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At 57K sold, Wii U's January performance is historically abysmal Exclusive
At 57K sold, Wii U's January performance is historically abysmal
February 15, 2013 | By Matt Matthews

February 15, 2013 | By Matt Matthews
Comments
    93 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Exclusive



I wrote on Monday that the NPD Group's retail sales estimates for the U.S. video game market would reveal the kind of enthusiasm that consumers had for Nintendo's hardware in the post-holiday period. I surely didn't foresee figures in the 50,000-59,000 range, but that's what our internal estimates showed. CNet's sources put that number at 57,000, so we'll just go with that.

Those aren't just terrible figures for the Wii U; they're terrible for any system in recent memory.

Because January 2013 was a retail month with a leap week, the figures reported by the NPD Group covered a five-week period. That means that the Wii U sold on average 11,400 systems per week in its third month on the market.

I took the time to go back through the historical data and see just how close other consoles have come to that level of sales. It's a slightly tricky question because once a successor console comes out, the previous model usually sees its sales drop dramatically. So in the figure below, there are two types of consoles: those that don't yet have successors on the market (PS3 and Xbox 360, to be crystal clear) and everyone else.

Just take a good look at the graphic, and I'll discuss the results below.



At a level of 11,400 systems per week, the Wii U has only other Nintendo consoles for company. However, there is an essential difference between the 8,000 systems per week that the GameCube fell to and the 11,400 level of the Wii U: the GameCube didn't fall that low until it got replaced by the Wii. Likewise, the weakest month for the Wii wasn't until the month before its successor, the Wii U came out.

For both of those prior Nintendo consoles, the weakest month of the system's lifetime was in that 60th month, just before it was superseded. In the case of the Wii U, it is hitting sales of 11,400 in only its 3rd month, a level that in this context seems dangerously low.

The other consoles have their own stories. The original Xbox reached its minimum during its short lifetime after only six months, right as Microsoft and Sony each cut the prices of their respective consoles. The price cut did buoy Xbox sales and they didn't fall below 20,000 per week again until the fifth month of its successor's lifetime, in March 2006.

The PlayStation 3 also struggled out of the gate, not unlike the Wii U. However, one salient difference is the price differential. While the Wii U can be had for a mere $300, the price of admission for the PlayStation 3 was $500. After the PlayStation 3 got its first major revision and price cut in November 2007, its sales have never fallen below 30,000 units per week.

The Xbox 360 suffered from shortages in its first year, and so after a mere five months on the market, its sales hit a rate of 38,400 systems per week. Its sales slid again in mid-2007 to around 38,800 systems per week, but have never again fallen below 40,000 again.

Not content to be the king of consoles, the PlayStation 2 also has the dubious honor of hitting its minimum sales level during its second (yes, second!) month on the market, back in November 2000. However, the weakness in its sales was certainly due to a shortage of hardware and this minimum level is actually the highest minimum of any console during the past 13 years. For the record, its sales today are well below the Wii U's 11,000 systems per week, but the PS2 did not get that low until January 2010, in the first few months of the system's tenth year on the market.

Another way of looking at it

Instead of just focusing on a single month's results, we could also take the slightly longer view and ask how systems have historically performed in their first three months on the market. Going back again to the PS2, the results look like the figure below.



Viewed this way, the Wii U is certainly in the middle of the pack, and in good company. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 both had weaker launches than the Wii U.

However, as noted above, those figures come with some caveats: the scarcity of Xbox 360 systems around launch and the high price of the PlayStation 3.

And the console with the most robust launch of all time, the original Xbox, was the one killed most quickly by its creator just four years later. So the installed base doesn't signal doom on its own, but it certainly is a step down from the standards set by the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's own Wii.

If the current Wii U sales rate continues through the coming months, then the platform has an even more challenging road ahead of it than we thought. Before today we knew that it was the most expensive console currently available, is still building a library of must-have exclusives, and is currently waiting for new titles to trickle out over the next few months. What we did not fully appreciate until now was just how sensitive consumers would be to those factors outside of the holiday season.

History shows that Nintendo does better business during the holidays than its competitors do, generally speaking. A corollary to that is that Nintendo suffers more outside the holidays, and that bodes ill for the rest of their year. The middle of each of the past two years has been a painful slog through weak sales, even for strong software and new systems.

In a conversation with Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, he expressed shock that Nintendo has sold "under 1 million" Wii U system's in the U.S. so far. "If there are only 1 million Nintendo supporters in the U.S., that’s a really sad state of affairs," he told me.

On top of that, I'd add that Nintendo won't break a million Wii U systems before March unless February's sales show about a 20 percent increase over January. That's certainly possible, but statistically improbable.

Is there hope?

So what can Nintendo do? That's a tough problem, and not one that has an easy answer. Just look at how Sony has utterly failed in the past year to ignite sales of its PS Vita handheld. The company has stubbornly held onto its original pricing structure and maintained the high price of the memory cards required for the system. When retailers aggressively pushed discounted systems over the holidays, sales rose dramatically, but consumers quickly shut their wallets when the promotions ended.

Should Nintendo cut the Wii U price? Not if they want to maintain enough of a margin to make it through the end of the fiscal year with the profit that it promised. As Pachter told me, "they can cut price and lose money on each unit, but that isn't the right answer."

The real goal, of course, should be to make money on software. Unfortunately, it appears that Nintendo isn't making much progress there either, at least at retail. "Total software sales for the Wii U are under 2 million units in the U.S.," Pachter told me. That suggests that the system's LTD tie ratio can't be any higher than 2.1, and is in fact probably 2.0 or lower. With few new titles out there for the Wii U in the coming months, that situation isn't likely to improve.

