Following the emergence of this story around various outlets, Asda has contacted MCV to state that Wii U consoles have only ever been available in around 100 stores, rather than all 555 around the UK. Wii U systems will apparently continue to play a part on Asda Direct — the online store — with limited availability currently the result of the reduced hardware going out of stock. The absence of 3DS hardware on Asda Direct is said to be a result of price promotions also selling out stock, with the chain stating that it's increasing support for the handheld. It's also reiterated that Wii U hardware can be picked up in store if ordered using Asda Direct's Click & Collect service.
As outlined in the original article below, the Asda Direct website doesn't currently demonstrate much support for Nintendo systems, with just eight Wii U products currently available.
Earlier today we reported the happy news of Pikmin 3 making its UK chart debut at number two, as well as the continuing good performance of key 3DS games. However, some particularly bad news for the system's fortunes and publicity in the UK has arrived with confirmation that Asda, a major supermarket chain with over 550 stores, has stopped stocking new Wii U products, while Asda Direct — its online store — appears to be running down older products.
This applies to hardware, new games — including Pikmin 3 — and accessories, which aren't being included in stores, with the company saying the following to CVG in relation to products via the online-only Asda Direct.
Asda continues to offer customers a selection of Wii U games and accessories through Asda Direct, but these ranges are currently not on offer in Asda shops.
...Asda will stock [Wii U] games on a title by title merit basis as they come along through Asda Direct. We will continue to support Nintendo as a format holder partner.
Despite the "title by title merit basis", Pikmin 3 isn't available on Asda Direct at the time of writing.
The poor performance of the Wii U in 2013 may explain reluctance from some retailers, but this Asda stance is surprising in light of Nintendo aggressive release schedule designed to revive the system in the second half of the year. Retailer concerns were particularly prominent earlier in the year, with Nintendo being moved to state that it would meet with retail partners to share strategies and outline the system's prospects in order to secure further support.
What seems peculiar about this Asda scenario isn't its loss of confidence, as low sales naturally drive stock decisions, but the continuing presence of hundreds of older products for other systems and hardware sales of the struggling PS Vita. At the time of writing there are also no 3DS systems for sale on Asda Direct, which is extraordinary considering its current software performance and it being the best selling hardware in the UK in recent weeks. Nintendo, for its part, has issued the following statement.
Nintendo UK does not comment on specific business practices with individual retailers. However, as we have seen with Nintendo 3DS, software sells hardware, and with titles such as Wonderful 101, Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and Super Mario 3D World already announced for this year as well as the recently released Pikmin 3 and New Super Luigi U having reached number 2 and number 6 in this week's chart respectively, we are looking forward to the year ahead on Wii U.
Asda was one retailer to aggressively slash the price of the Wii U hardware earlier in the year, and fears that it'd be unwilling to refill stock have been realised. Perhaps the situation will be resolved in the coming months, but an absence and lack of presence in such a prominent, recognisable supermarket brand is a blow to the Wii U in the UK. Ongoing retail partnerships — such as eShop cards at GAME and so on — seem increasingly important.