As Nintendo of America’s Scott Moffitt pointed out recently, the response to Wii U has been nothing short of “phenomenal” as its North American launch date draws ever closer. Research firm IHS Screen Digest expects Nintendo to shift 3.5 million Wii U units worldwide by the end of December, meanwhile, which even beats the 3.1 million units Wii sold in its own Holiday launch period.
Many other analysts agree that Nintendo will certainly sell plenty of Wii U consoles over the Holiday period, simply because demand for the product will bottle-neck due to the scarcity of it. John Taylor of Arcadia believes Nintendo’s real challenge will be when Santa's work is done and this pent-up demand subsides.
Where it's going to get to be a little more challenging is around the May time frame or when warm weather shows up again. I think Nintendo is going to really need to demonstrate what is truly amazing about this by that time.
Colin Sebastian of R. W. Baird agrees, saying that in six months’ time, once the initial supply is taken up by dedicated Nintendo fans, we’ll have a much better idea of how the new console is perceived by consumers.
Many commentators have had problems with the pricing Nintendo has chosen to go with for its new console. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot hopes to see the price drop in time, but this is unlikely to happen any time soon as Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata has confirmed that Wii U will sell initially at a loss. Michael Pachter believes, meanwhile, that because of this high price Wii U will “quickly lose positive momentum” and says consumers may simply choose a cheaper comparable alternative.
Eric Handler of MKM Partners understands the concerns held by third-party publishers, many of whom will be following the sales figures of titles such as ZombiU, Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition and Call of Duty: Black Ops II very closely.
All of the third-party publishers are being very cautions with the Wii U. We're not seeing many Wii U specific titles. They're ports. No one is really pouring a lot of money into it right now... Third-party publishers recognize that Nintendo garners the lion's share of the software market for its own platforms. And it's very tough to change that.
Another aspect many analysts see as key for new consoles is their ability to be more than just a gaming device. Part of what drove the Playstation 2 to success was its ability to play DVDs, and Sony did the same with the Playstation 3 by sticking a Blu-ray player under the hood. Nintendo will be bringing streaming services to North America at least with the TVii application, however analysts have been quick to point out that all consoles now have this feature, leaving little room for Wii U to differentiate itself from other devices.
No one is writing Nintendo off though. Taylor points out that Nintendo may yet have some big games to release next year that we don’t even know about, and he firmly believes if it can really engage with gamers and show them just how much fun can be had with Wii U, it could have a very successful year indeed.
Nintendo needs to demonstrate that the tablet, dropped into a 3D world, enables the user to see things and do things that are otherwise not possible on any other system right now. If they ramp that into a fun factor of 10X and communicate that, I think they can sustain the momentum.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think Wii U can keep that all important momentum going in 2013?