NPD Reports Wii U Sales Slump in January
A post on Gamasutra from yesterday reports the latest numbers from sales tracking firm NPD, and the results for the Nintendo Wii U aren’t looking too hot. The stats cover video game hardware and software sales in North America for the month of January, the second full month of the Wii U’s retail availability.
According to the post, the Wii U’s sales are 38 percent lower than the Wii’s from the same period of its launch, having moved “somewhere between 45,000 and 59,000 units for the month.” That’s pretty lousy considering it’s the first new console from any manufacturer in six years. At the same time, it’s important to consider a few factors that explain (not excuse) the console’s lackluster performance.
For one—January. After the big holiday rush, fewer people are out to make a big purchase, especially if the hardware doesn’t have a nice little post-holiday price drop. The Wii U is going to stay at its current price at least until the next holiday season in a bid to compete with the other consoles.
For another—the economy sucks, especially compared to the economic climate as compared to the Wii’s launch. Things are, simply put, very different now than they were back in 2006. More people are out of work, there’s far less disposable income to go around, and so the purchase of a gadget like the Wii U is far less enticing when you’re trying to make a mortgage payment.
Finally: games. There are some solid titles out for the Wii U, but no one’s going to claim that any of them are reason enough to buy the system. The GamePad functionality is intriguing and has tons of potential, but no game has managed to come out to really make it shine. New Super Mario Bros. U is a ton of fun, but it’s still more or less the same old game. ZombiU had a lot of innovations, but, according to reviews, other issues kept it from really achieving greatness (the reliance on the over-played zombie theme and lack of a recognizable license couldn’t have helped either). Rayman Legends was supposed to be pretty amazing—but now that’s been delayed until September, and is no longer exclusive.
The Xbox had Halo, PlayStation had Uncharted and God of War, among others. If the Wii U had launched with a revolutionary Mario game, something that could’ve really demonstrated the power of the new device…shit, even a new Wii U Sports with the golf functionality that’s been hyped in the hardware demos—then we might’ve seen much healthier sales.
The fact that the best games Nintendo’s talking about are coming out for the 3DS is an unfortunate sign of the way the company seems to be working. The 3DS was suffering through similar problems: a price-cut and the release of really exciting, exclusive games is what drove hardware sales up, finally. Now that the console’s got a healthy install-base, lots of cool looking games are coming out. The new Mario & Luigi title looks like it’ll make great use of the touch-screen, not relying solely on the 3D visual gimmick that no one really ever cared about. I should point out, Nintendo announced that they’d be focusing pretty hard on the 3DS this past holiday season, though why they’d focus on a different piece of hardware amid a huge console launch is anyone’s guess. The 3DS’s sales are pretty great right now, so it seems to be paying off.
I’m confident Nintendo will manage to bring out some great software to really knock people’s socks off. But based on what we’ve seen so far, that day might be farther off than we’d like it to be.