Some of the weakness in software sales may be mitigated by the sale of software digitally, but Nintendo is firmly married to the retail market. President Satoru Iwata's promises to maintain good relations with retailers by partnering with them to sell digitally distributed software reveals precisely that, and this is their weakness. Nintendo is clinging to retail precisely when that segment is losing its relevance to the larger video game industry.

It's like retrofitting your horse-drawn carriages with car tires or selling chrome trim for horse bridles, and then touting your robust partnership with carriage dealers to sell those goods. When all those carriage dealers are out of business and your competitors are all selling new cars, who is going to care?


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Comments


Ian Fisch
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Look at some of the comments to this post that I wrote one week before launch

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/IanFisch/20121114/181509/4_reasons
_why_the_Nintendo_Wii_U_will_fail.php

Jimmy Albright
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Right, and in the case it WAS selling well you would have pretended to have never written the article. Congrats on being partially right on 50/50, I suppose.

The only points in your originally article that have any relevance to the situation at hand is #3, "the launch lineup problem" even then your logic is really questionable.

You praise the Wii launch because it had a "brand new Zelda title" and "Red Steel".

1. Twilight Princess was 100% a port of the gamecube version, the wiimote controls were awful and the visuals were identical the gamecube except everything in the game was mirrored. Skyward Sword was the only NEW Zelda game for the Wii, technically. TP was a worse game on the Wii, and honestly I'd even go as far to say you'd be hard pressed to find someone who's played both who disagrees.


2. Red Steel was awful, to praise the Wii launch and list Red Steel while saying ZombiU isn't going to cut it has me terribly confused. ZombiU sold more and has an aggregate score average that's a little over 10% higher than Red Steel.

Porting problems? Black Ops 2 actually got higher reviews on the WiiU than most reviews for the PC version (even beating out the PS3) that's with the so called "gimped online" that you keep talking about. (Once again, have you actually played Black Ops 2 online on the WiiU?)


"The Wii U, on the other hand, promises them the ability to continue playing on the gamepad's screen when the parents comandeer the living room TV screen. Considering the average gamers is over 30, that's not much to get excited about."

I'm going to blow your mind for a minute. Some of us actually have spouses and even *Gasp* children that use the TV. Just because you're 25 or 30 doesn't mean you command the TV at all times. Even Jerry Holkins who probably has enough money to have TV's in every room doesn't command the TV at all times.

http://www.penny-arcade.com/2013/01/11/comic-inbound

We get it man, you want Nintendo to fail, you don't understand the Gamepad. (doesn't sound like you've actually USED it either) When the WiiU climbs out of this though I don't think anyone cares enough to dig up your articles to prove how wrong you were.

Ian Fisch
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@Jimmy

Read the article more carefully.

The porting problems that the Wii U will face are down the road - when games are being developed for the next Xbox and Playstation, and will have to be retooled to work with the underpowered Wii U.

Jimmy Albright
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So you're speculating about porting problems that we don't know anything about at this point?

If the WiiU port of black ops 2 is actually getting better reviews than the PC version, I think there's little to worry about. Same thing with Assassins Creed 3. Next gen consoles are not going to be surpassing PC's in terms of power and performance.

Jason Wilson
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@Jimmy

Being reviewed better on the Wii U (or any machine) is meaningless unless the same person(s) reviewed the game for each machine.

I don't think anyone is crazy enough to believe Wii U [insert 3rd party game] is better than the PC version unless there's been some total failing or intentional handicapping on the part of the developer.

Jimmy Albright
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@Jason Wilson

You're 100% right, but I'm not saying a specific version is "better", I'm only pointing out the fallacy in thinking that somehow the porting experience between PS4 and "durango" to the WiiU is going to be more drastic than the PC. (Hint, it's not. Not unless somehow the ps4 and the durango have some proprietary hardware the the PC is incapable of taking advantage of.)

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Ian Fisch
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@Jimmy

You're living in a dream world.

When one console is a generation behind the other two, porting to it is always going to require a significant amount of work.

Just look at all of the Wii ports of Xbox 360/PS3 games. They basically had to be remade from the ground up.

Matt Wilson
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Ian, your article was right for the wrong reasons. The failure of the Wii U in the West can only come from top down marketing and management issues.

Nintendo is trying to change the way we play games and innovate. They did with the the Wii, they want to do it with the Wii U. It's not hard to see how having two channels of information, private/public, to the player can make for interesting games, especially interesting local multiplayer games - the opportunities are obvious even to non-designers such as the guys at Penny Arcade, even if you fail to note them in your own write-up. Something like the recently released Dungeonland by Critical Studio is perfect for the Wii U.

The established Western game publishers want to stick with tried and true. That model is already starting to visibly fail - how many of the GOTY picks across various websites and press were indie titles instead of AAA? But instead of opening up their console to indie development like MS did, Nintendo's put a price on devkits that quite easily prevent an indie from breaking even on the cost of the devkit, nevermind putting food on the table.

There are two cars playing chicken here, Nintendo and Western publishers, and the failure of the Wii U is going to happen if neither of them blink.

Ian Fisch
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@Matt

I definitely think that there are some great gameplay experiences to be had based around the Wii U's asymmetrical gameplay.

I didn't talk about them in my writeup, because I think they won't have an impact on the system's success or failure. I don't think they're system sellers or game changers.

I don't even think they can be compared to the impact that the original Wiimote had on gaming.

Matt Wilson
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I point out that retail sales have been shrinking since 2009. Going with more power, more effects (as we get more out of the systems' potentials) has proven not to be the answer so far, so why should it pose problems - to the consumers - for Wii U games?

What will sell systems -is- new gaming experiences and game changers, and this is proven by the booming popularity of indie titles in stark contrast to the continuing contraction of retail.

The Wii U offers a very seductive, smooth path into that for Western publishers with its unique gameplay opportunities, but like I suggested, I see it as two cars playing chicken.

