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Nintendo Wii U sales continue to struggle


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Nintendo Wii U sales for January in the US were less than 100,000, according to recent reports.

NPD Group has released its latest US video game retail estimates, and it doesn't paint a pretty picture for Nintendo.

Whilst the company no longer provides precise numbers, it has revealed that sales are 38 per cent poorer after three months than the Wii managed at the same point in its life.

Website Gamasutra has discovered from a source with access to the information that sales of the Wii U were well under 100,000 in the US. Indeed, sales are estimated to be between 45,000 and 59,000.

As the US is the major video game market in the world, that should be of considerable concern to Nintendo.

It seems to be similarly grim for the Kyoto giant's new console on the software front. Again, whilst exact figures are not provided, it is known that the Wii U's multi-platform games have been consistently outperformed by the same games on other platforms.

In the case of Madden NFL 13 - still a massive franchise over in the US - even the PS Vita version sold more than the Wii U equivalent, and that's for a struggling handheld console.

Just a few weeks ago, at the end of January, Nintendo was forced to cut worldwide sales projections for the Wii U console following a poorer than expected start. Nintendo had expected to sell 5.5 million units by March, but that has been cut to just 4 million Wii U consoles - a 27 per cent drop.

Are you holding off from buying a Nintendo Wii U, and if so, why? Let us know in the comments box below.

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February 15, 2013, 12:52 pm

The problem with the Wii U for me is its lack of focus, which I think you can ultimately trace back to the situation Nintendo ended up in with the Wii. Whilst they had a huge installed base, much of that base was not the usual core gaming audience, and the core gamers that did own Wiis, used them mostly for social party gaming rather than for conventional gaming.

All this seemed great at first - Nintendo had managed to break into the mainstream with the Wii. Everyone seemed to own one. However, there was a problem. I read more than a few articles in this last console generation pointing out that, beyond big-selling social titles, Wii owners didn't buy many games. When you think about it logically for a minute, that makes perfect sense; the Wii didn't turn the public at large into gamers, rather it was just a games console that appealed to people who didn't really play games.

But Nintendo made money on the hardware, so maybe that isn't such a big problem.....except when it comes time to release a new console. The apathy of that market to gaming mitigates the usual upgrade mechanism. The casual social gamer doesn't care much about the latest cutting edge graphics - they wouldn't have owned a Wii in the first place if they did - or being able to game at potentially 4K ultra HD, and better graphics/more power (and all the other benefits of more power, like better AI, better physics etc) are usually the principle drivers behind generational console releases. So, what motivation is there for the casual Wii owner who gets the console out to play half drunk tennis at house parties to upgrade? The answer: there isn't one.

It seems like Nintendo were at least half-interested in regaining mind-share amongst "real" gamers to try and compensate for this - the Wii U IS more powerful than the Wii, and competitive with current-gen hardcore gaming consoles. However, parity with a generation which is about to become obsolete isn't really enough. It's a token effort. There was really no point beefing the Wii U up to the level they've beefed it up to. Their core audience doesn't care about power, and the hardcore audience are going to need something more powerful than their 7 year old xbox/ps3 to incentivise them to part with their hard earned cash, especially with new releases from MS and Sony around the corner, which many expect to be veritable power houses.

Then there's the tablet pad, the gimmick designed to sell the Wii U to...well... everybody, presumably. The problem is, it's too geeky and hard to sell to the average consumer, and seems a bit pointless to the tech-initiated. It's typical quirky Nintendo. They got away with it with the 3DS to some extent; they haven't here.

To my mind, Nintendo really missed a trick. They SHOULD have turned the Wii, whilst it was still going strong, into the sort of "generic media box" that the xbox360 and PS3 have become, and which the next gen consoles from MS and Sony will, according to most speculation, take to the next level. That's the way to leverage the casual market, not with gaming quirks like detachable tablet-like control pads. MS and Sony are going for both markets at the same time, so it appears. And why shouldn't they? All you have to have to access the core gaming market is hardware capable of producing a cutting edge gaming experience, and developers. They have the latter, and making the former is their bread and butter. Turning that machine into something capable of meeting all your living room media needs, is just a question of software.

