Wii U Launch Sales Disappointed Activision Executives


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Nintendo's (OTC: NTDOY ) latest console is off to a rocky start, selling only 3.19 million units since it was released last November.

According to The New York Times , Nintendo expects that it will have sold no more than four million units through March -- nearly 30 percent less than the company's previous projection of 5.5 million. In the grand scheme of game console sales, four million units is not a bad number to achieve in just over four months. This is no ordinary console, however. Wii U is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Wii console, a machine that has sold 98.8 million units in six years.

Wii inspired millions of consumers to line up for hours. The lines began forming in November 2006 and did not end until 2008, when the number of units had finally caught up to the demand.

The same was not true for Wii U. While the first round of shipments immediately sold out, the console became readily available at most Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) stores before Christmas. It was a new world for Nintendo -- one where consumers did not eagerly scramble to buy what the company was selling.

Some have blamed the low sales on the lack of quality games. Others believe that consumers would rather play simple or mindless apps on their smartphones instead of spending $50 to $60 for a high-quality game.

Whatever the cause, Activision (NASDAQ: ATVI ) CEO Bobby Kotick may not care. He just simply wants Nintendo to turn things around.

"As you know, we were somewhat disappointed with the launch of the Wii U, and I think it's a challenging environment this year," Kotick told investors during a conference call. "One of the things we are concerned about is what the installed base of hardware will be like for 6- to-11-year-olds. But we have a lot of confidence in the franchise for the long-term."

In addition to expressing disappointment, Kotick referred to Wii U's "slower-than-expected adoption" as posing a challenge to Skylanders, the company's most popular game developed specifically for young children.

Disney Infinity (NYSE: DIS ), a Skylanders clone featuring several worlds and characters from various Disney and Pixar franchises, could present a more significant threat when it is released later this year.

Follow me @LouisBedigianBZ

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This article appears in: Investing , Stocks
Referenced Symbols: ATVI , BBY , DIS , NTDOY

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