The latest NPD numbers for January were just released, and things aren’t looking good for Nintendo. The company that recently vowed to sell 4 million Wii U units by the end of March only managed to sell through less than 100,000 in January.
Gamasutra reports that the Wii U sold anywhere between 45,000 and 59,000 units in January according to numbers lifted from NPD’s private data. In its first three months on market, the Wii U has sold 38 percent less units than what the Wii did in its first three months.
So, is this a problem? Obviously, and Nintendo has to do something to get more hardware into more homes. Delaying multiple releases later into the year isn’t doing them any favors, and a rough casual market that’s increasingly focused on mobile gaming is definitely hurting them.
That being said, the rumors of Nintendo’s collapse are greatly exaggerated. Of course, this shouldn’t be anything new as industry analysts have predicted the collapse of Nintendo and other console manufacturers numerous times over the years due to disruptions in the gaming industry. Mobile gaming definitely presents the biggest threat yet, but I can assure you that Nintendo has plenty of cash reserves to stay afloat.
So, the Wii U is in a spot of trouble, but what can Nintendo do to get it selling again? First and foremost, it needs killer apps in the forms of software. Software sells hardware – not the other way around. The Wii U, much like the 3DS before it, launched without a killer app. Nintendo Land and ZombiU are both great games, but they aren’t exactly killer apps. Rayman Legends was the closest thing Nintendo had to a killer app, but we all know how that turned out. Now we’ll have to wait until Spring for the next great Wii U games to start trickling out.
Beyond killer software, Nintendo may need to drop the price of the Wii U. The Wii U is the most expensive console that Nintendo has ever produced, and the sales are looking like that of the 3DS when it first launched at $250. Dropping the price may help spur short term sales until killer software comes out that makes people want to upgrade.
For now, Nintendo is trying to spur sales with a ZombiU console bundle. It includes the entirety of the $350 premium console, and packs in a copy of ZombiU and a Pro Controller for $40 more. In all honesty, Nintendo should have kept the price of the new bundle at $350. It’s still a bargain at $390, but consumers don’t see an extra $40 as a deal.