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Wii U Sales, Specs, and Comparison: How Will Nintendo Respond to Disastrous Wii U Release?

First Posted: Jan 31, 2014 10:05 AM EST
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The Wii U has been an unmitigated disaster for Nintendo. The console was released in the USA on Nov. 28, 2012. Since that time it has only sold in the single digit millions. According to US Gamer, global sales data for the Wii U stood at just 3.91 millions units on Sept. 30, 2013. These paltry sales numbers pale in comparison to the true next generations consoles. Sony's PS4 and Microsoft's Xbox One both sold one million units in a single day.

2014 sales have been even worse. Under half a million Wii Us have been sold so far. These sales woes caused Nintendo to slash their sales forecast for the system to just 2.8 million units for all of 2014. Additionally, Nintendo went from a half billion dollar surplus to a quarter billion dollar loss for the fiscal year through March 2014. This caused the Nintendo President Satoru Iwata to cut his pay in half to atone for his mismanagement.

Why has the Wii U been such a slow seller? Well, it has to deal with four things: power, perception, awareness and games. First, let's address the power issue. The Wii U is unabashedly a solid gaming machine. Yet, it's not future-proofed at all. It's only 1080p and is only ever so slightly better looking than PS3 and Xbox 360 in terms of graphics. Perception is also hurting the Wii U. Consumers think that the Wii U is an accessory to the original Nintendo Wii. They think the Wii U gamepad can be used in conjunction with the Wii. This is a massive problem for Nintendo and cannot be easily fixed. The Wii U's brand awareness is also supremely weak. Only a handful of Wii U commercials have been released and they didn't effectively illustrate what the console was capable of.

However, the fourth issue, games, is Nintendo's worst problem. There simply are no good games for the Wii U. Not a Mario Kart, Mario Party or Super Smash Bros. title has been released for the Wii U. These are some of Nintendo's biggest first party titles, but they've been MIA for well over a year now. Third party developer Ubisoft, maker of the Rayman series of games, has already scaled back support for Wii U. Electronic Arts or EA has simply dropped support for the system altogether.

How will Nintendo turn things around? Iwata has a few ideas.

"Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It's not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone," Iwata said.

"We cannot continue a business without winning," Iwata remarked. "We must take a skeptical approach whether we can still simply make game players, offer them in the same way as in the past for 20,000 yen or 30,000 yen, and sell titles for a couple of thousand yen each."

Would you buy a successor to the Wii U if it included better third party offerings? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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