At the end of its fiscal year in March, Nintendo announced to the world that it had sold 3.45 million Wii U units since its launch last November. Most of those units were sold during the holiday season, however, as Nintendo had only sold 200,000 units in the first three months of this year. In the three months since April, it’s gotten even worse.
In its first quarter earnings report, Nintendo says that it’s only sold 160,000 Wii U units worldwide between April and June. During the same period, it only sold 1.03 million Wii U software units. It’s painfully obvious that sales are slowing down for Nintendo’s new console, and things are looking grim.
So, what does Nintendo blame this poor performance on? Just like everybody else, the company cites “the release of few key first-party titles this quarter.” If you look at the last quarter, Nintendo only released three first party titles – LEGO City Undercover, New Super Luigi U and Game & Wario. Out of all of those, only one (New Super Luigi U) has any mainstream appeal. Unfortunately for Nintendo, prematurely announcing the physical release of what was to be a digital download may have hurt its current sales as Wii U owners wait for that release instead of buying the title on the eShop.
It looks like Nintendo’s in a bad spot. The company does have a strategy to spur Wii U sales though. It plans to finally release some games for the console:
For the ‘Wii U’ system, we will attempt to concentrate on proactively releasing key first-party titles from the second half of this year through next year to regain momentum for the platform. Starting with ‘Pikmin 3,’ which was released in Japan and Europe in July and will be released in the United States in August, we plan on releasing key titles such as ‘The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD,’ ‘Wii Party U,’ ‘Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,’ ‘Super Mario 3D World,’ and ‘Wii Fit U.’
Moreover, Nintendo strives to improve the sales by communicating the compelling nature of our hardware and software to as many people as possible through our new network service called ‘Miiverse,’ which offers an environment where people can empathize with others and share their gaming experiences. We also strive to improve hardware profitability by reducing its costs.
The most interesting bit about the above statement is how Nintendo plans to work Miiverse into its strategy. Wii U owners can now access Miiverse on the Web, but they must have a Wii U to make an account. It plans on releasing Miiverse for the 3DS later this year, but it should also work on releasing dedicated apps for mobile devices as well. Allowing people to interact with the Wii U community might just convince them to buy one.
Even if it’s strategy proves successful, Nintendo will still have to contend with the impending launch of the Xbox One and PS4. Current reports show both Microsoft and Sony increasing component orders and stores selling out of initial allotments. All of the signs points to consumers jumping onto the next-gen bandwagon in a big way. Nintendo will have to somehow convince these consumers that the Wii U is at least a worthy complementary console with experiences that you can’t find anywhere else.