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Any way you look at it, the Wii U hasn't sold very well. At all. If I went onto the street and started, say, selling bits of food that I'd picked out of my beard during a long and painful deadline, I believe I'd shift more units than Nintendo has this quarter. There's a strong chance that if you had two unwanted Wii Us in a certain territory and sold them to a mate, you as an individual have sold more Wii Us than Nintendo. It's not good.

Despite the numbers being a worry, there are some out there who staunchly believe that everything is fine, and then there are those that think everything is f**ked. (The argument is encapsulated by this exchange in The Big Lebowski).

Both are right and wrong in equal measure. It's important to distinguish Nintendo from the Wii U. The big N will be fine, for now, no matter what happens to its latest console. Thanks to the success of the original Wii, along with the ever-increasing state of its handheld division, it's got enough money to release sixty-five Saturn-style bombs and laugh, before going back and inside and stroking the 3DS.

That aside, Nintendo also turned a profit this quarter, no matter how little. The company isn't hemorrhaging cash, and it could probably just throttle the console now and say, 'Well, shucks. These things happen.' This isn't Dreamcast 2.0. No farms are being bet on Wii U.

The problem - in the short term - is one of perception. Wii U is a good console, with good games. Although it too suffered in terms of actually being played, Ubisoft's ZombiU is held in very good regard. It's the age-old problem though: it doesn't have enough of these highlights and is now locked into more of a vicious cycle than non-doped Tour de France riders. People don't want to buy it because there are no games, and publishers don't want to support it because there are no players.

EA's Peter Moore has been especially vocal about this issue, describing the Wii U as "[feeling] like an offline experience right now", and questioning whether or not it's worth the firm's time and money keeping the servers on. Others may not be as outspoken, but there are probably a fair few other CEOs and execs thinking the same thing. Moore just happened to speak up.

Nintendo's trump card, of course, is that it has the keys to the Mushroom Kingdom where first party is concerned. Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda... All that noise has ridden to the rescue before and has done so on countless occasions. The question is whether this can happen again, and if so, it's not what happens to Nintendo this generation, but what happens next.

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The 3DS is commonly cited as an example of how Nintendo has climbed out of a hole before, and fair enough - after a less than stellar first few months, quality software and a price drop turned things around. But the problem with that comparison is that the 3DS was competing with, what, the Vita? iOS? It’s a different type of challenge to that of the home space.

Adversity isn't something the company is a stranger to, but whereas Nintendo has suffered high-profile reverses with GameCube and N64, it hasn't really faced anything like this before. The simple fact is that, even with games like Mario and Donkey Kong coming out this year - games you would think would flog a few consoles over the Christmas period - Nintendo is facing a holiday season dominated by new consoles.

The Japanese company might think it's not really competing with Sony and Nintendo, and horsepower hasn't been a concern for Nintendo for years, but it's not just that these machines can push more pixels. It's that they will dominate the minds - if not the hearts - of a huge swathe of gamers.

Yes, they'll be more expensive and their libraries may not be the best, but there's no underestimating the appeal of something that's new. Nintendo needs to push some serious units if the Wii U is going to continue to be anything other than the Nintendo First-Party Box, but it's difficult to see how it's going to do that with four other consoles on the scene (including the last generation units, which will probably be cheaper than air by this Christmas).

Is the Wii U dead? No. Is it well on its way to being buried six feet under? It could be. Will Nintendo do everything it can to stop that from happening? Of course. The struggle, however, is that the firm is caught between generations, and without a strong enough gimmick or head start to keep it ahead. Or, as a system, maybe afloat.

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User Comments

beaty1961's Avatar

beaty1961

The problem reminds me of the Atari Jaguar console. It's sounded great - on paper - and the launch game was fantastic (everyone wanted a go with 'Alien vs. Predator') but nobody seemed to have the appetite for it.
Posted 08:06 on 11 December 2013
smackybumbum's Avatar

smackybumbum

As long the can keep the ship afloat and put out games with level of polish and sheer enjoyment as Pikmin 3. Numbers wont matter to me.
Posted 14:11 on 07 August 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive

If Spanish TV coverage is similar to the rest of Europe, you'd be forgiven for thinking Disney Infinity is only coming to Wii U and 3DS, they're pushing the game ads so hard.

Now if they can do more of that with other titles then that's a start.
Posted 20:56 on 06 August 2013
BrySkye's Avatar

BrySkye@ Crowsy

Quote:
They have to reduce the price to below £100

That's a bit much. For a system where the hardware is quite a bit more advanced than either the Xbox 360 or PS3, selling the hardware at a much cheaper price-point than either of them is rather extreme.

I would say about £140 would be a good price point for the basic model and £180/200 for the premium model (which also includes a game).

The lack of games is the real issue. Nintendo Land is not Wii Sports and New Super Mario Bros. Wii U is not Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Posted 14:08 on 06 August 2013
Crowsy's Avatar

Crowsy

I have been looking at the Wii U just to see what it is about. I have the Wii and there some good family games on there but the Wii U there is hardly anything on there but a handful of games.

The problem as I see it is marketing, I have only recently found out the Wii U can play Wii games and use the Wii remotes. Speaking as a parent do Nintendo expect parents to hours of research on their products?

Is the Wii U dying? Well in Europe with 10,000 sales yes of course it is. What Nintendo have to do is obvious no? They have to reduce the price to below £100 and release more titles for it then I would certainly buy it.

