As Wii U struggles, Nintendo says a single game can alter the fate of a platform

President Satoru Iwata reminds gamers that the Game Boy got off to a slow start, too.

The Wii U may be struggling at the moment, but it's not the first Nintendo platform to come out of the gate slower than than expected. Speaking with analysts recently about the company's recent poor financial performance, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata reminded people that the Game Boy also was a slow-starter before rising fast thanks to the release of a single title.

"The fate of a video game system is often influenced greatly by the introduction of a single title. As many of you probably remember, before the release of the Pokémon game, Game Boy had been showing slow growth, and many people wondered whether it was the end of Game Boy," Iwata said. "But the Pokémon game singlehandedly changed the landscape of the system, which then started to show the strongest sales in the lifecycle of the system."

Some of the Wii U's upcoming marquee games include Mario Kart 8 (May 30), Super Smash Bros. (2014), and an all-new Legend of Zelda game, among others. These titles could be regarded as system-sellers, but the impact they have on the Wii U's overall prospects remains to be seen. Iwata also made clear that Nintendo isn't banking on the Wii U matching the sales of the original Wii, which is one of the best-selling home consoles of all time with over 100 million units sold to date.

"As I explained back in January, it is true that we cannot draw up a good business plan for Wii U by assuming that Wii U will sell more than Wii did. Therefore, we will need to think very carefully about the balance of revenue and expenses and try to operate by controlling overall costs," Iwata said. "On the other hand, we do not believe that this year's estimate of 3.60 million units of Wii U hardware will be the peak of its lifecycle, and we would like to work hard to make sure that we give sufficient momentum to the system so that we can expect good results in and after the next fiscal year, too. However, as for this fiscal year, as I explained before, the figures you see have been determined by rather conservative estimates."

Also during his briefing with analysts, Iwata shed some light on Nintendo's mysterious upcoming NFC initiative. He said that though Activision (Skylanders) and Disney (Disney Infinity) have seen success in the toys-to-life market, Nintendo may take a different approach.

"Our primary focus, however, is not to develop software that is compatible with figurines. Rather, we have been developing figurines since last year because we believe there may be different approaches or ways to appeal to consumers by using them, and this could also be one way for Nintendo to utilize its character IP," Iwata said.

Nintendo will share more details about its plans for the "toys-to-life" market at E3 next month.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

527 comments
losstoney
losstoney

maybe if they bring out a reall mario like mario 3d on 64. And a real zelda thats not so kiddy like, And you got a win there already for me. If you make a proper zelda ill buy a wiiu just for that game. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Nintendo and its delusional fans have been saying this for two years.


Pikmin 3 will save it!  Nope.

Super Mario 3D World will save it!  Nope.

Well, Wind Waker will save it!  Nope.

Donkey Kong?  Nope.

Mario Kart!  Won't.
Smash Brothers?  Unlikely.

........Zelda?


Keep saying it.  Maybe it'll come true!

pikachudude860
pikachudude860

I think the Wii U will be just fine. Plenty of people still buy Nintendo systems for Nintendo games. 


Why? I just realized this. People say the majority of the Wii's sales were from "Casual Gamers". But how many casual gamers bought some exactly? We have no way of knowing for sure. I made a thread about this but I can't reply because of the restriction. I'll give a more..."Detailed" explanation of my theroy later. But I will say this.


More or less than 50 million gamers (Non hardcore nintendo fans) could of bought a Wii for Nintendo's exclusives.

Why? Think about it. You could have games like Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart Wii, Smash Bros, Xenoblade, Skyward Sword and more. All of the Wii games, PLUS the ENTIRE Back catalog of GameCube games. Over 1000 games on ONE SYSTEM. That doesn't even include the Wii Ware and Virtual Console games. All of that on a system that costs $200 or less. Those are some of the greatest games of all time. You could have two generations worth of Nintendo games..Or more.


