With Wii U set to arrive, and Nintendo needing a strong performance to appease shareholders, market analysts are inevitably checking various sources of data and making their predictions on the system's outlook. The latest to do so is research firm IHS Screen Digest, with projections that bring good and bad news for the Japanese company.

The good news is that IHS expects Wii U to sell 3.5 million units worldwide from launch in November to the end of December; that's an increase from Wii sales of 3.1 million in its own Holiday launch period. This is apparently to come from "pent-up demand from Nintendo evangelists, many of which were introduced to the console market through the success of the Wii".

The negative side is that the research firm doesn't expect Wii U to maintain the exceptional momentum of its predecessor. IHS estimates put Wii U sales after four years at 70% of the equivalent Wii results; to put that into numbers, it anticipates 53.2 million Wii U sales in this period, compared to Wii's 75.9 million sales in its first four years.

This time around, Wii U's pure innovation, coupled with a limited volume of high-quality Nintendo software, will not be enough to drive the ongoing sales momentum we witnessed with the Wii console, especially at a higher price point.

Long-term success depends on ongoing consumer engagement delivered through the constant release of high-quality content from both first and third parties, a competitive non-games entertainment proposition and a sound digital and online strategy to go along with such innovation. Nintendo is still some way short of delivering a comprehensive engagement-led value proposition at the launch of the Wii U.

Over 50 million sales in four years wouldn't be a disaster, by any means, but Nintendo will no doubt be hoping for more. When it comes to whether Wii U can emulate its predecessor in sales, it can only be said that it has a big challenge ahead of it.

[source forbes.com, via gamesindustry.biz]