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CNET: Uh oh: Nintendo sold 57,000 Wii U units in the U.S. in January
News reported by 
Contributor
February 15, 2013, 17:25:31
 
Source: Link.

To put that figure into comparison, during the same period in its lifecycle, Nintendo's Wii hit 435,000 unit sales.

Nintendo's Wii U had a rough January, CNET has learned.

Nintendo sold only 57,000 Wii U units in the U.S. in January, a person familiar with NPD's game industry sales data has confirmed to CNET. The leading console maker during the period, Microsoft, sold 281,000 units in January.

Gamasutra was first to report that Wii U sales were sluggish in January. That publication's source said only that January sales were "well under" 100,000 units.

The Wii U's trouble in January stands in stark contrast to its predecessor, the Wii. In its first January on store shelves in 2007, Nintendo sold 435,000 console units.

That Nintendo is having trouble selling Wii U units is nothing new. The company's CEO Satoru Iwata last month characterized Wii U sales as "not bad." That came just days before Microsoft and Nintendo announced their console unit sales in December. During that period, Microsoft sold nearly one million more consoles.

The Wii U's troubles negatively affected Nintendo's earnings for the nine-month period ended December 31. The company said that it sold only 3 million Wii U units since its launch in November, adding that upcoming games, including new entries in the Legend of Zelda franchise, could "help Nintendo regain momentum for Wii U."

Still, that a console that has been on store shelves for just three months is selling so few units is shocking. It's something that gamers would expect from unknown game companies, but that it's a Nintendo issue, especially given its recent successes, is surprising.

CNET has contacted Nintendo for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.


Those numbers, assuming they're accurate, are appallingly bad. They're not DOOOOOOOOOOOMED bad, but they're objectively troubling as opposed to just tepid. Nintendo is going to need to take action more drastic than awesome Nintendo Directs, and Iwata needs to update his resume. If they have to price drop systems on short notice back to back, he should be out on his ass.

EDIT - assuming I'm remembering things right and the data I saw is accurate, the PS3 never had a month that bad at $600. So this isn't just rough, it's legitimately bad.

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Posted: 02/15/13, 17:25:31  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:40:45    
 
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I predict WiiU to be obsolete and defunct in 2 years. You heard it here first!


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:32:04
@TheOldManFromZelda

We're halfway there already! HOMINA HOMINA HOMINA. Hey Lumpy Pumpkin, you're a great audience. I just flew in from Skyloft and boy are my arms tired!


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:35:06
It won't be defunct. It's going to be a tough ride though, I think, for awhile.

A price cut might help, but really it just needs some games.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:35:42
It's the games plain and simple. Which are coming but that doesn't help much in the short term. What Nintendo was thinking with that launch line-up I will never understand.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:35:48
They will sell more when there are games to play. Nintendo launched too soon. I know they wanted to take advantage of the holiday blitz, but they launched with incomplete OS features, and while the initial batch of launch games were decent, we are already in a game drought. Nintendo should have waited until they could have a pretty big first or second party game to release every two or three months. It's a chicken/egg thing, I know, but Nintendo games sell Nintendo consoles, at least in the beginning. And third parties want to see a system sell, or at least show steady trend line to make it seem at least a decent risk to develop for. I know 3rd parties are just as responsible for quality titles to help move systems, but Nintendo should have learned by now. I hope they are securing deals behind the scenes, because what will really help the WiiU begin to move again are games that can't be played anywhere else, especially core games from third parties.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:37:13
I'm telling my students to buy WiiU's or Nintendo will go out of business. I told them that means "no more Smash Bros," since that seems to be the only Nintendo game they care about.

But honestly, I agree with you guys. Without solid games, it's going nowhere. I'm hoping it's just a rough patch. And not an extended one.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:41:08
@Stephen

I wonder about the extent to which launching with NSMB U so close on the heels of NSMB 2 had an impact on the launch.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:41:57
Ouch. I mean...ouch. It's the game drought that's doing this really. If there were more games ready to go, then these numbers would be higher.

By the fall, we won't be hearing any more Nintendoomed news...for a while.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:44:52
I think another issue is that when you get down to a certain point, just the aura of failure can keep interested people from jumping in. There were a lot of fence-sitters who were kind of interested and are probably looking at the numbers now and thinking "why bother, it's doomed" etc.

Nintendo has some work ahead of them.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:46:59
@Kal-El814

I think it probably hurt them. Maybe not significantly but to some degree. When core Nintendo fans are complaining the games are too similar the public will almost definitely mistake one for the other. In comparison, the Wii launch was almost perfect as for what you want to do. They had arguably the most anticipated Zelda game of all time for core gamers and Wii Sports was a huge draw for casuals and it was linked to the console as a pack in. They really thought a suitable successor for this combo was New Super Mario Bros U and Nintendoland? To be clear, that's not a condemnation on either of those games as I have not even played them. But they certainly lack the marquee value the Wii launch had.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:48:58
I think they really did think that 2D Mario would sell the system a bit. 2D Mario is one of the best sellers on every platform that it is on. But maybe best seller doesn't equate to system seller. It might just be that game that everyone picks up because it's 2D Mario so you know it will be fun, but it's not at the top of everyone's list either. I dunno.

Especially with it being the 4th in the NSMB series and not really standing out much. In theory this could be a Wii game.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:57:12  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:58:15
I think Nintendo listened to too many people thinking that they needed the big third party games the other systems were getting. Assassin's Creed 3 came out close to the same time as the other systems and seems to have done poorly. Black Ops did better but nothing compared to the other systems. Batman and Mass Effect 3 were late, but people have always said that there are Nintendo only fans out there craving these games. If so, they should have sold pretty well and it seems like they didn't.

