There was no way that the Nintendo Wii U was ever going to replicate the Black Friday sales success of the Wii this November. From 2008 to 2010, Nintendo’s little white box sold in the millions. It’s not just that Wii U’s an expensive new console that folks aren’t wholly familiar with yet. Nintendo simply hasn’t been able to make them in those huge quantities in time for the holiday. That doesn’t mean that Nintendo’s new console hasn’t had a respectable debut. One week after Wii U’s release, Nintendo has announced some impressive sales numbers for the machine.
In a Monday chat with CNET, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that Nintendo had sold 400,000 Wii U consoles during its first week on shelves.
“Wii U is essentially sold out of retail and we are doing our best to continually replenish stock,” said Fils-Aime, “Retailers are also doing their best to get the product to store shelves. But as soon as product hits retail, they’re selling out immediately.”
Fils-Aime was quick to point out how these sales echo the fervor surrounding the Wii when it first came out back in 2006, but he thinks Nintendo is better prepared to satisfy demand this time around. “Wii was a unique phenomenon. You couldn’t walk into a retailer and buy a Wii until spring of 2009. We’ve certainly learned many lessons from that and we are replenishing retailers more quickly this time around. We are looking to have as much product into retail as possible. It’s driven by consumer response.”
Consumer response has been healthy then, though maybe not as healthy as it could be. Wii U hasn’t had quite as strong a debut as Wii. Even with limited availability, Nintendo sold 600,000 Wiis within one week of the console’s release back in 2006. The Wii was markedly cheaper than the Wii U at $250 back then, so Nintendo only generated around $190 million in sales revenue at the time. The difference then was that Nintendo was turning a huge profit on every Wii sold. Fils-Aime said last week that Wii U is profitable when people purchase at least one game alongside it, but as a standalone device Nintendo is taking a loss on each console sold, a first for the company.
Part of the reason the Wii U didn’t outsell the Wii might be the Wii itself. Nintendo managed to sell 300,000 of the old machine over the Black Friday week, impressive numbers for a device that Nintendo has stopped developing games for.