways to go, I doubt we’ll see any kind of upgrade in hardware for it. Nintendo didn’t do anything like that for the Wii, and it was far more out of date graphically than the Wii U is presently. The Wii U is also aided by having first-party games that regularly stun people thanks to a high level of image quality, and Nintendo is at least showing that you can indeed make impressive-looking games on it — most third parties just aren’t doing that.  Their present approach of focusing on their own content and bundling top-notch, but older games is working, and including a digital copy of a game with a fairly early Mario Kart 8 purchase was brilliant. It not only showed that the company could embrace digital gaming, but giving people a fantastic deal, and an incentive to buy a game on day one (or fairly close to it). While Nintendo has taken some risks at alienating console owners before by removing some features, it’s clear that they literally can’t afford to do that with the Wii U and aren’t likely to do any major hardware changes beyond adding more on-board storage at most. They’ve already have enough issues establishing the Wii U brand name without adding to the system’s troubles with another similarly-named version of it. People already thought the Wii U was just a Wii accessory, likely due to the uDraw accessory that gained its most fame on the Wii. Nintendo didn’t help matters by making TV ads that didn’t really show off anything but the Gamepad — a mistake they’ve never repeated. Due to the Wii U’s trouble history, it’s doubtful we’ll see a 3DS-to-New 3DS style of upgrade for the company’s current console. They can afford a mistake in the portable space, but not on consoles.

  • Dimitris

    Personally I think we’ll see a new version of WiiU in 2015. This is how i think it will happen. Nintendo will announce this new version which will be the same hardware but with a redesigned controller, maybe smaller frame, and a more distinctive design for the console it self. There should be a new function but honestly can’t imagine any, so it could just be a redesign. Also i slightly different name will differentiate it from the first Wii, a problem WiiU had from the beginning. A name like Wii U pro would be nice, even though I don’t really know how they could justify the “pro” part. Maybe if they also shrink CPU & GPU a little it they would be able to increase the CPU clock for faster loading and better performance in the OS. Not bad right? It would also reduce the costs so maybe they first do a price cut (to empty the existing stock) and then after some months put in the market the “new” WiiU pro. There! Where do I sign?? :-P

    • SomeRandomOnTheInnterwebzz

      I don’t think “Wii U Pro” is a good idea… sounds to me like something sports associated. Maybe “Super Wii U” instead. I think that’d definitely work. I don’t know why they didn’t name the “New 3DS” the “Super 3DS”, maybe because “super” makes it sound too much like a new console, but for the Wii U I think it’ll work.

  • Aiddon

    And even if it WAS, it would be nothing new for consoles or newsworthy. Moving on.

  • PachterStation

    This new 3DS wasn’t a surprise, a Nintendo take the mick big time with different models. What’s shocking is the price they sell for. I’m not sure when Nintendo predicts when the 3DS will start slowing, but I’d rather see it go on for many more years, releasing a new handheld after their new console to succeed the Wii U.

  • reyn69sharla

    clickbait.

  • Carl Fin

    absolute crap!! If anything the new 3DS can be used as a second gamepad. Wii U sales have spiked and it’s outselling the xbox one since April every week.

    • Yodamaster1212

      You wish. Quit going by your numbers and look at the facts. The Xbox one is WAAAAAAY more powerful than the crap Nintendo shoved out of their butts back when the Wii U was released. Obviously you need some education on technology if you even THINK the Wii U is more successful than the Xbox, though I even know that the PS4 will dominate alongside PC.

      • Carl Fin

        You’re rude and I am ignorant? Ok. Firstly, the xbox one has only just outsold the Wii U this month for the first time since April. Quit going by numbers? Ok then. “Crap” is objective and a relative term, therefore, unless you think you are some kind of god, then what you say doesn’t really matter.

        And Success? Success would be counted by numbers. You said to quit going by numbers and then you speak of success. I need education on technology? Ok. from you? sure.

      • Nickos Foivos

        X1 is more powerful but NO better than WiiU. WiiU has great games while X1 collects the dusk of PS4. I mean, come on!

  • Paladinrja

    At this point I am not sure the Wii U needs an upgrade. Its strength is in virtualization, something the gaming industry (part of the larger IT industry) is actually quite behind with.