Poor Wii U Sales Serve as an Ominous Omen for Sony and Microsoft

Recently, I posted an article about how the Wii U was initially met with lots of fanfare and strong sales, but after that initial push, things began to go way downhill for the console. Nintendo has done a lot to help support the Wii U, from having a solid lineup at launch, keeping the cost of the games and console down and promising a lot more in the future. For all intents and purposes, the Wii U should be a crazy success, following the lead of the Wii and how big of a brand Nintendo was and has become thanks to the success of the Wii.

The question originally posed was; can the Wii U compete with the Xbox 720 and the PlayStation 4? While we’ve seen that sales of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have continued to be strong while the Wii U’s sales have dipped, there is another factor to take into account when trying to predict how next generation consoles will fare and that is that the market might not be in the right place right now for new gaming consoles. There is a chance that the Nintendo Wii U’s apparent failure to captivate audiences has nothing to do with brand loyalty of gamers or shortcomings of the Wii U, but that the market is simply not ready for new consoles right now.

Those poor sales that the Wii U have seen could, in fact, carry over into the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720, which would be a disaster for both Sony and Microsoft. Both companies have historically lost money in the first few years of selling a game console due to the high production costs and trying to build up a baseline for said console. As a recent Forbes article surmised, people might just not be ready to move on to another console generation yet. Part of the big sales we are still seeing for PS3’s and Xbox 360’s are that gamers have a library of games for the systems, but they break down over time and need to be replaced.

Some of us are definitely left wanting more out of current generation consoles, which are woefully underpowered compared to even mid range PCs on the market right now. This means that there will always be some group of consumers looking to buy the latest and the greatest, but game consoles just might not have the same appeal as buying a new iPad, iPhone or Android device does to the general public. Take into account that we see tons of smartphones and tablets being sold on a regular basis and that a lot of the “casual gamer” market has shifted over to those devices and no longer need a game console to play quick games or to view Netflix movies anymore.

We are at a pivotal point for gaming where the last generation of consoles was able to offer the full home entertainment center experience on top of great games, but just about every consumer device offers the same entertainment options now and lots of casual games can be played on everyday devices like phones and tablets. It might not just be the Wii U that sees a drought, but the entire console industry, which would force everyone to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate what consumers want from their entertainment devices in the future.

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31 comments

  • This article is COMPLETELY missing the point of why Wii U sales suck. There are NO games. There is no “ominous” anything.

    • I dunno, I actually have some friends who love their Wii U. I’m not particularly fond of the current line-up, then again, that’s why I don’t own the thing.

    • The games are starting to release, and sales have started to improve, by a large margin. You are absolutely right that there weren’t enough compelling games at release to generate the purchase from people on the fence.

      • They are, but I am more scared that the fact games are not even being encouraged to be ported to the console. Nintendo has not even tried to encourage developers from other companies to reconsider re-generating games for the Wii U. A good example is how Saints Row development company “Deep Silver” quickly stated that there skipping the Wii U completly and more focused on “Next-Gen Consoles”. Now that is a message people are not supposed to see, especially since the console was created to sale well in the “hardcore” (sadly had to since poor Wii sales) gaming market.

    • Agreed, whomever wrote this article is a fucking idiot. WII U is why WII U sales suck… not market factors.

  • I agree. The market isn’t ready, nor does it really need any new consoles right now. Nintendo needed get their graphics to HD and releasing the Wii U made sense. But PS4 and Xbox 720 can wait another 3 to 5 years

    • Sure as hell I’m not gona play battlefield 4 on current gen. Wii U does not have anything worth playing, that’s a fact. The next gen is really needed this year.

      • Hmmm, not sure if serious. If you want the best experience for BF4, play it on PC, not on consoles, no, not even on any of the three next gen consoles. BF4 isn’t not being released on Wii U for any technical reason, it would run beautifully on Wii U just as it will on PS4, but EA is not happy with Nintendo, because a deal to build the Nintendo Network within Origin fell through, a deal that would have seen EA making a royalty off of every publisher that wanted to release a game on the Wii U eshop.

        • What I don’t understand is why Sony or MS would want to do business with EA at all either! EA can come up with some great games but they have some very shoddy business practices imo.

