Nintendo Revise Down Wii U Sales Predictions, Still Wildly Unrealistic
Shortly before Nintendo’s new WUU console went on sale for the Christmas shopping period a bullish Nintendo promised that by the end of March they would be able to sell a frankly unbelievable 5.5 million consoles and a literally impossible twenty-four million units of full-priced software. This estimate would have required an attach-rate of nearly five games per system, which was blatantly unrealistic when there is nothing close to five games that a majority of new Wii U owners would be inclined to purchase – and this probably still would have been the case even if Pikmin 3 and The Wonderful 101 had been able to meet their originally scheduled launch window. If a console lacks desirable [or indeed any] new software releases, then its parent company will sell neither consoles nor software, which seems to have been the case for the Wii U, as it has led Nintendo to revise down their sales forecasts this week.
With less than two months to go until Nintendo’s end of financial year reporting [the end of March], the Wii U has sold a mere 3.06 million units of hardware and 11.69 million units of software – indicating an attach rate of approximately three games per system if one accounts for the Nintendo Land tech demo. From this point Nintendo has revised their predictions to selling four million units of hardware and sixteen million units of software by the end of March, a figure which still looks wildly optimistic given the lack of any high profile software releases during this period.
It is possible that Nintendo’s much slowed Wii U sales could possibly scrape their way to the predicted one million required sales over this two month period, but it is next to impossible to envision a scenario wherein Nintendo is able to shift almost 4.3 million units of software. Such a scenario would involve one million people purchasing a Wii U along with four or five games each, and, as we have already established, the Wii U has no games. The only way that Nintendo will even come close to making good on their prediction is if they sneakily alter fundamental elements of their initial premise, which is to say that they would have to include the sales of budget downloadable software like Trine 2 and The Cave.
Disney Dissolves Warren Spector’s Junction Point Studio
There has been a pervasive narrative permeating its way through game journalism throughout the second half of the seventh console generation which contends that even competent and popular game studios are struggling and sometimes failing in the current industry climate. Sometimes this sentiment is correct when applied to studios like Vigil Games, who produced two critically well-received Darksiders games which sold over a million units each, only to be discarded like yesterday’s lunch at the recent THQ auction. Other times this sentiment is applied incorrectly to studios which perished through making terrible business decisions [38 Studios], poor software [Game Republic], or sometimes both [Silicon Knights]. This week Warren Spector’s Junction Point joins the ranks of this latter caste of underperformers.
Epic Mickey was born out of a kernel of a brilliant idea and vision. The world of Disney was to be reinterpreted as the dark steampunk world of the freakish and forgotten outcasts of the Disney cannon. As a vehicle for dark story-telling coupled with childhood nostalgia this premise made for a delicious opportunity, yet it was never realised. The image conscious Disney interfered with with Spector’s original vision for the game until it took on the form of something more conducive to Disney’s kid-friendly corporate image – though this is almost a sidenote seeing as Junction Point were never able to create an even barely adequate gameplay experience. The industry consensus was that Epic Mickey had content which was appealing enough to make it a memorable game, yet it was all undone by poor camera controls which led to a miserable and mediocre experience. Funnily enough, that game proved to be one of the Wii’s rare third-party success stories, selling over 2.8 million units, and leading to a sequel being green-lit.
Epic Mickey 2 was even more poorly received than its predecessor, racking up a meta-rating which hovered limply in the mid-fifties. In this instance the camera controls appeared to be a non-issue, yet the vision of the game was [allegedly] even more watered down and uninspired than the previous title, while the gameplay was blighted by some of the most spitefully wretched partner AI to ever be seen in a game. This time around the scope of the production had been massively expanded, with multiple studios [and a staff of over seven hundred] working concurrently on versions for five different platforms, yet the Wii market was no longer as vital as it once was, and the end result was a game which barely sold over a million copies combined. This spelled the end for Junction Point.
While much about about Spector’s future in the industry remains clouded and uncertain, he does at least leave the studio he founded with one final promise that we have not heard the last of him [delivered by way of a sickeningly self-congratulatory parting blog-post]: “Let’s just say, now it’s time to move on to the next adventure. I honestly don’t know what that will be yet, so don’t ask.”
Look out Kickstarter!
No Price-Cut For WUU
In light of the Nintendo Wii U’s declining sales and scant 2013 software line-up, one may have supposed that it was time for the over-priced console to have a price-cut, much like the one which ultimately revived the 3DS – yet if that were the case, one would have supposed wrongly. Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata is adamant that the Wii U represents good value, and that consumers must be made to understand the good value that the console represents in absence of new game releases or hardware which can operate at the bare minimum of acceptable functionality.
“However, given that it has now become clear that we have not yet fully communicated the value of our product, we will try to do so before the software lineup is enhanced and at the same time work to enrich the software lineup which could make consumers understand the appeal of Wii U.”
Good. Glad they cleared that up. What a remarkably substantive and penetrable sentence. Nintendo will now begin to try and communicate the value of Wii U, as opposed to the previous several months when Nintendo’s marketing division were busy farting on kittens. It is all very well to showcase a sizzle-reel of highly desirable game content, but consumers will still lack any sort of compelling reason to buy into the Wii U until a few of the announced titles begin to hit store shelves. It is time for Nintendo to put up or shut up.