The Lack of Minecraft Exemplifies all that is Wrong with the Wii U

The Wii U is in bad shape. While that’s clear from the system’s sales figures, which were a major contributor to Nintendo president Saturo Iwata recently deciding to cut his salary in half, the issues surrounding Nintendo’s flagship system are much greater in truth than just some slumping sales.

No the real problem with the Wii U is its presence. It’s not a system that many people feel an urge to have no matter what. That’s a problem that’s only been exasperated since the release of the PS4 and Xbox One. While both those systems are more expensive than the Wii U, their expanded entertainment offerings, obvious technical superiority and greater variety of games available, make them not only more sensible overall purchases for many, but more exciting ones as well.

Oh sure you could make those same arguments against the Wii as it measured up against the PS3 and Xbox 360, but the difference there is that the Wii did have shelf presence. It was something of a viral sensation for Nintendo as a few people bought them initially, and soon invited everyone they knew to come over and play it. Most people’s first experience with the Wii was enjoying it with friends, which is how it was meant to be played. Seeing it on the shelf after that first time experiencing it made you instantly associate it with uniquely great times. That made purchasing it as a companion to your Xbox or Playstation, as opposed to an alternative in most cases, a much more reasonable proposition.

The Wii U doesn’t inspire that same impulse purchase instinct. While playing the right game on one with friends is generally considered to be a good time, unlike the Wii it’s gimmick isn’t quite as viscerally satisfying. It doesn’t really grab you. It’s a system that shares many of the same shortcomings as the Wii, but has little of its charm or raw appeal.

Still, it is the girl that Nintendo has brought to the dance. As such, it’s highly unlikely they will be replacing it with an entirely new console anytime soon. After all, they’re not a company on the verge of bankruptcy whose entire future relies on the Wii U becoming the dominant selling system. Not to mention that the 3DS is actually doing quite well, giving them a hardware buoy should they need it.

So if you accept that the Wii U is Nintendo’s system for the foreseeable future, and that the system itself is not going to make any major changes, you considerably narrow down the list of problems that Nintendo can conceivably address in order to improve their console market standing.

Problems which are neatly summarized by the lack of Minecraft on the Wii U.

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Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Perrson, and other representatives from studio Mojang, have addressed the absence of a Wii U version of Minecraft on several occasions. The most recent of which came from Notch himself who said that Mojang simply doesn’t have the free time to be working on a Wii U version at this moment. Though he does acknowledge that version of the game would “make sense.”

He’s not the only one who thinks so. A quick Google Image search of “Minecraft Wii U” reveals a host of fan made mock ups that make it clear why a Wii U version of Minecraft would not only make sense, but may result in the definitive version of the game.

While Mojang may in fact be too busy at the moment to make that a reality, let’s be very clear about something. If Nintendo had really wanted Minecraft on the Wii U, it would be in the works or out already. That’s not to say it would be easy to make happen, but ultimately they are the kind of company that can make something like that a reality if they really wanted to.

That they don’t is sadly representative of so many issues plaguing the company.

They’re unwilling to go out of their way to adapt major third party releases. They are painfully slow to adopt an indie market that could actually make good use of the Wii U’s unique capabilities. They seem, at times, to be woefully oblivious to the current state of the game industry, and determined to turn the Wii U into a time machine that will make it 1987 again. They seemingly have a hero complex that drives them to be the only ones who make a game that turns it all around.

I could go on, but you get the point.

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The real issue with Nintendo that the lack of a Wii U version of Minecraft best summarizes, though, is their general stubbornness and seeming inability to provide the most obvious things that their fans want. Minecraft has sold over 30 million units to date. Most recently it sold over one million units on the PS3, despite the fact it can be run by most new millennium computers, and has been available for the 360 for some time. It’s a game that reaches across generations, and has become a bestseller on every platform its touches.

Yet Nintendo ignores it, just as they have ignored pleas from their own fans regarding everything from addressing many of the issues already noted, to making their own historically great back catalog more readily available. Yes they’ve done things like release Earthbound on the Wii U, but only after years and years of remaining silent on the subject while fans begged and pleaded for even an acknowledgment of the damn thing.

I love Nintendo, but its tough to watch something or someone you love go through such a rough time and seemingly stop bothering to even try anymore. Eventually that sympathy is going to turn into anger, and for many that’s exactly what is happening.

Minecraft on the Wii U is not the answer to all of the system’s problems. What it would be, though, is an almost guaranteed financial success that would serve as a loud and clear symbol that Nintendo is not only aware of the complaints against it, but are ready to start taking actions to remedy them. Instead, its continued absence serves as yet another cause for fans to invoke a phrase that’s becoming all too common, and increasingly disheartening:

“Nintendo being Nintendo.”