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Wii U near-sellout shows there's still demand for new consoles
Wii U near-sellout shows there's still demand for new consoles
November 26, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi

November 26, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi
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    46 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



It looks like demand for Nintendo's new Wii U is as strong as it was for the original Wii six years ago...at least, for now.

Nintendo told CNET that the roughly 400,000 units sold in the Unitd States during its debut week was "essentially" a sell-out, with supplies running dry at most retailers during that time.

By comparison, the original Wii sold 475,000 units during its debut six years ago (according to NPD data), which was also a near-sellout of its initial shipment.

Interestingly, due to Black Friday discounts, Nintendo's old DS portable managed to outsell its new 3DS, 275,000 to 250,000.

More from Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime at CNET.

Update: This story initially reported that Nintendo's 2006 shipment of the original Wii was 300,000: it was actually 475,000. The article has been updated to reflect this.


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Comments


Alan Rimkeit
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But I thought consoles were teh DOOOOOMED. Like Ninty is teh DOOOOOOMED. Same for Sony. LOL

I am very interested in seeing the sales reports for the Wii-U games in a year. That will give a good indicator for how good the system is really doing. Units may sell but it is the games that matter in the long run.

EDIT: I would also love to see how much the losses are for Ninty. They are selling it at a loss right?

Tom Baird
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An article on Gamasutra on ~Thursday I think stated that Nintendo sold the consoles at a loss, but 1 console + 1 game was a net profit, meaning unless a lot of people bought a console and 0 games, they made a profit, and not a loss.

Alan Rimkeit
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@Tom - Oh cool. Excellent. Ninty pulls it out again.

Kenneth Blaney
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I don't recall the source, but I believe early reports from retailers are giving the Wii U a higher attachment rate than the original Wii. This might be the result of retailers realizing the Wii U was likely to sell out and attaching conditions to purchase (for instance a "special deal" where you save money by buying two games with the Wii U but this deal becomes one of the few ways to actually buy a Wii U).

Nintendo will do okay, but not as good as they did with the original Wii.

A W
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@Tom

I bought a Premium Black Wii U from Toy's 'r' Us (last one after Black Friday) and 2 games, with one being discounted because TRU has a deal of by 2 get 20% off the 2nd. The games I bought where BLOPS2 and NG3. So I got three games because of the one included for 470+ USD.

Also Nintendo has most of the retail games for sale at the big box stores also for sale as DLC at the 59.99 price tag on their Online Store, so I think Nintendo made a great profit even if the consumer just bought a system with no games at first.

David Hawisher
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@Kenneth: I don't think that's really necessary. They're selling at a minimum one game per console. Even when you consider used game sales, the percentage of people who would sell every game for a console they still own is very, very small.

John Paduch
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deleted

Jeremy Alessi
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Near sell out ... Every store in my area has the basic edition of the system. The deluxe sold out but no one wants the basic system apparently. To me that says the core Nintendo lovers are still alive and well but no one else really cares.

I love Nintendo and I'm hoping for the best but this isn't a Wiipeat just yet.

Patrick Davis
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To me that says people just see better value in getting the deluxe system. There is next to no reason to get the basic system unless you just really don't want Nintendo Land. Considering the positive reviews from most people on it, I'm sure most people will want the deluxe.

Chris Melby
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Along with a better value, some of us just like black. :)

Waiting for the Deluxe Wii-U myself.

Eric Geer
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I haven't been able to find anything in my area--basic/deluxe. DC/MD/VA area.

John Paduch
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Same here in lower Michigan (lots of urban sprawl around the metro-Detroit and Ann Arbor areas). I was in a Best Buy, Target, and Gamestop over the weekend doing some Christmas shopping, and all of them had basic units. Back when the Wii launched, you couldn't find systems to save your life for MONTHS after launch around here.

Further, none of the employees understood why people weren't buying them, since adding some external memory later (if the need arises) seems to be the only real downside.

Jeremy Alessi
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It's the memory and also the fact that the game costs $10 more if you purchase it separately. Also, there seem to be a lot of folks who want the black system. All around the basic system is a too expensive which I don't think will sell unless all systems were gone. If the basic system were $80 - $100 cheaper I would jump on it and add my own memory but it's just too obvious an extra expense with the game costing $60 individually.

John Paduch
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Fair enough, but then I don't consider a Nintendo-flavored tech demo of mini-games to be worth any price to begin with, nor do I care about it being white or black.

