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back to article Ninten-DOH! Japanese giant slashes Wii U sales forecasts by 70%

It was once the king of consoles, but the formerly mighty Nintendo has been forced to admit that sales of its flagship Wii U are likely to flop. The Japanese firm has issued a grim profit warning in which it slashed its global Wii U sales forecast for 2014 by almost 70 per cent. Nintendo now expects to shift just 2.8 million …

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Shame

The Wii U is a great piece of kit, highly underrated. We use ours pretty much every day, which is more than I can say for most of the electronic kit in the house.

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Re: Shame

As you say, great bit of kit. It's ideally suited to younger kids in a multi-use family room.

Many of the games are designed for playing together (as opposed to against each other) and the ability to hand off the kid's games to the gamepad mid-play so the rest of us can use use the TV as a TV (without banishing said kid to his bedroom or shelling out an additional £200 for a Vita) is worth the purchase price alone.

It works best in a social context. Unfortunately it seems that you need to aim at the solitary gamer to sell consoles in any significant numbers.

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Re: Shame

It may be a great piece of kit but it's largely comparable to great pieces of kit that came out 6 years before it. And that's the problem. It doesn't offer much over the competition and in some ways it offers less.

People simply weren't interested in it. To compound the issue, poor sales have meant that many 3rd parties have abandoned it too. Nintendo didn't do themselves many favours by treating 3rd party devs like crap all this time and it seems like when the chips are down, many were happy to walk away.

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jai
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Re: Shame

That is the problem - to the average user, it's a great social gaming system, just like the Wii they bought a few years ago, which they already have lots of games for.

The small improvements and features that the U offers over the Wii are mostly only appreciated by gamers... who aren't interested in the social or kid games and who will have got a "serious" gaming platform instead

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Trollface

Re: The Wii U

Is it we or you?

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Re: Shame

Indeed a real shame. It has not been marketed correctly, on top of apparently terrible Nintendo collaboration with 3rd parties, despite the fact Iwata promised a great leap forward, 2 years ago ...

For example, who knows it is the only next-gen console to provide compatibility with its predecessor, the WII ? This selling point was largely ignored by marketing, which was a terrible mistake.

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Dont write them off yet.

If Sony and Microsoft want their existing consoles to be in the market place for 10 years, but havent produced something that can generate high quality 4K moving (not static) images. Ninty could still end up smelling of roses by treating the U as a stop gap and releasing something rather more potent in 2 or 3 years.

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"Ninty could still end up smelling of roses by treating the U as a stop gap and releasing something rather more potent in 2 or 3 years."

You made it sound really easy. Technologically, Nintendo are miles behind Microsoft and Sony.

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There are far bigger nuts to crack when it comes to gaming visual realism than simple pixel count. The new consoles from MS and Sony have finally made the move to a 1080p native resolution at a decent framereate and this is a huge jump from the low res, upscaled games of the PS3 and 360 generation.

1080p will be the mass standard for a couple of decades more at least. 4K TVs will remain a niche - something the console makers can ingore.

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Silver badge

"Ninty could still end up smelling of roses by treating the U as a stop gap and releasing something rather more potent in 2 or 3 years."

I could be wrong on the details, but I believe abandoning a console because it didn't sell well and bringing a new one out quickly was one of the big nails in the coffin of SEGA. Gamers felt betrayed and changed brands, if Nintendo tried something similar I don't know how the casual market would react.

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Silver badge

"Ninty could still end up smelling of roses by treating the U as a stop gap and releasing something rather more potent in 2 or 3 years."

Or put another way, Nintendo to continue to lose money for another 2 or 3 years, bet the farm on a new console (and prematurely abandon the last one and its pissed off owners) and pray it succeeds.

A more realistic option would for them to slash the price of their console and hope it carves a niche at the lower end of the market, and in emerging markets like China & India.

Or get out of the hardware business entirely and reinvent themselves like SEGA as a software only house.

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Silver badge

"I could be wrong on the details, but I believe abandoning a console because it didn't sell well and bringing a new one out quickly was one of the big nails in the coffin of SEGA. Gamers felt betrayed and changed brands, if Nintendo tried something similar I don't know how the casual market would react."

I think in this case you would be mistaken. The Dreamcast may have been the first console to come out in the sixth generation, but its timing didn't necessarily stink. Yes, they did release early, but the Saturn had already been around for nearly five years, about par for the course as far as consoles go, so gamers couldn't really whine about being shafted too soon. Dreamcast was something of a last gasp for Sega, and perhaps some of the things they did to get out the gate early (such as using CD-based instead of DVD-based media) probably came back to bite them, OTOH, Sony's entry into the gaming market, with its vast media tie-ins probably did Sega few favors. When Sony decided to wait and release the PS2 with a DVD drive, they triggered a shift in gaming expectations that Sega couldn't match, essentially turning Sony into the hammer in Sega's console coffin.

