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CNET: Uh oh: Nintendo sold 57,000 Wii U units in the U.S. in January
News reported by 
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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Allow me to rephrase. My friends who had Wiis, 360s and PS3s last generation have no urge to get a Wii U. Until there are more first party and exclusives, and/or a price drop, I don't see that ending. One of those friends got a PS3 instead of a Wii U for Christmas this year, as he was just PS3 and Wii until then. As impressive as the Wii U launch titles may be, the PS3 has 7 years of games to choose from, many of them cheap to get now, so that was the best choice for him.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 20:31:20
When will Nintendo learn?! They need to make Mario Kart a launch game on all of their systems.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 20:37:58
Wii U is next-gen though, even if the specs aren't. It shouldn't be the same price as the 360 and PS3, which are in fact overpriced after being on the market for 7 years. When Wii launched it had the luxury of competing against a laughably expensive PS3 and the 360, but it wasn't price at PS2 levels just because it was last-gen tech. Obviously the Wii U would sell more with the Deluxe bundle at $299 but the price is far from the biggest problem.

I'd argue that if anything the Wii U should have launched in November 2011. Have Skyward Sword be the swan song, and release Xenoblade in 2011 instead of pushing it to 2012 justto pad out the crap library. Every new console has to find its identity, and build a user base. It's not like the PS4/Xb3 will have a robust library of games right out the gate. Nintendo needs software to sell their hardware, plain and simple.

Why would anyone buy a Wii U is what Nintendo should be conveying in advertisement. Local multiplayer fun, Mario in HD, social interactions about games, TVii, off-TV gaming. Stuff like that. I get that it is incredibly hard to convey the message about NintendoLand being a deep content-filled experience with a casual coat of paint. But they need to try harder.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 20:59:19
@anon_mastermind I'm not even saying it should have launched cheaper, I just think the perception of it right now is a PS3 / 360 level system with a much higher price tag. That probably wouldn't have mattered as much had they captured the casuals again, but I don't think that they have.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 21:05:15
I do think Nintendo may have put too much stock in the non-gaming features of Wii U, which seems to be a classic mistake. TVii is nothing extraordinary, especially when it updates so slowly that Twitter is already way ahead, but even if it was perfectly implemented, it's nothing unique. Being able to browse the internet on the Gamepad is nice for people like me who don't have tablets but it's not like I don't have other solutions in my laptop and phone, and tablets are more and more common place.

Compare that to things like the Virtual Console, which I don't think would sell tons of systems but at least being able to play Super Metroid on your Gamepad is something that you can't get anywhere else. And yet it wasn't there at launch and is being rolled out incredibly slowly. Nintendo should have prioritized that over things like Netflix and TVii which people already have ways of doing.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 21:06:35
Jargon said:

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.
I disagree that lack of differentiation was GCN's big problem, maybe in the context of the fact that it launched a year after the PS2 and couldn't do anything the PS2 didn't already do (and in fact less since Nintendo opted not to support DVDs, which hurt them in terms of games too since the little discs were so low capacity), but Nintendo has Mario and that alone sets it apart. Anyway, it's too simplistic to say "hey Wii had a funky controller and it was really successful so if GCN would have had a funky controller then it would have been too!", we don't know that, the Wiimote-Wii Sports combo was lightning in a bottle, with a single game Nintendo started a cultural phenomena, to distill that to "just be different" overlooks too many factors. Let's not forget that the Wiimote was also a double edged blade and in some ways hurt Nintendo as much as it helped, many of the consumers who bought Wii were satisfied with just one or two games, and by mid-way through the generation interest in the Wii had dried up, support disappeared, and almost the entire industry migrated over to Microsoft. Following Wii as a patten for success is a risky proposal and a bad idea, IMO, even if you are lucky enough to create another Wii Sports craze that's no guarantee of long term success.