Matt Robb
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The real problem is that Nintendo sells hardware based on their first-party games. If you look at the available products, most of them are ports of games that have been on other systems since before the Wii U was released. And what real Nintendo game did they come out of the gate with? A 2-D Mario platformer. Nice to have, but it's not going to have the pull that a Zelda, Mario Kart, Mario Galaxy or Smash Bros would. Was the platformer all they had time to finish for the system or are they playing the long game and plan on pushing these other titles out in successive holiday seasons?

warren blyth
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I thought the first 2-D mario on Wii did really well. yeah? maybe because it promised the first full game of multiplayer mario? and maybe because of a nostalgia shock, that we all liked 2D games from long ago?

So I bet Nintendo feels they DID launch with a new worthy Mario game, and is shocked it hasn't pushed systems.
(course I'm mind-reading. curious if anyone has more concrete feedback from Nintendo about the performance of the game, and their reaction).

I think the real problem is that the message isn't clear.

People say tablet games can't do what consoles do. Well here is the wiiU, offering the latest console games on a tablet - and nobody seems to be buying. either people didn't really want that on their tablet. or Nintendo failed to spread the message. ?

(I'd go further: I bet ninendo thought they could coast on the mystery of the device, much like iphones and ipads didn't have a strong system seller when they launched. I bet they plan to give a clear message at E3, when the competitors have made their stance clear, and favored gamepad experiences have become clear).

Matt Robb
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Yeah, New Super Mario Bros Wii was all about nostalgia and the idea of simultaneous multiplayer. Nostalgia wears off and the multiplayer actually made the game more difficult in many cases as you'd get in eachother's way.

I totally buy into their message for the system. The problem is it's still just a message, the software isn't here yet.

Evan Campbell
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Yeah, I think the message is super unclear. Not to mention - some of things they were saying to get that loyal blockbuster game audience back were kind of bogus or confusing. That sizzle reel with all those AAA devs was kind of an empty promise. Especially when those devs were allowed to come out two months later and say ..."we aren't working on anything right now for WiiU we are actually just focused on finishing our AAA game for ps3/360 buuuut when thats done MAYBE we's loved to develop for the console" ....meaning nothing besides a handful of games were being made to spec with the WiiU... which boils down to - not enough people working on games to figure out cool ways to use the new tech.

At the end of the day software is king. I think they fell flat with a launch line up that looked too similar to things that already exist...for cheaper. To make it worse it's almost like they are playing catch up in terms of getting those really awesome looking third party games out
in the market place so Nintendo can prove that the WiiU can do what current gen consoles are already doing. That's an uphill battle as well because if they want people to buy madden or Call of Duty on WiiU instead of something else Nintendo actually needs to prove that those games are better looking OR are more fun to play on WiiU.

With no first party title to say 'hey look how much more awesome games look and play on a WiiU than that last gen ps3/360 you own' There is no reason for people to spend that kind of money on a new machine.

Why was the game that made the best argument to buy a WiiU(for people who weren't sold on Mario Bros U) a Ubisoft title about zombies? As cool as ZombieU is - the game doesn't necessarily scream HEY EVERYBODY IT'S NEW CONSOLE TIME! Both of those games are rad but what I am trying to say is Nintendo should have taken a stronger initiative to have a stronger flag ship title. I am sure that's an incredibly hard thing to do...but even now it looks like that flagship title is anywhere between 8 months to two years away. In the mean time it's up to third parties to help beef up that WiiU library and Nintendo's third party relationships have been notoriously not so hot.

Even many of the exclusives the big N seemed to lock up appear to be slipping through their fingers. It's hard to say but in the beginning it looked like Nintendo was well on it's way to repair some of those third party relationships....but now it they seem to be back on the ropes. Mass Effect 3 came out on WiiU with a bunch of bonus features but in the same week EA said, 'you know...nows a good time to launch the entire ME collection on PS3 and X360 for the same price as ME3 WiiU'...Rayman Legends is no longer an exclusive and the same thing is happening on the 3DS.

Man I have already typed a ton and I haven't even gotten to the digital store stuff. Selling those games at retail price is craaazy. I am sure this will change as the WiiU manages to grow a better install base

I think WiiU could make up for some of those low sales if they could bring the price down on some of those games and convince people to start spending more money in the eshop.

Joe Zachery
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"So what can Nintendo do? That's a tough problem, and not one that has an easy answer. Just look at how Sony has utterly failed in the past year to ignite sales of its PS Vita handheld."

This is the one part I totally disagree with you can't compare apples to oranges. The west is clearly a bigger supporter of Home consoles than portables. Sony never came close to what Nintendo did when they felt the 3DS was in danger. A instant price cut followed by 1st party game support. Even when it comes to the PS3 Sony has never took the lead when it comes to helping push the hardware. If anything the PS3 has survived due to it's natural bond it shares with the 360. What ever game it gets the PS3 gets a off port of it.

For Nintendo to help turn the Wii U around. Clearly they need big 1st party games now! We do know need major hits will be at E3, but they need them sooner. Nintendo said they are not willing to cut the price, but this could help like it did with the 3DS. Finally and will be the hardest part. Start getting new 3rd party games. They don't need all of them, but at least about half of them. Don't aim to be the best selling console go for being the sidekick. That strategy has help both the 360/PS3 this entire generation.

Ian Fisch
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@Jimmy

The touchscreen gamepad may be a good value when compared to an Xbox 360 gamepad, but that's so not the point.

The point is that it makes the Wii U a much larger investment, at a time when Nintendo's main goal should be to expand the userbase.

@BP

I think a $200 HD Nintendo console that is roughly as powerful as a PS3 is a pretty attractive proposition. I think people would pay that much for the opportunity to play updated Mario Galaxy, Zelda, and Smash Bros.