I also find it hard to believe that, if demand was anywhere near as high for the console that it was for the Wii, color or a $10 difference on a mini-game collection hardly seem like items that would stop people from buying it. This, coupled with employees laughing about customers who return deluxe units after finding out they can't sell them for $800 on eBay like they did the Wii makes me think the overall demand is moderate at best.

Ujn Hunter
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You guys are also missing the fact that the Deluxe version comes with a charging dock, a stand for the console and the gamepad, plus 10% back on WiiWare purchases. Not just a game for $10 cheaper than buying it alone. If it was just the game, I'd have bought the better looking white system.

Johnathon Swift
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More interested to see what's happening next year when the "competition" hits. Though, yes obviously the "DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!" Predictions are all bullshit designed to get you to click on the story. I did it, I know it works!

Doug Poston
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It will be interesting to see how the competition will set themselves apart from the Wii U.

IMHO, they can't really just release a "more powerful" machine, since the Wii U looks like it takes full advantage of consumer HDTVs.

I'm not sure if they can out "gimmick" the Wii U's second screen and keep the price reasonable. But, if they do, I'm guessing Sony will try a HMD (they have a prototype) and Microsoft will release a dockable gaming Surface.

Or they could try to compete on price ($149 NextGen console?) and/or exclusive titles.

In any case, here's hoping the next couple of years will be even more exciting for game developers than the last. :)

wes bogdan
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I have the deluxe wii u and nsmb u + some e-shop games.

What i don't know is how many wii u games i can play seeing as how even nano assault neo lacks southpaw.

I simply put the game on the gamepad and use the gamepad upside down instant southpaw but if you leave the game on the hdtv southpaw flight and guns are both inverted a patch needs to come out as it's a great stardust /geomitry wars style game though both of those games offered southpaw .

As far as nsmb u or rayman i can play those but give me twin or dual analog and i better have my custom scheme or i simply can't play it.

evan c
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Next week article from gaming anaylst/experts "dedicated gaming device and consoles are doomed again all hail Apple!"

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Eric Pobirs
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My very thought. The first million is easy. Sustaining sales after the holiday is when it gets to be work. That is when they need to convince consumers who aren't holiday crazed of the value proposition.

The Wii did great numbers for several years but when it died it died quite suddenly. Fell off a cliff, was the term nintendo itself used talking to the financial press. Much more quickly than Nintendo had expected and they took a serious knee in the groin financially, especially when other factors were also slapping them around. Transition management is a tough business.

wes bogdan
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It shows that if you want metroid,mario or zelda then you know that nintendo hardware is sold because of nintendo games.

Even with ms having chief and marcus to carry xbox and sony having many more franchises but saddled with debt nintendo alone has both significant ip and a war chest of funds.

The next gen should be a very interusting place.....and hopefully everyone supports backwards compatibility and a full custom slot overriding in game controls.

Doug Poston
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I think it is unlikely that the PS4 will be backwards compatible although they *might* let you re-buy or rent titles through Gaikai.

And I don't think any company cares about supporting people who can't deal with the controller pre-sets. If you can't play "right", stick to the PC.

John Paduch
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@Doug - While the backlash over Sony and MS failing to keep BC was shrugged off by both, I doubt the current economic conditions (as well as Sony's poor general performance) would allow for them to arrogantly repeat that attitude. The PS3 and 360 have both done very well, and for MS or Sony to avoid BC - especially when Nintendo has full Wii-BC on the WiiU - would be astonishingly stupid. I'd honestly be surprised if it happened.

Doug Poston
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@John: Microsoft's 'Durango' will probably be BC (although, there may be some SKUs that are not..).

But, if the rumors are true that Sony is dropping the Cell processor, it's unlikely they can produce an affordable console that is backwards compatible with the PS3, which is probably why they invested in Gaikai.

I'm not saying this is a "good thing" but, if I had to make a bet, I'd say it's unlikely the "PS4" will run any of your PS3 discs.

k s
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Nintendo is known for delivering quality hardware and software and people know it so nearly selling out isn't really a surprise. Now with that said the true test of the Wii U is yet to come but I'm far from ready to count them out.

Justin Sawchuk
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TB said that batman arkham city was running at 15FPS. Its pretty pathetic considering it runs better on 7 year old hardware, I cant understand why anyone would ever buy a nintendo hardware again (they should go the way of sega and just make mario, zelda and metroid forever).

A W
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Who is TB? And why did it lie?

John Paduch
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@A W - TB = TotalBiscuit, a very popular esports caster and general vg commentator, and he didn't lie. It isn't always running that low, but it gets there depending on the situation due to the choices made by the developer:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-batman-arkham-ci
ty-wii-u-face-off

Ricardo Barnhill
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@Justin

I agree that they should go the way of software, unless they are willing to compete for hardcore gamers again. The casual schtick will only get copied, but hardcore gaming is where loyalty is bred.

