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Ninty went from their best-selling console/handheld to worst-selling console/handheld in one gen. Why?

BlackTron

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Famously, Iwata had to tweet a picture of the Wii U console unit after their reveal presentation because journos still weren't sure if it was a new console or not. It didn't help that the system never appeared once in that initial reveal.
I could've swown I saw it in the initial reveal video. It was just intentionally subdued and given a backseat. You know they intentionally did this to put the focus on the controller, an example of their hubris in assuming the whole world had the same context of what the video was about as inside Nintendo.

I recall it appearing under a TV, looking exactly like a regular Wii console tucked back there. You could even guess showing it in this limited sense ADDED confusion because it looked so similar to Wii when it did appear.
 

Ogbert

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Feb 21, 2018
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The actual anomaly is that the wii sold so much.

It was lightening in a bottle - even pensioners bought it. An outlier, like how PS2 basically doubled its sales as it was a cheap dvd player.
 

Stefan.North

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Why? Bad karma, of course.

Bunch of brain age and blue ocean bullc*ap biten them in the ass eventually. Soccer moms and casual hipsters aren't loyal customers of gaming products. They were buying Wii (still hate that name) for novelty factor and because it was "in". But once it faded away they didn't care about the successor that was not that talked about and looked kinda "meh" with cluncky wannabe iPad controler.
 

JoeyWestSide

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Wii lifetime sales: 101 million
DS lifetime sales: 154 million

Wii U lifetime sales: 13 million
3DS lifetime sales: 75 million

I think "oh, it's because the casuals vanished" is far too simplistic of an answer. Curious to hear what people think, because most industry pundits write it off as "the casuals" and do not dig any further. I believe that -- internally -- Nintendo's own leadership misunderstood or willfully ignored the reasons for the Wii/DS successes, leading to the failures of the Wii U/3DS. Seems like this historic rise and downfall is just a footnote for most gamers.
For me it was money. Didn't have it. Always wanted a U and 3ds. Now I have a switch and am glad they are porting over Wii U games. Still want to get Mario U Deluxe.
 
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Ten_Fold

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when I worked in retail most people assumed the wiiU was a Wii ad on that cost too much, the games was good after a year, but with the ps4/Xbox coming out and the wiiU graphics was too similar to the ps3/360 which was like 05/06 graphics. Also the price was too damn high, should’ve been $249 and dropped to $199. As for the 3DS I think 75m is a good number, maybe it could’ve gotten more but phone games was starting to get big so a lot of casuals wasn’t looking to carry around something else to play games on anymore.
 
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joe_zazen

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I do admire Mr. Iwata's innovation. I'll never forget that first Wii Sports experience, and gaming has been reshaped, for me, by Nintendo Switch.
So fun with the S/O. Such good memories of the wii. I still remember the day we bought one, and the miis she made of our now dead dogs. :heartglow:

She also made hitler stalin and buffy the vampire slayer. Always funny when they’d show up in a frisbee game or whatever, lol.

Nintendo will always bring something new to the experience. SNES was shoulder buttons, N64 was joystick, GCN was analog shoulder triggers (I think), Wii was motion and IR, and the future will hopefully build upon the Switch concept.
Maybe. Chances are that nintendo is in the mature, bureaucratic phase of corporate progression: so expect iterations on proven strategies to maximise roi with acceptable risk. I could be wrong, and Nintendo could have another big balled madman at the helm, but the odds are against it. Those people almost exclusively founders or people hand picked by the founder.

risk takers can drive a company into the ground, so maybe it is a good thing.
 
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PocoJoe

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Wiiu = bad name, expensive, low power
3ds= expensive

Both = maybe people are just bored of mario after mario. Yes, mario always sells but variety of games sell to wider audience

I would add switch to this list as a partly failure. Sells well on few areas, sells almost or worse like Wiiu on some.

Even wiiu were sold out in my country, but in my knowledge switch never sold out, even at launch day.

Switchs problem is that while it combines both world, it also gets problems of both world.

Too big to be real handheld, too weak to be real console.

Also, whom plays handheld games on the go anymore? Never seen anybody playing switch so it must be just in home use for 99% and then portability is useless, unless playing on toilet is your thing
 
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trikster40

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I was working in a game store at the time. Nintendo did a horrible job marketing the Wii U as a new generation. Same controllers, just a new box that I have to pay more money for? I don’t need a tablet to play Wii Sports, and boom lost sales.

