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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

MJTH's Avatar


At this point power doesn't matter at all. Even if the Wii U was just as powerful as the PS4 or XB1, people would find reasons not to buy one. The problem with the console is peoples perceptions of it, and of that list of negative perceptions, the capabilities of the machine on a technical level is probably the least important thing in order to sell units.

This Wii U is in a horrible position right now. Will it always be in a horrible position? Maybe. The most important thing to me is that Nintendo will try there damnedest to make sure it doesn't stay that way. And whether they succeed or fail, isn't really something that can be predicted.

Also another thing. Does the Wii U need a price cut? That's arguable. Does Nintendo need to say the Wii U is getting a price cut? YES. It's not hard to find a Wii U premium online for much cheaper then it's RRP. Yet people still quote the full RRP as if that's the cheapest price they can find for the product. Nintendo announcing a price cut is far more important then the price cut itself.
Posted 21:55 on 02 August 2013
Woffls's Avatar


Speculation on Wii U has been pointless from day one because software sells systems. Sure, we can see that Nintendo are, as usual, getting *****ed over by third parties, but that never stopped them succeeding before (to an extent).

I think the argument that 3DS had a different type of challenge is a straw man argument. Last generation proved that there is considerable cross-over between home and handheld. Even then, it's often made clear that software sells hardware in both markets.

Nobody but the hardcore gamer will buy a 'platform'. Everyone else buys into an experience, and it's unreasonable to expect any company to do good numbers on the promise of a platform that might be viable in the future. Especially to the people who don't play Mario because they don't appreciate what good game mechanics are, or Zelda because attention to detail, to them, means how many scratches their M4A1 has on it.

My point is that nothing has changed since the last time we harped on about how badly Wii U is selling, so at least do some in-depth analysis on it.

@FM Nintendo should not be playing catch up to their competitors. Ever. Whenever they try and emulate their competitors, regardless of how competently they do it, they don't see any benefit. Every success they have is a result of them driving the industry forward, breaking paradigms, and ignoring the competition.

My major concern about Nintendo now is that they're pandering to their diluted interpretations of western markets, and what they really should be doing is exporting their innate Japan-centric ideas and making them work on a logical intuitive level like they always have.
Posted 20:47 on 02 August 2013
stealth's Avatar


No its not dead or dying. Will it be number 1? no

but will it be a great console? yes

These articles are always so generalized
Posted 20:40 on 02 August 2013

BrySkye@ cubical

Worldwide, but in both the US and Europe, the Xbox 360 is on course to overtake Wii sales around the end of the year.
It's also interesting to note that the PS3 has actually outsold the Xbox 360 at this point, despite the power of Xbox Live and it's presumed dominance of this generation, when it's actually in last place.
But would anyone say the Xbox 360 'lost' this console generation?

We can basically call this the Japan difference.
The Xbox 360 just never got anywhere there, with less than 2 million units sold in almost 8 years and typical monthly sales of less than 2000.
Posted 20:22 on 02 August 2013
cubical's Avatar

cubical@ BrySkye

Actually the Wii is still probably at least 10 million ahead of PS3/360
Posted 19:56 on 02 August 2013

BrySkye@ FantasyMeister

what they should really do is announce a new 8GB AMD-based system with tablet controller at next year's E3 and hope they're not too late.

I disagree with that for a number of reasons, but the only one I'll cite is the fate of Sega.
The Wii U doesn't need to become another 32X, and if Nintendo did do that, it would destroy consumer faith in the brand. Something that ultimately led to the death of Atari and Sega.
New hardware that would make all three consoles essentially the same apart from the badge isn't really a worthwhile direction. Nintendo might as well become a software developer and use 3rd party tablets the way MS intend to.

Nintendo are not Sega.
They are sitting on a pile of cash and it's still growing larger because both the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS are profitable.
Heck, the 3DS had an awful first year and was ready to be written off by many people, especially compared to the Vita.
Nintendo have turned that around, and they didn't do it with more grunt.

The Wii U doesn't need to be the best selling console of the 8th generation.
I highly doubt it ever would be. Even the Wii eventually got overtaken again.
As long as Nintendo can turn a healthy profit from it, that's what really matters.

It's due for a good price cut soon, and thanks to the more modest and mature hardware, they could do that while still turning a profit.
Posted 19:26 on 02 August 2013
tvr77's Avatar


Well id say its on the horizon. Microsoft have got the hammer and nails at the ready and Playstation are waiting with the shovel.

I think the problem this time was going for the "power is not everything" route again and building a console that failed to appeal to the kids and the whole family in the same way the wii did.
The fast approaching next gen big hitters will certainly seal their fates. That's what i think anyway.
Posted 19:06 on 02 August 2013
FantasyMeister's Avatar


I don't really get Nintendo's 'lets not worry about horsepower' policy. The tablet controller is a great idea, what they should really do is announce a new 8GB AMD-based system with tablet controller at next year's E3 and hope they're not too late.

Then just think how neat a Watch Dogs port would be on a system like that. Or Destiny. Or The Division.

This is assuming Nintendo make it 3rd party friendly and don't do something silly like insist all games have to fit on a bespoke cartridge format.
Posted 18:54 on 02 August 2013


I agree with your Opinion, I think pretty much the Same. I really wonder how it will look one Year in the Future, if they can manage selling much more Consoles - But I really don't think it can beat PS4 or Xbox One.

I guess the Big sellers are Mario Kart and Smash Brothers, when these Games don't sell it really looks very, very Dark. And they don't come this Year, which is not too Good I think. But we will see.
Posted 17:56 on 02 August 2013
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