Mikolaj Holowko
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You remember when ps3 came out it was selling so bad that they had to start giving it for free with mobile contracts, cable tvs, washing machines etc, and those were counting as sales.

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Ian Fisch
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Totally agree. The touchscreen is an anchor weighing them down.

I think that far more Nintendo fanboys would pick up a Wii U at $200 without the touchscreen than $350 with the touchscreen.

Perry Swisz
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I have to disagree. After playing the Wii U, the touchscreen really does offer some revolutionary changes to gameplay. ZombiU is the perfect example, it really would be just an average game without the gamepad, but when used with the gamepad it becomes a truly terrifying survival game.

I'm pretty confused that Ubisoft has pushed back Rayman though. 1st that is just the kind of game the Wii U needs right now. 2nd from what I've seen and played of the demo, the 360 and PS3 versions are going to have to be awful without the 2nd screen. Ok, awful might be an overstatement, but it will be pretty weak compared to the Wii U version....unless they add in PSV/PSP/Smartglass support to supplement them.

Jimmy Albright
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@Ian Fisch / @Dan Eisenhower

Yeah, fragmenting a platform like that is a great idea! *eyeroll* Why don't they make a 3DS version without 3D?

Certainly it's going to help the problem with developers, since now you have essentially 2 very different platforms to develop for. This is the issue on why the WiiU is having problems selling, NOT the GamePad. This quarter doesn't exactly look promising for 1st party releases (on the WiiU, 3DS is looking great) and Nintendo is going to suffer for it.

Have you actually spent time with a WiiU at all? People criticize the controller without actually understanding it's the key component about the WiiU. That's like saying there should have been a Wii that didn't come with Wiimotes, and only came with classic controllers. It's absurd.

If you "don't get" the Gamepad or why it's so great I urge you to play ZombiU with it. It's a wonderful example of integration with the traditional gameplay experience. It only adds to the gaming experience, not something like the wiimote that gives you advantages in some areas but disadvantages in others. Once you "get it" you'll just start thinking about the endless possibilities with it.

People seem so eager to declare that Nintendo is over, (especially you, you seem to constantly talk about how they're collapsing but never seem to engage anyone who shares a different opinion) maybe I'm missing something but this happens literally every single generation since the Nintendo 64. People said the same thing about the 3DS, and now it's absolutely demolishing the Vita. (I read sales figures that had the Vita selling like 1/40th of the 3DS overseas.)


Dario Silva: "Also, the fact that they didn't even bother to make the sensor bar wireless "

You can buy 3rd party wireless sensors EVERYWHERE. I actually lost my original Wii sensor bar when I moved and couldn't find a wired one anywhere(not locally anyways). Maybe you will enjoy constantly changing out 4 double AA batteries, but not everyone has a problem with it. I was quite happy that a wired bar came with the WiiU.

Matt Robb
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@Jimmy Albright, just how many of the current crop of Wii U games is remarkably better because of the touchscreen? Most of them are ports of games from other systems.

I totally agree that the controller is the point, but are we going to have to wait another year before the system is more than a $350 ZombiU game player?

Ian Fisch
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@Jimmy

The question is whether the gamepad is actually worth the extra $100 it tacks onto the system's price.

So far the highest rated game is Super Mario Bros Wii U, and the touchscreen is far from integral to that experience.

Zombie U got middling reviews and it's the only title so far where the touchscreen actually matters.

Jimmy Albright
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Ian Fisch: Maybe prices have gone down, but the last time I purchased a 360 controller, retail price was something close to $45.00. So for $100.00, you're getting a controller that you can play games and surf the internet on, has a front facing camera for video chat, and integrated motion control support and NFC. That's pretty good considering it's double the price of a 360 controller.

The problem is developers taking full advantage of it, not the technology itself as you claim. Releasing a separate WiiU without the tablet would literally be Nintendo performing Hara Kiri.

Brian Peterson
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@Ian: Assuming they followed your lead and removed the touchscreen and the extra $100 it adds to the cost of the system, Nintendo would be left with trying to sell a new Wii system with a significant but unmarketable graphical upgrade for $200. Considering that the Wii isn't selling very well anymore, more of the same doesn't sound like a good plan.

Most of the positive press the system is receiving, from sites like Penny Arcade and Kotaku, are about how having a second screen makes local multiplayer new and exciting, and how the system incorporates conveniently into a family household. While Nintendo is understandably having trouble marketing the system on these benefits, the unique touchscreen experience is going to differentiate and sell the system in the long run.

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Patrick Davis
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It's a simple case of: Games sell the system. When the games come, the system will sell. It really is that simple. People are overthinking this. Is no one watching Nintendo Direct?

What can help them until then? Probably not much. The storm is defintely coming though, and it looks fierce.

David R
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Please correct title of first chart. It refers to months, but has data that is units sold per week.

Matt Matthews
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Because the months have different numbers of weeks, the only way to look at comparable figures is on a weekly average basis for any given month.

For example, November 2000 (for the PS2 figure) is a four-week retail month. However, the Wii U figure is January 2007, a five-week month that included a leap week. Normally January would be a four-week month!

It refers to the weekly average for any given month, and therefore is (IMO) correctly labeled.

Matthew Mouras
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Watch these numbers start to turn when Monster Hunter 3 is released.

Michael Pianta
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I really like Nintendo and their design sensibilities, but for the first time ever I'm concerned for them. I knew the Wii-U would not sell as well as the Wii, but this is worse than I expected.

I think the root problem is actually completely outside of Nintendo's control. There is a segment of the gaming public that does not like Nintendo. They actively dislike Nintendo and what (they think) Nintendo represents. They feel so strongly that they become enraged if a game they might like is actually planned for a Nintendo console (witness Bayonetta 2 outrage). Furthermore, being primarily born into a post Playstation world, these people do not have any special affinity for Mario or Zelda or any of Nintendo's storied franchises. The big problem for Nintendo is that these people are also the main console buying demographic.