If they had called the system anything else other than Wii U, it would probably have sold 4-5 times those numbers.
 

Rolling_Start

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Jul 25, 2019
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Since the failure of the GC Nintendo have been trying to jump to an unoccupied position in the market, somewhere in the predicted future, somewhere to the side of where the market is likely to be.

That's double hard, but it's the only place they can shape their own market and be themselves. High risk, but their only chance to shine.

WiiU was a bad call, but not a fundamentally terrible idea. The technology just wasn't ready and the idea wasn't refined enough.

Existing outside the box isn't an easy or risk free existence. You have to root for Nintendo. They're the only specialised gaming company left rocking hardware, mainstream games and taking enormous chances every generation!
 
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Aug 29, 2007
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I still think the naming convention of going from the Wii to Wii U was an absolute disaster of a decision. The Mario game that released with the system was also tremendously sub-par. People who enjoyed the Wii for its motion controls and games were probably left wondering why bother. It definitely didn't send the same kind of casual fun message.
 

Knightime_X

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I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard people say they wished they could buy the video controller separately for their wii instead of buying another wii console video controller bundle.
 

Azelover

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I think the value proposition was off.

They take a gamble with their approach of not going the "normal" route, which is just making the hardware more powerful. They look for other value that can be explored, and that is risky. Therefore, it's not gonna always work.

For the Wii U they tried the console-tablet approach, and the public didn't like it. The 3DS focused on 3D visuals, and that was a miss as well. It's just inevitable. It has more risk, so more often than not what you're creating hardware-wise may not work. And for the 3DS and WiiU especially, it didn't work. They weren't compelling value propositions.
 
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TGO

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I think naming it Wii U was a big problem.
Without offering nothing new a lot of people thought it was a upgrade to that thing they put away in the cupboard after two months of use.
 
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Azelover

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I think naming it Wii U was a big problem.
Without offering nothing new a lot of people thought it was a upgrade to that thing in they put away in the after two months of use.
That was the initial problem, but honestly if that was all, they could have turned it around with good software and proper marketing at some point.

When I bought a WiiU and set it up, I immediately saw what the problem was. The controller was cumbersome, and it served as an anchor for the Wii U. Nobody wanted to deal with it, and it was long process to set it up too. The marketing was bad in the beginning but it ran deeper than that. The console itself didn't carry so much value.
 

ReBurn

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Wii was the pet rock of its time and was a total fad and the gimmick sold it. It sold a lot, but it really wasn't all that great and pretty much all of the good software came from Nintendo. The piles of traded Wiis for sale in game stores was absurd when Nintendo abandoned it to shovelware. Wii U sales were way more realistic for the hardware capabilities and probably where Wii would have been without the marketing campaign.
 

SLoWMoTIoN

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Which is embarrassingly bad 6 years after the fact, thats far from decent hw

Back in 2017 it was decent not bleeding edge mind you but not an archaic pos like the wiiu was either.
It is weaker than the xbox one ffs. I like my Switch and the games so far but good god what I would have given for a real console without a gimmick.
 
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Jan 25, 2018
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Because it was crap, a console that makes you look away from the TV screen is an inherently stupid idea to being with.

It's confounding that Nintendo didn't simply just make a Wii 2 with better graphics and more advanced motion controls, but I'm not complaining, honestly it's a blessing in disguise as I never cared much for motion controls and I'm glad we're back to just using a normal controller, for the most part, again.
 
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TUROK

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I'm a little surprised by the 3DS numbers. They're very respectable but I was expecting something in the 100 million range, since Nintendo always seems to have that market locked down.

Wouldn't be surprised if phone gaming really did take some of the steam out of it.
 

SLoWMoTIoN

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Because it was crap, a console that makes you look away from the TV screen is an inherently stupid idea to being with.

It's confounding that Nintendo didn't simply just make a Wii 2 with better graphics and more advanced motion controls, but I'm not complaining, honestly it's a blessing in disguise as I never cared much for motion controls and I'm glad we're back to just using a normal controller, for the most part, again.
The joycons are an abomination. Make sure you get the Machina ones if you play handheld mode.
 

