Nintendo Wii U sales bomb in US; good or bad news for Microsoft?

Nintendo's attempt to get ahead of Sony and Microsoft in the next generation console wars appears to have backfired, at least in the US. While Nintendo bragged that it sold 400,000 units of its Wii U console during its US launch week in November, the first post-holiday shopping month brings much more sobering news on the popularity of the console.

CNet.com reports that the Wii U sold just 57,000 units in the US during January 2013. Their report is based on an unnamed source with access to the full numbers from the research firm NPD Group. The original Wii sold 435,000 units during its first post-holiday month in January 2007. More importantly, consumers seemed to be more interested in Microsoft's seven year old Xbox 360 console, which sold 281,000 units in January 2013.

Keep in mind that NPD added an extra week to January's sales report as a "leap month", which only makes the Wii U sale numbers look even worse in comparison. So far, Nintendo has yet to comment on the NPD Group's numbers.

It's possible that sales in Europe and especially in Nintendo's home country of Japan will help compensate from the lack of interest in the US for the Wii U. However, the fact that this new "next generation" console could not outsell hardware that's over seven years old has to be troubling.

While this report on the Wii U's sales failure might seem to be good news for Microsoft and Sony on the surface, it could also mean that there's not a big market for the next generation consoles, at least not right now. Sony is expected to reveal its successor to the Playstation 3 next week and Microsoft should do the same for its next Xbox console later in 2013. Hopefully the features in these two machines will be more attractive than the ones Nintendo offers with the Wii U.

Source: CNet.com | Image via Nintendo

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oooh that's rough. honestly, I don't really enjoy the idea of a clunky tablet/controller. I think Microsoft had a better implementation- if you want a tablet to supplement your gaming experience, you can use any tablet that you own- windows 8, ipad, android

This is what happens when you sell a console with no AAA games on the horizon. It's got 3rd party B titles or games released 6 months ago. So much fail, for a console that could be a ton of fun if it was supported.

It's hard to believe they repeated the 3DS all over again. They better slash prices given they have no smash hit system sellers on the horizon. Some fun titles, if they don't pull the plug and move to other consoles, but not system sellers.

This was the first Nintendo Console since the SNES that I didn't buy at launch or fairly soon after. For me it was bad timing financially, and I venture to guess that is the case with many people. They just didn't have the money to plunk down on something that to most adds a tablet and better graphics (which the Wii should have had).
I'm not as big a gamer as I once was which also contributed to not purchasing it. I will probably buy it eventually since I really like Nintendo's games. They have improved the internet setup, but still a bit lame on the Mii design (still no clothes?).
I think if Nintendo had done an offer for swapping Wii U for your Wii, transfer your stuff over easily and discounted it, it would have sold much better to this point.
Sure you can go to Gamestop and swap, but if Nintendo had sponsored it, it would have been a big boost to the platform.

Wii U is probably the worst name ever in the history of game consoles. Wii was bad but they somehow came up with something worse. Along with just being a dumb name it also confuses consumers. The name should not have had Wii anywhere in it. Aside from that there's really nothing to get excited about, it's just a slightly faster Wii with HD graphics and another gimmicky controller. Also not having any great games ready at launch? I just don't know what that company is thinking any more.

Besides the obvious points already that have been made, there is still a huge issue facing Nintendo.

When Wii U's big titles come out this fall (Mario and Zelda for the Wii U), it's going to get drowned out by the two brand new console launches and their games coming this fall. Even if those consoles don't launch exactly at the same time that still is a lot for Wii U and it's games to take on.

What I would suggest for Nintendo is to get those games out sooner and before the launches and advertise like crazy about these new releases. Drop the price of the Wii U and make ads that show it's a new game console that surpasses Wii.

For Nintendo's next trick I would eventually partner with the Oculus Rift guys and have them work together on a truly portable Oculus Rift that is all self contained and wireless. This new device would be made with only Nintendo and Indies in mind. In other words it would be it's own platform with the "Nintendo Magic Software" to drive the device and also sales.

