Wii U is now available in North American (where it sold 400,000+ units during its first week at retail), the United Kingdom (where 40,000 systems were sold in the first 48 hours), Australia and New Zealand. Only Japan continues to wait for the Wii U, though not for long – the system releases in its home territory this weekend, on December 8th.
In advance of that event, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime has commented on the challenges associated with launching the new system, and offered a measure of justification for Wii U’s massive, day-one system update.
It became clear well before Wii U’s launch that the hardware represents a turning point for Nintendo. As the company’s first high-definition console, Wii U is – for the time being – able to directly compete with offerings from Sony and Microsoft in a way that the original Wii never could. More than that, Wii U’s Miiverse social network and Deluxe Digital rewards program demonstrate a new commitment to online features, while the (unfortunately delayed) TVii app makes clear that Nintendo is taking the battle for players’ living rooms ever bit as seriously as its rivals do.
Speaking with Gamasutra, Fils-Aime acknowledges the challenges Nintendo faces with Wii U, particularly the system’s online initiatives.
“Every time we launch a new system, there are significant challenges. There’s everything from supply to making sure the new offering meet our expectations. In the digital, connected services area, much of what we’re doing is groundbreaking, so we are having to learn as we go to make sure the consumer has the very best experience possible.”
Wii U’s “digital, connective services” have evidently been taxing for Nintendo – TVii’s delay and Wii U’s gargantuan day-one patch attest to as much – but supply and replenishment are another story, at least in North America. In advance of the Wii U’s launch, Nintendo’s Scott Moffitt promised that “replenishments will be more frequent this holiday time than during the Wii launch.” Though Nintendo is, characteristically, not attaching any numbers to its replenishment efforts (as in, “we’re shipping X number of units per week”), Wii U systems are proving surprisingly easy to find at retail, a full two weeks after the console’s North American launch.
Then again, scoring a Wii U system is only the beginning of the battle for consumers. There is still that crucial patch to download and apply, a process that can take hours. Without the patch, users can’t create a Nintendo Network ID, access Miiverse or browse the eShop. Even Wii U’s speedy web browser is enabled via the system update. Sloppy? Maybe, but Fils-Aime takes a different stance. In his opinion, delivering all those features in a last-minute system update is an example Nintendo’s efforts to create “the very best product” possible.
“Nintendo developers want to make sure that the very best product is available to consumers. That creates a dynamic where our developers are working on elements until the very last point possible. That’s why the system update was required on Day One – and this is quite similar to what’s happened with other consumer electronic products.”
Meanwhile, TVii is still without a specific projected release date (it’s due sometime this month) and the Wii U’s day-one patch – for which Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata has apologized – is expected to remain a necessity until Spring of next-year.
Ranters, how do you think Nintendo handled the Wii U’s North American launch? Have any of you had trouble finding a system? Let us know in the comments below.
Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.