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Silver badge

I don't think that's Nintendo's style. You have to realize they HAVE had their share of misses in recent history. The Virtual Boy was a real-life bust, and few can say the Nintendo 64 and GameCube were exactly shining moments. Given their business model, I think Nintendo stumbled because their Wii U was not different ENOUGH. The DS series and the Wii shook gaming up and gave them something immediately unique and identifiable, and I think that's why they worked in a market with two giants already in the playground. I suspect there will be some shakeups in Nintendo while they start brainstorming to find a way to regain the "uniqueness" factor that has become part of Nintendo's identity.

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@Daz555 "The new consoles from MS and Sony have finally made the move to a 1080p native resolution at a decent framereate and this is a huge jump from the low res, upscaled games of the PS3 and 360 generation."

No they haven't. The vast majority of games on the Xbox One are getting upscaled from 720p, and from around 900p on the PS4. Over the course of the console generation, as developers try to push more demanding graphics out of the hardware, these resolutions are likely to drop further, as will the framerates. The resolutions will likely stay higher than they did last generation, but still won't make use of the full resolution of standard 1080p screens for more than a handful of big games.

Of course, I agree with your main point, that even-higher resolution consoles won't be seen any time soon. As much as television manufacturers would like to sell people 4k screens to replace their existing 1080p ones, they simply aren't necessary in most viewing scenarios. Not everyone needs a massive screen covering their wall, and for more common television sizes and viewing distances, the difference in sharpness will be virtually invisible. It's hardly like the move from SD screens to HD ones. Because of this, it's unlikely 4k source material like movies, television and games will become common any time soon.

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the problem with the SEGA argument is that now that they're out of the hardware business, their IP has been pimped to every platform under the sun, almost to the point where a new Sonic game brings nothing but rolls of the eyes. Because they struggle to make a proper Sonic game that people want. And their other star IP at the moment is....

nintendo will do a Pokemon MMORPG before they even consider getting out of the hardware business. things are not desperate enough yet.

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I would imagine a lot of people are in the same boat as me and waiting for a more significant price drop. It looks a good machine, but Nintendo need to be more innovative with their software, there's only so many ways they can re-re-re-invent Super Mario (as in the sorta 2D version) before people get bored of it.

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JDX
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It seems to me most people are just confused by the U, with the massive tablet controllers, a little like they are by Metro in W8. The wii was super-simple and intuitive, relatively cheap and nice and small as well - the U seems to fail on the core strengths of the original. Perhaps trying to come up with something totally new every generation is not the best plan and they should have gone for Wii2.

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hey JDX it seems to me you have not really played with a wiiu as the touch screen is so easy and inuitive it takes so little time before you get used to it and and strangers i pass the unit to find it simple enough and whats the word functional which is what makes it ideal for the cooprative play modes as oppose to the seek and destroy modes of the others

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Unhappy

Hardware doesn't sell consoles

I've yet to see any truly compelling games on the Wii-U and that's what sells it to the mass market.

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Re: Hardware doesn't sell consoles

Agreed!

I'm waiting for a good NEW game before buying the wii U.

YARZG just doesn't do it for me.

(Yet Another Rehashed Zelda Game)

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Silver badge

Re: IPTATTTTIFU

It's pointless to abbreviate then type the thing in full underneath.

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Where's the digital store?

Ok, I know it exists, but it's really poor compared to Sony's and Steam.

I've bought Virtual Console stuff using my original Wii, and I've bought download games for my 3DS, but I still can't figure out if that's one store or two stores. And if I bought a Wii U and bought digitally, would that be three separate stores? Their system is so confusing, and I like to see a huge digital games shelf in one place.

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Re: but it's really poor compared to Sony's and Steam.

I disagree. I find the Sony store to be a total pain to use, it's ugly, searching for a game invariably brings up a load of other hits before the thing that's an exact match for what you typed and browsing the store is clunky. I quite often browse the 3DS store to see what's available, I find the interface much more attractive and I've purchased a few things I've spotted whilst browsing (around the 6-7 quid mark), whereas I only really look in the ps3 store if there's something I specifically want.

Steam store I quite like though!

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Silver badge

Re: but it's really poor compared to Sony's and Steam.

My kid has a 3DS (courtesy of Santa) and there are a few cute things about its presentation. The little present & bow for a new download, the simplicity of the UI etc. At its simplest it works really well as it should for its target audience.

But it can also be very clunky. I've lost count of the number of times the store app has failed with some mysterious error and helpfully suggested I reboot the 3DS. I couldn't even connect to the store until Dev 27th, so bad was the experience. Many of the apps make the user wade through user agreements, supplementary agreements, addendums, sign on pages, adult controls etc.

