The Wii U appears to have suffered a spectacular post-Christmas sales slump, in the US at least. Data from market analysts at the NPD Group estimate that only 57,000 Wii U consoles were sold throughout the whole of the 50 states during January.
The figures, described as “shockingly low” by Yahoo gaming news reporters, are under half the number expected by analysts, even though Nintendo slashed Wii U sales forecasts right at the end of January. In addition January 2013 was a long month, as it contained a fiscal leap week, so numbers are even worse that they initially appear.
To put the Wii U sales in perspective we can look back at the Wii’s launch in 2007. In the second month following the Wii’s launch it sold 436,000 units. Also the ageing Microsoft Xbox 360 sold 281,000 units during January 2013 in the US, almost five times as many as the new Wii U.
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter told Yahoo that he thinks there are a number of reasons for the lukewarm response to the Wii U “First, we think that the console was misunderstood by many as a peripheral for the Wii; second, the price point for the Wii U is relatively high, and the launch was into a weak economy; and third, first party software support was thin, and third-party software was not sufficiently differentiated to convince many that they needed a Wii U as a replacement for their Xbox 360 or PS3.” To address the software support issue Nintendo is lining up a couple of new Mario games this year including the ever popular Mario Kart, a Luigi game and a Pikmin game.
The longevity of the Wii U as a viable “gen 4” system has also been brought into question recently as Nintendo execs were reportedly defending the rather slow CPU chosen for the console. Also EA said it was “not excited” about developing titles for Nintendo’s latest home console saying that “gen 4 is yet to come”.
Are these latest sales figures a warning sign for Sony and Microsoft, or do they show that there is a good opportunity for a true next-gen console? What can Nintendo do now?