Thurible

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Aug 15, 2018
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I get if people cannot see the 3D effects properly or if it causes them discomfort, but for the others I cannot understand why you would play games like SM3DLand and Zelda (even TOoT) without the 3D mode...
It can enchance the game, but more often than not it isn't something that is necessary for gameplay. Though it can be cool if used right!
 
Mar 26, 2010
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WiiU has some excellent games, and I love the system, but that's despite the gamepad, not because of it. For example, I had a wonderful time playing Xenoblade Chronicles X earlier this year, and I used the pro controller for 95% of that time, leaning over to awkwardly interact with the gamepad when its features became relevant for the map or travel function or whatever it was I needed. That's usually how it goes for me when playing a WiiU game. Nintendo presumed that if they just make this different style of controller, developers will find ways to utilize it that offer unique gaming experiences. Maybe they could have, but the second it was clear the system wasn't a runaway hit, every third party developer stopped taking Iwata-San's calls.

So I wanna say it failed because the gamepad is trash. But...My gut tells me that's not true. I think even if there were some strong experiences tied to the gamepad early on, it would have failed anyway. Reasons like not launching with a strong new Zelda game, an assumption that the "Wii brand" meant anything to anybody after motion controls were basically dead, weak or confusing marketing, the fickleness of that large new market of non-core gamers who are much more enticed by a crappy free game than a good expensive game...I think there were a lot of factors at play and it doesn't come down to one thing.
 

nush

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I'm a little surprised by the 3DS numbers. They're very respectable but I was expecting something in the 100 million range, since Nintendo always seems to have that market locked down.

Wouldn't be surprised if phone gaming really did take some of the steam out of it.
It did get to the point where whenever you saw someone playing a DS in public, kids or adults alike the back of the console always looked like this.




Software attach rate is probably a more accurate indicator of the DS actual success the gap between it and 3DS might not be as wide as it appears by HW numbers alone.
 
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Leonidas

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Wii lifetime sales: 101 million
DS lifetime sales: 154 million

Wii U lifetime sales: 13 million
3DS lifetime sales: 75 million
Sony went from their best selling console/handheld to worst selling console/handheld in one gen, why?

PS2 lifetime sales: 158m
PSP lifetime sales: 80m

PS3 lifetime sales: ~87m
Vita lifetime sales: ~13m
 
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Fbh

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It always felt like after doing so well with the DS and Wii they seemed convinced the key to their success was all about the gimmicks. They tried to replicate their success with other gimmicky systems that failed to capture the same marker.

The Wii was underpowered but made up for it with unique motion controls and the unique types of games they enabled. The WiiU (on top of having a terrible name and marketing) was also underpowered but what it had to "make up for it" was a weird, bulky controller with terrible battery life and range that even they seemed to struggle to utilize. On top of that they seemed to focus it towards core gamers that were eagerly waiting for next gen by presenting them a system that felt designed to compete with the dying PS3 and 360.

As for the 3DS. I don't see it as a failure even if it didn't do the same numbers. Biggest issue IMO was the price early on which I imagine was influenced by the gimmicky 3D screen, I think the market would have reacted better to a cheaper 2DS style system that was just advertised as a straightforward followup to the DS.
Also, you can't ignore the effect of tablets and phones. The DS launched 3 years before the iPhone, the 3DS launched when mobile gaming was already big
 

Greedings

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It’s impossible to overlook the mobile gaming market. That MUST have had a huge impact on Nintendo.

I won’t say anything about the WiiU, I think it’s pretty well covered here. However the 3DS suffered from a bit of a media attack.

I remember reading article after article about how the 3D would ruin children’s eyes and destroy their vision for life.
 
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SonGoku

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It is weaker than the xbox one ffs. I like my Switch and the games so far but good god what I would have given for a real console without a gimmick.
I agree with your desire for a console but Nintendo cant support two platforms and handhelds have always been their biggest money maker
For a handheld is decent but sub native rez games bring it down a notch
 
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Apexhell

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to this day people still think the 3ds is also a ds revision.
it was the naming conventions of both.
anyway yes I do think it was the casuals, they all left to mobile. the above sony numbers comment also points to this many casual people bought ps2 and psp. and had a big drop as well.
 