Nintendo needs to keep the focus on doing it's own thing and stop wasting it's time and money trying to get those franchises that are already established on other systems into the library. Try to get the next big thing instead and, more importantly, don't try to give third partys a window to "showcase" their stuff because it didn't work on 3DS or Wii U.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 17:59:38
Jargon said:
I think Nintendo listened to too many people thinking that they needed the big third party games the other systems were getting. Assassin's Creed 3 came out close to the same time as the other systems and seems to have done poorly. Black Ops did better but nothing compared to the other systems. Batman and Mass Effect 3 were late, but people have always said that there are Nintendo only fans out there craving these games. If so, they should have sold pretty well and it seems like they didn't.

With the exception of ACIII, for which the Wii U release was pretty close to the overall game launch, all of those games were old hat by the time they came out on the Wii U. I think having those kinds of games, generally, should be important to Nintendo. But the timing of their Wii U release was rough. Batman and ME3 launching at $60 to boot was ridiculous.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:03:17
If someone is to ask me whether or not they should get a Wii U, I'm hard pressed to tell them they need to get one now. What's the rush? I think that's the dilemma that Nintendo finds themselves in right now, and I think it's blatantly obvious that is why these Nintendo Directs have been hitting. People really don't have an immediate reason to get a Wii U, so they're realizing that they need to ensure people that the future of the system is ripe with games.

I think the future of the system looks great, as I'm excited to hear more about a 3D Mario, Mario Kart, Pikmin, W101, Rayman (*sigh*), etc, but Nintendo needs to be marketing the shit out of this stuff so that people don't forget about the Wii U altogether. They do not want to turn this system into something that people aren't excited about buying games for.

So, as we wait for some AAA content, I really hope that we see lots of sales, demos, and previews along the way. They need to keep people excited about shelling out their cash. I think what happened with the Wii was that even though we got good games, people just weren't excited about the system as a whole anymore.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:04:48  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:06:18
@Jargon

I do agree that it was the wrong thing to focus on in the way that they did. What they needed to do was figure out how to make Wii U a success on it's own merits while allowing for multiplatform titles to appear. If they don't at least consider this any serious gamer is going to have another outlet for this content like PC, or one of the competing consoles. It shouldn't be about trying to get people to buy a Wii U so they can play multi platform games but rather hooking them in with their exclusive content and then have the multiplatform content there as an option. If Nintendo had a console that received all of the major multiplatform releases it could easily be argued that it is the only system someone needs.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:07:05
That is Gamecube levels...ugh. Nintendo was ill-prepared for the launch, and I don't know why. They showed off the console 1.5 years earlier, and they should have had some more heavy hitters for January/February. Wii Fit and Pikmin should have been there, with Wario Ware in March or something. The only explanation is that Nintendo is having trouble with HD development, or they are spreading their projects too thin because they have so many in development. I'm all for having polished games, but Nintendo can't rely on third party support now, or ever. They need a steady stream of first-party content. I do expect sales to pick up in March and onwards, but this is a horrible month and February won't look much better (maybe the ZombiU bundle will push it over 60K).

Another problem is advertising and branding. In retrospect, the Wii U is a horrible name. Consumer confusion, etc etc. Wii 2 would have been much much better. Also, they need to be more aggressive in their ad campaigns. Put some spots on the most popular TV shows, and show off what's really interesting about the console: NSMBU, off-tv play, Miiverse and asymmetric multiplayer. Just show that. Nobody gives a shit about Sing Party or whatever.
Wii Fit U needs a big, big push. Pikmin 3 needs commercials that show how pretty it is.

Nintendo have a tough road ahead, but I believe that when software come, sales will come. Wii Sports U and Mario Kart hitting this fall would be a home run.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:11:42
If Miiverse is any indication, there are a BUNCH of people playing Balloon Fight.

I know this may seem weird given my comment about too much 2D Mario... but Nintendo is sitting on a ROM goldmine. Why aren't we getting weekly VC releases during this drought? Why isn't SMB3 released so people can play and spam Miiverse about it? I know the VC thing is a dead horse going on a decade now, but there's no excuse for an eShop release list to be a clean sheet when there's nothing new to buy on the system. So dumb.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:12:59
@Kal-El814

Call of Duty also wasn't old hat, either, but I think even if all of those games were new, people aren't going to go out and buy a Wii U to play those games when they can easily get a 360 (if they don't already have one) for $99. I'm pretty sure if you replaced all 4 of those games (COD, AC3, ME3, B:AC) with another big exculsive, the Wii U would be in better shape.

@Stephen

Yea and I think if you have a system that is worthy on its own merits, people will buy it and those games will find their way onto the system to the extent possible. I still think that Wii U will be close enough to the other consoles that, if it sold Wii like numbers, publishers would find ways to get more of the big games onto the system than they did with Wii. We don't really know for sure, though, and we may never know if the system doesn't sell well enough to make it worth the effort.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:13:12
I think it will be easy for naysayers to say that NintenD00Md, but what people often forget is that Nintendo is extremely good at marketing their evergreen titles. I think they're better than any other company of ensuring that even if they have a less than successful platform launch, they can ensure longterm success with quality software.

At the very least, they were able to do this really well on both the DS and the 3DS. The first years of those systems were meh at best, but after that, they started to take off.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:14:53
I like me some Nintendo, but that thing really needs some games. My sister is bitter that her Wii died and she got a Wii U to save her data, and can't find anything new she wants to play on it. None of my friends are interested in getting the system, though they all had Wiis. It's a bit grim right now, for sure. My friends, perhaps sensitive to my slight fandom, don't say it's doomed, just that they're waiting until their Wiis die. There's nothing they really want to play.

@PogueSquadron Yes, things will change once those games are out. I believe in that. There will probably be more Wii U sales January 2014 than January 2013 had.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:16:04  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:17:30
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