Looking at where Nintendo are at with the Wii U in the current space of time makes for grim, unsettling reading. If one is a hardcore, ultra-dedicated fan or even a casual observer of the Mushroom Kingdom's escapades, the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in the last fortnight has truly eclipsed the performance of the Wii U in the UK so far.
As per usual for a pre-Christmas launch, stores have sold out, there's a ferocious outcry from desperate parents wanting the latest gaming gadget, and Nintendo are practically no-where to be seen in the country.
The latest figures from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launches show how shambolic the performance of the system has been. Of course, owners and long-time Nintendo buffs are naturally rallying behind the system and supporting the key releases like Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Super Mario 3D World. It's certainly not so much about the games any more given the much talked about selection released this year and pitched for 2014. Our Wii U Buyer's Guide for the holiday season highlights the wide array of games to pick up on the system, but to the general public, is anyone truly aware about the Nintendo Wii U?
The festive season, in particular the marketing drives "Black Friday", "Cyber Monday" and "Bugger it, Just Buy it Already Thursday" are touted and proven to be the most critical moments for brands and retailers to pitch their key items. The Xbox One and PS4 were there, selling out fast, and Nintendo could have used this opportunity to leap in and fill the gaps. With both systems increasingly difficult to find, why not arrange deals with key retailers and take a slight hit; really driving the system home as an alternative to these two big powerhouses?
Nintendo 3DS is still soaring on a global scale, and doing fairly well in the UK - perhaps not as strong as in the United States, Japan or other key demographics - but it's still a solid and much sought after system for both young and old. There's enough advertising and word-of-mouth to keep the handheld well sustained into 2014 and beyond.
There have been adverts for the Nintendo Wii U in the UK online, particularly on gaming and entertainment websites; it's easy pickings from readers who'd perhaps already be in the know, but what about the mass population? The sense that this is a completely new device still comes across in a wishy-washy, unconvincing way. During the Channel 4 evening on video games, which included the much talked about Charlie Brook's How Videogames Changed the World and a compelling film on the development of three indie releases, Indie Game: The Movie, there was little to no promotion on Nintendo Wii U games during the ad breaks; a sole Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds spot, but this is a 3DS title.
Sony have lapped up the rights to highlighting the PS4 continually on mainstream TV, rather subtly but still in an effective way, by merging in-game footage with the now traditional Channel 4 indents. It's a softer approach than standard approaches, but continues to get the message across in a unique way.
It's not all doom mongering as Nintendo has done a stellar job at promoting the Wii U physically, at hands-on sessions at key events, shopping centres and expos. In addition, there's a campaign with a major supermarket in progress. However, despite the turnout figures for these locations, it's still not as widespread as it could be, there's still the element of consumers attending because of an interest in electronics and games. How about those who are more casual: parents or younger children perhaps, who may not be as clued up into the newer releases?
The Wii was a success because of the advertising, because of the mass media focus in newspapers, on TV, word of mouth.
The initiative is there, and the latest adverts are starting to cement the message, but it's still weak, almost squeezed out in drips and drabs. Nintendo still need to pump Wii U ads here, there and everywhere. Super Mario 3D World is out and received rave reviews across the board from specialist and mainstream critics. Alas, no-body knows. The adverts are too far and few between - the TV is constantly on here at Cubed3 Towers.
Nintendo have had successes with driving in interest in the Wii U this year, both online and offline, there's certainly no disputing that, but the scattered approach to advertising certainly needs moulding into a stronger push into 2014 and beyond in order for the system to stand a chance.
What are your thoughts on Nintendo's focus in the UK so far?