Wii U Kiosk’s In Stores, Miss the Point

Wii U units have been shipped to retailers… for kiosks. Nintendo’s flashy set-ups, in most cases, mirror the kiosk design of their Wii standing units. It’s not going to differentiate much for a console already struggling with a mainstream identity crisis.

I’m sold on the Wii U, more or less because of what I do, so walking away unimpressed in a key piece of marketing doesn’t bother me, but it does bug me in a broader sense. The kiosk has one playable demo for UbiSoft’s latest Rayman title, playing beautifully on what looks to be a calibrated TV (!) behind the design.

The problem? The demo is the last selectable item on the Wii U pad; it sits behind a bunch of general video content and trailers. Peering over forums, people are walking away from the console without even knowing they can play a game on it at all. That’s distressing, and no matter how great the videos are, the truth is in the play.

Rayman itself is a spirited, playful demo that utilizes roughly… well, almost none of the Wii U features. As Nintendo pushes the marketing on TV with images of kids flicking shurikens at the TV from the pad, that seems entirely relevant to their needs. It’s simple to understand, faster to play when handling crowds, and shows off what this console is capable of. Like it or not, Rayman can be played elsewhere. Why do I need a version (new game or not) of something I already played? That’s one of the toughest challenges the Wii U is facing, so the decision continues to come across an oddity.

The Wii U won’t sell well this holiday season. That’s not a knock, but a reality. Nintendo only has so many units available. Maybe the impact of their direct kiosk marketing won’t kill the momentum once it’s in the home. Friends show it to friends, they sell it to more friends, and by then, kiosks will be burgeoning with software. Even if someone walks up to the current kiosk scenario and cancels a pre-order, it will be snatched up almost instantaneously by someone else. Nintendo probably wins anyway, but first impressions can mean everything. Why take a chance?