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Op-Ed: The Wii U Is In Trouble Right Now

The Wii U Is In Trouble Right Now

A Sales Trend Op-Ed

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

My day job has me working in retail and the city in which I live (Buffalo, NY) is one that I would qualify as a metropolitan area far more dependent on home entertainment than the average “bigger” city in the United States.  There aren’t many things to do besides dinners and movies, half the year is virtually shut down due to winter and our sport teams, well; the best they ever accomplished was losing in championship games (which BTW, happened a LONG time ago).  Thus, I view the local sales trends of electronics in a community like this to be quite telling of North American trends when it comes to the video game industry. 

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Yay!  I have something to do Friday night!

I remember when the Wii was released in November of 2006 and how rabid consumers were in acquiring units.  There were lines every day in front of the store and people were quite sensitive to being denied their Wii’s when their “online sources” clearly stated our location had units on hand.  Nintendo will always be popular thanks to Mario and Zelda (but really Link) and the fact that the GameCube was such a disastrous venture combined with the alternative at the time being a $400-$600 investment in a PS3 set a very favorable sales scenario for the good folks at Nintendo Land for the Wii.  The Wii marketed itself to the non-core gamer right off the bat with immense success thanks to the pedestrian simplicity of its motion control system.  It was literally sold on grandparents who could tolerate this manner of devil’s box in their apartments because it afforded them the pleasure of no-effort bowling via Wii Sports while giving the grand kids another reason to stop by every once in a while.  It was cheap, it was new, it was something different, it seemed fun and all of its software was priced $10 less expensive than the competition.  These are the reasons why the Wii (a non HD console) dominated this last generation in terms of sales.

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Nintendo: a brand safe for children and geriatrics.

That is until April of 2012 when Nintendo reported its first annual loss since 1981.  According to the LA Times, Nintendo recorded a $534.6 million loss on $8 billion in revenue.  Last year, it recorded $960.5 million profit on $12.6 billion in sales.  The sales were clearly slipping for Nintendo earlier in the year, and you can attribute that directly to a lack of quality software releases to keep consumer confidence up.  But, perhaps Nintendo was merely biding its time so as to shift its attention to the release of a brand new console this past November which would solve all its fiscal troubles, right?  The Wii U had 7 days of sales in November and in that first week, 425,000 units were sold according to Digital Digest, but that’s off the pace from the Wii’s 475,000 unit mark in 2006.  Yes, yes, the Wii U is $50 more expensive at launch than the Wii, but it also has zero competition as XBOX 720 and the PS4 are slated for release next year.  There’s no question that the Wii U’s launch was impressive, but I can’t help but think Nintendo was looking for better numbers than these.  Plus, one must take into account the honeymoon grace period of new electronics.  Nothing about the Wii U’s sales thus far indicate anything more than the newness of the product rather than its uniqueness to account for its popularity.  Anything can sell as a flavor of the week for the short term, but sales over a year or longer are attributed to good merchandise.

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People were excited about Wii U . . . at one point.

So the Wii U is selling units right now thanks to no console alternatives, but are these enough preemptive sales to be relevant when placed next to the 720 and PS4?  Obviously, Nintendo thinks so as being the first console to incorporate tablet technology continues to shout, “Hey we’re Nintendo and we do different things like this!”  That’s wonderful, but for real world consumers, tablets, e-readers and smart phones are also competitors to home consoles because they are still electronic forms of entertainment despite being mobile devices.  If Nintendo truly believes that consumers do not recognize a clear distinction that separates these technologies, Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s President had best begin preparing his golden parachute.  The novelty of Nintendo’s tablet integration wears out pretty quickly when everyone realizes it can’t do too much without its home box being plugged into the wall.  Perhaps this is Nintendo’s way of acknowledging the fact that consumers enjoy using their mobile devices in the comfort of their own homes, but without the independent functionality of a 3DS, the Wii U’s tablet isn’t impressive and certainly not a system selling mechanic akin to motion control.

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Maybe I shouldn’t have said the Wii U would have a less than stellar start.

I invite the reader to jump on eBay so as to observe the price gougers attempting to make a quick buck off the Wii U.  During the release week, consumers saw ridiculous price hikes by those who were fortunate to purchase a unit on a first come/first serve basis.  As of this article’s writing, the 126 auctions featuring mostly Wii U Deluxe bundles are plentiful and almost all of them are trending well below reservation prices set by the sellers.  The gougers will be lucky to have sold their investment for the same price they purchased it and do you know why?  People are having no problems finding the Wii U at any retailer because they are simply not flying off the shelves.  Apparently the Wii U’s system shortage as reported by IHS Screen Digest didn’t take into account a lack of consumer interest as Nintendo attempts a sales goal of 3.5 million units before the end of 2012.  I was amazed at how fortunate I was to get my hands on a Wii U because it was something new.  However, I soon realized I had no use for this device and knew of no one that would accept this as a gift.  I returned my Wii U a week later and I wasn’t the only one in line doing so.

