Thursday, 16 May 2024

Analysis – Low Wii U Sales Limit Software Success

This morning’s news about Nintendo missing its nine million unit Wii U forecast may not come as a surprise. Achieving this target was always going to be a challenge. However, the bigger issue lies in the impact of the low Wii U sales on the success of upcoming software titles such as Super Smash Bros. U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Mario Kart.

For reference, Pokémon X & Y managed to sell 4 million units within just two days, with an install base of approximately 35 million. This accounted for just over 10 percent of 3DS owners. Now, considering that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is set to release soon, it would need to sell a similar number of copies worldwide by the end of the fiscal year. This would require an attachment of nearly two-thirds of Wii U owners, which is simply unrealistic.

The smaller install base also means that Nintendo will earn less profit on each high-margin marquee title. This limitation poses a significant challenge as third-party support for the Wii U is unlikely to be regained during this hardware cycle. Nintendo must heavily rely on first-party software to sell consoles and expand its install base. However, if the release of these titles is not accelerated, Nintendo may lose the perception battle at retail due to limited shelf presence. Furthermore, with an install base projection of only about 6.3 million by March 31, the potential for software sales is quite low.

In terms of third-party publishers, the decline in Wii U support means that even if console sales pick up and development resumes for the platform, studios will be playing catch-up. Lack of experience with the hardware will hinder them from fully utilizing the system’s capabilities, which are already less powerful than those of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Achieving comparable graphics on the Wii U will be a challenge until developers become more familiar with the system.

Despite these challenges, Nintendo still maintains a significant market capitalization of $20.47 billion, compared to Sony’s $17.83 billion. The success of titles like Super Mario 3D World, Lego City Undercover, and Pikmin 3 proves that the Wii U is a viable system capable of hosting great games. However, the key lies in increasing the number of Wii U owners and expanding the potential market for software purchases.

Developing games is a costly and time-consuming process, especially for Nintendo. A smaller install base only adds to the struggle of breaking even and generating profit from each tentpole title. Additionally, a reduced pool of third-party developers leads to lower licensing fees, which are essential for platform holders. Nintendo needs to make significant changes to ensure that its beloved franchises reach the audience they deserve.


Q: Is the Wii U still worth buying despite its low sales?

A: Absolutely! The Wii U offers a unique gaming experience with its exclusive titles and innovative features. While the sales may be low, there are still many great games available for the system that make it worthwhile.

Q: Will Nintendo improve the situation for the Wii U in the future?

A: Nintendo is constantly working to improve its products and respond to market demands. Although the current situation may be challenging, Nintendo has a history of innovation and resilience. It is likely that they have plans to address the issues faced by the Wii U.


The low sales of the Wii U have undoubtedly limited the success of software titles on the platform. Nintendo faces challenges in expanding its install base and attracting third-party developers. However, with their strong market capitalization and a history of delivering exceptional games, Nintendo has the potential to turn things around. By addressing these issues, they can ensure that their great franchises reach a wider audience and thrive on the Wii U platform. For more information about Nintendo, visit Wqaindia.