Do you still think that only casuals bought the system? There is no proof that they did...But there is no proof that they didn't. Yep.

bigruss51
bigruss51

FAIL, FAil, fail. Don't release a console if there aren't gonna be many games in the first year and don't release a new gen console with old gen specs. I don't want to see Nintendo fail  but what chance is there of a comeback for the wiiu?

turbojacket
turbojacket

People don't buy Nintendo systems to play 3rd party as people do with PS and XBOX. They buy Nintendo to play first party Nintendo games. The sooner Nintendo realizes this and stops with the glacial pace of 1st party releases, the better. I for one, bought the Wii U for WWHD (which I never played on GC). So, yeah. That Mario Kart 8 tho… damn.

hi-buzz
hi-buzz

Don't sleep on an all new Metriod game ....if well made and polished ...it could boost Wii U sales

Triton
Triton

"Nintendo says a single game can alter the fate of a platform" ... not if its another Mario,DK, Zelda title over and over.

jharring
jharring

I think the Wii U and Game Boy are apples and oranges.  The Game Boy had already been out for eight years by the time Pokémon rolled around and had sold 60 million units and was a big success.  Pokémon just gave it an unexpected second wind.  And actually, the Game Boy did have that "one game" when it first came out.  Tetris!  I know it's hard to believe now if you weren't there, but Tetris on the go was huge.

Merseyak
Merseyak

the big game that would sell more wii u than you could imagine is a pokemon mmo make it happen and i will guarantee you more sales that anybody could imagine

domisbatman
domisbatman

Release a WiiU Pokemon game like X and Y with more content and your WiiU graphics.You will see WiiUs flying off the shelves . It's not rocket science 

WitIsWisdom
WitIsWisdom

10 to 15 years from now everyone will talk about the WiiU in the same light as the Gamecube, everyone bashed the Cube in its day, but now it's the hip thing to say that you loved it and always did....

Ironic.

chev93477
chev93477

Sony spend a billion saving the PS3, had to carry the dead weight known as PSP and Vita, laid-off 5000 employees, let go key devs from the middle of development of Uncharted 4, lost over 300 million earlier this year, rehashing year-old game due to lack of creating new ones, and top level employees took a 50% pay-cut?


"But, but, but. . . .PS4 is successful." And 3DS is also successful but gaming journalist don't give a $hit. So let the Sony di*k riding continue.

ArchoNils2
ArchoNils2

And the game is called Pokemon MMORPG

seven7swords
seven7swords

All these "Wii U is ruining Nintendo" articles are kind of getting annoying to me...


But in regards to the people that keep bashing the Wii U, I just don't understand how you can bash a console you don't own and the only thing you know about it is what people tell you. In all fairness, if you had a Wii U and got rid of it because it was legitimately not your thing then to each their own. Personally thought the Wii was okay but I feel the Wii U is amazing. I love having my console down stairs while I lie in bed upstairs playing Wind Waker HD. I think it's great I can sit in the rest room and play Mario 3D World. I find it great I can be out on the patio and Resident Evil. I watch Netflix on the game pad in case someone else is using the T.V. It's backwards compatible so I can still play some of my favorite games from Wii on it.


I honestly play it more then I do my PS4 or XBox One. All three are great systems in their own right for what they do but unless you have actually owned a Wii U and decided you didn't like it you should really stop bashing such a great and innovative system just because your friend is bashing a console they never owned. :/


But whatever, bro. I got all three so far as I'm concerned hater's gonna hate and if you got the money for the trifecta then ball out, homie.

Tauu
Tauu

PC + Wii U = Access to 95% of games worth playing this gen

rushiosan
rushiosan

If Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros can't save the console, nothing can. Zelda is a great game, but it doesn't have multiplayer neither a huge fanbase like other Nintendo titles. I know a lot of people who don't play Zelda (some never played) because they judge it a "hard and confusing game". I hope everything goes well with the Wii U. I'm planning to get one by the end of 2014 if both games succeed.

glacius_x
glacius_x

There's not gonna be any one game that turns this system around. I love Nin but they just are not being realistic.

asixjo
asixjo

Most people don't like change thats why its sales are low, for example the dreamcast.


asixjo
asixjo

I can't wait for those three games definitely buying them.

aci808
aci808

I know it's cool to right how uncool Nintendo is from a keyboard. But after just a few more good games, like Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros, it will be a pretty sweet system to own.

supermegablox
supermegablox

lol, because mario kart wasnt a system seller. mario kart 8 totally didnt raise the wii u sales by like over 200 percent. *sarcasm*

stevie456
stevie456

@Thanatos2k I don't care if it's "saved" or not, those games are all fun as hell, and I'll play all of them.

rexomnipotentus
rexomnipotentus

@Thanatos2k Does the WII U need saving? I don't know how many console Nintendo needs to sell to break even or make a little profit. What i do know is that one game will indeed not 'save' the WII U. However, i think that many good games combined can. The more games the WII U has, the more people are tempted to buy a WII U.