Meanwhile the people who do like Nintendo are not numerous enough to support modern hardware/software development. Nintendo therefore releases weaker hardware (to keep costs down) and compensates by offering innovative play experiences tied to innovative controllers. On paper that sounds like a fairly good plan (at least to me), but in practice it is at odds with how modern 3rd parties make games. They want to make multiplatform games, mainly. They don't want to have to redesign the control scheme and rebalance the game around that or retrain the audience who've been playing with more or less the same control scheme on the more or less the same controller for 15 years. I think Nintendo hopes that at some point the development costs will become too high and frighten 3rd parties away from the high end machines and into their waiting arms. But obviously that didn't happen with the Wii and I see little reason to think that will happen with the Wii-U.

So Nintendo is in a tough spot. I have trouble envisioning a way out for them. But I do think we should reserve full judgement until we see how the other pieces of new hardware fare, because possibly they won't fare any better. Then we will know that these numbers have less to do with Nintendo's place in the industry and more to do with the economy and/or overall health of consoles. Perversely, that might be the best thing Nintendo could hope for.

Michael Pianta
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@Jeferson

Definitely all of that is true too. I actually have wondered if the state of 3rd party support for Nintendo cannot be traced back to the way 3rd parties were treated in the NES/SNES era. It's as though all the 3rd parties were all too happy to jump ship as soon as there was a viable alternative. And you're also right about Sony - that is in my opinion Nintendo's most significant miscalculation ever. Nintendo essentially commissioned the Playstation from Sony. Boy. You reap what you sow.

A W
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@Jeferson,you hit the nail on the head. And about the only thing that will rectify some of that damage, is an announcemet of GTA for a Nintendo home console. It the only thing in the minds of gamers that will prove that Nintendo is real. Sad but its the reality.

Christian Nutt
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Have to say, I find it hard to believe Sony and MS won't be polishing the bridle-chrome, too.

John Gordon
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I expect the new Sony and Microsoft consoles to have disappointing sales results. I also expect the Steambox to disapppoint. With the economy the way it is I don't think there are a lot of people out there who want to shell out money for an expensive, shiny new console.

Joe Rielly
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To blame retail markets or Nintendo being "firmly married to the retail market" is absurd. Where else would they sell their hardware?

As others above have said it is the software, or lack there of quality software that is the main problem. IMO Nintendo is marketed to a younger average audience. That younger audience has many more gaming options than the golden age of the NES, SNES, and N 64.

I think they should take some of their classic IPs like Zelda, Metroid and make them more mature and market them to the gamers that grew up on the above mentioned systems.

Jimmy Albright
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I love Nintendo but Nintendo of America makes some really questionable decisions.

andrew kristovich
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@Ian Fisch, Honestly Ian i completely agree and disagree with you at the same time. What I'm getting from reading your articles past and present about your thoughts on the Wii U is that you were once a huge Nintendo fan that has been let down multiple times in the last decade. By no means is the Wii U on the bottom of any launch performance list. Yes everyone would love to see new first party titles that are game changers for the system, however we must let them have the time they need (not 3 months) to let devs dive into the systems capabilities before we start blasting them like this. i haven't owned a Nintendo system since the GameCube reign of disappointment but i feel this is Nintendo's chance to silence critics like you. And as for your comments on the game pad... sigh... well how do i say this, would you know the full capabilities of your 2013 Mercedes Benz before you sat in the driver seat? Yeah im gonna assume you said no. Who honestly expects to see this system shine before the end of its first year on market? I was skeptical when i bought the Wii U. And for one black ops II is no gimp. i have it on PS3 and Wii U and the Wii U version is much more polished, smooth, and prettier to look at. there's absolutely no difference in the online multiplayer. And who cares if other titles were whored over to the Wii U. Isn't that the catch 22 of all non exclusive titles?

All I'm saying is that I'm a Nintendo fan until they come out with another Wii. And i think its short-sighted to try and bust them while there down. We have five days until we hear what outrageous price Sony is trying to sell the PS4 at, why not wait to drag a company over the coals until we really feel violated? Another 600$ launch price tag is just the thing i need to feel violated and taken advantage of. As far as I'm concerned Sony and Microsoft are dead to me. 3 broken 360s later and 2 PS3's later they have gotten well over their launch price from me and if im going to spend that much on a system its going to be a PC that is more useful and better at playing games then the stack of broken Sony and Microsoft crap i have in my garage. At least Nintendo builds reliable systems. i suppose it has to do with not trying to put the newest, shiniest processor and GPU in their systems.

Mike Griffin
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The window for recovery narrows each day in a year that will bring us spotlight-hogging hardware intros from MS and Sony.

Let's hope it doesn't get Dreamcasted in a semi-shocking time frame.

Nintendo is sitting on a lot of capital to weather this drought for a stretch, but you hate to see a near future where this venerable company is merely lingering and languishing with their console du jour, just as the vultures begin to circle the wagons.

Let's hope that a year from now we aren't still giving the "U" descriptors like "Underwhelming" and "Unprepared"...or perhaps it will be "Undone."

Leon T
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Nintendo needs to pull out every trick. Bundles, colors, give away units with PCs, get it on talk shows, do a relaunch, do a redesign relaunch with a new inpute device, ect...

Jane Castle
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@Soler

That "couch" you are sitting on needs to go; it really doesn't tie the room together... ;P

Leon T
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@Cameron

A relaunch would be good enough. Nintendo also needs to stop putting their fate in the hands of third parties and expand to support their hardware with more first/second party support.

@Jeferson Soler

I think multiple SKUs are the least of their problems.