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The Wii U: a less than thrilling experience?

If the Wii U is not setting sales records now, at launch, with no competition, the only thing it will have left in its arsenal to remain relevant in the coming years is a significant price cut when the other consoles release in 2013.  This will happen because Nintendo quickly slashed the 3DS price point when so few consumers were buying into it that PS Vita sales actually started gaining ground.  The value of price cutting the Wii U will only be determined once we find out exactly what the 720 and PS4 will do and how much they will cost.  If both consoles have miniscule advances in functionality and performance, both units will launch at higher price points and Nintendo has nothing to worry about.  If both units do something much more (and I’m not even including the presumed Blu Ray playback on both units), regardless of price, Wii U prices will fall. 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:4762:]]The ultimate reason why I believe the Wii U is in trouble right now boils down to one thing: software.  Sure, the Wii U has a very large list of launch titles, but how many of those are simple remixes of games that have been out on other systems, including its own in the Wii?  Where’s the originality?  Where’s that new system selling software that can only be had on the Wii U?  That title was meant to be Zombie U, but has met with some very unimpressive reviews from multiple sources that highlight repetitive gameplay, zero story and an overall dull experience.

Games are the reasons why people purchase game systems and the decision to play a game on one platform vs. another is based on subtle nuances in hardware functions.  People play PC for the best graphics and computing performance.  People play XBOX for shooter popularity.  People play Playstation for Blu Ray, free online and great exclusives.  People play Nintendo for Mario . . . and that’s just about it.  There is no evidence to suggest that this will be any different for the Wii U seeing how New Super Mario Bros. Wii U is its best seller.  Further evidence to suggest the Wii U’s software woes come from James Hardiman from Longbow Research who calculated a 1.2 software tie per system sold at launch.  Only the PS3 had a worse tie-ratio with a rate of 1.1 with the original Wii showing 2.0 and the XBOX 360 blowing everyone away with a rate of 3.9 at launch.  If the Wii U isn’t selling any software for its system now, can we expect the real games to come out next year when consumers know more complex, satisfying and adult-oriented games are typical of XBOX and Playstation?

Nintendo isn’t dead and the Wii U could be a system worth investing in; just not right now.  It remains to be seen if Nintendo can think outside the box enough with its first party licenses because it clearly has no interest in giving third party developers real support.  A Pokémon MMO would be amazing.  Another Mario based RPG would be incredible.  These are the sort of ideas that Nintendo fans want with a new system, but all that’s been delivered thus far is redundancy.  But of course, the only thing Nintendo is more intimate with than Mario IS redundancy: Nintendo DS, DS Lite, DSI, DSI XL, 3DS and 3DS XL come to mind.  What would Nintendo’s next iteration be in the line of Wii and Wii U when the hardware differences are equally subtle?

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:4764:]][[wysiwyg_imageupload:4766:]]<– In case you were wondering about your options for next year.

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Wal-Mart 2012 Black Friday Ad: PS3, iPad, XBox 360, Wii, More Deals (View)

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It’s getting close to that time of year again, Black Friday, and Wal-Mart has already released its ad for the big sale.

Among some of the hot Black Friday items this year are, once again, the PS3, XBox 360, iPad, the Wii and a host of other electronic products.

We see this year for Black Friday at Wal-Mart, the discounts will be going into effect starting on Thanksgiving at 8pm, two hours earlier than last year.

In addition, Wal-Mart will be rolling out discounts in three phases over a span of three hours.

Staring at 8pm on Thursday, the deals will be best for toys, games, home goods and clothing. At 10pm starts electronics, and at 11 pm three special deals will be guaranteed for people that are in the store: Apple iPad2 16GB with Wi-Fi for $399 plus get a $75 Walmart gift card; Emerson 32″ 720p LCD TV for $148 and LG Blu-ray Player for $38.

Among some of the more interesting Black Friday discounts available at Wal-Mart:

50″ LCD Emerson for $298 1080p

Samsung Galaxy for $129

XBox 360 Skylander Bundle for $149

Sony Playstation (PS3) Bundle For $199

Wii for $89

Video games for PS3, XBOx 360 and Wii ranging from 10-$25

I don’t see the Wii U listed as a Black Friday item at Wal-Mart, but it’s priced at $299.96.

Here’s the Wal-Mart Black Friday ad. Click to enlarge and launch viewer:

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Men In Black 3: Alien Crisis Video Game Gets May 25th Release Date

Press Release

 

ACTIVISION RELEASES NEW DETAILS FOR UPCOMING MEN IN BLACKTM VIDEOGAME
 

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London, UK – 4th April, 2012 – In anticipation of the release of the film Men in Blackâ„¢ 3, in 3D in cinemas 25th May 2012, Activision today announced that the videogame Men In Black: Alien Crisisâ„¢ will hit shelves on 25th May for the PlayStation®3 system with PlayStation®Move support, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Wiiâ„¢ system from Nintendo. To maximize ultimate agent gameplay, all versions of the game are compatible with the Top Shot Elite peripheral, the PlayStation®3 version is also compatible with the PlayStation®Move sharp shooter and the Wii version with the Wii Zapperâ„¢.

