It Looks Like Nintendo Has Given Up on the Wii U

Last week, in a piece entitled "Nintendo Probably Can't Save the Wii U," Time noted the precarious situation of Nintendo's (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) latest living room video game console, concluding that the platform appeared destined for failure.


This has been overwhelmingly obvious to anyone who has been following the industry, even in passing, and it's something I've been pointing out for months. Barring a miracle, the Wii U is set to become Nintendo's worst-selling living room video game console of all time, and its second worst-selling video game system in its history, surpassed in incompetence only by the quirky Virtual Boy.

Based on Nintendo's guidance, the company doesn't expect Wii U sales to turn around and, in fact, it looks to have already given up on the platform.

Rumors hint at new hardware
Last week, VideoGamer reported that Nintendo was planning to unveil a new console later this month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Nintendo officials subsequently denied the rumor, but not before it was picked up by a number of reputable gaming publications, including Gamespot.

In all likelihood, the rumor had no merit. Yet, if it had turned out to be true, it wouldn't be completely surprising.

Trends suggest disappointing lifetime sales
Nintendo said on Wednesday that it had sold just 6.17 million Wii U units since the console went on sale in November 2012. To put that in perspective, Sony sold more than 7 million PlayStation 4s in just the last six months despite carrying a higher price tag and offering fewer critically acclaimed games.

Nintendo only expects to sell 3.6 million Wii Us over the course of the next fiscal year. That seems reasonable, but given the company's penchant to overpromise (it had to reduce guidance for Wii U sales dramatically back in January), it's possible that it won't hit its target.

Even if it does sell 3.6 million additional Wii Us, Nintendo will have sold fewer than 10 million consoles over the system's first two-and-a-half years. A resurgence in the third and fourth year is possible but extremely unlikely.

Nintendo's last console, the Wii, sold more than 100 million units worldwide, but about half those sales occurred during its first two years. If Nintendo sells 10 million Wii Us by the end of fiscal year 2014 and then doubles those sales in the following years, it will have sold only 20 million units -- fewer than its previously most disappointing console, the Gamecube.

Of course, it's likely that sales will be even worse given that there's some degree of network effects in play. The fewer Wii Us in the hands of consumers, the less likely video game creators are to release games for the system, in turn encouraging fewer consumers to purchase one.

Nintendo could be getting ready to move on
There's another element to Nintendo's weak Wii U sale's forecast: It suggests that the company is gearing up to move on. Perhaps Nintendo is just being realistic, but if its management is offering conservative guidance, it may be because it's given up.

Mario Kart 8 will debut later this month, followed by Super Smash Bros. in the fall. An entry into Nintendo's famous Zelda franchise appears to be a given, but after that, will Nintendo still support the system? A price cut could help, but Nintendo ruled out that possibility back in January at its shareholder meeting.

Unlikely that Nintendo can save the Wii U? Yes. But worse than that, it doesn't look like it will even try.

The Wii U offers more than video games
In addition to playing Mario, Wii U owners can use the device to stream online video. As more content moves online, it appears cable is going away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple. 

Read/Post Comments (25) | Recommend This Article (12)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2014, at 3:20 PM, EricDeGrechie wrote:

    "It looks like Nintendo has given up on the Wii U."

    No, it doesn't.

    "Rumors hint at new hardware"

    Dispelled rumors which you yourself have already admitted probably don't have any merit. So scratch that.

    "Trends suggest disappointing lifetime sales"

    No one can dispute that people aren't buying it, but how does that suggest in any way that Nintendo has given up on it?

    "Nintendo could be getting ready to move on"

    Nothing you mentioned even comes close to suggesting Nintendo is going to move on from the Wii U earlier than expected.

    Troll article from a troll site. "The Motley Fool?" How redundant. No wonder your articles are written so poorly. You STUPID IDIOTS!

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 2:25 AM, andfisher wrote:

    'Struggling console is struggling.' Look at me, I'm the world's greatest analyst! I called it first. I am the best. Now here is a link to a TIME article.