What I have learned in my business is that you need to make sure you can be different in the market. The problem with a toy tablet is that people already own ios, Android/Kindle tablets and only want to buy them and nothing else, so Nintendo putting out a tablet gaming system isn't attractive.

This is why Wii was so successful, because it was so different and most people had never experienced anything like this. Now an Occulus Rift isn't going to be a success like Wii simply because it's not as visual and people can't see the difference without trying it on first and then having that "EXPERIENCE", but it is a huge step up from where they are currently.

I mean a 5 week period from the last days of December 2012 to the first week of February 2013 with Walmart included and they only sell 57,000 Wii U units total in the first 3 months of the lifetime of the video game console when the Xbox 360 is going to be 8 years old this year and it sold 281,000 is a big difference.

I think the Wii U is to complicated of a setup. That big controller/screen is to big to hold for smaller kids. Trying to view that screen plus the TV could be confusing as well. It cost as much as an Xbox and yet its not as fast, graphics are not as cool and even the violent games look boring.

TechieXP said,
I think the Wii U is to complicated of a setup. That big controller/screen is to big to hold for smaller kids. Trying to view that screen plus the TV could be confusing as well. It cost as much as an Xbox and yet its not as fast, graphics are not as cool and even the violent games look boring.


Tell that to my two kids both under 10yrs old they play with the game pad fine. And far as graphics it's the 100 same if not better then current gen as has been proven over and over . Google will help with that. Hardcore 20yr olds will want to skip the wiiU because call of duty has more players that's ok you are free to do so Nintendo does not mind. Look how the 3ds was supposed a fail now its number one in the entire world . Have fun paying $500 for next gen COD

I played with the Wii U at Gamestop today for the first time. Put it down after about 1 minute. Terrible quality graphics and the controller screen is even worse.

'' it could also mean that there's not a big market for the next generation consoles, ''

I don't think so. Early buyers aren't stupid, they're core gamers and they are only prepared to pay full price if its a good investment. Right now the PS4 and X10'80 are stil big unknowns. A lot of them will wait until all three consoles are announced before committing to a certain console.

On top of that the Wii U currently lacks interesting games. It gets the same multiplatform games as PS3 and X360. So why bother? If you look back at 2006 you'll see this was different with the X360. Xbox got exclusives such as Call of Duty 2 while the generation before it got a Call of Duty spin-off as well as titles that werent on lastgen consoles at all, such as Oblivion. This made the X360 seem like a worthy nextgen system whereas Wii U doesnt look like one at this point.

As well as lacking in first-party games, I haven't really seen any significant marketing push for the Wii U.

What I'd really like to see is Nintendo bringing Mario, Zelda and co. to other consoles and even smartphones. (I know it's not happening anytime soon though.)

All consoles are sold at a loss , been that way for last 20 years. The wiiU is a outstanding console it doesn't need to sell millions in a few months to be great. The games are coming and this will be old news. The thing to REALLY WORRY about is the prices of the ps4 and new 360 watch how few sell .

Just like the surface was going to sell out like crazy now they are hardly moving at all.

Wonder how many vitas sold last month .

Wii U is bad for the console industry. It is no longer the gateway to bring kids into the hobby as smartphone and tablet gaming have taken that claim and sales are so bad it is not a viable platform for publishers. For the good of the console industry Nintendo needs to go third-party and help the 720 and PS4 make strong sales as they will also face their own sales challenges in a dwindling industry.

eastofeastside said,
Wii U is bad for the console industry. It is no longer the gateway to bring kids into the hobby as smartphone and tablet gaming have taken that claim and sales are so bad it is not a viable platform for publishers. For the good of the console industry Nintendo needs to go third-party and help the 720 and PS4 make strong sales as they will also face their own sales challenges in a dwindling industry.

