The Wii U has only sold 13 million units out of a projected 100 million, and the Xbox One still gets grief

Laurent Giret

Nearly 4 years ago, Nintendo was the first company to launch its eighth generation console in November 2012. While Sony and Microsoft only followed a year later, Nintendo didn’t succeed in controlling the narrative of this console generation, pretty far from it actually. is reporting today that the Japanese company recently addressed the dismal sales of the Wii U during an interesting investors Q&A Session.

During the talk, video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto acknowledged that the Wii U sales have been pretty low. “It is true that we are having a hard time with Wii U sales, due to its price and the added fact that tablets are distributed free of charge in the market,” he explained. Actually, many Nintendo execs initially thought that the console would sell 100 million units.

Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima explained:

In an internal sales representative meeting, someone projected that we would sell close to 100 million Wii U systems worldwide. The thinking was that because Wii sold well, Wii U would follow suit.

However, as of March 31, 2016, the Wii U only sold 12.8 million units, far from the 101.63 million sales of the 7th generation Wii console. But Kimishima still hopes that the NX, the successor of the Wii U that the company plans to release in 2017, will be more successful in the market. “I am not currently able to talk about concrete figures for unit sales, but we are planning for NX to make up for falling Wii U sales,” he explained.

Nintendo is really transparent with its hardware sales.
Nintendo is really transparent with its hardware sales.

Next to Nintendo’s Wii U, Microsoft’s Xbox One looks like a big success. Agreed, it’s still trailing behind Sony’s Playstation 4 in hardware sales, but Microsoft now considers that engagement on Xbox Live is a more important metric than hardware sales. Moreover, while Microsoft does not release official sale figures for its gaming console, the Xbox One is reportedly selling better than the Xbox 360 at the same point in their lifecycle.  

According to VGChartz, a website which gives out fairly accurate estimates for console sales, the Xbox One has sold 2.8 million more units than the Xbox 360 after 30 months in the market.

The Xbox One has sold more units than the Xbox 360 at the same point in their lifecycle.
The Xbox One has sold more units than the Xbox 360 at the same point in their lifecycle.

So far, the Xbox One is Microsoft’s most successful Xbox ever, and the company deserve credit for quickly fixing its early missteps such as the initial $500 price caused by the inclusion of the Kinect. Since then, the Xbox One has become even cheaper, and Microsoft has been working to make the Xbox One a full member of the Windows 10 ecosystem with game streaming from Windows 10 PCs and Xbox Play Anywhere.

As for Nintendo, the Wii U has always been cheaper than its competitors, and it could also claim a pretty great line-up of exclusive games, though it didn’t ultimately matter with consumers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Nintendo can’t make a comeback in 2017, though the company may put the emphasis on software sales going forward.

Miyamoto explained:

While it’s important that we do not overextend by putting an excessive amount of content in our games, the only solution is how to make software that sells well. There will be big hits somewhere in our business, and they support the games that fail and allow us to take on other challenges. So our basic premise is to create software that will sell in the range of at least two million units.

Do you think great games will be enough for Nintendo to make a comeback in 2017? Tell us what you think in the comments below.