News Article

Nintendo Blames 2011 Tohoku Earthquake For Sluggish Wii U Performance

Posted by Damien McFerran

Natural disaster?

The Wii U's struggles are well documented, and Nintendo has even admitted that a lack of software and poor communication have harmed the system's chances of early success. However, another reason has recently come to light following an interview with Japanese magazine SAPIO.

According to Nintendo, the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake is also to blame:

We launched the Nintendo 3DS on February 2011 and sales were strong. Two weeks later we were hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake (2011 Tohoku Earthquake) and that stopped the momentum. In August of the same year we lowered the price from the initial 25,000 Yen to 15,000 Yen, and enhanced software development at the same time, to enrich the game line-up.

That paid off and we regained momentum in Japan, but due to that we could not spare many developers for the Wii U (released in November 2012), and that led to the slow start of the console.

While the earthquake certainly can't shoulder all of the blame, the reasoning makes sense — Nintendo only has a limited number of internal developers, after all. Now that the 3DS has regained its momentum, hopefully we'll see the Wii U perform the same trick.

[via shogakukan.co.jp, dualshockers.com, zasshi.news.yahoo.co.jp]

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User Comments (63)

VincentV

#2

VincentV said:

Makes sense. Most people were probably paying to fix property damage. To promote the 3DS, they lowered the price & made more games. Their devs worked on the 3DS & couldn't make Wii U games.

Gnoll

#3

Gnoll said:

Hmmmmm... And why we gaijin weren't buying a 3DS too? No 'quakes here that I was aware of... ;-)

AMR

#4

AMR said:

Really puts things in perspective doesn't it. People are moaning about games taking a little bit longer than usual while others are having to rebuild their lives after a natural disaster. My heart goes out to all those affected (the repercussions of events like this take years to heal). I hope people learn from this and think before they decide to jump on an Internet forum and spit venom. On a positive note situations like this make the arrival of polished titles like Pikmin 3 even more miraculous.

Grubdog

#5

Grubdog said:

Seems like merging both handheld and console is the best solution for Nintendo right now to solve high development costs. Anyone agree?

darkgamer001

#6

darkgamer001 said:

Again people who misread the article....he's referring to the development of games mostly! Obviously more people will buy the system if it has more games for it. They focused more internal teams on the 3DS to regain momentum, leading to a lesser amount of teams developing for the Wii U, and now obviously it has less games and in turn, less sales.

aaallenbrah

#7

aaallenbrah said:

Well I guess I understand now, oh well things are looking up now for the wiiU anyway, with all of the AAA titles coming soon

arrmixer

#8

arrmixer said:

Yeah people tend to forgot about events such as this one... Either way my thoughts and prays go out to the Japanese ...

Thanks for the games!! :)

Gnoll

#9

Gnoll said:

@darkgamer001
No, I'm fine with the development problems, but they say that the earthquake "stopped the momentum" of 3DS sales. IMHO the sales were good in the first months thank to Nintendo fans, and then dried just like Wii U, just because almost no one else was interested.

cornishlee

#10

cornishlee said:

That sounds like a poor excuse to me. If they had to divert resources and the product wasn't ready then delay the release, simple.

Shambo

#12

Shambo said:

Many company bosses would probably go donkey droppings and flee with whatever money they still have, or at the very least lose any positive vibe. But not Nintendo.

Stories like this and the one about Mr. Iwata standing up to the shareholders, refusing to fire staff, remind me why I'm a Nintendo fan (not -boy). Nintendo will be around forever, loyal to their goal of delivering quality games and innovative hardware.

Of course they made mistakes, but they learn from them without overcompensation or sending their customers every bill.

As a large company, they're probably the closest to the indie scene, not just in business relations as of recent - which truely seems to pay off-, but in mind as well. Doing their own thing, and saying no to what shareholders want, if it would harm the people and their products and their future, only for more possible profits in the present.

BIG respect, Big N!

Bliquid

#13

Bliquid said:

"Hey, our console sucks! let's blame it on a natural disaster!"
You all are so delusional.

DePapier

#14

DePapier said:

@Bliquid I wanna see your donkey blowing money on new games when your family is trap between life and death. I really do.

banacheck

#15

banacheck said:

This is one for the books, but at the same time shows how gullible people are...

losing points for respect..