I'm sorry I have to laugh at this lol

But Nintendo does not want to help your K/D in call of duty . They are busy selling the highest sold hand held in planet earth history !!! And making games that millions of people find FUN to play.

The 3DS, despite it's rough start, is selling well now, and much better, then say the Vita.

I think mobile phone / tablets are eating in to multiple area's gaming handhelds, computers, but I don't think it reach a point it will destroy them at this time.

Gaming handhelds have the advantage of being more affordable, no "contract" required with expensive data plans, physical controls / joy sticks and can have better video quality. And you can swap games with other players.

Edited by Jason Stillion, Feb 15 2013, 9:51pm :

People seem to only see the "consoles bought". I believe, Nintendo never sells its consoles at loss, whereas Microsoft and Sony do.

When the PS4 and the next xbox come out, even if they outsell the Wii U, I believe that the winning margin will be inferior to Nintendo's.

The Wii U is being sold at a loss. But the Wii didn't have a winning margin, it did indeed sell many more, but the software sales didn't come close to matching either Sony or Microsoft.

So according to the numbers presented here, the Xbox did 5X the Wii U. That's not even close, an embarrassment for Nintendo actually.

Wii U is fun for gaming with the wife, she happens to enjoy it and the Mario games on that platform. Besides, it can be like couples therapy when she throws me in the pits on Mario. Better that than throwing me out of the house for being a knucklehead.

PS3 and PC are my main gaming platforms.

nintendo = kids.
xbox = teen.
ps3 = adults.

It is not than a teen can't play a ps3 or a kind can't enjoy the xbox, it is just about the specialty of every console.

go right ahead if it makes you feel better. I'm an adult way far from being a teen and I own an xbox. 98% of my friends are way over their teenage years and they all have xboxs. you stated your opinion in such a way as if it's facts.

xstex said,
How is PS3 more aimed at adults than Xbox? I would say they are pretty much the same.

All three are aimed at adults, especially Nintendo that is desperately trying to break the stereotype that their consoles/handhelds are just for kids (indeed their ads feature almost exclusively adults). Unfortunately for them though the xbox and wii/ds are a magnet for those other kinds of audience (kids/teens) hence the stereotypes.

Brony said,
nintendo = kids.
xbox = teen.
ps3 = adults.

It is not than a teen can't play a ps3 or a kind can't enjoy the xbox, it is just about the specialty of every console.

Wii U = Kids
Xbox 360 = Teens/Adults
PS3 = Adult who want to watch bluray's


there I fixed it for you....because the PS3 games suck bit time and those they get are ported from Xbox where they look better, play better and are just; well....BETTER!

TechieXP said,

Wii U = Kids
Xbox 360 = Teens/Adults
PS3 = Adult who want to watch bluray's

While I agree that the 360 is foor adults to. PS3 games hardly suck, the exclusives are some of the best games I've played, even if I prefer my 360. And most ports don't look better on Xbox or play better at all, they're pretty much identical, yes afew exceptions but that's bad development and is not even close to being able to claim that all PS3 games suck.

Yes I own both consoles.

TechieXP said,

Wii U = Kids
Xbox 360 = Teens/Adults
PS3 = Adult who want to watch bluray's

So true, I only use PS3 for my blu-rays only, and use my Xbox for Gaming and DVD's or something from my USB.

Don't really like using the PS3 ...

Love the Wii U hardware but lack of games atm

There re-releasing a new virtual console and adding will be adding gameboy games (can we say Pokemon). You can still access your virtual console within the original Wii emulated environment.

Be interesting to see how they do this upcoming gaming generation.

By the time the PS4 / Xbox Next launch, Wii U will still be cheaper then the "new" systems and have some game selection by then.

Also if the rumors are true about Xbox / PS4 about no used games / or always online requirement, that may drive people to the Wii U as well.

Curious to see how it plays out.