    Try again.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 2:08 PM, jaymoney wrote:

    This web site has the perfect name because only a fool would come here for news. Nintendo said they are working on new hardware but would not release it till Wii U owners are satisfied. Great site to vist when you need a laugh. Funny that on here only Sony (which I love) can do anything right. Nintendo and Xbox always screw things up.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 2:32 PM, ohcomeonreally wrote:

    "...Nintendo was planning to unveil a new console later this month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo"

    E3 is in June. Journalism used to involve making at least a minor effort at researching what you write.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 2:43 PM, Monifang wrote:

    Abandoning it? That's not even close to what their doing! They are making a Skylanders like game for the wii U having used Pokemon Rumble U to test the software idea along with a lot of interesting games that are coming out this year. I'm tired of seeing all these 'Nintendo is going down' articles when yeah, they did take a bad hit with sales but they had that with the virtual boy and recovered.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 2:53 PM, virgilcole wrote:

    They need to drop the price by $100 to entice consumers to buy the system, and even though they will lose money in the process, the more Wii U consoles that are purchased the more third party support they will get, and that can never be a bad thing.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 3:16 PM, targeyone wrote:

    At it again, eh, Sam?

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 3:45 PM, mitchellrcole82 wrote:

    I think that if these fools actually responded to their comments we would see how click-bait happy they are. I think it is time Motley Fool answers to its readers!! I am removing my account and blocking all future articles from Motley Fool. To all those who are here complaining. Do the same and show Motley Fool they are truly fools

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 3:48 PM, dcole001 wrote:

    Over the next 6 Months you will see a $50 Price Drop on the Wii U. Also with Wii U bundling Mario Kart 8 you will see demand go back up. This console is actually quite advanced. Just think Nintendo did a very bad job of marketing it and have no lost the advantage of getting their console out before Xbox One and PS4. If you have kids under 12 I highly recommend this console over PS4 and Xbox one because most of the games are targeting kids 12 and younger.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 3:57 PM, yakslakovak wrote:

    Stop. Just stop. This whole article is pathetic and the Nintendo hating should cease.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 4:53 PM, ThatGuyRight1 wrote:

    Another one of the "Nintendo should go Sega...Sony can do no wrong, and Microsoft fails as bad as Nintendo" kind of articles from The Fool. Fitting name.

    The Wii U may be floundering, but remember the PS3? Oh wait, you forgot because Sony can do no wrong.

    Well for the rest of us, the PS3 was litterally dead in the water, and analysists called Sony idiots for releasing the PS3 Slim, since at the time there was no interest in the system and that Sony should just give up.

    It took alot of work to get the dead PS3 back up to speed, and it will take Nintendo alot of they can accomplish. They aren't going broke, they are far from it. They have enough banked to survive 10 generations of Wii Us.

    If you read between the lines, you can see the big N seems to be gearing up for unbundling the Gamepad from the system. Recent software updates have allowed the user to control the majority of the system without the gamepad...and most of the games that have required the gamepad in the past no longer do. It would seem this would allow a major price drop, theoretically to less than $200.

    The new hardware that is rumored...well its not rumored's confirmed to be a Nintendo console for developing's not going to be released in the 1st world.

    The Motley Fool has once again proven itself to be nothing more than a blog site, rather than a serious journalistic enterprise.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 4:57 PM, BHGamer wrote:

    I have been following video game companies rise and fall for many years, since the days of the demise of Sega in the hardware market and even a little before that getting into the Atari's hardware folly. Based upon everything I've seen now, and prior to the Wii-U, the user base of the Wii, how Nintendo catered to the non gamer and completely abandoned the core gamer, I still believe the Wii-U will be the companies last home console. If they were to completely abandon the Wii-U now and release a new system it would be devastating to them as a company as now not only have they completely abandoned the core group, which jumped to Sony and MS years ago, but now you pull a Sega ,and abandon your loyal group, that will now not buy a new system. So nobody's buying the Wii-U, even less people will buy a new Nintendo system.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 5:09 PM, poetluke wrote:

    hmm, I tell you, everyone gets mad at me or tells me im an idiot when I tell my story of the gamestop manager and his Nintendo representative. He knows im a big Nintendo fan, probably because im the only guy buying wiiu games. HE said, this HIS Nintendo rep told him that there was indeed a new Nintendo console on the way that would play 3ds games, wiiu games, plus a new media( for now lets call it Nintendo fusion games) I gotta say, its looking more and more that this Nintendo rep wasn't bsing.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 6:17 PM, 69ingRainbowDash wrote:

