Turns Out Wii U Sales Were Massively Overestimated By Nintendo

When Nintendo first launched the Wii U, the company thought it had another mega-hit on its hands.

Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima recently shared just how big a hit the firm thought the Wii U was going to be. It turns out the company thought their current generation console would sell almost as well as the original Wii. Nintendo even thought there would be more than 100 million units.

Kimishima was appearing at a recent shareholders meeting when he talked about why Nintendo believed it was going to do so well. “In an internal sales representative meeting, someone projected that we would sell close to 100 million Wii U systems worldwide,” Kimishima said, according to GameZone. The worst part for the company is it doesn’t appear there was much thinking beyond “the first console did great!”

“The thinking was that because Wii sold well, Wii U would follow suit.”

The exec said. It turns out that six months after this console launched, Nintendo had only managed to sell about half a million consoles. The reason why the sales have been so bad has always been a bit of a mystery. Some people believe there was massive confusion between the Wii U and the original console. Others believe the features of the device were simply not as exciting as it had been when it first hit the market.

To his credit, Kimishima understands that it might have been the way he talked to people who worked under him for the massive overreach when it came to predicting how many units would sell. He admitted during that same investor’s meeting that he might have been a bit too hard on the people who were making the projections. This led to the Wii U possibly getting overhyped to a huge degree.

One drawback that likely killed sales of the device was Nintendo seemed to double down on gimmicks. It’s long been known that the Wii U isn’t anywhere near as powerful as the PS4 and the Xbox One. Nintendo seemed to have sacrificed power to keep its motion tracking as well as the larger touchscreen controller.

That lack of power meant that games being made for both the PS4 and Xbox One weren’t being made for the Wii U. This was also the second generation of consoles Nintendo put out where this was the case. Being the only console, those same games weren’t offered on likely hurt sales as well.

The man who took over as president of Nintendo for Satoru Iwata, who passed away last year, says he understood the Wii U needed the right sales pitch, or there was no chance the console would hit the 100 million units sold number. It turns out Kimishima was certainly right about his misgivings for the device, as it has come nowhere near that projection as most know these days.

Fortune reports that to date, The Wii U has sold just 12.8 million units since it was first launched. This is well behind both the PS4 and Xbox One, despite the fact Nintendo brought its current generation console to market first.

We may never know just why Nintendo could never get anyone interested in the Wii U. There are a number of strikes against the company and its flagship device. The price was one thing people had a big problem with when it first launched. There is also talk about the core gamers moving onto mobile devices and away from television-based gaming altogether.

Now that Nintendo is working on a brand new console, we have to hope for the company’s sake that they’ve learned from their mistakes. The firm was certainly surprised at how poorly the Wii U sold — will they have similar problems with the device that has been codenamed the NX?

[Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]

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