I have a few thoughts about this matter, but I would like to note that not everything that Nintendo could have done to imrpvoe success would necessarily be compatible with eachother. For example, making the console more powerful to attract 3rd parties would make the console more expensive. My thoughts are that the following would have had the best chance of making the Wii U more successful.
What Nintendo Did Right
- Timing - The Wii U's release date in late 2012 was probably a good choice. Unless Nintendo truly made a console as powerful as its 8th gen competitors, they would be better off avoiding a release too close to the PS4 and Xbox One. Conversely, releasing it before mid-2012 would make it a bit too close to the 3DS launch for Nintendo's best interests. Not to mention that considering the trouble Nintendo had adapting to HD, they needed all the time they could get adjusting to the new hardware and the Wii was still selling in 2011.
- Approximate Hardware Power - It's pretty obvious that Nintendo had trouble adapting to HD graphics, especially looking back at games like Pikmin 3 being delayed for months. This indicates that Nintendo's studios, with the exception of Retro, would not really have benefitted from being much more powerful. As for attracting third party support, one has to remember the 3rd party games that have done well on Nintendo's prior consoles. The Wii's more notable 3rd party hits, Just Dance, minigame collections, fitness games, etc, made less use of the Wii's power than Nintendo did. The GameCube before it, despite being more powerful than the PS2 in many respects, did not necessarily get the most technicaly impressive 3rd party games. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle was an improved port for hardware from 1998, other multiplatform games like Sonic Heroes and Soul Calibur 2 did not push any hardware to its limits, and even Resident Evil 4 turned out to be playable on weaker hardware.
- Launch Titles - A new 2D Super Mario game and a minigame collection meant to show off a console's new features were great launch titles. They could have been better, but if one had to pick any two games from Nintendo for launch, those are good choices.
Nintendo struck gold with the Wii. That much is obvious. The Wii U's biggest problem is likely that name aside, it is not that similar to the Wii.
Compared to the Wii, the Wii U is a bit more expensive costing about $100 more than the Wii did at launch. Even accounting for inflation, that is a notable jump. The Wii U's GamePad, much as I love it, is hard to compare to the Wiimote and Nunchuck. The Gamepad raises the price of the console, causes problems for many multiplayer games, hinders the hardware with its extra display, and is not particularly impressive in its own right. Simply keeping the old Wiimote Plus controls from the Wii would have lowered prices for Nintendo and consumers, have kept the premise more familiar to returning Wii owners, and would not have prevented too many games from being made. It would also make selling local multiplayer games easier, thanks to the abundance of Wiimotes left over from the prior few years. The Wii U could still have stood out with Miierse, Nintendo exclusives, HD graphics, etc.
This is probably not as important as people say. If Microsoft got away with the Xbox One, the Wii U is excusable. still, considering Nintendo's marketing problems lately, there could have been a better name. "Wii" had to remain in the title, but there are tons of better names for showing that it was not a simple reiteration. Super Wii, Ultra Wii, Wonder Wii, Wii Infinity, Wii 2,
3. Games Developed from 2010 to 2013
"Alright everyone! We have a new generation coming up, and need to have a lineup of games worthy of the successors of the DS and Wii. Sakurai! Go work on that on-rails/third-person shooter hybrid that revives a niche franchise. We'll give you three and a half years to do that. I'm sure there is nothing else you could possibly do at this time. Konno! Nintendogs and Mario Kart were some of the biggest games on the DS. I need you to have demos of sequels to both of them available by Summer 2010! I know that releasing them both in a single year can be tough, but we are short on resources. Miyamoto-san! Make that Pikmin game you've been begging for. We'll give you some manpower from the 2D Super Mario team. We'll also need to create an entirely new team for New Super Mario Bros 2 from other teams. Also, we need a Wii Fit sequel, seeing as the first two each sold over 20 million units, but not before we bring Steel Diver to the world! We also need a fourth Kirby game for the DS, two Mario RPG's released for the 3DS witihin a single year, a new Brain Age that is $10 more expensive than the originals were back in the day. Oh, and we should release first Mario Party on the Wii U no less than two years after launch. Any questions? Wait, Wii Sports? What about it? Why would we make a proper sequel to two of the best-selling games of all time? Don't be silly!"
Silliness aside, I think that Nintendo's development choices have been questionable at points.