Nintendo says the earthquake of 2011 affected Wii U development
When people discuss how slow the Wii U is selling right now, many people turn to the Nintendo 3DS and say, “Look how slow it was selling until Nintendo fixed it. They’ll do the same with the Wii U.” That’s a common point of argument for many and one that might ring true in the future.
A representative for Nintendo explains that the 3DS got off to a great start when it was released in February 26th, 2011 in Japan, but two weeks later the nation was rocked by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that affected sales. Nintendo cut the price of the 3DS and increased development of software for the machine. This lead to fewer developers being available to work on Wii U launch titles.
We launched the Nintendo 3DS on February 2011 and sales were strong. Two weeks later we were hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and that stopped the momentum. In August of the same year we lowered the price from the initial 25,000 Yen to 15,000 Yen, and enhanced software development at the same time, to enrich the game line-up.
That paid off and we regained momentum in Japan, but due to that we could not spare many developers for the Wii U (released in November 2012), and that led to the slow start of the console.
While many may say that the impact of the earthquake had no impact on North American sales, that’s likely untrue as Nintendo is known to focus on their Japanese markets first. With the price cut and the Ambassador program for the Nintendo 3DS, many hope to see something similar to kickstart the Wii U into high gear. Now that the 3DS is selling well though, we’ll be able to see Nintendo focus more efforts on the Wii U and hopefully perform the same turn around trick twice.