Black Friday, or bloody Friday as I’m sure it going to come to be known as, has come and gone and the incoming sales data for this huge day for retail in America is not looking particularly great for Nintendo.
While this is only sales figures from 2 stores, it’s pretty safe to say they will be indicative of sales across the board. They also correlate fairly well to recent surveys in America that found that only 10% of those asked wanted a Wii U. This really isn’t good news. Just about everyone throughout this year agreed this holiday period was the key moment for the Wii U to prove itself, and while we of course still have the whole of December and the January sales, Black Friday is often a sign of the sales trends we can expect for Christmas, so this poor start to the big winter sales period does not bode well for Nintendo.
But what about…..
It would be remiss not to point out that the XB1 & PS4 launches has been timed very well around Black Friday, and with or without it, both were pretty certain to outperform the Wii U during their launch windows. This could easily explain XB1’s good performance and it could easily whittle away. Nevertheless a 6% share is dire, and it does look as if the Wii U’s price edge has made no difference whatsoever.
The Global picture.
All XBox consoles have sold best in America, it’s not too much of a surprise it’s had an impressive start. Conversely sales of the Xbox360 were so bad in Japan, there’s almost no point in the launching the XB1 in Japan. But the Wii U’s global perspective is universally poor, while the XB1 and PS4 have both got off too very admirable starts.
To the surprise of many the release of Super Mario 3D World has failed to stimulate Wii U sales in Japan by any degree worth mentioning and it has turned out to be the weakest selling 3D Mario game at launch in Japan ever. conversely analyst in America have been much more positive about the games potential in America after all the glowing reviews, but it only got to #13 in the charts being beaten by a PS4 game. Mario is either failing to get peoples interest or consumers still feel the Wii U doesn’t offer enough.
Just to rant for a few moments, it pisses me off that Nintendo make such amazing games but constantly fail to give them that look and style that’s inviting to all. Adult men paranoid about their perceived masculinity aren’t going to give Nintendo a chance and most gamers are just that. Men still dominate game sales and it is 15-30 year old males who are the big spenders and they are turned off by Nitnendo overly sweet and childish style. It’s not about having to make about massive changes, because most of those guys will willingly say they’ve enjoyed Mario games, but they aren’t buying them! It’s a case of being a bit more like ‘The Simpsons’ and a little less like ‘The Care Bears.’
We can talk at length about why the Wii U has still failed to gain momentum. It’s probably fair to say Nintendo are getting everything a little bit wrong but its also fair to say that 2014 has many very promising titles to look forward to. But we said that about 2013, and 2012. And 2011 come to think of it. 2010 wasn’t much better. I’m starting to rant again, sorry…Whatever the issues, this holiday period has been pitched for around a year as the key proving ground for the Wii U and considering the very poor year it’s been for the Wii U it made this period ever more important, but Black Friday has been an unpromising start.
Doom and Gloom.
Some analysts have reckoned a bad holiday period could spell the quick the killing off of the Wii U, as early as 2014, I’m no expert but with the titles like Mario Kart due out next year I think that is a stupid assertion for a someone who gets paid to be an analyst to make. Too much is well into development and too much has been committed for Nintendo to walk away after a bad first year. HIstorically speaking the Wii U still has a reasonable chance to make a miraculous recovery because most consoles suffer a slow first year. Still, it’s rather obvious to point out that poor sales this holiday are going to do 3rd party support no favors.
Other less credible analysts think bad sales over this period could speed up Nintendos transition to a 3rd party developer. Anyone who knows squat about Nintendo know that is incredibly unlikely. For a start they’ve opened up and whole new console R&D facility quite recently. Even if the Wii U’s shelf life was cut short by any length, Nintendo is not going 3rd party. Nintendo aren’t like other companies, they aren’t mired in debt, they have their rainy day funds! They don’t need to, they don’t want to, they will not be going 3rd party.
What does the future hold?
We know so little about what Nintendo have on the horizon for the Wii U and it only takes a few great exclusive games marketed well to turn a consoles fortunes around. It might not take much either because 2014 really should be a good 2014 year for the Wii U, while it is quite likely to be a sluggish year for the XB1 & PS4. The Wii U’s misfortunes are not out of the ordinary and it could still turn out that the Nintendo are timing things better than it seems.
If I we’re a betting man…
I’m not sure I trust my inner fanboy. My money is on the Wii U coming 3rd this generation. It really is getting too late in the day for the system to make a turn around, particularly if it cannot build momentum this holiday.
I personally believe that the word “Wii” is a toxic brand. People were not overjoyed with their Wii’s and that has caused reservations about the Wii U and Nintendo as a whole. It’s one of many things you could point to, the shocking lack of games being another. Whatever the case I believe the damage is done and Nintendo is going to have to rethink much of their attitude towards console gaming come the next generation. In 4 words, they got it wrong.
But here’s hoping Black Friday is a false start and December and January do turn out to be great for Nintendo. I don’t think its likely, but I’d be happy to be wrong.