Only 40K WiiUs for UK launch?

Nintendo is apparently happy today announcing that all the WiiU stock sent to the UK was sold out in the first 48 hours of the launch, and this follows news that all launch stock in America sold out in roughly the same time frame too, although that figure stands at 400,000 and the UK figure stands at 40,000.

By my estimates, neither figure is exactly impressive, with the 360 and PS3 both considerably outselling the WiiU during the same time frame in the US and no WiiU title yet to get in the UK top 10. Both figures are also lower than the Wii launches by around a third, and during the christmas period, you’d expect them to be better. Sales are from disasterous, but I have to wonder what Nintendo is playing at, because considering how delayed the WiiU was, and how carefully the launch dates were planned, there is no fathomable argument that could convince me that stock shortages should ever have occurred if that was never the intention. I suspect that Nintendo is deliberately under-supplying in the hopes of inflating demand.

In the world we live in the press can twist most things to look bad, and most of the press loves to put Nintendo down, but if their official line is that they are trying to meet demand as fast as they can, and all stock is selling out fast, it makes it incredibly hard for anyone to argue that your product is a flop and making easy to generate hype for the console. If true, it’s a smart move on Nintendo’s behalf regardless of whether it improves sales not because if nothing else it staves of criticism in the early days. Had they supplied the UK with 1 million consoles, but only sold 40K or even 100K in the first 48 hours, even though 100K would be pretty impressive for a console launch, 40K more than the Wii launch 6 years ago, knowing that 900K went unsold makes the positive truth look like desperate spin. Lets us not forget the press and it’s readers, are all about the negative. Bitching is much more sellable than praise.

It could be the case that there is no stock shortage, and units sent out for the launches reflect their best sales projections, so they can legitimately claim all the stock sold out.

The only downside for them methinks, if true, is the possible lost sales during the Christmas period, which may not transfer over into 2013 when most people are paying off the debts from Christmas. Consoles sales are never great in the 1st Quarter of any year and come next Xmas it will probably all be about the next Xbox. If not a ploy, why would you launch your product in the holiday period and not do your level best to ensure no shop ran out of stock, Nintendo had all the time in the world to prepare, and the general rule in business is that every sale counts.

Of course Nintendo still have all their big titles which always drive console sales still to come: Games like, Smash Bros, Mario, Mario Kart, Zelda, Animal Crossing and Pokemon titles, as well as sure-fire 3rd party titles like Resident Evil. Overall Nintendo have many cards to play to ensure demand for the WiiU remains good, if not great. Such titles will get people buying the console regardless of a lack of interest or a sea of criticisms, for many generations these games have proven it all comes down to the games in the end and they saved the N64 and Gamecube from obscurity back when times were rougher for the big N.

However, while I feel sure Nintendo knows exactly what it is doing, it won’t stop many loyal fans or parents from getting very annoyed if they are unable to get a WiiU this month. With any hope, the stock shortages are more of a smoke screen than a reality, because it’s a silly risk to take or a stupid error to make during the best season for console sales. Nintendo I hope realises that in the eyes on many people they are on thin ice. Right now they should be focusing on crowd pleasing, not crowd appeasing.


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