  • nintendo missed the mark by so wide of a margin that the hubble space telescope wouldnt be able to see the edges of the margin, they released a “next-gen” console with graphics that are what the wii should have had and just added on a happy meal toy controller and trying to sell it as the next best thing when it doesnt offer anything new that current gen systems dont already offer. why should a consumer buy a new console that they have already been experiencing the same thing for the past 6 years

    • Come on, you’re better than this. First, the system is very capable, much more capable than PS360. You haven’t seen too much of that yet because every console launch is similar, the first batch of games are going to look just like the previous generation, because those projects were ported from very different architectures and there is no benefit in putting a lot of resources into recoding to take advantage of new features when the install base is a huge variable. The gamepad obviously struck a nerve with Sony and Microsoft, who implemented similar features with PS4-Vita crossplay and Smartglass. These are half baked solutions because they don’t have the tech in place to handle it the way Nintendo did at this point. Calling it a hppy meal controller is trolling, if you don’t get it, don’t buy it, but it does open up a whole world of possibilities especially where PC-only genres are concerned. Entire genres of games locked to PC can now take advantage of touch based controls and off screen information, rather than using awkward controls and unfortunate concessions with standard controllers.

      You asked why a consumer would spend money to get the same level of graphical fidelity they are already used to with PS360, well, I feel sorry for you, because if you were expecting the gargantuan leap from gen 6 to gen 7 all over again you are in for a rude awakening. The next gen willbe more about services than graphics, because graphics technology for the past several years has been about doing the same things, only slightly better each iteration. The law of diminishing returns is a b*****. Where the improvements between gen 6 and 7 saw brand new rendering techniques like normal mapping and tessellation, higher resolutions, richer, more detailed textures, MUCH higher polygon counts, etc. The jump this gen will take all of those same things, but make them slightly better, because adding polys only gets you so far before the differences are negligable, and tessellation makes for more realistic surface textures than predrawn textures, even higher res ones.

      So, get ready to experience, everything you’ve already experienced, only slightly better, that’s what this gen will be about. Meanwhile, Nintendo has a console that is leaps, bounds, and rockets better than Wii, they still have the opportunity to amaze anyone who ever dreamed of Metroid, or F-Zero, or Starfox, or any other number of Ninty IP’s, in HD with excellent graphical presentation quality. It only needs to be 300-400% better than the PS360, and that it is. Meanwhile, Sony fans who expect the moon will be sorely disappointed by the little difference in fidelity they are getting between generations. This is called expectation management, and it’s the reason the console that touts itself as the most powerful always loses the gen, because the results never quite live up to the claims and the hype.

      • Don’t be dumb. Nobody cares if the Wii U is more powerful than the PS3 and 360. The future is almost here. The Wii U will suck next to the PS4 and new Xbox.

        • Yeah, that’s right! When you have no substance from which to draw an argument, troll.

          I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the future, with regards to graphics technology and game development, is more of the same, only slightly more polished. We’ve reached a plateau with graphics until some of that fancy point voxel rendering becomes feasible for actual game development, or until 4k becomes viable as a mainstream display resolution.

        • Exactly.
          And when the first good games will be released, all those fans that stayed on the fence all these months… when 1 or 2 games will finally start looking a bit better(though an uncharted game will never be possible to make on the Wii u, the last of us will look miles better than zombiu), when finally a few ‘good’ looking games will come out, well…
          Ps4 says hi.
          Even Nintendo fans won’t be able to not see games like killzone, or the new capcom game.

          Here in Europe, the Wii u costs like 450$. A ps3 starts at 199$. There are a couple of games on the wiiu, for 15-19$ you can buy ps3 platinum games like uncharted, god of war, infamous, lbp, hundreds of great games.

          Why buying another dust collector , like the first Wii, with no games, when you can buy hundreds of great games, really cheap?

          The Wii u is too expensive form what it does, has barely no games, and has old hardware, that can be seen on its graphics. That’s why sales are poor.