Defender1978
Defender1978

@Triton  You are right.  What we want are more Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Assassin's Creed.  Those games are few and far between.  

Vodoo
Vodoo

@Triton  Took the words right out of my mouth.

DARREN636
DARREN636

Tetris was literally everywhere.

It was a phenomenon.

bigruss51
bigruss51

@WitIsWisdom I had the gamecube and did love it. Best controller ever. But the WiiU is garbage right now.

BestJinjo
BestJinjo

@chev93477  Most of Sony's losses have nothing to do with their gaming division. If anything, Sony needs to split the firm into Playstation only products + Sony cameras and all the dead weight needs to be dropped, like their movie and TV business units. 

Lykanthropie
Lykanthropie

@ArchoNils2 guess pokemon game had a huge promotion through the TV series, the first game was really bad and simple produced - but still fun to play - i always hoped for a good pokemon, or a big production game for home consoles, but it never came.

stevie456
stevie456

@seven7swords I quit on Sony after PS2, I quit on Microsoft after the 360. Nintendo is the one company I have not quit on, and I don't plan to either.

DARREN636
DARREN636

You make a convincing argument for the Wii u.

I was first in line for the Wii. It gathered dust due to my lack of emotional attachment to Nintendo IP .

( I was a child of Sega)

Do you expect great 3rd party games for the u ?

AK_the_Twilight
AK_the_Twilight

@seven7swords  If you have a PC and a Wii U, you're set. Nintendo's always been the best with exclusives. Third-party stuff is covered by PC. Indies appear on both.

stevie456
stevie456

@Tauu TRUTH. Most Sony and MS exclusives aren't worth a console purchase anyway.

Defender1978
Defender1978

@Tauu  That's the route I took this time.  Lack of reverse compatibility on the PS4 and Xbox One killed it for me.  PC and Wii U is a great combo.  

Lykanthropie
Lykanthropie

@Tauu but the PC makes like 80% and the WiiU needs more games :-) Guess MK8 will be the next big Nintendo title - just like Pikmin3 which is the best and biggest game for the console yet.

But MK8 should be even much bigger.

chev93477
chev93477

@glacius_x Realistic? More like ignorant. Do your research before you type. And claiming you love Nintendo shows that your lying. 

mr_nee
mr_nee

@glacius_x  TBH, I don't think Iwata loves or even cares about Nintendo. He knows he is wrong, but he loves him self too much to admit he was wrong.

HyperXT
HyperXT

@glacius_x  

True, Nintendo need a lot of games in my opinion to success not just one game can make a differences. Or make a new & better console.

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

@rexomnipotentus @Thanatos2k I agree...but the problem is, the story always seems to be "next year" when it comes to getting those must-have games on Wii U. This year has Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, Devil's Third, and Smash 4...but three of those games are decidedly niche titles. Kirby, Zelda, Yoshi, and Star Fox are all 2015 and beyond...which may be too late for some consumers.

jharring
jharring

@ziggy-mandias @jharring  Probably so.  Pretty much everyone could play Tetris, while I think Pokémon was mostly played by kids.  I missed out on the whole Pokémon craze because I was out of school then and it wasn't really a thing among older gamers.  Ironically, the kids who played it at first are now adults still playing it.  ^_^

digishah
digishah

@smastergallade @Merseyak  I don't think so, they have tons of spin-off Pokemon games that does nothing to harm the main series...

Regardless, Pokemon MMO sounds like a bad idea... 

grognard66
grognard66

@BestJinjo @chev93477 Except Sony's gaming division has also been showing losses, including in the most recent report.  It's all relative when Sony says a division is doing well - what they mean is that it isn't losing as much as the other divisions.

ziggy-mandias
ziggy-mandias


@stevie456 @Tauu Thats not a TRUTH that is ONE PERSON's Opinion. ITs like me saying TRUTH PC's are absolutely Crap down to having to always upgrading to play games at decent levels and the crappiest OS out on the market.


Just because you say TRUTH doesn't mean its fact.