Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Console Post: Wii U

This was a shocking announcement last week:
Just 160,000 Wii U consoles were sold worldwide between April and June, along with 1.03 million software units. The figure is a 51.3 percent decrease on last quarter; the console has now sold 3.61 million units around the world despite Nintendo's initial prediction of 5.5 million systems moved by the end of March.

Context? The Wii launched in November of 2006. From that point until December 2012--over five years--the Wii never sold less than 172,000 units.

In one month. In the U.S.

It took the Gamecube four and a half years before it sold less than 160,000 units in a quarter, and that's just for U.S. numbers, not worldwide.

This is certainly a historic shitkicking for Nintendo. It's almost impossibly bad.

So what do they do here?

For one, they have to recognize that they have an extremely limited timeframe to turn this around. Anyone who greenlights starting development on a Wii U game now must be out of their mind. There will be nothing in the pipeline 1-2 years from now unless something dramatic happens.

How dramatic? Dropping the price to $199.

Nintendo can't afford to do that? Well, they can kiss this generation goodbye, then. They can sell ass all the way through the holidays, and then this console will officially be called the Nintendo DOA.

I don't want that to happen, because Nintendo occupies a unique space in the gaming market compared to Microsoft and Sony. For lack of a better word, they're more gentle. They're more child-like. That makes them incredibly appealing to me, and to many other people as well.

Unfortunately, though, they're running out of time. Even nine months after launch, developers must be running away from the system, based on the sales numbers. They need to make a splash. So drop the price to $199, market the hell out of it during the holidays, and hope the sales numbers show a significant surge.

Why is it so important to do this now, even though it's less than a year from launch? Well, let me ask another question: has there ever been a financially successful console that had a first year like this?

I can't find one.

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