I don't think it's a false choice for Nintnendo to create up to date hardware, they have like a 6 billion dollar war chest, right? If they want to be in the rodeo they need to pay the price for admission. In no other segment of consumer electronics could a company be successful by selling gear for the same price as it's competion yet offering a fraction of the value. Image buying a TV that's only 720P and 19" yet it cost the same as a TV that's 1080P and 50", even the average consumer is too savvy for that.

Now if Nintendo wanted to do something 100% different than Microsoft and Sony, maybe a $99 machine more on par with OUYA, but with some crazy innovative controller and tons of awesome 1st Party content, then that might be something I could get behind. But Wii U is not that, it's supposed to compete with the PS4 and Nextbox and it just doesn't, and so far the WUG hasn't brought very much to the table, it's neat, but it's not a must have feature.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 21:30:41  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 21:39:48

So, basically, imagine Apple. A company that puts out inferior tech yet owns the market and charges the most.

Seriously, though, I believe Nintendo put far to much stock into third parties with the Wii U launch. Sure, Nintendoland is fun, as is Mario, but third parties didn't put out anything worth owning in most cases (unless you never played the ports when they first launched). You put out Pikmin 3, which I don't really believe is a true system seller, at launch and I'm sure the system would be doing better. Or if you put it out the month after. Nintendo is going to be the one who ultimately drives this console, not third parties. I don't really think Nintendo should wait around for them, either. If they want to make games for the system, they will. They shouldn't feel pressured by that bullshit "Oh, but we can't compete with Nintendo games on Nintendo systems" line we got during the Gamecube era and handicap themselves into a situtation like the one they are in now.

The system will pick up, just because you can't get Nintendo games anywhere else, but this is certainly not a good start.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 21:36:35  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 21:42:49
@deathly_hallows Do you think Sony's and MS' next consoles are going to launch at the same price as the Wii U? I just don't see that happening at all. I feel like the lowest MS will go is $400, for some sort of gimped version that isn't as popular. This is still before adding in the cost of XBL and a game. I mean, even 360's now are priced around the same as the Wii U. What evidence is there to support that their next system won't be more expensive?

Maybe I'm crazy but I fully expect these next systems to cost at least $450 for a non gimped SKU.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 21:40:18
Haha, that's a joke right? iPhone 5, iPad Retina, 5 years behind Google or Microsoft in the same way Nintendo is behind MS and Sony? BTW I have a Droid RAZR and it's very powerful, and I really like it, but if you look at the iPhone 5s specs it's easily on par or better.

I think they'll be no more than $400, which is $50 more than the only practical Wii U configuration, so unless Nintendo drops to something like $249 for the deluxe I don't see enough differentiation in price to justify the huge gulf in specs and features, the lack of a hard drive for example, Wii U has 32 GB of memory, Durango is rumored to have 500.

Of course if either MS or Sony is dumb enough to launch at $500+ than I foresee another PS3 scenario and a huge opening for Wii U to gain traction.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 21:45:12  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 23:34:02
@deathly_hallows The difference though is that Nintendo isn't a technology company - they make video games. And unfortunately, Nintendo hasn't put out many good ones on the Wii U to convince people they need to buy their system.

I think they'll definitely be more than that. Their current systems go for around $300 with a game included. I mean, Sony is a company that actually introduced a new version of the PS3 that was MORE expensive than the one currently on the market. Sony and MS have seen that people are willing to spend over $400 on a game console, and I have to imagine they'll do it.

And if past tells us anything, it will be at least a hundred dollars more than the Wii U. Both the PS2 and XBox were a hundred dollars more than the Gamecube, and the 360 and PS3 both launched at $400.

I can MAYBE see Microsoft going as low as $400, since that's what the 360 started at, but even that is kind of a misleading price, because it winds up being well over $500 after a game and an XBL subscription.