          • Yeah, none of what you just said rings true. Uncharted is impressive, no doubt, but impossible on other systems? You are just showing bias here, rather than being subjective on the subject of gaming in general. The Wii U will gain appeal as games are released. In the meantime, I’m armed with a healthy knowledge about the law of diminishing returns and how that applies to graphical representations of actual objects and beings. The PS4 will be able to add some more polygons, but they won’t be as notecable as you think. The Wii U is priced right for what it does, but it doesn’t offer a great value at this time because of the lack of compelling software, something that will smooth out as time goes on. A mistake Nintendo should have avoided but didn’t. The hardware is decent and can handle all of the same advanced rendering techniques that the other consoles will offer, but of course not quite as well in some cases. The controller is brilliant but unless again compelling software is brought to bear that creates a transformative experience it will turn out to be an over complex control method that tries to be everything to everyone but isn’t. I’m well aware of the weaknesses of the Wii U, are you ready to hear the weaknesses of your platform of choice?

    • The PS4 still won’t be able to achieve some things even the Wii did (yes Wii, not WiiU, at least not without extra accessories). Like Wiifit.

      Playing genres like FPS’s on dual analoge is a clumsy control system akin to PS1 days. That’s not “next-gen”

      WiiU will achieve much that the competitors won’t. At the end of the day, the actual console is just a hardware choice for the manufacturer, which will have it’s pro’s and con’s.

      We just use these tools to love the games. Nintendo’s games often reign in my opinion way beyond what a lot of other systems have. The fact that Nintendo has survived from the beginning of all gaming until now is a testament to the fact they do some things actually very right contrary to most’s beliefs

  • The problem the Wii U has is it’s a waste of money to buy it when a much more powerful PS4 will be out at the end of this year. You don’t buy new consoles every few months. Unless you plan to buy all of them it’s much smarter to wait and buy a real next gen console. That’s most likely how most gamers see it.

    • Hmm, saying something is a waste of money is very subjective. It may not have a value proposition for you, and that is completely understandable, but when it can output at about the same graphical fidelity regardless of raw power, at a lower price point, and with more successful exclusives, the actual value proposition is improved greatly. It certainly isn’t limited by your personal situation or preference. Everyone has their priorities when they make a purchase, it depends on which delivers on the greater number of priorities that will make the difference. Most people want great games, and that can include great looking games, but isn’t limited to that. Those same people might also put price above overall performance, especially when they can’t tell the difference in performance when they are playing their favorite game.

      “Real Next Gen” is a red herring, as gaming generations are not restricted to specifications but number of console releases. Wii U is in the 8th generation of gaming, as is PS4 and Durango, as well as 3DS and PSVITA.

    • Then its a good thing Nintendo have started ahead of the ball game; alot of my friends had that impression but fortunately most of the people I have let try my Wii-U were convinced by the Metroid’s (which should have been a fleshed out Star-Fox launch title) and Donkey Kong’s Nintendoland games, as well as Lego-City’s awesome humour and getting to play Sonic All Star Racing Transformed on the small screen, to go out and buy it.

      As have a few mutual friends who tried their ones.

  • First party games are what sells Nintendo consoles and unfortunately, there hasn’t been anything especially noteworthy for Wii U owners to sink their teeth into. Sony will surely be launching with at least one of their monster IPs (Killzone) and a couple of newer ones (drive club, knack).

    Wii U needed Pikmin, pokemon and rayman for launch. Now, these games will all be relegated to the bottom of blogs everywhere amidst the torrent of new consoles and games coming from Sony and Microsoft.

    And no date on Bayonetta 2? Windwalker HD for 2013 but New Zelda is TBA at least 2014?

    Nintendo can’t wait until 2014 to break out the big guns or they will have wasted their 1 years head start on the 3rd gen.

    • Very good point. Pikmin should have been ready for launch, but investors wanted something from Nintendo early to replace the declining Wii. This put them at a disadvantage because the system software wasn’t quite mature enough and none of the first party titles were ready, hence Nintendo stays mum until…well.. E3, where they will have several first party titles in playable form and the Retro announcement, which should be a Metroid, and should absolutely blow minds.

    • 3rd gen? We are in the 8th generation of gaming.

      • Why didn’t you correct me two days ago? lol

        Sorry, i meant the 3rd generation in terms of having microsoft, nintendo, and sony competing within the same industry space.