R.I.P the Gamecube and SSBM.

A W
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I'm sure you trust you source(s) for personal opinionated reasons, but I'm telling you from hands on perspective I do not trust your sources. However if a ported game falls to an unplayable Framerate on a console more powerful than that of the current gen, this may be the fault of the port team more so than the fault of the hardware design. Things like that can surely be patched and I'm sure if they have complaints about it on their social area in the Miiverse they would move to patch it soon.

John Paduch
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@A W - I'm not asking you to trust a source (TB), which is why I linked the heavily-detailed performance analysis that Eurogamer did on the different versions. If you don't believe analyses done be major gaming news/analysis sites, then why are you even on Gamasutra? O.o

Besides, you claimed it was a lie that the FPS got down to 15. What reason did you have for that?

Leon T
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What does the age of the old hardware have to do with making a bad port on newer hardware?

With that said I have the game on Wii U and I'm enjoying it. There are also a lot of positive post about it on Miiverse.

A W
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@John
...because to imply that an experience is holistically broken somehow in order to spread negative information to masses of people who may or may not have full information of a situation is indeed just that.

Justin posted: "TB said that batman arkham city WAS RUNNING at 15FPS. Its pretty pathetic considering it runs better on 7 year old hardware"

The words "dips down to" is not even implied in his sentence and he uses this information to create a sense that something that is working fine is not. So your assuming you have truth of a situation from second hand source and I assume your source(s) is not being truthful based off of on hand experiences I have had with playing games on a Wii U system.

Oh And I'm on Gama because I think its more sophisticated from the usual spin you get from true hardcore gaming sites that find noting better to do with their time but cater to fandom viewpoints.

Brian Buchner
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This seems to say more about Nintendo and the draw they still possess than a general statement about consoles.

Ujn Hunter
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I don't know about that... I don't care about Nintendo at all... I'm only here for Bayonetta 2. ;)

ferry ardino
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Gil Salvado
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"[...] there's still demand for new consoles." DOH, oh really?! I'm sorry, but this is such a ... 'obvious' statement.

The whole game industry is waiting for the next generation of consoles and so is the gaming community. It's been almost 8 years since the initial PS3 and 360 launches. Just take a look at CoD:Black Ops 2 and compare it to Crysis 3. It aches almost. Genres are stagnating in innovation. It's about time for a new generation of consoles to boost the development of new IP's and reimagening - not re-re-and-reanimating - established ones.

David Holmin
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Are you saying stagnation in innovation is due to aged graphics? If there's any connection at all, I'd say it's the opposite. More advanced graphics mean more expensive assets mean less risk taking and less inovation.

Merc Hoffner
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I'm SICK of the endless stories indicating the 'obviousness' that the console market is 'dying', 'at deaths door' or that 'players have eternally moved on to more convenient and 'cheap' tablet gaming'. This maleficent mix of 'analyst' and 'journalist' scaremongers are all operating in complete disregard of historical data. The fact of the matter is that console cycles naturally wane after 5-6 years. The fact is we're in year 7 of a stretched cycle. The fact is if Apple didn't exist we'd still be seeing this slimming of the generation but the industry press wouldn't be celebrating the deaths of their benefactors. Scratch that, they probably would. But the point is declaring that Android/iPad has killed the console space and Nintendo should eff off into oblivious oblivion is no more reasonable in 2012 than saying the iPhone killed the 6 year old 66MHz Nintendo DS in 2010.

I.E. in light of the NES, SNES, PSX, PS2, Gameboy and GBA, it's really dumb and I wish people would pay these people less for spouting inanity.

The market is speaking: 'success' of one platform does not = death of all others. This is not that zero sum game.

David Holmin
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Indeed, I use my iPhone for lots of cool stuff. Gaming is not one of them.

The people who say iPhone makes game consoles obsolete are people who never were very interested in consoles to begin with, I think.

Eric Pobirs
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The problem is real but subject to oversimplification in the reporting.

Overall, the game market is doing great. There are more venues and ways for publishers to sell than ever before. Traditional dedicated platforms are facing a challenge, though. They won't go away but there will be fewer companies able to play for lack of developer support and thus lack of product to sell.

The devs/pubs have to play a numbers game. How much is a platform diluted by competition that didn't exist in previous generations? Are the numbers there to make a port of a high end game capable of making a profit? Would the company be better off focusing on simpler games with a higher level of hardware abstraction and thus cheaper to port everywhere?