Leon T
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Of course not all third parties are bad. I just think Nintendo needs to stop trying to leave room for them or stop using third parties an excuse not to expand more. Nintendo tries rely on third parties to fill holes in their lineup when they can just fill it on their own.

Having third party support is always good and should be welcomed. Although when you have a history of not getting good support after a few generations it is time to stop thinking that they will be there for you in a big way.

GameViewPoint Developer
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I think how well the Wii U does is pretty much linked to what Sony and Microsoft do this year. If the new PS and Xbox don't offer something which really makes us all sit and take notice than I think a price drop combined with some great games the Wii U can survive for a time at least.

If however the new PS and Xbox make everyone go "Wow", if they manage to give core gamers a whole new level of experience in the visuals, and perhaps connectivity then I think it's basically all over for the Wii U.

Sony and Microsoft always had a range of gamer types, but mostly shall we say hardcore gamers. The Wii was always the more casual gamers, the problem is, is that these more casual gamers have all moved off to Facebook and now onto phones/tablets. This biggest threat to Nintendo has not been Microsoft and Sony but Apple. And still is if Apple jazz up their Apple TV.

How great would it of been if Nintendo had launched a new console that was truly a tablet? You could plug it into the TV and play on the big screen (maybe using the tablet screen as a 2nd screen) but you could also detach it and play games on the way to work, at work and then continue again on the big screen at home?

If that was what they launched then the current gen visuals (and they always have great design anyway) would of been fine. Then I think they would of had a real chance in this current climate.

Anyway if they drop the price a lot, I'll probably end up getting one in a year or 2, but I already know I'll definitely be getting a new PS or Xbox.

Chris Hendricks
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"How great would it of been if Nintendo had launched a new console that was truly a tablet? You could plug it into the TV and play on the big screen (maybe using the tablet screen as a 2nd screen) but you could also detach it and play games on the way to work, at work and then continue again on the big screen at home?"

This would have been ideal, and I'm actually expecting that this is what will happen for whatever kind of Wii U successor happens (long time down the road, I know).

GameViewPoint Developer
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@Chris,

If they had styled it like the SNES I would of bought it without thinking. Unfortunately I don't think there will be a Wii U successor.

Andrew Chen
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This is the direction hardware is heading, but its not there yet. Particularly for Nintendo who would see revenues contract by...a third? Half?
They would basically be combining their mobile and console hardware, so no more double dipping with two Mario Karts, two Mario Tennis' etc. No company would do that to themselves (no shareholder would ever be happy with such a move either) unless they absolutely had to...and it seems that often, by the time you "have to", its already too late.

(sidenote: Nintendo DID just consolidate their hardware R&D teams tho...)

GameViewPoint Developer
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@Andrew,

"and it seems that often, by the time you "have to", its already too late."

Exactly that's the point, we haven't even seen the new Xbox/Ps and already the Wii U seems to be in troubled waters, if Nintendo are thinking this machine will be another Wii then I think they will end up in a difficult situation in a years time.

Your point about the whole double dipping one is a valid one but you could argue it the other way and look at how much they would save by just having one mobile/console device? How much better/easier would it of been to put all the resources into ONE amazing Zelda? ONE amazing Metroid etc.

If they had released a true Nintendo mobile console tablet, they would instantly of beaten Apple to the living room, with the great games they have they would of competed happily for the casual gamers. They could of had a Nintendo developer program like Apple's and like Apple taken 30% off the top, because in the future the real money is in the App stores and that 30%. And like I said nobody would of minded current gen visuals because a) it would of been seen as a "tablet" and b) casuals gamers are not woo'd by amazing visuals anyway.

Why Nintendo didn't go down that route is a mystery to me.

I don't think there's anyone who wants to see Nintendo fail, and not be making these crazy cool games that frankly nobody else does. The reason for the "fear mongering" is born out of everyone wanting to see there still be a Nintendo in 5 years time making hardware.

If anyone from Nintendo is listening, this is what you need to be doing and as soon as possible!

David OConnor
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I think the title of your article is over-negative: it seems that you are either click baiting or shilling. I'm calling you out on this.

Even according to your last graph, the Wii U's sales in the first 3 months of its life are about in the middle of the pack, compared with all the consoles going back 2 generations.

Sure, the numbers aren't as good as the original Wii... but they are "fair to good", absolutely not "abysmal". In fact, given the economy and lack of marquee games at launch, Wii U sales have been excellent.

Derek Poole
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Is anyone kind of afraid that Nintendo might go the way of Sega before the next console generation is over?

GameViewPoint Developer
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That's the writing on the wall, but there's still time left on the clock.

Jimmy Albright
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People say this every single time Nintendo releases something. The 64 uses cartridges, it's going to fail! The Gamecube doesn't play DVD's, what is Nintendo thinking?!?! They said it about the Wii, the DS, and the 3DS.

Even if the WiiU performs below expectations Nintendo is so far ahead financially than where they were in the last race they have room for error. (Not to mention the 3DS is really picking up steam)


Worldwide sales figures


Wii – 99.38 million as of 31 December 2012
PlayStation 3 – 70.2 million as of 30 September 2012
Xbox 360 – 75.9 million as of 31 December 2012


Japan sales figures
Wii – 11,534,590 as of 1 April 2011
PlayStation 3 – 6,341,950 as of 1 April 2011
Xbox 360 – 1,448,665 as of 1 April 2011


Europe sales figures
Wii – 24.9 million as of December 2010
PlayStation 3 – 19.7 million as of December 2010
Xbox 360 – 13.7 million as of December 2010


United States sales figures
Wii – 30 million as of 10 August 2010
Xbox 360 – 18.7 million as of 31 December 2009
PlayStation 3 - nearly 12 million as of 14 April 2010

Derek Poole
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@jimmy:

Yes, I'm aware of the sales figures. And, I'm a regular Nintendo customer. But with each generation, the game changes. I'm just not sure if they can duplicate the risk and reward they had with the Wii. Also, the timing for releasing a new system just seems really bad...anyone else agree?