In Men In Black: Alien Crisis, players take on the role as Peter Delacoeur, a MIB Agent in training, assigned to unearth enemy aliens who are planning to destroy planet Earth. With hidden surveillance and stealthy guards on the prowl, players must ambush confidential alien intelligence and stop all alien attacks. Men In Black: Alien Crisis brings exciting, realistic MIB Agent movements as players shoot, and dodge their way through action-packed levels to escape fierce alien assaults.   Additionally, all platforms feature two-player split-screen gameplay and four-person “hot-seat” competitive action for awesome friends and family involvement.

To create a completely authentic Men in Black world and tone, Activision aligned with Jeff Gomez and Mark S. Pensavalle’s Starlight Runner Entertainment, Inc. to create the story and script of the upcoming videogame. Starlight Runner, a leading creator and producer of highly successful transmedia franchises, was selected by Sony Pictures to work in concert with the filmmakers to provide a single voice to the Men in Black universe with the upcoming film and related properties.

Men In Black: Alien Crisis will be available 25th May for PlayStation®3 system with PlayStation®Move support, Xbox 360, and Wii. This game is rated PEGI 12+. For more information on the game, please visit 
www.activision.com.

In the film  Men in Black 3, Agents J and K are back… in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K’s life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him – secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind. Barry Sonnenfeld directs the film. The film’s screenplay is written by Etan Cohen, based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham.  Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald produce, and Steven Spielberg and G. Mac Brown are the executive producers.

About Activision Publishing, Inc.
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Publishing, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products.

Activision maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, South Korea, China and the region of Taiwan. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company’s website, 
www.activision.com.

About Sony Pictures Consumer Products
Sony Pictures Consumer Products manages the studio’s film and television merchandising, licensing and retail opportunities for Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. for current and library properties by working with manufacturers (licensees) and retailers to create quality products and services and increase consumer awareness.

About Starlight Runner Entertainment
Starlight Runner Entertainment, Inc. (), founded by Jeff Gomez and Mark Pensavalle, is the world’s leading creator and producer of highly successful transmedia franchises, maximizing the value of entertainment properties and consumer brands by preparing them for extension across multiple media platforms. Starlight Runner Entertainment also produces animated and live-action feature films, as well as digital content. The company packages books, comics and graphic novels, and develops videogames and alternate reality experiences with world-renowned partners and clients. Since the company launch in 2000, Starlight Runner has been commissioned by corporate giants including Disney (Pirates of the CaribbeanTron Legacy), Hasbro (Transformers), 20th Century Fox (Avatar) and Coca-Cola (Happiness Factory), offering guidance on how to expand and broaden storyline universes of intellectual properties that can then be marketed in concert across a variety of platforms.  

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Wal-Mart Black Friday 2011: PS3/XBox Under 200 Bucks; Kinect/Wii under $100

picYes! That dreadful day is almost upon us, once again.

People will get trampled! Little children will be lost!

All for the sake of getting your loved ones a gift at a bargain!

Happy Holidays, indeed!

Wal-Mart has released a “preview” of their Black Friday specials, and included with that are a few pretty good deals!

Both PS3 and XBox360 are listed under 200 bucks at $199.96 each, with the Wii and Kinect for sale at $99.96.

Games also range from $10-$28 dollars.

Skylanders for the Wii is listed at under $50, which is a deal as the regular price is around $70, I believe. I think Skylanders is a pretty hot toy/game this year as I have already noticed it gone from my local store’s shelves — and my kids can’t stop raving about it when they see the store display.

Anything else that looks good?

Blu-Ray player for $49.

51″ flat screen for under $500. 

Ping Pong table for $67! Nice.

The sales for video games actually begin on Thursday at 10pm and last all day Friday. Wal-Mart has further deals that go into effect at the regular time of 12:01am on Friday night.

So how many will be skipping out on turkey dinner early to get in line?!

Me? No way!

Related:: Target has released their ad.

Best Buy has released their ad.

K-Mart has released their ad.

Check out the full ad (click any image to enlarge and launch viewer):

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Captain America: Super Soldier Screen Shots for DS, Wii, XBox, PS3

Sega released a bunch of screen shots to the Captain America: Super Soldier video game for the Nintendo DS, XBox 360 and PS3.

Click images to enlarge.

Head on over here for the trailer.

Captain America: Super Soldier is available July 19th, 2011 for PS3, XBox, Wii and Nintendo DS followed by the premiere of Captain America: First Avenger on July 23rd.

Synopsis:

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