If not then they should drop it and come out and say it. I do not want to buy the ps4 straight away so it will be Wii U's loss if they do not move on it.
Posted 13:25 on 06 August 2013
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga

Click baiting.

It works, doesn't it?
Posted 00:16 on 06 August 2013
skidoosh's Avatar

skidoosh

All I can say is HA! They were looking down the barrel of a gun with weak 3DS sales just over two years ago. All they had to do was bring out the big hitters and BAM! They'll need to subsidise some 3rd party titles to start to shift systems though! They need some software to start shifting systems!

I think all of the adverse media coverage can't be doing it any good either, they've been all over it like a rabid hamster by all accounts.
Posted 21:07 on 05 August 2013
Batmamerc's Avatar

Batmamerc

I was just looking on amazon because thinking about getting one as i want to play zombiU lego city and pikmin but for a premium it's £250, I'm not gonna buy a sub par console that clearly seems to be failing that wont be getting any third party games and may even end up getting dropped by Nintendo if these hopeful Christmas sales don't appear for £250 there gonna need to drop the price if they want it to actually sell, a more reasonable £129 with a game £89 without I would suggest I would buy one at that price, they will then get the return on the sales of the games, games that currently aren't getting the sales as no one has the console, if people were enticed to buy a wii U for a great price then people would buy the games, without people buying the console people won't be buying games it's simple, and with next gen consoles coming soon for £100 more you would have to be daft to pay the current price,
Posted 17:04 on 05 August 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive

It's not dead yet and holiday sales will confirm whether or not its viable for Nintendo to consider dropping it after next year. But they've got titles prepared for the next 3 quarters, so they won't be dropping the console any time soon. Other than the Wii, Nintendo consoles have been notorious for much better first party support than third party.

It's also the only alternative to the usual sort of Videogames for other consoles and even the way that those consoles are made. If anything, this is a major reason why it has far less sales but also the reason why this really doesn't matter in the same way as for other companies.
Posted 12:44 on 05 August 2013
kimbob13's Avatar

kimbob13

I don't think that the Wii u is dead or dying but I definitely think there is room for improvement. I got the Wii u for Christmas last year and you got the game Nintendo land with it. However you didn't get a Wii controller with it and half of the games on Nintendo land need a Wii controller to be played. For the price of the console it should at least have one motion plus controller included. Secondly the app TVii is on the Wii u and it was supposed to come out this year and the fact that it hasn't been working is really irritating because its probably the best app on there.
Posted 11:17 on 05 August 2013
timidmeow's Avatar

timidmeow

Wii U sales aren't doing all that great here in America either.
One of the things I've noticed in shops here is that there will be a demo console of course, but it only shows video of the system, and never actual gameplay. You don't get to try it out before you buy it, and to the average consumer, that little touchpad, plus the wiimote thing, plus the TV screen probably looks complicated. Too complicated and costly for a child (but let's be honest, people buy their kids iPads like it's no big deal, and I don't see the difference) but at the same time, a lot of games look like they're meant for a younger crowd. I'm obviously not talking about the full range of games available for the system. No. I'm talking about what you see when you walk into Target, Wal*Mart, or GameStop. For the wiiU, it's mostly a bunch of kid stuff in those shops.
It's definitely due for a price drop, and it's definitely due for more games, if Nintendo expects to keep this system alive for a few years. Pikmin 3 looks promising. Super Luigi Bros looks promising. Whatever projected Zelda/Mario Kart/Anything Else They Have in the Works for Holiday 2013 should be good. But will it be good enough to keep sales going, when Sony and Microsoft are competing with brand new consoles? Honestly I'm not sure.
I understand that I personally am part of the problem, as I have not yet bought the wiiU (in my defence, I'm going overseas for grad school, so a gaming console probably isn't the most sound purchase for me at the moment.) But even if I was not leaving, I'm still not sure. Very few titles appeal to me that I couldn't get for another system. My bro's got a 360, and I can share with him if there's something new I really want to play (that isn't Pikmin obviously.)
I just don't know about the wiiU.
Posted 00:24 on 04 August 2013
AdesteFideles's Avatar

AdesteFideles@ Endless

Monster Hunter looks like the type of game I would prefer to play at home on the big screen.
Posted 21:23 on 03 August 2013
Endless's Avatar

Endless@ AdesteFideles

Get it on 3DS instead, it's supposedly nion the same experience on handheld than on console. Though if my experience of the 3DS demo of it is anything to go by i'd be embarrassed to see that on my home console.

OT: I think we're in for a repeat of this generation. Sales figures aside this generation has all been about Sony vs MS and thats how it's going to continue. Nintendo will hover on by as the outside bet and release it's 1st party titles as it does now. But in the hearts and minds of consumers it's still a two horse race.
Posted 23:56 on 02 August 2013
AdesteFideles's Avatar

AdesteFideles

I really, really want to buy a WiiU to try Monster Hunter, but there is no way I can justify buying a console for a single game.
Posted 23:08 on 02 August 2013
Llamazoid's Avatar

Llamazoid

I don't think the Wii U is dead but it's certainly struggling. Nintendo needs to stop using it's main IP's as a crutch and come up with somthing interesting that appeals to kids but is challenging enough for adults eg. B.O.B
Posted 22:03 on 02 August 2013