Personally, I think both Sony and MS are going to realize that these generations are going to last longer and longer as time goes on. They're going to want to price things high at the beginning because there's plenty of time to bring that price down.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 21:53:23  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:00:42
Well it takes time, a new 3-D Mario and Zelda will surely turn heads, but in 2014 or beyond will they be too little too late? Besides even if Nintendo shows some amazing 1st party stuff at E3 that won't be enough if they are completely abandoned by 3rd parties. I firmly believe that no matter how great Nintendo's games are they can't do it all alone, that's why I'm consistently of the opinion that Nintendo should work to secure the same multiplatfrom titles as the PC/PS/Xbox ecosystem, if I'm wrong about that then Wii U has no problems because Nintendo will surely bring it, they always do.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:00:05
The 360 was actually $300 for the gimped hard-drive-less model, but yeah that doesn't really count. I think this time all models will have hard drives and I don't think there is any way in hell they'll hit the $300 mark.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:02:25

It was a joke, these things tend to escalate quickly and everyone enjoys a good shot at Apple!

Specs don't matter in the console race. Games do. In Nintendo's case, specs don't matter because if you want Nintendo games you have to own a Nintendo system. With third parties, apparently, no longer going exclusive next generation first parties are going to be the main factor. Certainly, it's going to suck having to buy the "and" console.

If specs mattered, you'd own a PC. End of story. You can use your couch, you can use your TV, it's got digital titles, Steam is amazing, specs are as bad or good as you want, etc. There's obviously factors that keep people away from that. Namely, "price".

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:03:25
@deathly_hallows But I think it's also important to note that this next generation could be around for 10 years. It's certainly enough time for Nintendo to have a nice library of games on the Wii U, making a profit as usual, and then release a console a little further down the line. As time goes on, the generations will last longer, and I think things will start to level out. As each generation goes on, the gap between Nintendo and their competitors is just going to seem smaller and smaller.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:04:16
deathly_hallows said:
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, 22:05:59
I still think the system should have been called WiiHD. Would have slightly helped differentiate itself from its Dad. Also, its really hard to argue that the launch lineup wasn't solid, but rather it was a launch lineup without a home; hardcore types had most of these titles on different systems, and Grandma was not going to buy a $350 system to play Darksiders 2. That just left Nintendo with their core audience THAT DIDN'T OWN ONE OF THE OTHER SYSTEMS (which is a small percentage, to be sure). I'm certain things will turn around for it, but it sucks for now.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:11:17  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:12:50
deathly_hallows said:
In no other segment of consumer electronics could a company be successful by selling gear for the same price as it's competion yet offering a fraction of the value.

I don't think Nintendo does that at all though. What they do is offer tech that isn't about raw horsepower. The value of that tech isn't so easy to work into a linear concept of tech. For instance, there is no way the stuff in the Wii U box costs the same as the stuff in the PS3 or Xbox 360 box to make. The controller alone negates that idea.

I think the Wii U is an ok price for what it offers. The question might be... do consumers want what it offers? But the actual price is fine for the tech. Isn't Nintendo actually selling on a loss right now?

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:13:12  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:13:26
Yes, still selling at a loss. Hopefully the costs will come down pretty fast to facilitate the inevitable price drop.

@deathlyhallow:The big cost is the tablet motion controller, it's a unique and very advanced piece of hardware that does things none of the other consoles can do. Lagless video streaming is not cheap or easy and can't be emulated by Smart Glass or Vita connectivity. Unless the next machines are designed around this specific, proprietary technology they won't be able to do it either. The Wii U is designed around that uniqueness and all the gameplay features it allows. Now you can argue whether or not that's a good idea, but you can't call it lazy. For me, it brings great value to the console and makes the machine a more interesting proposition than something that will be outpaced by a PC within a year anyway.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:41:48  - Edited by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:42:48

Where is this coming from? There's nothing that I can think of in the Wablet that makes it "very advanced." It's got a NFC chip, bluetooth, uses a proprietary version of 802.11.n, and some of the tech from the Wiimote (gyro, accelerometer). I'm not saying it's a POS or anything, but saying that it's very advanced seems like a pretty dramatic overstatement of what's actually inside the thing from a hardware perspective.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:50:28
Whatever you want to label it as, it costs about $150 USD equivalent to buy stand-alone in Japan.

Posted by 
 on: 02/15/13, 22:54:50
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