For the casual games flooding the market the decisions are easier but the selling price much lower and it's much ahrder to stand out in a crowded market. For the more demanding games you could easily have a repeat of the Wii situation on the Wii U. A developer would consider whether it was worth the investment to make a version of their game that was very cut down from the PS4/XboxNext version but, if the time and money were spent, could be given unique features exploiting the platform's features.

In the current generationt he answer was all too often "No, it isnt worth it. People who want our game are going to own the PC or Sony or Microsoft hardware to play it. not enough of the people attracted to Nintendo's platform are our customers." Whether this was the correct choice is not at issue. What matter sis the choice was made repeatedly and the results as recent history shows us.

Even so, the Wii made tons of money for a long time. Nintendo has long marched to the beat of a different drum than the other console makers. But there are more and more new entries draining off the casual gamers who have other reasons to buy the device with games just a bonus. If it keeps them from buying a dedicated gaming device it can tilt a lot more publishers away from investing in what they already consider a secondary platform. An example is the Roku box that is mainly sold for streaming video but it comes with a version of Angry Birds. Plenty of games of that sort can be downloaded any time the consumer wants to play. No local storage is needed beyond a tiny amount to store settings and scores. Even that can be eliminated with an online account infrastructure.

This doesn't matter to a dedicated gamer but it eats away at the fringes and diminishes the platform's piece of the market pie. If that piece gets too small, publishers of the sort of products dedicated gamers are looking for will go elsewhere to sell their products.

A W
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I see a lot of people saying "console market" and to a degree I think the Wii U is a console at its core. But now having one in my living room I think it is a little more than just a console. Considering the fact that the argument for games declining is because the tablet / smartphone market is taking over I think Nintendo took a new stake with this device. I like the fact that the Wii U can play games in HD, and that is cool they caught up but I don't think its the main draw. I also don't believe that the tech built in to the pad is the main draw either. I think the main draw is the social connection and how it all works together in one device that gives us the best of HD and the technology of a gaming tablet. It's not perfect right now, but its going to be the point that sells most of the systems later on.

I think Nintendo ask themselves a question perhaps internally about what drives people to the smartphone and tablets. It wasn't the games because quality games happened later on in the lifecycle of those devices. It was the ability to be socially connected by not needing to make a phone call. This happened because of Facebook mostly and the abilities it later granted to be able to communicate freely with others without having to worry about extra monthly charges on a monthly fee. Because so many people gravitated to the smartphones and tablets, and because of the way Facebook became a nucleus for that gravitation, Nintendo (and really the gaming industry as a whole) needed a way to make that same connection without the hassles of being too technical.

In the three plus days I have had my Wii U I have done something I really never do much with a video game console. I have turned it on first, used it to turn on my TV and cable box second, and then checked the MiiVerse and internet. To be honest, I have yet to use it to actually play a game on a HD TV screen because I have used the controller as my gaming screen while I or my family watches TV. To be perfectly honest, if any of my family where gamers; and non of them are but if they where, they could use the TV for whatever at this point and I would not mind. It's like the Wii U is a device that finds a way to be relevant without taking up the space all the time. It takes HD quality gaming and offers a way to play it on a semi portable level. No longer do they have to ask company X to make a videogame and then make a portable game with the same level of graphics for a totally different device. It all there and its optional. It makes sense to me as a consumer to the point that the marketing made even more sense after I got the device. How will you play?... now that you have more options to play the games.

I'm going to finish with this. When I bought the device someone in my family began to understand that this was a new system and not an add on to the first Wii. I don't think they at first thought that given the reaction. When I began to tell them what it could do, I think they started to get it more. The Wii U is a social gaming hub that gives the gamers more options than any device currently out. IT was priced to compete with the iPad and tablet space, but only made to compete as a living room device and nothing more. Insofar as I can see, they may have just pulled it off. Time will tell if the core market developers get this aspect, and understands how this device should be used when competing for casual and core gamer dollars.

Thanks if you read this.

David Holmin
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It's an interesting system, for sure. And Miiverse does look fun. It's not just Twitter from yet another device but a social layer on top of the actual games. I can easily see it becoming a draw.

Leon T
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It really is a cool device. The remote funtion works even when the console is off. I've played at the airport because I don't need a TV and the game I wanted to play is not on a portable.

I really wish the gamepad was a stand alone device itself though. I hope Nintendo releases one that is or the next xbox/ps has one.

David Holmin
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@Leon

That would make it much more expensive, which comes with its own problems.


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