Nintendo have squandered their penetration into the mass market by being content to sit back and let the Wii be nothing more than a party games console for people who don't like games. Conversely, MS and Sony have built on their core installed base of hardcore gamers by expanding the capability of their consoles into the "general living room" space.

Fumes Inkorporated

February 15, 2013, 5:23 pm

Pretty much spot on, the only thing I would add is that the touchscreen forces developers to try and think of uses for it when sometimes it has no place in a game. I mean you can always toss the inventory or map on there but this hardly revolutionizes gaming. I would wager that in 90% of games it will not add enough to justify its existence, this of course excludes 1st party games. So with how much of the console cost is that touchscreen I wonder if its worth it.

Adrian Cantu

February 15, 2013, 8:21 pm

Couldn't have said it any better. I am PS3 owner and had never even considered a wii until now that I have a 3 year old. So I was trying to decide if the cheap wii console was the way to go over the new expensive Wii U. Wii seems to have more games that the entire famiy can play with out a lot of time spent learning. Sounds like the wii is a no brainer for me for the kids and PS4 for Dad :-)


February 15, 2013, 10:16 pm

Yes, because the PS3 was FLYING off shelves when it came out.....pfffft


February 15, 2013, 10:51 pm

as much faith as i have in nintendo, i currently do not own a Wii U. Every other nintendo console has been in my house on day 1 or soon after, but wii u lacks that revolutionary mario 64, mario galaxy, zelda, or metroid. the commercials also didn't convince me, new super mario bros u, as fun as it may be didn't convince me, nintendo land either, and its third party games the same. if pikmin 3 turns out to be a game that amazes everyone, i might reconsider, but as of now, wii u is not even close to being a must buy for me.


February 28, 2013, 3:47 am

I bought batman arkham city again for Wii U because the controller I dont have to pause every minute to view the map. Just glance down as I keep running. I wish every game was on the wii U because the controller is a god sent tbh.


February 28, 2013, 3:48 am

super mario bros U is very fun! I play it with my buddies on the weekends with drinks. We are all 30+ years old and have been with nintendo since nes when we were 8. Good times.

Fumes Inkorporated

February 28, 2013, 5:54 pm

Its good for some games and certainly adds to them. Before I saw how bad the new Aliens game was I was jealous of the motion tracker on the touchscreen. Stuff like that is awesome. My concern would be it wont be used well or just tacked on as an after though. if you are making a game and arent sure what systems to put it on but know you dont have anything good for a touchscreen, is it really worth it to pour development into a Wii U version, at least initially? I dont want Nintendo to fail, competition is good but just like motion controls, I am not sold on the touchscreen. I feel like all this motion/touch tech is like laser discs. We are just wanting for VR, stuff like the Occulus but better.


March 1, 2013, 5:40 pm

well for me... i dont know how I can ever go back to a normal controller. :P for my gaming future I gotta have a huge screen on it. :D I hope nintendo doesnt fail either. I will continue to support them as i have always because they do things different and i like that. I already have 5 games for my wii u and I have 5 more planned to purchase that are not released yet this year.

Fumes Inkorporated

March 1, 2013, 6:00 pm

I like that Nintendo thinks outside the box, I dont always care for what they create but thats just me. I also feel its silly to say every new little thing will revolutionize gaming. Maybe I've just seen to many sci fi movies but I am far more excited about VR finally starting to get somewhere than touch screens. Put me in the game, thats immersion. Either way I dont want any of the big 3 to fall, they all bring something to the table.


March 1, 2013, 6:53 pm

i currently own a ps3 as well but I think i'll pass on the ps4 this time around. But man it looks impressive in every regard!!! Interesting to see Microsofts response! vr seems like it will make me dizzy in game~! lol

Fumes Inkorporated

March 7, 2013, 5:00 pm

Its between MS and PS for me right now. I gotta see what MS has up its sleeve. Well that and price.


March 9, 2013, 1:16 am

makes sense. lol

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