Hello? Is anyone there?
It has been almost six months since the Wii U launched—and no one cares.
According to VGChartz, the Wii U has sold roughly 2.97 million units worldwide through April. In the month of February alone, Nintendo’s latest console sold only an estimated 64,000 units in the US. In comparison, the Xbox 360, which has been out for seven years now, sold over 300,000 units.
The release of the original Wii was an astonishing success, most surprisingly in the mainstream market. Everyone wanted a Wii. Everyone bought a Wii. My parents have a Wii. At the time, my mother barely knew how to send an email. Now, to come to this?
So why the poor sales?
The first answer is obvious: what’s being released for it? Yeah. Zip. Or at least nothing we actually care about yet.
Historically the driving factor for buying Nintendo has always been for their first party titles. If there’s no Zelda or Mario, what’s the point? I bought the GameCube way back when on the sole power of Link’s appearance in Soul Calibur II. Games were more costly for me then—I never owned more than a handful for each of my Nintendo consoles, so you can bet they were the big ones.
So the end story is, Nintendo simply does not have any real player-grabbing titles to warrant purchasing the new system.
What about third party developers?
The news is looking grim in that corner too. Johan Andersson, DiCE’s Frostbite Engine Technical Director tweeted this on Monday:
From this you can take the news that next-generation Frostbite 3 games like Dragon Age III and Battlefield won’t make it to the Wii U. (I guess you could already have assumed that before, EA and Nintendo have taken quite a nasty turn against each other in recent years.) Games that run Unreal Engine 4 also won’t be making it onto the Wii U.
Nintendo is turning to a new source of material however, having modified its game console so that customers can use smartphone apps, making it easier for phone and tablet developers to port their games over to the Wii U. However, while this tactic may be handy, smartphone and tablet users already have smartphones and tablets to play these small casual time wasters. There’s no real pull to buy a $300 console to do the same.
The way I see it, the Nintendo Wii will have to take a page of out the 3DS’s book. The latest version of the popular handheld came out at $250 MSRP, and within six months had dropped it down to $170. A similar hardware price cut and the release of new, popular, first party titles may be the only things that will keep the upcoming PS4 and Xbox 720 from sweeping it away.