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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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@PogueSquadron

These sales numbers are much worse than "meh" though. I don't think anyone rational is concerned about Nintendo's support of the platform, but there's more to a system's success than that.

@Jargon

Yeah, you're probably right about that. BLOPS2 is another tough one, as it's the umpteenth installment in that series and people have been playing with the same friends on other platforms for years. Its presence is certainly promising though; that's the kind of game that Nintendo needs to come as close to parity with other systems for the releases going forward.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:19:28
@Jargon

Yeah I agree. Ultimately publishers want to put their game on platforms where they are confident it will sell. Clearly then your focus has to be making the system as enticing as possible to the consumer. During that process though you do need to keep in mind what third party devs are going to want/need for their games.

Like with the Wii for example, if it had been as powerful as the competition it probably would have got more of the big name 3rd party games. This does 2 things. First, it takes away sales (presumably) from your competitors and gives them to you. Second, it keeps gamers invested in your platform and your environment when they are playing these games. The Wii had a couple years where virtually nothing came out for months on end. If during that time people were playing any one of the many third party games people would have definitely been more favorable to it towards the end.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:20:44
@Kal-El814

See, what's where we disagree. Call of Duty will always move some units wherever it is (until the brand finally dies), but imagine you replaced those four games with something like Animal Crossing that you can't get anywhere else. People would say "lol, Nintendo is kiddy", "lol, they don't have biggest video game in existance", but I think more people would have bought Wii Us and Nintendo would be in a stronger position overall.

Now obviously, it would be better to have both, but I get the impression from the 3DS and Wii U launches that Nintendo is trying to accomodate these third parties and it's been to their detriment. They should do their own thing without worrying about Call of Duty at all and if it doesn't wind up on the hardware, I really don't think it's going to matter as much as conventional wisdom would hold.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:24:33
Well I think we're all agreement in that Nintendo definitely has to one major thing - they have to do whatever it takes to keep both consumer interest and developer/publisher interest as high as they can. Sales, demos, measure of good will, going after third parties, etc. Don't let people (consumers and developers alike) push the Wii U by the wayside.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:30:44
@Jargon
The biggest warning sign to me was how at last E3 Batman was one of their main focuses on stage, that just showed how incredibly out of touch Iwata and co. are with Western game culture, they were trying to win over the Xbox gamer by offering over-priced ports of old games they've already played on a system that is no more powerful than the system they already own.

I disagree with you that Nintendo should not court 3rd party support, as strong as their 1st Party games are I don't think they have the bandwidth to keep the steady flow of diverse games they'd need to be competitive. I just think that focus should have been on securing next-gen titles, of course that would have required a more powerful system, but personally I never saw the wisdom in releasing an Xbox 360 level machine only months before the next Xbox and PlayStation.

This whole thing makes me really sad.

@Stephen
I agree, if Wii would have been powerful enough to play multiplatform games it would have had much better support and a much longer life. Eventually Nintendo will have to get on par with the rest of the industry or just exit the hardware business. Maybe it's time to consider a strategic partnership with Sony.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:30:44
@deathly_hallows

Sony is in a worse position than Nintendo at this point across the board. Besides, seeing as how Nintendo treated Sony the last time they partnered up for hardware development, why the fuck would Sony ever trust them again? If I was them, I wouldn't.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:33:56  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:34:13
@deathly_hallows

I wouldn't be that drastic. Nintendo is really good at pulling profits even in the rough times.

Also, I was reading on GAF that the Wii U sold ~44k pieces of software in January. This is concerning as we previously learned that the Wii U was sold at a loss but was profitable after 1 sale. I have been looking for the source but I cannot find it. Did anyone else see this?


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:35:46
@Stephen

Nintendo does need to do something about finishing generations more strongly, but I don't think that completely changing their approach is the answer. The Gamecube had a weak finish as well and it didn't have the power limitations of the Wii compared to the competition. Raw power is not the answer.

@deathly_hallows

And as we've discussed ad nauseum, I think you want Nintendo to wage a war it can't win. Nintendo is not Microsoft or even Sony, it cannot operate like they do. That puts them at a disadvantage in some ways, which is too bad, but there are ways for the company to succeed nonetheless and they did so with the Wii.

