The problem now, however, is that Nintendo not only battered the charts with an onslaught of software to support the ageing technology enough to draw in a whole new audience, but set itself up for a potential fall. That fall almost came when the Nintendo 3DS bullishly landed on store shelves in March 2011 with an overly high price-tag and poor launch line-up that turned consumers away rapidly, yet the wrongs were quickly righted with a one-two punch of a hefty price drop, followed by the quick release of big name games, such as Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 and eventually the fast-tracked New Super Mario Bros. 2. That being said, how will the Wii U problem be overcome?
Before an answer can even be conceived, the problem needs to be analysed slightly. Wii U arrived on UK shores on 30th November and fluttered onto the market with nary a whisper. Nintendo tried to cover this up by talking about low stock levels, but with numerous reports of people finding stock all over the country, picking up systems with the greatest of ease even on the first day, there has been some speculation about Nintendo basically trying to cover up a disastrous launch. How bad could it be, right? A quick look at the latest Chart Track UK listings paints the bleak picture for software, with only Nintendo Land making an appearance in the Top 40 Individual Charts at No.35, dropping a further eight places from the week prior and after a starting week of 26,000 sales units, it has now crawled to 45,000, with just 9,000 sales this week - inclusive of bundled sales - compared to the two week total of ~115,000 in Japan where it is not a pack-in. Yes, not even New Super Mario Bros. U managed to make the chart this week, despite it being the second biggest Wii U seller over the last seven days. That goes a long way to showing how little everything else is selling right now. For those interested in the Wii U Top 10 it continues with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Zombi U, Just Dance 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Sports Connection, Batman: Arkham City - Armoured Edition, Rabbids Land and FIFA 13.
It is certainly a strong looking Top 10, right? In terms of quality, yes it is. However, if it is looked at in a different way, the stark reality of how bad it is hits home. SEGA's racer, the third biggest selling Wii U game of the week, sold less than 3,104 copies. Just let that sink in for a moment. Look at FIFA 13 residing there at the bottom of the list, No.10, and read this interesting fact: both the Wii and PS Vita iterations of EA's massively popular football title sold more than 6,364 copies. Wii, a dying system, and PS Vita, a supposedly dead system, both saw their respective versions of FIFA 13 manage to sell enough to make them at least the third highest Wii U game of the week. FIFA 13 Wii U could easily have sold merely a few hundred copies over the week-long reporting period. Well, we actually know it sold more than 557 units, though, since that is how many copies of Assassin's Creed III managed to shift in the same time span, and that didn't even feature in the Wii U Top 10! Number hungry? How about this: Wii U's Call of Duty: Black Ops II sold less than 2,034 copies, compared to 118,000 on Xbox 360 (the biggest selling game of the week in the UK, followed by Just Dance 4 on Wii) and 81,378 on PlayStation 3 (the third best selling UK game of the week). Looking back at Sonic for a second, the figure may be low, but compared to other formats it is doing well since the game in general is selling poorly. On Wii U it sold just over 2,000 copies less than the PS3 edition (less than 5,296) and pretty much doubled the PSV version's sales (less than 1,461). Perhaps a sign of what appeals on the system early doors. Whatever the case, that Wii U Top 10 must be scary for Nintendo UK to see with the top selling game at around the 9,000 mark and the No.10 game being less than the known 2,034 figure for Call of Duty: Black Ops II and higher than the 557 number for Assassin's Creed III.
Shockingly, it is not actually just the 'hardcore' UK that is struggling, with reports from people close to Cubed3 pointing out that there is surplus stock supplies in Spain and Netherlands, with not much interest in a machine that is priced higher than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with a lower range of software on offer this holiday period. Additionally, reports have revealed that many major retailers in Portugal have resorted to offering New Super Mario Bros. U for a mere extra €5 with both Wii U packs to try and create a spark. In France the console has sold approximately 65,000 after two weeks and in the UK it is at roughly 70,000 after three. In Germany, one of Nintendo's stronger markets, New Super Mario Bros. U dropped to No.31 in its third week on sale, whilst the only other games that charted in launch week - Zombi U, Assassin's Creed III, and Nintendo Land (in that order; No.65, No.70, No.74, respectively) - have been absent from the Top 100 for the past two weeks.
Anecdotally, what really does not help is that regular gamers are commenting on how expensive Wii U games are, with the likes of Zombi U being found in some places for around £50-£55. In the days where punters are searching high and low for bargains galore, the current pricing system isn't working for them, full stop. Many stores placing Wii and Wii U games together isn't exactly a big help either, but that is up to Nintendo to resolve in its educating of retailers, on top of the required consumer enlightenment via advertisements.
Oh, and for anyone thinking the Wii U is not doing 'bad' for three weeks on the chart, just compare ~70,000 in that time to ~75,000 GameCube sales in two days. Puts it more into perspective, right?
Anyway, before wrapping up, here are some other numbers from various sources derived from extrapolation of system breakdowns given by The Guardian and interrogation of numbers revealed by Chart Track UK in the past few weeks. New Super Mario Bros. 2 sold more than 14,000 units, Moshi Monsters on DS and Skylanders Giants on Wii both sold more than 13,000 copies, Just Dance: Disney Party on Wii, Mario Kart 7, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask and Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS all sold more than 10,000 copies, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Wii sold more than 8,500, whilst the Wii and 3DS iterations of LEGO The Lord of the Rings sold less than 8,401 and 2,965, respectively, and the 3DS version of Moshi Monsters: Moshlings Theme Park sold less than 4,383. All done!
However, is it too early in the day to be concerned with the dire first few weeks, or do readers also have anecdotal evidence of people not quite 'getting' what Wii U is all about?