Grubdog

#16

Grubdog said:

It's a thing that happened, which changed a few decisions. Nobody is using it as a baseline excuse, if you're taking it personally then you have issues.

DePapier

#17

DePapier said:

@banacheck I wanna see your donkey blowing money on new games when your family is trap between life and death, too. I really do.

"Hey!! Here is the brand-new 3DS!! You can play games on it in glasses-free 3D!!"
"Hum... Nintendo. My son is over there dying in an earthquake, where do you think my money is going??"

Some people have never experienced the Maslow pyramid.

DestinyMan

#20

DestinyMan said:

I'm open to this excuse, since a major natural disaster would mess up the operation of a business in any country. Dismissing it entirely would be kinda arrogant. Imagine being the leader of a big company in a country ravaged by a earthquake in which the country moved a few inches, a region was completely flooded, and a nuclear power plant started leaking. That's an incredibly tough situation for everyone there.

At any rate, the big Wii U games will come and recover the console. They'll just take a year or so longer than the 3DS games that recovered the 3DS.

banacheck

#21

banacheck said:

Howard Stringer, Sony's chief executive, left Tokyo a week ago Thursday in a wheelchair

As his jet landed the next day in the United States, he received a telephone call. Sony was not fine. Japan, where the company employs about 60,000 people, had suffered a deadly one-two punch, the biggest earthquake in memory and a tsunami to match.

Now i don't see Sony using the same excuse, thankfully Howard Stringer didn't lose his life.

banacheck

#22

banacheck said:

That's because Sony knows that even without the earthquake, Vita will flop.

No thats down to Sony and Sony knows it, just like thay told the world thay mess-up with the PS3. This just goes to show me Nintendo does learn from there mistakes, because you have to admit to your mistakes first, not use excuses any company can do that.

1000 points to Sony Respect...

dumedum

#23

dumedum said:

http://mashable.com/2011/07/15/sony-ericsson-posts-70-7-million-net-loss/

http://bgr.com/2011/07/28/sony-blames-q1-net-loss-on-earthquake-economy/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/sony-q1-2012_n_1505853.html

Headline - "Sony: More Awful Losses Blamed On Flooding, Earthquake, Tsunami And More"

You are right, they didn't just blame the earthquake, they added the flooding and the tsunami. And "more".

Oh, the list continues.
"Sony attributed the loss to the earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan in March, as well as a “stagnate” economy in the United States and Europe."

banacheck

#25

banacheck said:

July 28, 2011 at 10.35pm, we in the year 2013 July 29 where Sony's article?

Thats what happen at that time which effected both Sony & Nintendo we already know, but to go on to blame that is an excuse otherwise where is Sony article in 2013?

Trask

#26

Trask said:

I seem to remember the 3DS not having any games worth picking up the system for stopping the sales momentum. (edit: I'm speaking of early on in the launch window)

I'm not trying to diminish the impact of a natural disaster (I'm not!) but they knew they were transferring their resources to 3DS development; wouldn't it have made sense to hire more people to develop Wii U content?

LordJumpMad

#27

LordJumpMad said:

I blame the earthquake on Nintendo.
As for the Wii U having bad sells, not even on a bright sunny day will help it sell.

Morph

#29

Morph said:

Dont really see how it can be blamed on the earthquake, both consoles had fairly poor launches in all territories not just japan. Truth is nintendo either simply doesn't have the resources to launch consoles so close together, or the resources they have are managed poorly. In reality there should be at least a 3 year gap between handheld and console launches, which gives nintendo enough time to get a solid base of games ready for both systems

banacheck

#30

banacheck said:

Trask
Nintendo have been planning the Wii U for years, well i hope so. Also thay knew what games where in development and what games to delay, to help finish games like NintendoLand, New Super Mario Bros etc for launch. If the Wii U wasn't ready for launch why launch it? thay already knew half of there launch titles wouldn't make it, to me it sounds as thay wanted to have the Wii U on the market asap. The sooner the better before the other consoles, not finish off some of the Wii U features. Which i still cannot use almost a year in, and there launch titles but try as sell as meny Wii U before the other two consoles release.

