September 2013 saw the best month Nintendo has had in a very long time. The 3DS dominated the hardware charts and landed at the top spot for the 5th consecutive month in a row. That wasn’t all that surprising. What was surprising is the fact that Wii U sales have finally started picking up. The NPD Group reported that Wii U sales were up 100% compared to August 2013. Sales could have possibly been higher had Nintendo enacted the price cut earlier in the month. So, does this mean that the Wii U is out of the woods? Not necessarily.
In typical Nintendo fashion, the company refused to release exactly how many Wii Us were sold in September or August. It is possible that Wii U sales were absolutely miserable in August and only ended up being marginally better in September thus causing the jump. After all, Nintendo only sold 160,000 Wii U units during the entire first quarter of this Fiscal Year so it isn’t unreasonable to assume that they may have sold 10,000 in August and only 20,000 in September.
The price cut was a sound strategy that helped get the Wii U price in line with the PS3 and Xbox 360. This makes the Wii U $100 cheaper than the PS4 and $200 cheaper than the Xbox One, but does Nintendo have enough steam to push the Wii U when the new consoles come out?
Although September was a strong month it doesn’t look like October will be that good for the platform. Two big Third-Party titles are releasing on the platform; Batman: Arkham Origins and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. However, Batman will release without the multiplayer component on Wii U and none of the DLC announced for either game has been announced as coming to Nintendo’s platform. It’s great that Ubisoft and Warner Bros. are bringing games to the Wii U, but the fact that there is content cut from them and/or the possibility that there won’t be more content in the future is worrisome. There’s also the fact that the only exclusive for the Wii U, Sonic: Lost World, is taking quite the beating from critics.
November could potentially be even more bruising with the PS4 and Xbox One being the machines everyone is going to run into a store to pick up. The huge Wii U exclusive Super Mario 3D World is literally being thrown under the bus by Nintendo. It launches in North America the same day the Xbox One launches (November 22) and in Europe the same day the PS4 launches (November 29). That’s some seriously bad planning on behalf of Nintendo’s part.
All of these problems may seem like the Wii U is heading back towards its grave, but it may not. Nintendo needs to start pushing the Wii U’s marketing more. True, pretty much everyone’s attention will be on the PS4 and Xbox One this Holiday Season, but Sony and Microsoft will have a hard time keeping them on shelves. If Nintendo can make a strong push with TV ads and buying up space in retailer ads then they might be able to convince shoppers that a Wii U is a viable alternative to either next-gen console.
There are also tons of markets that Nintendo can appeal to this Holiday Season. Xbox One is only launching in an abysmal 13 countries compared to the PS4 (32 countries). There will be plenty of countries where Wii U will only be in competition with the PS4. Then there’s Japan where neither console will launch until 2014. Wii U will have the whole playing field to itself.
So no, the Wii U isn’t dead yet nor is it out of the woods. However, Nintendo can’t just phone it in this Holiday Season and needs to put some serious work into getting the console into people’s homes.