Basically, Nintendo is the A's and Microsoft is the Yankees. You can't expect them to try to do the same thing and win, they have to adapt, and continuously so. It's possible their strategy with the Wii U won't pay off (although it's pretty obviously too early to tell for sure), but that doesn't mean the answer is trying to get into a battle of rawpower.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:37:42
I think it's been proven already that Nintendo's core demographic (Nintendo fans, families) doesn't need the latest and greatest in raw power. They want fun games at an affordable price. We've seen this on the Gamecube, where Nintendo had the power, but couldn't compete with Sony. We've seen it on the DS, where it crushed the PSP. We're seeing it on the 3DS, which is trouncing the Vita.

It's all about the games, and the games just aren't there right now to convince people to get a Wii U. I don't know if any number of third party ports are going to help this. Perhaps more power would help Nintendo grab more exclusives, as developers would all be focusing on the same 'generation' of raw power, but how many of those would we really get? Even Sony and MS have a very limited number of exclusives to convince people to buy one or the other. I know I never bought a PS3 primarily because I didn't feel like the number of exclusives warranted a purchase. I don't need another system that has 95% of the same library as both my 360 and PC.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 18:42:02
There's a tipping point for price and for software. For most Nintendo fans we aren't there yet. For the massmarket, if they've even heard of the Wii U, we defintely aren't there yet.

Plenty of "yet" in that paragraph, luckily!


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:06:52
@Jargon
The GCN thing is totally irrelevant, the CGN got trounced by the PS2 because it came out a year later with a funky disc format, being powerful never hurt the GCN, and it did get some multiplatform games like Soul Calibur, Need For Speed, Prince of Persia. If you think the GCN's big problem was good graphics I don't know what to say to that. Conversely if you think that Wii being 1/10th as capable as the PS3/360 had nothing to do with the fact that it never got the same multiplatform games as the other guys (unless they were severely gimped), then also I don't know what to say. One thing that is irrefutable though is that game budgets are astronomically higher than they were in the PS2 era, companies can't afford to spend 50 to 100 million dollars on a game and not leverage it across all platforms. Can you really imagine GTA VI being a PS4 exclusive the way GTA was back in the PlayStation era, what about Metal Gear or Final Fantasy? This coming generation we will see fewer 3rd party exclusives than any previous gen.

Also, I don't believe that Nintendo is incapable of making reasonably up-to-date hardware, either financially or technically, and if they are then they need to exit the stage and focus on software and/or handhelds/kids market.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:13:58  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 20:00:04
@PogueSquadron
But the Wii U cost $300, if they released a $99 console with fun family-games and great exclusives for the core gamer then I would agree with you. But in today's market they can't expect to release a console that cost the same as the other guys, yet is too underpowered to play the games that the other guys get. Also consoles and handhelds are apples and oranges (even though the 3DS is no pinnacle of success), and the JPN/NA markets are apples and oranges too, and I do think Nintendo's overall strategy will be more successful in Japan.

Also maybe I'm wrong about this, but I feel like there is a lot of cross-over between gamers who like Mario and Zelda but who also like Skyrim, GTA, Dishonored, Bioshock, Dead Space etc., I think a console that could appeal to all the sides of a gamers personality might be more successful than a console that makes you choose one thing or the other. On this board most people have at least one other console or a gaming PC so we may not care, but there are millions of gamers out there who can't afford to own multiple consoles or don't have the level of interest to justify the purchases and I think we sometimes lose track of that.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:20:17  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:37:43
The thread title should have had something along the lines of:

"Interesting news regarding Wii U sales."

TheOldManFromZelda said:
I'm telling my students to buy WiiU's or Nintendo will go out of business.

Nah, that wouldn't happen. Nintendo's handheld division will just carry the company solo. Again.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:22:49
@GameDadGrant
Imagine what Nintendo could do if they only focused on handhelds, imagine if every major studio was working on a 3DS title. Metroid Prime 4, a Retro joint, 3DS exclusive.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:31:34
Well, now we know what happens when Nintendo tries to give 3rd party devs a chance at launch before launching their heavy-hitters. They tried it with the 3DS. The system didn't sell. They tried it with the Wii U. The system isn't sellling. I don't think price is a problem with the Wii U like it was with the 3DS as well. The games just aren't there. I'm a long-time Nintendo fan and there isn't one game on the Wii U right now that I would drop $350 for. Nintendo is doing a good job of getting the word out that the games are coming with the Nintendo Directs instead of waiting for E3 to drop all the news, but still. The system needs games.