Monsti

#31

Monsti said:

I'd rather see Nintendo learning from their mistakes than STILL looking for exuses. :/

AMR

#32

AMR said:

Some of the comments on here...I can't even...wow...just wow. If some of these posts are truly representative of the mindset of gamers in general the I am utterly disappointed.

datamonkey

#33

datamonkey said:

What do they blame poor Wii U sales on? The floods of Hungary?

This sounds like an excuse to me as while it may have affected sales in Japan, I can't see how the earthquake had any effect on declining sales in the west...

DualWielding

#35

DualWielding said:

The excuse makes sense but one has to remember they also had the option not to release the console if they were not ready to support it, they delay games if they are not ready why not the console itself..... launching it early with no games did more hurt than good

TheAdrock

#36

TheAdrock said:

Yeah I can see that, but come on... utilize those cash reserves and hire new programmers, contract new projects to outside developers, blitz to makeup for the unforseen setbacks. Its not just the slow start, but their slow response to the slow start. It appears that N seems to think they have all the time in the world, but they don't.

TheAdrock

#37

TheAdrock said:

@datamonkey Those Hungarian flood were really bad, bro.
No, they are saying that the tsunami slowed down N's development of games for the U.

WaLzgiStaff

#38

WaLzgi said:

@banacheck You DO realize that Iwata has blamed himself for the slow starts of 3DS and Wii U as well? They aren't using this as the primary excuse.

Darknyht

#39

Darknyht said:

So that explains the lack of Nintendo Published titles on the system. That does not explain the lack of Indie developed games (13 in 9 months), Virtual Console titles, and third party titles.

One solution is simple, start putting out the Virtual Console games faster. How hard is it to plug a rom image you already possess from the Wii into an emulator you already have used on other Virtual Console titles? I remember reading somewhere that the Wii virtual console games were little more than the Rom files with some added html, and I cannot imagine that it is much different for the Wii U.

Second solution, remaster the best of the wiiware and release offering a discount to those that purchased the originals. Even allow some of the titles to be expanded or fixed so they are a single purchase now.

Third solution, hire more developers or outsource to studios to get product on the shelf. How many articles do we read of studios shutting down? Put some of those now unemployed talents to work developing new IPs. Who knows one of those could be the next Earthbound or Star Fox.

aj_fowl

#40

aj_fowl said:

@Gnoll Because when the 3DS was launched most games that anyone wanted to play where Japanese. Do you remember all the game delays right after launch?

jayclayx

#41

jayclayx said:

it's easy Nintendo... get more employees!, is it clear that there is not enough people to handle both consoles.

JimLad

#42

JimLad said:

They won't hire any new blood cause they're too damn tight.
Like a company of mad gnomes, closed off from the outside world carefully guarding their stockpile of gold.

LUIGITORNADO

#43

LUIGITORNADO said:

Part of the reason of the sluggish start. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Maybe Nintendo would care to explain why most of us Western gamers had very little to play during Wii's final years? Can't blame that on a natural disaster.

Ren

#44

Ren said:

so, uh, what stops them from hiring more people? There are a lot of great developers out there. hire more of them, and step it up.

Big_Boy_Chubs

#45

Big_Boy_Chubs said:

I sort of agree with nintendo. if people are starting to rebuild everything they've lost, i doubt they have an extra 350$ to buy a wii u, and than at least 100$ to buy two decent games. some people who've commented on this site really make me sick. If their house or car was destroyed, would they be able to buy another one of those easily? NO!
@Bliquid
@banacheck
I hope you read everything i've said

JebbyDeringer

#46

JebbyDeringer said:

"I hope the Wii U situation gets better" I think people have asked that question with every Nintendo home console after the SNES. Their next system needs to replace their portable & their home system allowing them to focus on one lineup of games.

Yasume

#47

Yasume said:

It will all get better once they drop that joke of a console. Pfft, blaming sales on a natural disaster. How low can you go.

Mahe

#48

Mahe said:

Who put the stupid into the office water cooler at Nintendo?

@JebbyDeringer Wii was a great system with a great lineup of games. Still playing more Wii games than Wii U games!

wombatkidd

#49

wombatkidd said:

@jayclayx They are. http://gengame.net/2013/06/nintendo-increasing-internal-staff-looking-to-leverage-retro-studios/

@all-the-idiots-trying-to-say-they're-using-the-earthquake-as-an-excuse-for-bad-sales

Read the quote again. That's not what it says... at all. And the same goes for whoever approved the title of this article too, as it's wildly misleading.

