* Game console sold out in retail stores, Nintendo says
* Introduced in North America on Nov. 18
By Malathi Nayak
Nov 26 Nintendo Co Ltd sold more than
400,000 "Wii U" video game consoles in the United States in the
first week of its release, the money-losing company that badly
needs a hit to lift its fortunes, said on Monday.
Nintendo, which has gradually ceded ground to Microsoft
Corp's industry-leading Xbox 360, introduced the Wii U
with a touchscreen controller at a time when the video game
industry is under threat from a growing smartphone and tablet
"The Wii U is effectively sold out at retail...we are
gratified by the consumer response," Reggie Fils-Aime, president
of Nintendo of America said in an interview about the Nov. 18
release in North American stores.
The company revealed only United States sales for the Wii U,
successor to the Wii that was released in 2006. Wii has been a
bonanza for Nintendo, with more than 97 million sold, although
demand had tapered off in recent years.
Wii U's success or failure will also provide clues to rivals
Sony Corp and Microsoft as to whether advanced games
machines can withstand the challenge from mobile devices.
"It's pretty much sold out and that's a testament to a large
and loyal fan base," Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter
The Wii U is probably Nintendo's biggest bet in the last 20
years as a company and keeping the sales momentum going after
the holiday shopping season could be a challenge, Jesse Divnich,
an analyst at video game research firm EEDAR, said.
WII VERSUS WII U
The results are "comparable" to Wii sales in its first week
in 2006, but it was early to do an apples-to-apples comparison,
according to Nintendo's Fils-Aime.
"At this point in the life of the Wii U, its sales are based
on how quickly we can get the product to retailers," he said.
Nintendo said it sold 475,000 units of the Wii in the United
States after its introduction in November 2006 compared with
400,000 for Wii U in the past week.
Looking at signs on the grey market, the Wii U is selling on
sites like Ebay at more than 10 to 20 percent of the suggested
retail price. By comparison, the Wii sold 25 to 30 percent over
the retail price in 2006.
The Wii U, Nintendo's first new gaming console in six years,
has had a few hiccups. Shortly after it hit store shelves,
buyers complained on blogs and on Twitter of technical hitches
such as excruciatingly slow software download speeds. It also
initially sold absent some much-touted TV-related features and
The selling points have been a tablet-like touch screen
"GamePad" controller, a social network called Miiverse and a
feature termed TVii that lets users record TV shows through TiVo
and other digital recording services.
Before introducing Wii U, Nintendo told American consumers
that the TVii application would only be available in December.
In addition to the basic 8 gigabyte model costing $299.99,
Nintendo is selling a "deluxe" 32 GB version for $349.99 in the
United States and 31,500 yen in Japan. The "deluxe" package will
include its new Nintendo land game.
Nintendo is offering 23 original games for the Wii U. The
machine is the first Nintendo console to launch with a dedicated
"Super Mario" game title in 16 years. Third-party titles include
Ubisoft Entertainment SA's exclusive Wii U title,
Zombie U, and Activision Blizzard Inc's Call of Duty:
Black Ops 2.
Before the new devices hit store shelves, Nintendo conducted
a massive advertising campaign on television and social media,
with marketing tie-ups with Burger King Worldwide Inc
and Walt Disney Co.
It also dressed people up as animated characters from its
MiiVerse network who were spotted around New York City inviting
fans to check the console. Nintendo set up kiosks in malls and
retails stores to give gamers a chance to play the Wii U.
MOBILE DEVICE INVASION
Growing competition from tablet PCs and smartphones that are
increasingly eating into the $78 billion gaming market mean the
Japanese company might struggle to repeat the hit it had with
the Wii and keep the holiday sales momentum going into 2013 and
But Fils-Aime said Nintendo would leverage its exclusive
franchises such as its legendary Super Mario Bros and Pikmin to
draw gamers to the Wii U.
"We'll be able to continue driving momentum for Wii U as
these are experiences that they can't get on smartphones and
tablets," Fils-Aime said.
Moreover, Nintendo -- which began in 1889 making playing
cards in the back streets of Kyoto before gaining popularity as
the creator of the "Super Mario" franchise -- will compete with
a new Microsoft Xbox and updated Sony Corp Playstation expected
in 2013. Wii U goes on sale in Japan on Dec. 8 for about $340.