When the Wii U launched into the market in late 2012 it was met with an unfortunately modest reception as many gamers took a ‘wait and see’ approach to Nintendo’s latest home console. Those who ventured out to buy the device found a lot to like about its features, but are beginning to crave some outstanding new games for their new machine.
During Nintendo’s latest quarterly financial report, it was revealed that only 3.06 million Wii U units were shipped around the world for 2012, resulting in the company lowering its expectations for the final quarter of their current financial year (ending March 2013), with the goal of shipping a total of 4 million units as opposed to the previously predicted 5.5 million.
Would a price cut for the Wii U help Nintendo and the fortunes of its console? No, says president Satoru Iwata.
In a public note to investors, Iwata made it clear that a markdown for the Wii U isn’t in Nintendo’s current plans, especially due to the fact that the console is already being sold at a loss. The problem with the Wii U sales, as Iwata sees it, is that Nintendo hasn’t yet clearly communicated the value of the system to consumers, writing:
“[Given] that it has now become clear that we have not yet fully communicated the value of our product, we will try to do so before the software lineup is enhanced and at the same time work to enrich the software lineup which could make consumers understand the appeal of Wii U.”
What ‘software enhancement’ is Iwata referring to? The Nintendo president recently hosted an impressive Nintendo Direct streaming event where an enormous line-up of upcoming Wii U games was revealed, which will go some way to increasing excitement around the console, but more is needed, Iwata claims.
Referring to complaints over the Wii U’s slow operating speed in-between playing games, Iwata wrote:
“I acknowledge that we will need to further increase the appeal of the platform through the system updates we have planned for this spring as well as this summer.”
Right now, the outlook for Nintendo at headquarters is rather dire and management feels “greatly accountable for this severe outlook,” after the company posted operating losses for two years in a row. How does the company plan to reverse the current trend?
Looking to the Horizon, and Over the Seas
In the future, the 3DS will continue to play a big part in Nintendo’s fortunes with new Dragon Quest, Monster Hunter and Pokemon games on the horizon, while Iwata also outlined plans for focussing on sales in territories outside of Japan.
“The challenge for Nintendo 3DS exists in the overseas market, not the Japanese market,” Iwata wrote to investors. “We need to think about the method and its possibility of making what we have done in Japan happen there.”
Titles including Fire Emblem: Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Brain Age: Concentration Training will help in this regard, while Nintendo also plans to actively assist Japanese developers in bringing their 3DS titles to the West to help spur sales of the handheld console.
But what of the Wii U? When will its fortunes change? Nintendo’s current path is to provide gamers with the games they want and to ‘exploit’ the potential of its products, while improving the console’s operation speed and features in the future. Will this be enough, though?
Too Much, Too Late?
With excitement building for Sony and Microsoft’s next consoles, does the Wii U have a chance of capturing an audience with bigger and better machines on the way? Or can Nintendo weave its magic once again by focussing on its first-party line-up of titles, with strong third-party support, and innovate with online services alongside Sony and Microsoft to provide real competition to these behemoths?
Have you got a Wii U or do you plan to get one, or does the console not appeal to you?
Source: Nintendo Investor Note