Wii U Sales below Gamecube and Wii Levels; Not much of a problem yet
But I’m not sure this is going to be a long term issue for the console or Nintendo in general. For one thing, what kind of market did Nintendo launch the Gamecube and Wii into? Oh yes, a decent one which wasn’t in the midst of a recession and where people were willing to spend a lot more money on entertainment. I suspect that game sales would not only be much higher back in 2001 and 2006, but also that every competitor console that comes out soon is going to experience much the same issues.
There’s also the consideration that the market is very different now to how it was then. For one thing, back then the console was practically the only way to play games, and buying them in stores was seen as very much more the norm. But now there are mobile phone and social network based games to lure in the casual audience, so that could be responsible for some loss in game sales (especially given how much of the Wii’s success was down to Wii Sports). Not to mention that games are now often bought as digital downloads, something which was entirely non existant in the Gamecube era and very much the exception in the Wii one. From what I remember hearing, these sales charts don’t count digital software.
Above: The eShop didn’t even exist in the Gamecube or Wii era. If you wanted a Gamecube or Wii game, you had to buy it from the likes of HMV, GAME or another big retail store, no exceptions.
Additionally, there’s also the fact that the Wii U’s current library doesn’t really inspire as much confidence as the Gamecube or Wii library may have done. Sure the third party games are nice, but they’re still ports of titles released for other systems more than a year ago, with the new features generally not being the greatest incentive to get people to purchase them. And while Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros U are good games, they’re not what people really want at this point in time.
I mean, New Super Mario Bros U. Great game, but it’s still yet another New Super Mario Bros title. With four games out in fairly quick succession and the 3DS title being released just a couple of months before, I wouldn’t be surprised if people were getting a bit sick of the whole brand and weren’t seeing it as much of a console buy reason any more. Not to mention New Super Mario Bros 2, which might have had the double effects of both making people more sick of the series than they would be prior and also maybe diverting sales away from the Wii U game.
Above: New Super Mario Bros 2’s 2012 release might have taken attention away from the Wii U title, and made people feel the latter was unneeded.
And while Nintendo Land is a good game, I’m not sure it’s the right game to market the Wii U. Wii Sports for all its criticisms was a simple concept; play real life sports with motion controls. Everything was simple and could be figured out in a glance, the concept was basic enough it could appeal to basically everyone regardless of age and interests and it really struck a chord with people who weren’t interested in the whole fictional world idea and just wanted what was basically just a sports game. But Nintendo Land is different. It’s a game you need to actually play to understand and enjoy, it relies on Nintendo franchises that some people might not know or care about and even the basic look isn’t so much neutral as it is potentially off putting.
Above: The general art style and look might just put off certain people, it doesn’t have the mainstream appeal Wii Sports or Wii Fit did.
Finally, while ZombiU is apparently a good game, it’s also apparently a bit of a divisive one. It’s already a fairly niche title that appeals solely to horror game fans (this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, it’s interesting to a very specific audience), and it ups that by being brutally difficult, rather realistic in game mechanics and about a million miles away from the overly accessible and one dimensional gameplay found in many popular First Person Shooter style games.
There’s also a lack of a big system selling title to draw in the punters. Remember the Gamecube? That had a massive launch title available, Super Smash Bros Melee. Remember the Wii? That had The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess as the big ‘hardcore’ system seller alongside Wii Sports and the more casual titles. The Wii U doesn’t really have one of these titles yet. Maybe if a Zelda or Smash Bros game was available that would have shifted a whole ton more games and entered all the top 10 best seller lists.
And that’s probably the main reason sales of games haven’t been great but console ones have been decent, people are waiting for the big Wii U titles that are yet to come rather than going out and buying the ones already available. It’s likely that they want to be ready when Smash Bros 4 and Zelda U are announced, not that they had a particularly high interest in any of the current line up.
The low sales of Wii U software are nothing to be worried about, at least unless we end up seeing them stay low when Nintendo’s big name first party games come out.