What it actually says for those who couldn't be bothered to actually read it, is that they had to move people from Wii U development to 3ds development as a result of the earthquake and that's why there were so many delays of launch games for the Wii U.

The way people will twist a simple statement of fact like that into "blaming sales on a natural disaster" is both infuriating and idiotic.

GamerJunkie

#50

GamerJunkie said:

LOL how stupid...... This makes no sense at all. You know how many companies make products from that area and they still sell well, this is another lame excuse by nintendo.

Any fool that believes this is just that.

OptometristLime

#51

OptometristLime said:

@Yasume
It will all get better once they drop that joke of a console. Pfft, blaming sales on a natural disaster. How low can you go."

The Japanese aren't ones to bellyache; even about an inevitable and catastrophic disaster, which ravaged their homeland.

I don't know what the people of the Netherlands do as a typical response to tragedy, but given the cold nature of these comments? There is no compassion in the world at all.

SyFyTy

#54

SyFyTy said:

Thier own people said they don't know how to sell the finer points of the system to the public.. that is what is responsible for it's limited sales. I've been watching this console and articles about it for a year and I STILL don't know what seperates this from a Wii. If I (an informed reader) doesnt see the diff, than few others will either. Until they solves THIS deliemma, the weak sales will continue. PS I hope they solve it as I'm sure their vision is good, what-ever it is..

Davidiam007

#55

Davidiam007 said:

@banacheck Sony already had their crap out in the market. Nintendo just launched a new handheld and the wii u was still developing the wii u.

aaronsullivan

#56

aaronsullivan said:

@Grubdog I almost agree. They have already merged the hardware teams and what I think they will do is continue to offer separate hand held and console hardware but the programming platform will be largely the same. This way, games can be cross-developed. In other words, some games will be on both systems and similar games can be developed more quickly.

Davidiam007

#57

Davidiam007 said:

@SyFyTy really? A year? I've been following it for since 2010 and I own one. Lets see, first of all its hd and it's processing and architecture is more efficient and superior not only to the wii, but also to xbox360 and ps3. The gamepad has a lot of innovating and fun features. Zombiu, black ops, pikmin 3, game & wario and the wonderful 101(I've played it) demonstrate some of the possibilities. Mario kart looks and plays awesome and looks good enough to be a ps4 game! So does pikmin 3. What developers stated that it was hard to show people just how awesome it is without owning one.

Henmii

#58

Henmii said:

Hmmm, it sounds as if Nintendo only has a couple of developers that they have to spread between 3DS and Wii u games! That's not gonna cut it, Nintendo!

You need a gigantic staff so development goes smoothly! Look at the competition: Those have gigantic staff!

You DO have the money, Nintendo!!

Williaint

#60

Williaint said:

I suppose they could have used that reason earlier on, to avoid the internet's judgement...

Rafie

#61

Rafie said:

@Davidiam007 Tell me what does a PS4 game look like?

So far the Wii U in the "graphics" department hasn't surpassed anything the PS3/360 can't do. That's real. I'm sure when titles like Monolith X, Zelda, Metroid, etc come, then we'll see what the Wii U is really made of in the (again) graphics department that doesn't look like a current gen game. Mario Kart 8 looks wonderful, but I believe it's not far from what the PS3/360 can do. I do have faith in the Wii U as a first day adopter and long term fan of Nintendo.

Hopefully more 3rd party devs will support the Wii U and use the games hardware to it's capacity.

Crimson_Ridley

#62

Crimson_Ridley said:

There's an awful lot of bitter trolls in here today. It's very easy to read a title of an article and fly in to a tirade of inaccurate accusations about Nintendo, isn't it? However, have you thought about really reading the article? You would learn that they are only saying that because they moved development mostly to the 3DS after the disaster, the Wii U development cycles became much longer. They aren't pinning the blame solely on the crisis, they were trying to ensure that they had their affairs in order, as the country began to rebuild.

StarDust4Ever

#63

StarDust4Ever said:

Meaningless statistics. The same exact sales patterns happened in the USA, who suffered no major disasters in 2011.

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