Over the past few weeks we’ve seen Nintendo announce that they are stopping production of the original Wii console in several territories, including Japan and Europe. This means that there are no Wii consoles being shipped to stores for shelf space, so whatever is currently on the shelves is it. Many of you have applauded this move as a means for Nintendo to get ahead with the Wii U and in truth, that’s exactly why the Wii is no longer in production.
The unfortunate naming decision of the Wii U has lead to much retailer and consumer confusion. During the Christmas rush of last year, it wasn’t uncommon to see confused parents in the video game aisles of toy stores and supermarkets, holding failed UDraw tablets and saying to each other, “I think this is that Wii U thing Tony said he wanted.” As a gaming enthusiast, you might think it sounds silly that someone doesn’t know the difference between a Wii U and a UDraw tablet. They are separate things. But to consumers who are not informed about what they consider toys, one is hardly different than the other.
We’ve seen the same cases of retailer confusion, too. Target most notably displayed an advertisement for the Wii U that showed a Wii U GamePad paired with a Wii console. A flyer for Fred Meyer that was recently sent out advertised a “Wii U Sports Resort” bundle for $99, depicting the Wii U logo below the advertisement while the actual box that was shown was a Wii. Retailer confusion is just as high as consumer confusion and Nintendo finally has more than anecdotal evidence of this.
It turns out that during a six month period of this year, from April to September, Nintendo’s 7 year-old console outsold its newest offering. During that period, 470k Wii consoles were sold worldwide, while only 460k Wii U consoles were sold in the same period. That’s bad in terms of business, but it’s also bad for consumers and retailers. Retailers have limited shelf space for consumers and when the busy holiday season rolls around, they want to stock it with the product that is going to move the most units. Right now, that is the Wii, not the Wii U.
For that reason, it’s understandable why the Wii received its death knell. As they say, The Wii is dead, long live the Wii U!