  • PS4 is riding off pure hype. Aggressive marketing by Sony.
    ….It will cost a fortune to own, can’t cram every piece of tech into a system for cheap
    ….PS Vita will not be an all in one portable gateway for PS4, Nintendo have toyed with that idea for years to little avail (hence why they specifically designed WiiU the way they did). The lag factor and the cross platform programming are barriers
    ….And the Gakai whatev it’s called streaming services will not be a seamless interconnected world of running games straight off the web and downloading games on the fly.
    The average net connection in Australia, ADSL2+ struggles to stream a 720p youtube vid. And many ppl turn their modems off for power saving these days cause no one can afford it. Which doesn’t bode well for seamless cloud services.
    And also PS4 is again clashing head on with M’soft which will also sport a powerhouse system. Much like last gen.
    WiiU matched sales of it’s previous gen competitors even in a far worse climate.
    Come launch PS4/720, just wait till that day and watch them not sell.
    The vast majority of Sony’s console base only JUST bought PS3’s in the last 2 years of it’s cycle. What’s the chance everyones just waiting to lash out on a vastly more costly system from them now??

    • Well said. Great tactic by Sony to build hype, but when they can’t deliver on the level they are claiming, or for too high a price, don’t expect it to sell like gangbusters. I work in the IT industry, and I’ve worked with several VDI solutions, none of which work well for basic office tasks on a LAN with a 100G backbone. don’t expect gaikai to trump technologies that are far bigger business than gaming. The PSVITA crossplay showing was supposed to be an answer to the offscreen capability of the gamepad, but if it was as simple as connecting two devices to the network Nintendo would not have had the engineering issues they had with getting the gamepad to work virtually lag free. Nintendo have been toying around with this since the Super Gameboy.

  • though eventually the Wii U WILL hit typical sales numbers. People spelled doom for the 3DS and a few months later they realized that they had made asses of themselves. However, unlike Nintendo, Sony and MS don’t really have the same kind of brand recognition or library Nintendo does.

  • The article seems to be oblivious to the high level of consumer interest (from multiple surveys/pre-order numbers) in the PS4 – levels that were far higher than the Wii U. Not understanding the broader context calls the article’s overall argument into question.

  • I’ve predicted this all along. The Wii U will be lucky to sell half of what the Wii did. Wii was a “lightning in a bottle” type thing for Nintendo. The Wii U appeals more to the hardcore crowd with HD graphics (finally) and major 3rd party games the original Wii missed such as Mass Effect, Batman Arkham series, Call of Duty (main series not some watered-down offshoot) etc. Their casual or “Blue Ocean” hook this time? The iPad-inspired tablet controller. Only problem is Nintendo may be a couple years late as most people who want an iPad or other tablet already have one or are still planning on getting one.

    To be fair though, I do believe Wii U sales will increase bigtime once some of Nintendo’s big guns are released. Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, 3D Mario etc. However this console will be lucky to sell 50 million units in its lifespan.

    As for the PS4 and next Xbox, I also believe they will sell less hardware than this current generation as well. And for a lot of the same reasons.

    People are spending more of their leisure time with smartphones and tablets.
    $500 consoles with $60 – $70 games is a tough sell these days when you can get
    an iPad for less and get a whole bunch of games ranging from FREE to $15 tops.
    I’m not saying I prefer this to traditional console gaming (because I don’t), I’m
    simply stating that this is becoming the trend.

    Last generation the hook was HD graphics and the expansion of services that turned your game console into your living room media hub. The upcoming generation seems to be more of the same, just with better graphics. Sure we hardcore gamers are counting the days till E3 to get more info about the new machines, but it might be a tough sell trying to convince the more casual crowd that an upgrade is necessary.

    The PS3 and 360 have sold roughly 75 million consoles each worldwide thus far. I’d say the PS4 and next Xbox will be lucky if they hit 65 million each next generation. And the next Xbox even less if some of the rumors about mandatory installs, always online required, blocking of used games, pay-to-play online and to access services you already pay for like Netflix (in other words if they don’t re-think Xbox Live and give it a major overhaul) etc.