In its first week of availability at North American retailers, the Wii U racked up sales of 400,000 units. Bolstered by a launch line-up featuring such games as New Super Mario Bros. U., Nintendo Land and ZombiU, Nintendo's new console is off to a respectable start - though Wii U's launch week sales trail Wii's launch week sales by 200,000 units.
In advance of the Wii U's launch, Nintendo’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, Scott Moffitt, stated that there would be "more units to sell and to ship during that opening week than was the case for Wii." Despite the allegedly increased supply, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, speaking with CNET, claims that the system sold out during its debut week.
"Wii U is essentially sold out of retail and we are doing our best to continually replenish stock. Retailers are also doing their best to get the product to store shelves. But as soon as product hits retail, they're selling out immediately."
The new console's sales figures, however, tell a different story. If more systems were available, and they sold out, why are Wii U's total launch week sales lower than Wii's?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that Wii U is, in fact, easier to come by than Wii was when it launched back in 2006 (a quick call to local retailers confirmed that there are Wii U systems available for purchase, mere days after the Black Friday shopping extravaganza). On the replenishment issue, Nintendo appears to be making good on its promise, but the discrepancy between Wii U's launch week numbers and Wii's launch week numbers can only mean one of two things: either there were fewer systems available than Nintendo indicated, or consumer demand for Wii U is softer than Nintendo expected (a situation that may be exacerbated by reports of the system's long load times and freezing issues).
Nevertheless, 400,000 consoles sold in a single week is hardly a figure to scoff at, and for the time being, Nintendo has the next-gen console market all to itself. Sony and Microsoft are believed - but not confirmed - to be launching new systems roughly a year from now (check out the latest Orbis and Xbox 720 rumors). Is Nintendo concerned about the inevitable showdown? Not according to Fils-Aime.
"For us, launching new systems is about bringing new consumer experiences to the marketplace and we're doing that with Nintendo land and third-party publishers are doing it with games like ZombiU."
"In the end, our competitors need to react to what we're doing in the marketplace and need to figure out what their innovation will be. It's likely that faster processors and pretty pictures won't be enough to motivate consumers. They need to react to what we've done and we need to continue innovating with the Wii U and we will."
It's true that the GamePad, Wii U's system-defining controller, is a remarkable innovation (read our Wii U review). But, will it be enough to stave off competition from consoles that are expected to offer vastly more raw hardware power than Wii U? What do you think?
Let's hear from you, Ranters. Did you pick up a Wii U last week? Are they readily available for purchase where you live? Let us know in the comments below.
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