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SLoWMoTIoN

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I agree with your desire for a console but Nintendo cant support two platforms and handhelds have always been their biggest money maker
For a handheld is decent but sub native rez games bring it down a notch
XC4 better run at 30fps. :/
 

newtypepilot

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combination of reasons:
- atrocious marketing and naming led to confusion among consumers (especially the casuals which make up a good portion of Nintendo's market). A lot of people thought WiiU was just a Wii with a tablet style controller, or that 3DS is just a DS with a 3D screen. (to add even more confusion, Nintendo would later release the 2DS.)
- price. Underpowered hardware that is more expensive than the competition which has better hardware.
- many of the casuals just went to mobile
- the motion control fad had faded away.
- lack of quality games. Almost zero 3rd party support.
- Nintendo's archaic views on youtube and other video content, insisting on abusing the copyright strike system and falsely claiming other people's videos which limited the console's exposure.
 
Oct 14, 2010
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What the Wii U had to offer just didn't have the same appeal as motion controlled casual games. If they had focused on upgrading what made the Wii appealing to casual audiences instead of an inferior touch screen experience then maybe it could have been successful. Also just name it the Wii 2, there's really no need to try and be too clever.

Boomers want to pretend they're throwing a baseball, they don't want touch enhanced inventory management in a zombie game. There was some of that on the Wii U but it wasn't the focus.
 
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HoodWinked

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Wii-U was ass the hardware was expensive considering the specs and it's gimmick doesn't have as much universal appeal as the Wii did. The product naming was also stupid.

The 3DS was excellent but it also was severely impacted by the mobile gaming market. This is probably the time parents were handing down their phones to their kids that were gaming capable.

The success of the switch is more that it was able to consolidate it's console user base and their handheld user base. So it's kind of a net loss if seen from that perspective.
 

nush

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to this day people still think the 3ds is also a ds revision.
Three-DS was too clever for it's own good as a name, falls into the same ballpark as Wii-U when it came to naming the consoles. You just know whatever meeting they had at Nintendo when they were thinking of the name for the new consoles had the same people in it.
 
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petran79

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If you add that Switch is basically a desktop/handheld hybrid without any handheld companion (gb, gbc, GBA, ds, 3ds) and zero competition from Sony and other companies,36 million sales in 2 years and 3 months are average too. Let's see whether the cheaper Switch revisions will give the console more momentum.
 

Mattyp

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It was slightly better than PS360 in terms of raw visuals, but apparently very difficult to get there unless you were Nintendo.
Going to need to see the comparisons on that.

People asking weather the Switch is under powered in here to? Considering it's same gen as PS5 and Scarlet? yes its underpowered as fuck. They could of at least given us xbox one levels of performance.
 

mcjmetroid

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For the Wii U:
  • The Wii U had a really poor marketing campaign with confusing messaging.
But here's the thing, besides the name (Which I guess could be seen as marketing overall) the whole console was confusing.

Even though the console has been out for years and I've used it for years, I myself would still struggle to come out with a decent ad to sell the WiiU to people.

For me as a big Nintendo fan it was like:

"Wait a minute for multiplayer one player has the big tablet and the rest use... Controllers? Wiimotes? What?
Does every player have to have one of these tablets to make multiplayer fair?
Why would I want to make a controller with a screen on it anyway?"

All these sort of questions would be ok if the system rivalled the Xbox one at least in power but not a chance. It was even getting worse ports to 360 and PS3 games a lot of the time with missing features.

No games properly took advantage of the controller besides mini games compilations in multiplayer which usually consisted of hide and seek games as far as I can tell.

It's pretty obviously what happened here. They tested out the concept for the Switch years before, realised they would have to release the console at an insane price for the tech at the time and quickly released this confusing console in the meantime because they HAD to release something.

My point is I cannot imagine the world's greatest marketing team making the WiiU sell any better than it did.
 
Dec 25, 2018
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Nintendo upset their true fanbase with the Wii (the ones that bought the N64 and older), to which many decided to skip the Wii U's Casual approach.

When I had one there were a lot of Teens using the Wii U so I am guessing they had obtained some new fans from the Wii Era but not enough retained to offset the fans who bought the consoles from the N64 and older era (Gamecube likely lost a lot of the fanbase too but not as badly as the Wii U did).