Nintendo sold just 160,000 Wii U units in the last quarter, a huge slump of more than 50-percent compared to the previous three month period. The sluggish demand, which bring total lifetime sales of the Wii U to 3.61m units, was blamed on “few key first-party titles” by Nintendo [pdf link], with a mere 1.03m software sales in the same period.
In fact, even the far older Wii outsold its newer console sibling during the quarter. Hardware sales of the Wii reached 210,000 units, in fact, while 3.67m games were sold.
In portable gaming, Nintendo sold 1.4m 3DS and 11.01m games for the glasses-free 3D handheld. That was partly down to the worldwide success of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which sold 1.54m copies alone. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon followed close behind, with 1.43m worldwide sales.
It’s the demand – or lack of – for the Wii U that is most concerning for Nintendo investors. The company has consistently refused to discount the console, despite waning support from game publishers; earlier this month, Ubisoft put Nintendo on notice after revealing it had sold so few copies of launch-day title ZombiU that it was “not even close” to making a profit. EA and Activision have also voiced concerns that the Wii U isn’t giving sufficient return to make developing for it worthwhile.
The fall-out has been swift. Major UK grocery store chain Asda – second-largest in the country – has pulled the Wii U, its games, and accessories from the shelves of its 555 stores, with minimal online sales of a few “select” titles. No other retailer has announced plans to follow suit yet, though industry observers predict that may only be a matter of time.
Even with the underwhelming sales, Nintendo still managed to turn a gross profit in the three month period, pulling in 36.4bn yen ($372m). That was unfortunately offset by high selling, general, and administrative expenses that pushed operating loss to 4.9bn yen ($50m), in part from spending on 3DS promotions and Wii U gaming development.