Last fall, Nintendo (OTC:
) projected that it would sell 5.5 million Wii U consoles by the
end of March. In February,
The New York Times
reported that Nintendo had reduced its sales expectations to just
four million units. This week
reported that Nintendo was unable to meet that goal.
Global Wii U sales plummeted more than 85 percent in the first
quarter. While the Japanese tech giant sold three million units
during the December quarter (in just six weeks, no less),
Nintendo only sold 390,000 units during the March quarter.
All told, lifetime global Wii U sales currently sit at just
3.45 million -- two million less than Nintendo's original
estimate, and more than 500,000 units lower than the company's
most recent estimate.
The Mario maker followed the disappointing news with a
surprising announcement: it will not hold a press conference at
the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the industry's largest
trade show. The company will instead focus on smaller, less
public events that will be tailored to distributors or the
This is a first for Nintendo, which has used E3 to promote
games, consoles and handhelds for nearly 20 years. The company is
for its annual press conferences, which have included a number of
memorable product reveals.
Around the Web, tech reporters are baffled by Nintendo's
Damien McFerran fears that this move could be seen as an
"admission of weakness."
host and reporter Geoff Keighley worries that Nintendo is simply
not interested in "competing head-to-head against Sony (NYSE:
) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:
Ian Chant believes that Nintendo might have made a mistake.
"Considering how tepid sales of the new console have been,
though, it remains surprising to see Nintendo eschew the
opportunity to make some noise at the news events everyone will
be watching, especially since Microsoft and Sony will both be on
hand with whole new consoles to announce," he wrote.
Hugh Langley concurs, writing that Nintendo "needs the biggest
stage it can get right now."
After hearing about Nintendo's plans,
Kyle Orland provided a grim prediction for Wii U's future.
"If Nintendo is really afraid that Sony and Microsoft's new
systems are going to suck all the E3 oxygen away from whatever
major software announcements it has up its sleeve, then something
similar could well happen this holiday season, when the year-old
Wii U goes up against its new, high-powered hardware
competition," Orland wrote. "If that comes to pass, the Wii U
could find itself in the same position as the Sega Dreamcast did
when it was overshadowed by the PlayStation 2 just a year after
its 1999 release."
In March, Benzinga posed
one simple question
: Is Nintendo giving up on the Wii U?
Based on the lower-than-expected sales, the reduced E3
presence and the lack of internal support for Wii U, it seems
that it will only be a matter of time before the answer is a
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer
of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or
louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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