    The PS4 can only play watch dogs @30FPS on 1080p

    Where is that article? Or you just gonna leave that out and only bash xbox I take it?

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 6:38 PM, Manaphy2007 wrote:

    the wii u does not need a price cut, just need more games, 1st party games. they also do need a bit more 3rd party support and they do have indie support, maybe more is good. and also you "journalist" seem to hate nintendo with a passion that you have to make up stories like "nintendo is abandoning wii u" or "mario kart 8 will kill the console" or "nintendo need to release their franchises to ps4/vita, xbone and on smartphones" (actually by doing that it defeats the purpose of getting sales for 3ds and wii u)

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 7:21 PM, awang0718 wrote:

    There is an elephat in the room, and that appears to be Mr. Sam Matterra, who ranks along Keith Noonan as one of the most imcopetent journalists I have seen in a long time.

    Nintendo will NOT abandon the Wii U. THey have stated multiple times. Nintendo has stated a new console will come out, but that will be for next generation, not a Wii U replacement.

    This is why Nintendo created the NFP figurines. Those figurines will allow more consumers to recognize Nintedo's products on stroe shelves. Whether those consumers buy the Nintendo products is a different stroy, but the NFP figurines prove Nintendo will support the Wii U until their next home console is ready to be launched.

    Look at VGchartx, a website that The Motley Fool writers like to cite as "reliable" data. Mario Kart 8 has over 144 thousand preorders in the United States ALONE (as of May 3rd) and the game has 4 weeks left unitl launch. Two weeks prior, that preorder number was at 88 thousand. It is clear that Nintendo is hyping up this game a lot. Vgchartz certainly isn't 100% reliable, but even if VGchartz estimates are off by 20%, it is very reasonable to assume that Mario Kart 8 will sell 800 thousand to 1 million copies worldwide during launch week. That is more than enough to boost Wii U sales SIGNIFICANTLY. Smash Bros., Zelda, Bayonetta 2, X, and whatever Nintendo has in stores for E3 should continue that momentum.

    I am not trying to argue that the Wii U isn't a flop, because it is. The Wii U is underpowered, has little 3rd party support, and needs more wetern oriented games. Nintendo is almost guaranteed to change their console gaming strategy after this cycle of consoles is over, so that they have more competitive hardware and more third party support.

    However, whether the Wii U sells 12 millions units lifetime or 100 million units lifetime, Nintendo will NOT abandon the Wii U. The NFP figures as well as Mario Kart 8 marketing prove that. Sony hasn't abandoned the disastrous PS Vita, and that is Sony's worst selling gashould ming device ever. So why do you think Nintendo abandon the Wii U? Maybe it is because Mr. Matterra is a Sony fanboy? Or maybe it is because Mr. Matterra has unreasonable double standards for Nintendo?

    Oh, and BTW, that 3.6 million unit Wii U sales forecast for the fiscal year? Well, let's just say that significantly exceeding very low sales forecasts is WAY better than underperforming high sales forecasts, especially to investors and shareholders. Wii U will likely exceed that 3.6 million unit forecast. The question is, by how much?

    Wow. That was a long post. However, I feel that all of my point need to be made.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 7:22 PM, awang0718 wrote:

    * The PS Vita is Sony's worst selling gaming device ever. Sorry for the typo.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 8:43 PM, StormyWaters wrote:

    @ 69ingRainbowDash: The Xbox One also plays it at 30FPS, with lower resolution. What's your point?