I also wonder how strong the new new HD (aka 4k/8k or "ultra hd") will be a driver for the new systems. Going from SD to HD was big, but HD to HD v2, with lack of 4k/8k content and see if the new console could actually push games (power) to meet it's ability.

Nintendo should go third-party to Xbox 720 developing Kinect powered Mario games for kids. As part of the deal between Microsoft and Nintendo, after Wii U's cancellation a Nintendo branded Xbox 720 could then be sold in Japan (a territory where Xbox has never succeeded).

Going 3rd party sure did wonder for Sega ...

Nintendo needs to go 3rd party as much as Microsoft needs to make Office for iOS. It would be a terrible long term move.

i dont think the avg person even knows that it's a completely new system. People seem to think it's just an add-on for the Wii. Why would anyone want it? Where are the AAA titles?

Same thing happened w/ the 3DS. People thought it was simply a 3D version of the DS.

Nintendo is not marketing these consoles correctly.

I worked at Toys R Us for some extra cash this holiday season, and I saw the Wii U launch.

There were a few problems with it:
1) No interest
2) For moms on a budget, it doesn't do anything better than the Wii
3) Half of the people had a hard time understanding that the Wii U wasn't an addon for the Wii
4) The Wii is $129, so moms were conditioned to paying well under $200 for a console. Even the 3DS is $170
5) Hardcore gamers don't care either. The "hardcore" games on the system were out months earlier for the xbox or PS3.

Long story short, hardcore gamers don't care, and most of the Wii U sales are being cannibalized by the Wii.

greenwizard88 said,
I worked at Toys R Us for some extra cash this holiday season, and I saw the Wii U launch.

There were a few problems with it:

3) Half of the people had a hard time understanding that the Wii U wasn't an addon for the Wii

I feel this one needs to be highlighted more. I'm working at Best Buy at the moment, and many people aren't aware that the Wii U is the next console line up. It doesn't help that they then talk about getting confused between the DSi, 3DS, XL and such. Nintendo sort of hurt themselves with littering their own name with so many models.

Nintendo's hardware was a little weak. 1gb ddr3, a slower cpu than 360/ps3 and horificly slow u.i. They should have made it 2gb dd3/gddr5 and equal cpu speed or better than the 360 and should have hired better programmers to make the u.i fast before launch.

They have software updates coming to fix the U.I which should help and new mario, zelda and other great games coming out over the next few months, i'm sure sales will pick up a bit then but this is a very poor start from Nintendo.

I don't think their European numbers are good either, as for Japan, I think it's selling just as bad as the vita is there.

Not releasing any "major titles" since launch is certainly not helping. The delay of Rayman (and loss of exclusiveness) is only going to make it worse. I hope Lego City can at least keep me occupied for a bit.. only so much Mario a guy can play

Uplift said,
lol, they would probably make money licensing/selling their amazing titles on other platforms.

This is so true. Why bother at this point? Maybe still produce only for their handhelds but throw a few IPs to the other consoles. They would make tons of money.

Yup. Nintendo is falling the same path as Sega at this point. Their console is flopping and they need to consider developing games for other consoles in order to potentially bring in more profits.

Mainly because the two console lines are not in direct competition. The Wii outsold both the PS3 and the 360, but neither one of those products did bad either. It isn't a market where you can only have one or the other.

xstex said,
That is true, however most Wii consoles are sitting in a cupboard and they been for a while.
Wow, didn't know you know where every single Wii console is sitting!

I shouldn't have to say "in my experience" every time I say something. But anyway, in my experience in both real life and people I speak to online almost everyone I know hasn't touched their Wii in a long time.

That's fairly accurate. Friend of mine even set his Wii up to pirate games, and it still doesn't get played much, unless it's Super Smash Bros., which is like once every few months. First party titles reign supreme.

Same here. My friend did that too, and now he and his parents just mostly use it for Netflix. My family's Wii also sits mostly unused. If it weren't for Mario Party when cousins come by, we'd barely touch it.