We’ve known for months now that sales of the Wii U have been pretty terrible. Figures for US sales in January totaled just 59,000 units. February saw that figure improve only slightly to 64,000 units. That’s in stark contrast to the launch in November and subsequent sales of 890,000 consoles before the end of 2012.
Since then retailers have been grumbling that the Wii U just isn’t selling. In the UK, several retailers even implemented an unofficial price cut. But not even that has worked, and now Nintendo has been put on the defensive.
Game retailers are currently considering scaling back support for the Wii U, which would translate to giving it less shelf space in stores and less promotion both online and through in-store advertising. If that happened it would come as a major blow to Nintendo turning things around before the launch of the PS4 and Xbox 720 later this year.
In order to stop that happening, Nintendo has agreed to meet with all retailers to convince them to carry on their support and “excite” them about the platform. The key point Nintendo intends to make is a strong line-up of games coming later this year will bring a boost. However, that won’t help retailers in the short term, with some suggesting Nintendo has another GameCube on its hands.
With sales remaining low everywhere the Wii U is available, not just the UK, it seems likely Nintendowill have to repeat these meetings in all territories. What they will be met with is frustrated retailers wanting a major price cut in order to get stock moving. Will Nintendo oblige? It seems unlikely as they are convinced new games will draw people to the platform.
The question is, does Nintendo actually have games in the pipeline that can shift the Wii U off shelves? Many desirable games have been announced as not coming to the Wii U, including Crysis 3, Castlevania, Saints Row 4, and Dead Island: Riptide. What Wii U does have is Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate that just released, Resident Evil: Revelations out in May, and Pokemon Rumble U with its novel NFC figures coming soon. There’s also a Mario Kart, Yoshi game, Super Smash Bros, and aFire Emblem/Shin Megami Tensei crossover coming down the line. But it’s telling that Amazon’s coming soon list for Wii U games only contains 3 titles, and a new Zelda game won’t arrive until 2014.
I think Nintendo has to be hoping Monster Hunter 3 starts shifting consoles and that its PR department can put on a good show for retailers. If that doesn’t work, a major price cut for the hardware looks like the only option left, and that might not even work based on retailer’s own experiments.