Nintendo’s Wii was a monumental success, selling over 100 million consoles worldwide. Before they launched its successor, Wii U, they repeated many times over that they expected every customer who bought a Wii to upgrade to Wii U. Four years later, the console has yet to reach 13 million sales.
In Nintendo’s latest shareholders meeting, one shareholder asked Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima, who was appointed after former President and CEO Satoru Iwata passed away nearly a year ago, about their situation leading up to NX as it compares to that of Wii U. He explained, “there is some report that Mr. Kimishima voiced concern before the release of Wii U, while I think Mr. Miyamoto was promoting Wii U with quite a lot of confidence.”
restated that his concerns about Wii U’s potential had been misconstrued, but not before confirming that one of Nintendo’s sales projections at the time expected Wii U to sell nearly 100 million consoles—over seven times their current lifetime sales projections.
“I do not wish to make excuses, but at the time of the Wii U launch, I was responsible for our sales base in the United States, and I never made any pessimistic comments. 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. I said that, since the Wii had already sold so well, we need to clearly explain the attraction of the Wii U if we are to get beyond that and sell the new system, and that this would be no easy task. I was responsible for selling the Wii U, and I knew what was good about it, so I talked with those in charge of sales about the importance of conveying the attractiveness of Wii U to consumers. I am guessing that some of this communication may have come across in a negative tone.” —
Kimishima’s job was to convey what value Wii U presented to the consumer, and being a constantly-innovating company, Kimishima knew Wii U couldn’t sell as many units as Wii by using the same message to its advantage. It’s true, of course, a wildly different kind of console requires a wildly different strategy.