If you were at PAX East last week, you might have seen one of these curious signs. Forbes is reporting
that Nintendo had a number of these placards up, which explicitly distinguishes between the Wii U
and Wii by what each console is capable of. For example, it explains the difference between peripherals, storage space and the games each system plays. I think this is a good start, but in terms of the Wii U name I think that damage is done--it's just too similar, and doesn't have any distinguishing numbers in it. PS2 to PS3 to PS4? Easy. Wii U? "What the heck is that?" a lot of people seem to ask. And so Nintendo has a considerable brand identity crisis on their hands.
I know Nintendo desperately wanted to hang on to that instantly-recognizable Wii brand, but the people who will instantly recognize the name Wii...well let's just say they aren't the type who keep up to date on new consoles, or even know that new ones tend to come out every 5-7 years. Heck, some of them don't even associate "Wii" with "Nintendo." I kid you not. To them, the "Nintendo" was the thing they played Duck Hunt, Super Mario and 10 Yard Fight on back in 1987. The "Wii" was that magical cute-sports funbox that has been moldering in their closet ever since they got their fancy iPad with that there Angrybirds on it. Sadly Wii was a passing fad to most of these people, but then again I never expected the boomers, soccer moms and senior citizens to go from Wii Sports to Zelda or Resident Evil.
If Nintendo really wants to recapture the casual market, I think they should focus on the console itself more than the controller--most people I talk to think the GamePad is just a fancy, expensive new controller for their old Wii console. Going the "OLD BOX" vs " SHINY NEW BOX" route might be the way to go. This is the general American consumer base we're talking about here, and anyone who's worked in retail knows what I'm talking about.