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Re: but it's really poor compared to Sony's and Steam.

I will absolutely 100% grant you that Sony's store is slow and ugly, but despite that it's still a cohesive whole. My PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, and Vita purchases are all in one place. It's one annoyingly long list that I can't sort to my personal liking, but they are all there for me to see despite the plethora of platforms. I know that that is a very subjective judgement and YMMV, but Nintendo's various digital stores feel very disjointed and separate.

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't seem like there's room in the market for three big consoles.

Are games like Zelda and Mario just no longer captivating kids?

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How many years since the last NEW Zelda game?

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Ummm..

That'd be "a link between worlds", the one they released just before Christmas.

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Re: Ummm..

I meant 'Zelda game for the Wii or Wii U'

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Anonymous Coward

This is what Zelda always makes *me* think of...

Unfortunately, Nintendo's problem with creating new games is that after almost 30 years, Zelda is starting to show her age and not as cute as she used to be:-

http://www.virginmedia.com/tvradio/tvheroes/disturbing-tv-puppets.php?ssid=4

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Re: Zelda game for the Wii or Wii U

That'd be Skyward Sword, November 2011.

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Silver badge

It's about the software stupid

Consoles do not sell on there merits without the games people want to play on them

Nintendo have just not been producing the games, instead they constantly fall back on Zelda, Mario etc. Even with those they do not not produce enough updates. My family love Mario Carts on the Wii but once you've played it and unlocked all the levels that's it. Why no follow on?

The truth is Nintendo could off produced the greatest hardware ever, but with the big game companies only supporting MS and Sony's platforms it would make little difference

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Re: Why no follow on?

Because Nintendo don't milk franchises like other publishers do. They tend to do a single Kart per hardware platform. It's part of their charm.....

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Re: Why no follow on?

Eh? To me, Nintendo's business model over the last decade or so seems to have consisted of little but franchise-milking. I suppose the casual games/social games end of things may be a bit different, but I don't really care about that. In terms of single-player games, the same long-since-moribund IPs get reheated and shoved onto the market again and again and again, in ever-more-degraded form. To be honest it's got to the stage where having once being a big fan I now actively wish Nintendo harm; I hope they go bankrupt, because from what I can tell that's the only thing that will bring merciful release from this nauseating onslaught of soulless, dead-eyed remakes of Mario and Zelda and all those other zombie franchises. It's a bit like my feelings for George Lucas; the fact I used to love Star Wars as a kid makes me all the more disgusted by his utterly hamfisted efforts to squeeze ever more cash out of creations that were never all that deep or interesting in the first place.

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Silver badge

Re: Why no follow on?

Seems bizarre to single out Nintendo for this hatred when the big games publishers are much worse. The "moribund milking of franchises" surely applies more to the regular COD and FIFA updates than to Nintendo.

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Re: Why no follow on?

I totally agree those franchises are hugely annoying too, and I'd cheer their demise. But at least with them the milking is a relatively recent phenomenon!

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P_0

Is anyobdy actually surprised by this? I'm not saying that in a snide way. I used to love Super Nintendo, and N64 was the greatest thing ever (GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Zelda OOT...). Nintendo has been consistently falling behind Sony and later Microsoft ever since those days. (Yes N64 was absolutely superior to PS1 - the only thing PS1 had over it was Tomb Raider... and possibly the controller was a better design).

Now they are so far behind, catching up will be almost impossible IMHO. By which I mean the future is bankruptcy, buyout or relegating themselves to making Mario games for other platforms.

It seems they don't even know how to setup a proper game network.

http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/01/13/nintendo-network-devs-were-unacquainted-with-xbox-live-psn-says-third-party-creator

I don't know what's going on over at Nintendo HQ, but I'm willing to bet my 1080 Snowboarding N64 cartridge, it's the same old cliche problem with Japanese behemoth corporations:

1. Bloated middle management

2. High numbers of unproductive workers who won't quit, can't be fired (easily)

3. Lack of strategy and global awareness by the upper management

They basically bet the farm that the future of gaming was family oriented with an easy to use, kid-firendly console, that abbies, mums, grannies and pet dogs could play. It looks like that hasn't panned out.

Still, I find it hard to undrstand how a company that owns the IP to Pokemon, Mario and Zelda can lose that much money.

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Where Nintendo succeeded with the Wii was taking the so called Blue Ocean Strategy, selling to non-gamers.

The problem is that the very people they aimed at last generation may not even know of the Wii U's existence, if they do see it in the stores there really isn't anything to hint that it's a new console.

Wii U makes it sound like it's just an updated version of the Wii, much like the 3DS XL is an update on the 3DS.

They would have been far better off giving it a different name that doesn't allude to the Wii at all.

