News Article

Wii U January Sales in U.S. May be Higher Than NPD Figures, Thanks To Resellers

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Doesn't mean more systems in homes, however

In mid-February the video game sales-tracker for the U.S., NPD, issued its sales results for January — the figures showed a year-on-year industry decline and Wii U sales "well below" 100,000. The actual estimate was between 45,000 and 59,000 Wii U sales, which reinforced a general impression — emphasized by Nintendo to its own shareholders — that sales of the console had lost momentum and, ultimately, upcoming major game releases are needed to get the system moving again.

And yet Gamasutra, which posted the original figures for the January results, was contacted by tipsters that suggested the Wii U hardware sales were more like 100,000 units. What would cause this? The theory goes that the higher figure could ultimately come down to resellers, those that gobbled systems up during the Holiday season before promptly trying to sell them via marketplaces such as eBay; their hopes that the lucrative market of topping up prices to accommodate for low stock would carry on into the New Year seem to have back-fired, with the secondary market falling away in January.

But it isn't so much that the NPD Group estimate was an error, I was told, but rather it didn't show the full picture.

The figure reported by the NPD Group, the sources' story went on, included perhaps 100,000 units sold to consumers — and 40,000 or more units returned to stores. The net, then, would yield the 57,000 units reported by the NPD Group.

And the explanation for those tens of thousands of returns? The collapse of the secondary market, those resellers who had purchased Wii U systems in November and December 2012 hoping that popularity and a shortage of systems would yield a tidy profit through Christmas and into the new year. However, profiteers advertising Wii U systems on sites like Amazon, eBay and Craigslist saw their margins disappear and then chose to return their systems to retailers while their original receipts still permitted them to.

NPD refused to comment on this, as it's not something that retailers would be keen to advertise, but another source of Gamasutra's has suggested that various retailers have found that for every 100 Wii U systems sold in January, between 40-50 have then been returned, in many cases possibly by failed resellers.

It's only a theory, but is another contrast to the rampant reselling market that accompanied the Wii long after its launch. Naturally Nintendo's focused on major upcoming releases and boosting sales into Spring, and it looks like stock isn't going to be an issue when, assuming all goes to plan for the company, demand increases throughout 2013.


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User Comments (25)



JonWahlgren said:

Interesting how a plan like that would've backfired. I'm curious how February's numbers will stack up in comparison — given the dearth of new software, I wouldn't expect any movement until March numbers come in.

Also, this is the second time I've seen that show referenced today, which I had never heard of before being not-British. First was this:



ThomasBW84 said:

@JonWahlgren If you google "dodgy geezer" from the UK, that's a prominent image! Well worth catching up with this show if it's on any of those fancy TV streaming services, but it probably isn't.

And I agree wholeheartedly in terms of February sales, the first bump will surely be in late March, if there is one (I hope so).



Jellitoe said:

Probably the sale of all those 2 million dollars worth of missing systems that were borrowed from the port.



softserve said:

What I don't quite understand is how this would ever matter. As the article notes, the totals are still the same.

So let's say that in February, 40,000 people returned Wii Us and 100,000 bought them. That means that a total of 60,000 are out there in the wild counting as "sold" for that month. That's just how ledgers work.

The problem is that those 40,000 were originally bought and they were part of previous sales numbers. So we're still talking about 40,000 that went to no one that are back on the shelves. And while it makes February's numbers look "weak", it does nothing to make the lifetime sales look better.



Nintenjoe64 said:

It's not all that bad. It kind of amazes me that a console with no games, no marketing and some of the most biased anti journalism ever going against it, is selling at all.

I preferred Wii U news when it was all just speculation, not bemoaning sales figures and game droughts. Nintendo fanboys have been especially whiny lately which is getting annoying. Maybe they should stop moaning about people misjudging their system and buy some of the games that have sold badly so the publishers start supporting their system.



JSuede said:

@ThomasBW84 I am fairly confident there will be a sales bump in March. Hopefully Lego City is marketed, because kids with the toys would go bananas over it (I'm pretty pumped for it and I'm 25, haha). Then you've got MH3U for the hardcore MH fans and the definitive version of NFS. LCU might sell more systems than the other two....but then we just have to take a look at Japan. At the end of the month they've got Game & Wario....and Dragon Quest X. Warioware games perform fairly well in Japan, but DQX is going to blow the doors off.

Nintendo is supposedly showcasing 10 unreleased games at SXSW this weekend (announced, but unreleased like Pikmin, W101 and LCU) so I would expect some release dates to be given by the end of the month as well. Until then, I've got Runner 2 and F-Zero to hold me over on the U, with Ni No Kuni for a time sink



rjejr said:

If Nintendo wants to sell some Wii U they really should get the demos up and running at the kiosks.

My kids and I were in the Nintendo store yesterday and we had a lot of fun playing the new SMBU game - it really does look nice in HD - and Nintendo Land games Pikmin, Link and Mario chase. I used the Gamepad on all the games and the boys used the Wiimotes. I had no interest in Nintendo Land but the kids are looking forward to it when we finally get a Wii U. (The Lego store a block away seemed a lot more crowded, but that's a story for another day.)



McHaggis said:

@softserve: the point was that the Wii U's sales were widely reported as being poor, but this news suggests that the sales might not have been much lower than January's when you factor in the fact that retailers have not had to purchase as many from Nintendo. Yeah, it makes no difference to overall sales―the Wii U isn't doing great and everybody knows it―but it puts the recent news about February's sales in a different light.



Peach64 said:

I think sales will get a small bump in March, but I wouldn't expect anything too big. Is Monster Hunter a system seller in the West? I don't think Lego City is either, although both will probably sell quite decent numbers themselves.



SCAR said:

Well, I'm pretty sure Nintendo's still making profit regardless. I've made at least 4 consoles besides my own profitable, and so have alot of people who have bought multiple games for their Wii U.
Plus, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that once they get returned to the store without being opened a month later, it's all on the retailers to sell those returned consoles. They've already passed the money onto Nintendo at that point.
I think it's pretty funny though. There was around double the amount of Wii U's they said there would be, so it's no surprise flipping the consoles like that would be such a failure.



SCAR said:

We also have to note demand. They don't always have to have Wii U consoles being made night and day, but I'm sure they do keep some in stock. Once there's a certain amount, they probably place a order for more to be made within the month, and ship to who ever ordered them straight from the factory.



TwilightV said:

I feel sorry for all the people who wanted to pick one up to actually play with it. Luckily karma came along and bit these resellers in the rear.



EaZy_T said:

I'd wager that the failed resellers didn't buy any games since they aren't opening the boxes. That could be a small reason for low software sales.
I would argue that the purchases that were made to 'real' customers will be people that are actually playing the Wii U, not a schemer with a console box hoping for a supply shortage (and a quick profit).



routerbad said:

@EaZy_T The software sales haven't been that bad have they? The latest report shows the attach ratio between 3 and 4. That isn't bad considering there aren't that many games available in general.




I really hope 3rd party developers do more with the system. It's annoying to see countless games coming out on every other console except this despite there being a lot of time since dev kits were sent out and most of these games started production



AceTrainerBean said:

I am very happy with my wii u! And I have fate that when nintendo roles out the big guns sales will increase like the 3ds



cornishlee said:

Iwata has gone on record as saying that the final dev kits weren't made available until last summer. That's well after "most of these games started production".



mshope10 said:

don't worry Nintendo fans when games come out and people have real in person time with wii-u sales will pick up.

the system is fantastic!having off TV play is something I could not do without.

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