Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has been speaking to Kotaku about the current state of the Wii U, and has delivered some typically bullish predictions — as well as admitting that the console has struggled to satisfy core gamers.
Talking about the "next-gen verses current gen" debate which continues to rage around the Wii U, PS4 and Xbox One, Fils-Aime was quick to point out that experts were making the same noises when the original Wii launched:
It's a very inaccurate narrative. In fact, that was the narrative in 2006. That was exactly the narrative.
The Nintendo boss also explained that the Wii and Wii U aren't actually that far apart in terms of sales, if you compare the two at the same point in their lifespans:
If you look at it from a U.S. perspective, this point in time vs. where we were with the Wii life stage, there's a difference of about 1 to 1.5 million units. Over a potential lifespan over 40 million-plus units, that's not a lot.
According to Nintendo's public sales figures, 2.37 million Wiis were sold by the end of March 31, 2007. Compare that to the 1.52 million Wii Us sold by March 31 of this year, and the gap is even less than Fils-Aime suggests.
Reggie is well aware why the console is struggling, too — it lacks the killer app that the Wii had, which was Wii Sports:
I would say the big difference in the Wii launch vs. the Wii U launch is that, at the [Wii] launch we had a fantastic game in Wii Sports that really helped people understand the magic of the Wii Remote, and we had Zelda. We had Zelda there at the launch to satisfy the more active player and when you look at what we had at the launch for Wii U, yes we had a Mario game — a fantastic Mario game that has a very strong attach rate to the hardware — but there wasn't as many opportunities for the more active player to really get behind the system.
Still, Fils-Aime isn't ready to push the panic button just yet — he sees big things for the Wii U this Christmas:
You know, I think by the end of this holiday, after we've launched Wind Waker, after we've launched Donkey Kong Country, after we've launched Mario 3D World, I think we're going to be in a very good position.
He's also unconcerned by the forthcoming arrival of the PS4 and Xbox One — which will retail for $400 and $500 respectively, surely making the $350 32GB model of the Wii U look a little less appealing to the average consumer:
It puts no pressure on us at all. Sony and Microsoft are going to do what they're going to do. My bet is that there are going to be more announcements the closer we get to whatever their launch date is.
From my perspective, I can't focus on that. I have to focus on: How do we satisfy the needs of all of the consumers out there with Nintendo products? How do we make sure they understand our proposition? How do we make sure they're excited about the software that we offer? And from that standpoint we're going to let our competition do what they're going to do.
That could be taken as yet another confirmation that Nintendo won't be dunking the price of the Wii U any time soon; Reggie's comments are echoed by Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata and Nintendo of America's Scott Mofitt.