It also looks too much like the original Wii, it looks like a Wii with rounded off edges, it would have been wiser to give it a completely different look, previously no Nintendo console resembled its predecessor.

To the casual observer the Wii U looks like a redesigned Wii packed in with a touch-screen controller.

To the more dedicated gamer it offers nothing in terms of power that the now previous generation offerings from Sony and Microsoft offer. As developers stop developing for the PS3 and the 360 the gulf in power between the Wii U, and the PS4 and XBox One will make it more difficult and less appealing for developers to develop for the Wii U. This leaves mostly first party games, which aren't released with any frequency and are often more of the same.

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Yep, this exactly summarizes the problems the Wii U has faced. The Wii sold great because Nintendo was selling to a new market of more "casual gamers" in addition to its usual fans. The problem is, these people don't keep tabs on new gaming hardware. They mostly learned of the Wii through word of mouth, for which the console's name "Wii" was memorable and unique. From its first announcement, I could tell the new console's name was a mistake, since these more casual gamers will have difficulty differentiating it from the Wii. Even the console's logo looks pretty much identical to it's predecessor's, aside from the barely identifiable U shape to the upper right of it. To them, the new console is just some sort of overpriced touchscreen add-on for the machine they occasionally play bowling and party games on. The benefits of such a controller aren't exactly as easy to determine as those of the original motion controllers, so they are unsure of how exactly such a device will offer anything over what they already have. And for any of these casual gamers who did pick up the Wii U, they undoubtedly found it lacking in the game department. For a long time after launch, Wii Sports, the series that likely sold them the original console, was nowhere to be found. It took a year after the console's launch for Nintendo to release anything Wii sports related, and that only came in the form of two sports available for Wii Sports Club, where people are expected to buy or rent updated versions of the individual sports that were available in the original game, as they become available. So rather than having a pack-in Wii Sports title included with the console, these casual users are expected to figure out how to purchase them through Nintendo's online store.

Meanwhile, for those more familiar with gaming, the new console seems like a repeat of what the Wii had to offer them last generation. The hardware capabilities are much improved, but still only marginally better than what the prior generation of consoles from Sony and Microsoft had years ago. The controller is interesting, but there aren't really many games that make good use of it yet. And meanwhile, Nintendo remains a bit behind the other console makers in terms of non-gaming features. Many also recall the dearth of decent third-party games available for the Wii during its latter years, and suspect the same will happen with the Wii U, perhaps even sooner due to its slow initial sales. The only thing they expect to get out of it are Nintendo's core first-party games, and Nintendo hasn't shown them all that much on that front yet. They still haven't shown a new Zelda, Metroid, F-Zero, or Starfox. It's certainly possible Nintendo might turn this around over the course of the next year though.

Of course, the Wii U still could benefit from another price drop as well. The current pricing is closer to the Wii's launch price, but the console lacks momentum at this point. I suspect there will be another price drop at least by the next holiday season. A basic Wii U for $199 USD or $249 for the premium version with a pack-in title would be a much more attractive price point for both casual gamers and those looking to get one as a second console. Even if Nintendo is losing money on each console sold, they'll make that back on the inevitable sale of a couple Nintendo exclusives, and it would help build their install base to keep the third-party developers from abandoning them.

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FAIL

Learn to read tables, Reg! : P

"It also pruned the predicted sales figures of its portable 3DS from 1.8 million to 1.35 million units."

I suspect you weren't paying much attention to the text at the top of the table that reads, "sales units in ten thousands". That should be a sales figure revision from "18 million to 13.5 million units", ten times the quantities you reported. While their sales prediction for the last year may have been a bit overly optimistic, the 3DS is actually selling quite well, especially compared to Sony's Vita, which is selling slower than even the Wii U. The 3DS has already sold around 43 million units worldwide over the last three years, and is definitely still going strong.

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The elephant in the room

People are talking about casual gaming consumers not being aware of the new hardware or properly understand it, etc., but I think one of the main issues is simply that they are no longer interested in playing videogames.

The casual gaming market is notoriously fickle and hard to keep a hold of. Sure, millions bought the wii, but how many actually continued playing it and purchasing new games for it consistently? Most of the people I know who bought the wii just stuck with one or two party-games and otherwise just let it rot in the corner of the room.

The casual market is best harvested by driving huge initial sales and then just letting it peter off without spending too much money or effort in trying to keep a hold of this "new market" - because it will never work. Nintendo seemed to make the mistake of banking their future on these casual gamers being brand loyal and that a couple of fun games on the Wii could suddenly turn them into reliable revenue.

A lot of traditional, more enthusiast gamers felt alienated by the Wii, and it really shows. Do you remember the cheers and hollars Sony got when they just kept on repeating that they were going to continue catering to the core gaming demographic above all else?

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