Leon T
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Since the 3DS is doing ok it is not likely that Nintendo will go the way of Sega. In fact I think Sony is closer to that at this point then Nintendo is.

@Jeferson Soler
Nintendo had the choice of supporting the Wii better in the last two years and launching the Wii U this up coming holiday with an OS already installed, all features there day one, and more first party games ready for launch.

A W
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This article is quite "abymal" in drinking the doom kool aid. But I'm all for being on the sidelines and seeing how it plays out. All I got to say is that Nintendo is a cut throat business, and they will do what they got to do to profit and make it for the next five years.

Harlan Sumgui
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must say, the aggressive and fannish tone of many comments is offputting. Is this still an industry site?

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Duvelle Jones
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@Harlan Sumgui:
It still is last that I checked, but lately... there has been this rather defensive tone to all matters of traditional gaming lately. I am not sure that there is a point to all of that, but we'll have to see.

@Dan Eisenhower:
That is not really typical to just Nintendo, any fan of any product would view the product and the company that produces the product as sacred. Soinc, Apple, etc. It's rather common behaviour.... and the defensiveness that comes with that view it also common.

David OConnor
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Sorry Harlan but I find that this article is far too negative, I'm not a Nintendo fanboy by any stretch of the imagination, having owned PS1 and PS2, an XBox 360, and a Nintendo 64... though these days I play on my PC and this will likely remain true in future too, until I have kids.

Honestly, I'd just like to bring some balance to the discussion. The tone of the article is FUD DOOM, whereas the Wii U's sales have been (surprisingly) acceptable.

(PS. From your avatar, are you also a Jesus lookalike? Fun!)

Johan Wendin
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Why so focused in the US market? You might be interested to know that there are more out there. Include European and Asian mumbers too for a bit fairer comparison.

Also, your comparisons only look at numbers - without concidering financial times as a whole. Or rather, it looks like you did so intentionally.

Coulf they have done better? Yes, for sure. They need a good system seller. (zelda / monster hunter). Until those are released - spamming negative reports in some vague hope to further discredit them are borderline useless.


You downplay the 360 and PS3 slow start for various reasons, but don't do the same for the WiiU despite being released in the aftermath of a severly damaged economy? Sounds like bias to me.

William Johnson
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Well, the Japanese market has contracted big time, so they're not exactly offsetting how much money is made in the states. But if you must know.

system....weekly.....YTD
3DSLL...48,226....311,802
3DS......26,898.....217,097
PS3.....18,322.....125,362
Wii U...13,746......118,198
PSP......12,897.....100,182
PS Vita...9,748.....63,181
Wii.......2,093......11,797
XB360.....611.......4,131
http://the-magicbox.com/1302/game130201a.shtml

Its selling about the same in Japan as it is in America.

I can't seem to find any of the article's I've read about the UK sales, but I know it was doing very poorly there. And while the UK isn't exactly a reflection of all of Europe, I'd like to think it's a sizable enough poll to get a tastes of how the WiiU is doing in Europe. Also I believe the UK is the largest European economy and consumers of video games. So if its not doing well in the UK its probably not fairing any better in the rest of Europe.

So I don't know how much information you need to see before you maybe start to question how well the WiiU is doing. Because...I don't think it's doing very well...

Michael Joseph
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"Coulf they have done better? Yes, for sure. They need a good system seller. (zelda / monster hunter)."

This may be incredibly naive of me but, how come this even happens anymore? How do you release a new system without a killer lineup of games to show if off?

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Andrew Chen
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I honestly can't think of a system after the 64 (with Mario 64, natch) that launched with a "killer-app" that showed off what the system was about.
Yes yes Wii Sports, but y'know what I mean. Core title of technical and design brilliance.

Maybe this is because of the length of time these games take to make. Two years? Three? That transition period between product generations really is tricky. Do you commit the resources of your ace teams for the large established cash cow market or invest their time into the system showpiece?

Andrew Chen
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@Jef: Those both look like very fun games, but they possibly don't count as "killer-app system seller". Tri U because its an upport of a handheld game and is an entry in a franchise that has not yet caught the faiya among Western markets.
Pikimin...well it would be nice if it turns out to be so awesome that it transcends market segments to become a bonafide must-buy-U-to-play, but I am doubtful (charming as it is). I am also doubting the title makes March, unfortunately for Wii U owners.

Christopher Williams
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I have to say I work at Wal Mart. People are still really confused about this system. A lot of people still think it's just a special edition wii. They don't know that it's a completely new system.

Fiore Iantosca
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The Average Joe is stupid. Sorry.

Andrew Chen
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Fiore, I don't think its that simple. Folk like you and me can not help but scratch our heads at something seemingly so obvious, but for a customer who doesn't live with this stuff they need to be educated.

I haven't caught too much of NoA's Wii U marketing (not residing in the states now). The general opinion I've derived from comments is that it obviously failed to convey why someone should drop $300+ on it.

Apparently, if Chris' note is indicative of the larger market, it also failed to indicate what the system is about, or indeed that it is a NEW system! Personally, thought I know what the system is, I am still trying to figure out what its about and who its for.

Andrew Chen
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Jef, NoA may very well owe you a commission. Its too bad they can't have about 10,000 of you to explain the product they have been incapable of selling thus far. :p

David OConnor
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Yes Christopher, the sense I get is that Nintendo haven't properly separated the Wii U from the original Wii in the minds of consumers yet.

David OConnor
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^ @ Fiore "The Average Joe is stupid"

I understand your point of view, and at times this perspective is useful, but personally I'd be very careful with this assumption.

