Nintendo held one of their "Nintendo Direct" events yesterday. The good news for Wii U owners began and ended with news that the Spring System Update should arrive next week. I suspect for many Wii U owners the most anticipated feature of this update is a decrease in loading times.
Other improvements include automatic downloading and installation of updates, downloads continuing after the system is turned off, and a feature that lets you boot right into Wii mode by holding down the "B" button when you turn the system on.
On the software front, there's a new "Panorama View" feature that lets you use the tablet controller to get a 360 degree view of scenes that Nintendo will provide, and the Virtual Console service will arrive shortly after the system update.
Pikmin 3 finally has a launch date: August 4th. There's a mini-game collection called Game & Wario coming on June 23rd. Fans of the 1995 release EarthBound will be happy to learn that it is coming to the Wii U Virtual Console. This is one of those games that people talk about in hushed, reverent tones, but I've never played it so I'm not sure why people get so excited about it. I guess this will be my chance to find out.
And that's about it for the Wii U news.The Nintendo 3DS seemed to be the focus of the event, with lots of titles talked about. It's good to know the 3DS will continue to thrive, but my worry over the Wii U continues.
Earlier this week Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter offered his guesstimates on Wii U sales for the month of March. (Now Pachter is a controversial analyst, it has to be said. However, last month he predicted February Wii U sales at 80,000 units. Turns out he was being somewhat optimistic. Wii U sales for February turned out to be 64,000 units according to NPD.) This week Pachter estimated that for March 2013, Nintendo sold 55,000 units of the Wii U. If he's correct, that's a terrible number considering March saw a few good titles hitting the market: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Need for Speed: Most Wanted U and Lego City Undercover.
(NPD should release their numbers later today.)
From what I know, there's not much on the immediate horizon that'll help Wii U sales. This month the big release is Injustice: Gods Among Us and (again, as far as I know) that's about it. Maybe people are waiting for the system update to make a purchase, who knows?
But it is becoming increasingly clear that Nintendo jumped the gun on releasing the Wii U before game developers were really ready to support it, and it looks like by the time the release schedule starts filling up, the Wii U will be competing with the Playstation 4 and the Xbox 720.
Here's the full Nintendo Direct from April 17th. As I said, the emphasis this time was on the 3DS. Let's hope next time out the emphasis is on the Wii U and that Nintendo surprises us with some late-spring, early summer releases that we can get really excited about.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.