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2014, at 11:07 PM, 69ingRainbowDash wrote:


    I said LEAVE IT OUT.

    Meaning the same articles we see every day.


    It will say xbox gets 30FPS on watch dogs BUT will never mention PS4's 30fps on not 1080p as promised

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2014, at 12:09 PM, AnthonyLucynski wrote:

    A few things

    1. Sam isn't a journalist. Please don't call him one, it's an insult to real journalists.

    2. Same hates Gamestop and Nintendo, and does articles like this on a regular basis in order to fuel his agenda of seeing them both go away in order to fullfill his self fullfilling prophecy.

    3. We are all guilty of keeping Sam around, because we click on his foolish blogs. Sam knows this, so he continues. If we would all just stop clicking on anything to do with Gamestop or Nintendo on Motley Fool, there wouldn't be any justification for keeping Sam around.

    4. Sam is young guy, not very knowledgable. He's got a lot to learn and while that doesn't excuse his ignorance and his bully pulpit, it does explain it.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2014, at 1:04 PM, AudieMurphy wrote:

    We are all equally guilty here, myself included. No matter where you fall in any debate we are all passionate about gaming which allows Mattera to prosper from it. He writes inflammatory articles based on what he's read elsewhere and pure conjecture in order to generate clicks and we're supporting him. This isn't journalism or even editorial, it's Jerry Springer for the Tech-Blog crowd and if we want actual news on the subject, we have to demand it starting here. Boycott all of Sam Mattera's or just all the MF stuff. I want to know what the development cost was for the WiiU, what does it take to break even? What about MS's now blown investments in Kinect and Azure? There can be journalism in a business as big as gaming but we'll never get it if we settle for "mine is better" crap.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2014, at 8:11 PM, cnote82 wrote:

    Sam Mattera is literally one of the biggest hacks Ive ever seen. He isnt that bright and it shows in every article he writes. Seriously, every single article he writes is full of baseless garbage. I seriously question how this clown found a job that requires any type of journalistic integrity.

    Oh wait..this is it makes sense why this dufus works here.

    Nice job fit right in with all the other "Fools".

    I come here when I need a good laugh, or an example of garbage writing.


  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2014, at 11:44 PM, lazerfoxx wrote:

    normally i don't comment on stories, but i signed up in the hope that if there is in fact any editorial guidance at this website, it will scrutinize this story and author.

    there are no facts to back up the assertion that N may be close to calling it quits for the WiiU. so this story's linkbait-y headline is just a recipe for disappointment and disgust.

    the quip about 'incompetence' in relation to the Virtual Boy is just ridiculous. that game machine was released way before people were really receptive of anything like that, and while it was technologically advanced for the time it still fell far short of giving gamers a really immersive 3D experience. as far as competence, it was very well designed and the 3D effect is actually quite good. so that is just a stupid statement.

    i didn't read too far beyond that, because i realized i was reading the Motley Fool. but i hope that if in fact anyone at the Motley Fool editorial board sees these comments, they know that I myself have blocked Motley Fool from appearing in my news feed(s) due to the many, many, many anti-Nintendo 'articles' that were showing up.

    i'll agree that this might not be N's strongest system, maybe even a flop, whatever. the video game world is hard. companies go up and companies go down. but there is an obvious editorial agenda to Motley Fool, an agenda that would be ok if the reporting was of any actual NEWS, rather than a bunch of smug bloggers who are reaching for clicks and for some reason chose Nintendo as the target.

  • Report this Comment On June 13, 2014, at 12:16 PM, mitch079 wrote:

    Notice how quiet this hack is after Nintendo's E3 presentation and how many people are interested in Super Smash Bros.

  • Report this Comment On June 14, 2014, at 8:40 PM, mitch079 wrote:

    Mario Kart 8 has quadrupled Wii U console sales in North America and the UK has seen a 666% increase in console sales. 18% of Wii U console owners who already owned the system before Mario Kart 8 released, bought the game. Wii U dead? No, bro. It's your job that should be.

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Sam has a love of all things finance. He writes about tech stocks and consumer goods.

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