This isn't the end of the world by any stretch though. I think any system needs a good year to get its legs under it. I think the Wii U is going to be fine in the long run.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:43:54
Gimme some games to play and I'll start feeling bad that it's not selling.

I'm afraid Nintendo's been asleep at the wheel for years, ever since the Wii's breakout success and past the first year and a half of the Wii's life. Which was a really great year and a half that flourished with great titles like Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime, Mario Kart, Wii Fit, and some great (exclusive) third party stuff.

I'm glad they're feeling the heat, because that's when they're at their best in terms of software. Sadly.


P.S. Those Nintendo directs...they should've been held before the WiiU's launch to get some excitement going. I think Nintendo's learning that they can't withhold information as much as they did on the Wii and DS anymore.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:46:08  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:49:59
@deathly_hallows

GCN's problem was that it was too similar to the competition, with little to distinguish itself.

You keep pushing this false option of Nintendo being just as powerful as the competition. They simply couldn't have done that last generation without losing what made Wii unique (and sell record amounts). Now you hate motion controls so I'm sure you'd want them to ditch those for the power, but that still isn't obviously possible for Nintendo given the financial hit Sony and Microsoft took on their consoles.

But even if Nintendo could somehow afford to release a console exactly on par with Microsoft's machine power-wise, there's still a variety of factors that influence third party relationships that wouldn't change: Nintendo's need to prioritize their own software, Microsoft's ability to appeal to Western developers, online functionality, cash transfers, etc.

It would be a huge risk to take the initial hit on selling consoles on the hope that they would manage to get those games that people already buy on other consoles. Like I said, no one is buying a Wii U for Call of Duty.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:54:54  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 19:55:41
Fucking...ugh. This shit won't go away for a while here. Dunno what Nintendo can do.

I call bullshit on the "bad launch" thing. It had and has plenty of great games, and still more than ANY system has had this early in its life. A bunch (few actually) of late ports doesn't mean the games are bad. It means they're old games. And Wii U has also had plenty of new games too.

The launch is bad to people who have played these games or don't want to play em again. If someone HASN'T played these games, how the fuck is the launch bad? Even excluding the late ports it had a better than most launch.

And I'll be god damned if people tell me games like Tekken Tag 2 sucks just cuz it's old. Again, I never played it, so it's an AMAZING launch title. So BULLSHIT to anyone who says otherwise.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 20:16:26
I was thinking about this too earlier like... the Wii was considered a "generation behind" but it was also by far the cheapest console on the market when it launched, which was a big part of its success. This is not the case for the Wii U. It gets considered a "generation behind" while being the most expensive console on the market right now. That can't be helping things.

I'm not saying that Nintendo should have waited on releasing the Wii U until the next Sony and Microsoft machines came out. But I do think that the price advantage was a huge factor in the Wii success, so launching early kind of... I dunno. Instead of getting to position itself against two much more expensive machines, it's just kind of automatically being positioned against the Xbox 360 and PS3. Which are way cheaper and have a ton of games.

Honestly, outside of selling to Nintendo fans it is tough to see what the current appeal of the Wii U even is. I think this will change a bit in the future, but right now... why would anyone buy a Wii U instead of a PS3 or 360?


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 20:17:36
Zero said:
I was thinking about this too earlier like... the Wii was considered a "generation behind" but it was also by far the cheapest console on the market when it launched, which was a big part of its success. This is not the case for the Wii U. It gets considered a "generation behind" while being the most expensive console on the market right now. That can't be helping things.

This.

Zero said:

Honestly, outside of selling to Nintendo fans it is tough to see what the current appeal of the Wii U even is. I think this will change a bit in the future, but right now... why would anyone buy a Wii U instead of a PS3 or 360?

And this.


Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 20:23:11
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