Tyler Shogren
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Nintendo has a long history of over delivering on hardware innovation and then failing to support that hardware on the software side. WiiU hardware offers little more than the GBA/Gamecube link already allowed a decade ago and look what happened with that impressive hardware functionality.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, Nintendo should have been acquiring software developers.

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Chris Melby
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I'm not with you on your assesments, because the Wii U was designed as a gaming console, to be "plugged" into a TV/monitor -- without the need for any additional accessories. Its small screen as you describe it, is its controller; a dumb terminal designed primarily as an assistance to your larger screen, so similar to a Nintendo DS; it can be direclty gamed on, but it's optional.

I don't put the Wii U in the same category as any of my tablets, especially my iPad, which in comparision when it comes to 'gaming,' is a generalized, overpriced, and hobbled device; overall just mediocre for most games, when it's not downright horrid, for reasons I can go into.

And out of all the games to mention, Angry Birds? That's like stating your home town is a great place to visit, because it has a McDondalds.

Yes, for $20 and the cost of a an overpriced iPad, one can play a game like Angry Birds that's pretty much available on anything that has a screen, or a watered down version of MineCraft that plays bleh when compared to the PC version.

And the second screen innovation is for mature gamers? Have you ever heard of a Nintendo DS?

I'm personally not fretting about the Wii U's sales, not when we're still in a global recesssion, and Nintendo's IPs really make it special; so people will buy a Wii U when certain titles hit.

GameViewPoint Developer
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"The second screen innovation is for the matured gamer, and while it's atrtactive ~ WiiU isn't offering this. WiiU to my understand is offering only their product."

Exactly this is what nobody seems to get when they talk about how "innovative" it is. It doesn't matter how innovative it is what matters is how it's perceived and how it's perceived is a weird looking tablet controller a la Dreamcast. With the Wii nobody had really seen that before, so it stood out as offering something different.

"Half ass'ing" things never works. Either make it a full tablet/console that you can plug into the TV or just make it a controller.

GameViewPoint Developer
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@Chris,

"I'm personally not fretting about the Wii U's sales, not when we're still in a global recesssion, and Nintendo's IPs really make it special; so people will buy a Wii U when certain titles hit."

And I would totally agree with you if it wasn't for the fact that this year will probably see the first new console from Sony and Microsoft in 7 years, and quite possible Apple jumping into the same space AND who knows how many Android based consoles appearing.

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GameViewPoint Developer
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@Joshua,

That's the thing though, I think a console/tablet would of been innovative.

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Bob Johnson
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Wow shockingly low numbers. But my few anecotal experiences say people think it is a version of the Wii.

Johan Wendin
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While the "view" name of WiiU fits - it might have contributed in a major way to lack of sales. People already own a Wii and see no reason to "get another one". Such a shame if that is the case.

Derek Poole
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@Jeferson: I totally agree. Most people I ask about the WiiU don't realize it's a new system, but a special edition Wii.

Joe Doe
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In a few more months, it's going to be like: "First THQ...now Nintendo...."

Andrew Chen
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Interesting. So in May or so you expect the company to be declaring bankruptcy and then having their assets stripped and sold off at auction?

Better go short 'em now!

Dave Hoskins
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There's me thinking it was Sony that was in teetering on the edge, waving its arms frantically in backward circles trying to get enough momentum to stay on top.
Or something like that! ;)

Oscar Gonzalez
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Very low numbers for a Nintendo console. What I think Nintendo fail on releasing was the specs of the WiiU. If it supports DX11 like some sources mentioned but not confirmed then it is a gen 4 system capable to render PC high setting-like games at maximum (with DX11 enable of course). Current gen consoles can't do that. If you have played Hitman Absolution in PC with the highest setting you can possibly choose, you will see the next gen graphics there, tessellation-height maps, image-base reflections, etc. If the WiiU is capable to do so, (which I'm optimist) then this console is a gen 4 (next gen). Also, there is no game out there for the WiiU that uses its maximum power. In fact, there are few games out there that reach Xbox 360 and PS3 highest performance, I think the best example I can give is Uncharted series and Halo 4... One thing is for sure, once the new ZELDA comes out your going to see these sell numbers increase rapidly. ZELDA is going to be a huge game that will more likely reach the WiiU max potential. I know I'm going to purchase a WiiU just for Zelda. Will you?

Andrew Chen
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I don't know if Zelda is what is needed for the system to achieve "critical mass" in terms of sales. Skyward Sword sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million units. Great, but enough? Not to mention it will take at least 2 more years for Nintendo to deliver that title which will be too late to save the console, if indeed it still needs saving by then.

In related speculation, in comparing Twilight Princess' unit sales to Skyward Sword, I think we can predict the tone (or at least colour palette) of the next game ;)

Geoff Yates
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Its a bit different this time around last time they picked up a whole bunch of casual gamers with Wii. Lots of Grandmas and Grandpas had one because hey look I can play a console game without really playing it. I know so may people that bought it for Wii Sports and Wii Fit (all gather dust now). These aren't the people which will buy a Wii U. I actually like the tablet it is cool what I don't like is the messy set up process very un Nintendo like.

We still in the lingering effects of a GFC and high employment so any purchase has to have more than the intrinsic upgrade associated with it. Do I buy a new smart phone, pad or a Wii U?

I think the casual market has moved on (smart phones and pad) and the Wii U will be very popular amongst core gamers and diehard Nintendo fans. Zelda will definitely push a system.

Well the other obvious elephant in the room is how much can Sony and MS influence of a new console is putting people on hold.

Allaiyah Weyn
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Ummmm Why are you comparing a handheld to non handhelds? You should have compared it to Gameboy Advance, Cameboy Color, Neo Geo Pocket, WonderSwan, Nintendo DS, Atari Lynx, Gizmondo, Nintendo 3DS, Playstation Vita, etc.


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