Nintendo's Wii dominated the last generation of consoles, selling 100 million units, compared to around 80 million each for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But so far in this generation, the PlayStation 4's 7 million units sold is already ahead of the Wii U's latest confirmed sales figure of 6.17 million, despite Sony's console launching an entire year after Nintendo's. How can Nintendo improve its fortunes and come out on top this console generation? That's the question IGN put to Nintendo of America executive Reggie Fils-Aime during a recent interview.
"It's all about content," Fils-Aime said. "For us, if you look back at what we were able to do during the Wii generation. What we're able to do with DS. What we're doing now with 3DS. It's about content. It's about content that widens the footprint for the platform. It's about content that drives the install base. And as we do that, guess what? People buy hardware."
Reggie said as people buy Wii U consoles, they'll talk with their friends about the "great experiences that they're having," and this will in turn lead to even more sales, he argued. He went on to suggest that though the Wii U has gotten off to a slower start than Nintendo might have wanted, it doesn't mean the console can't reach 100 million units sold someday.
"That's what we did with the Wii. That's what we did with the DS on a global basis. That's what we're looking to do with both 3DS and Wii U, but it starts with content," Fils-Aime said. "And that's why, for us, at events like E3, our developers spend so much time talking about the content and how we're driving innovation there."
Explaining why the Wii U may have gotten off to a slow start, Fils-Aime acknowledged that games like Super Mario 3D World, Wii Fit U, Pikmin 3, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD were all late to market. "These are all games that we wanted to launch earlier in the system's life," he said. As a result, Nintendo was unable to gather sufficient momentum.
But this is now changing. Mario Kart 8 launched in late May and sold more than 2 million copies during its first month. The game also drove some "very nice momentum" for Nintendo's business overall, Fils-Aime said. Looking ahead, Nintendo will look to games like Bayonetta 2 and the new Super Smash Bros. game for continued growth. "We think it's this pace of product launch that we need to really drive momentum for Wii U," Fils-Aime said.
But it's not just about games for Nintendo. The company will launch an ambitious toys-to-life initiative called amiibo later this year.
Here's how console sales compare for the Big Three right now.
- Wii U - 6.17 million systems sold as of March 31
- PS4 - 7 million systems sold as of April 6, 2014
- Xbox One - 3 million systems sold as of December 31, 2013; 5 million shipped as of April 2014
Do you think the Wii U can catch up to the PS4? Let us know in the comments below!