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NPD numbers reveal how Nintendo has lost touch with reality

Nintendo, I get that you're going through some hard times here, but can you please just own up to it? Yesterday, NPD issued its (perennially problematic) monthly sales data, detailing US retail game-industry sales for November. The big three have for years issued follow-on press releases, ones designed to spin the news in their favor. Usually, the tenor of these communique fall somewhere between raging enthusiasm and an always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life attitude. Yesterday, though, Nintendo apparently felt a psychotic break was in order.

"In looking at these results, two things are indisputable," said Nintendo of America's Scott Moffitt, the VP of S&M (y'know, Sales & Marketing--get your head out of the gutter). "Our hardware is gaining momentum at the exact right time and our software catalog is stronger than ever.” Moffitt is making reference to the fact that Wii U hardware sales were up 340 percent month-over-month, though no hard numbers were offered.

Now, there's a couple problems here. First, the idea that month-over-month sales figures have any bearing on anything is preposterous. As any financial analyst will tell you, its year-over-year numbers that offer any sort of true insight into growth trajectory, especially in an industry as cyclical as video games. Deep discounts, combined with a general air of Black Friday consumerism, have and always will lead to bigger sales in November than October. It's like bragging about the increased sales of your tomato harvest, glossing over the fact that, last month, those tomatoes were all unripe.

It's a point so obvious it scarcely bears mentioning--making it all the more bizarre that Nintendo would hang its hat on that "victory." That said, the publisher certainly isn't going to tout the Wii U's true year-over-year change. The math here isn't pretty. Though Nintendo conveniently left out specific sales figures for November, IGN reports that the Wii U shifted just 222,000 units last month. If that figure is true, then year-over-year sales for the Wii U are down nearly 50% from last November, when the Wii U launched. (Incidentally, it also confirms reports from last month that indicated the Wii U sold just 50,000 units in October.)

Problem two has to do with Moffitt's assertion that now is the "exact right time" when Wii U hardware should be gaining momentum. For one, if sales are down in the neighborhood of 50% year-over-year, that isn't exactly momentum. Quite the opposite, actually. And on a more semantic level, what does the "right time" mean, exactly? Is Moffitt saying that NOA planned this all along, to have Wii U sales languish until just before the holiday shopping season?

What good is this statement other than to mislead, to obfuscate? Nintendo certainly has problems right now. Its got a problem with a lack of games. Its got a problem with a lack of next-gen hardware. Now, its problem seems to be that it lacks a firm grasp on reality. Touting imaginary victories is not going to get it back in the console race, and it's certainly not going to get more people to buy the Wii U.

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34 comments

  • SnakeinmyBoot - December 17, 2013 6:04 p.m.

    It would have helped if Nintendo came up wit a better name to differentiate it from the Wii. Their marketing has been horrible for the last couple years. Even the 3DS got hit with it. I, as another customer, had to tell a couple people that the 3DS will play DS games and the 2DS will play DS and 3DS games just not in Eye-Bleed-o-Vison. Ninty, your names confuse people; that's one of the reasons the Wii U is doing bad. No is wants to buy lil' Timmy a Wii U; they think he got one back in 2007. As for the hardcore crowd, there is little to entice them. All I see is games for Mario Fans, an ok Sonic game, a remake of a Zelda that reeeeeeallllllly did not need a remake this soon(or all that bloom), and Pikmin 3. Nintendo hasn't made a decent Metroid title since '07. They hopefully are working on that because the next Zelda and Pikmin are the only reasons I'd put off buying a new video card. Nintendo is digging this thing DEEP into a rut, far past the Vita's. They are too arrogant to see this. They should learn from their own mistakes with the 3DS and the steps they took solve it's problems. A price drop or a couple major AAA exclusives(3rd party or not) is what this thing needs.
  • HAMMERCLAW - December 16, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    Foe the last twenty years, Nintendo's handheld tail has wagged the console dog, except for a few brief years when the dog woke up and cried Wii, Wii, all the way to the bank.
  • MonsterBeatle - December 16, 2013 11:46 a.m.

    They're not doing great on sales, but in my opinion, they are the best for games! Super Mario 3D World, New Super Mario Bros U and other multiplats
  • josue-santos - December 16, 2013 8:07 a.m.

    I recently Purchased the Wii U and it has been a blast. I will always have a nintendo console and one "Next Gen" Console. At the moment it will be the playstation 4, as i value the single player experience over multiplayer. Nintendo should not feel the need to change what they are already doing. They need to continue being original and continue to deliver incredibly fun games. I leave my "Hardcore" games to be played on the playstation. If i want to have a blast with friends and family at home, i pick up the wii u!
  • Outofmanyone - December 14, 2013 2:39 p.m.

    Well, when you don't give the public numbers.. something isn't right. I purchased the PS4 and the Wii U at launch and to be fair, I barely use either of them. I use my PC, PS3, or 3DS the most. Now, I'm finally using the Wii U again to play through SM3DW and I really enjoy keeping the pad by my bed and playing through it before I sleep, being able to play games remotely is still the Wii U biggest selling feature in my opinion but the problem is.. Nintendo--as far as I know--does not advertise this feature, virtually nobody in the casual market knows about this feature and I've asked people that own a Wii if they knew about the Wii U and of course they haven't. My uncle thought it was a tablet add-on for the Wii and you can't blame the guy because that's what it looks and sounds like. The name should have been something like Wii 2" so there wouldn't be so much confusion but can't change that now. We need Nintendo's magic in this industry, I love the games they put out but they need to stress the main selling points of the Wii U to the public, not just "we hope it catches on" and do so before it's too late. Nintendo shareholders are not going to be happy when they see that the goal of 9 million units sold is not met..
  • gopikmin - December 16, 2013 6:17 a.m.

    You know, most often everybody doesn't give out the numbers. It's only when its big milestones like 1 million in 24 hours and the like. In fact we don't actually know how many PS4s were sold in November only that it is greater than 1 million.
  • RonnyLive19881 - December 14, 2013 8:01 a.m.

    Miiverse on the 3DS will most definitely push some Wii U sales down the line, there are MILLIONS of 3DS owners out there that will now have a clear window into all of the fun Wii U players are having. The perfect advertising for a great console. Also GR... yall have got to stop batching about Wii U's hardware... it is great. Makes yall look like a child that got a white 16 gig iPhone 4s instead of a Golden 64 gig iPhone 5s and throws a fit about it lmao
  • RonnyLive19881 - December 14, 2013 8:03 a.m.

    HA! My phone censored me! Batching... lololol
  • Dadyo238 - December 15, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    To be fair...a golden 64 gb iPhone 5s does sound rather lovely...
  • Redeater - December 13, 2013 9:28 p.m.

    The adult in me is sad because the "gamepad" really is a damn fine controller and the WiiU is a great and under appreciated console. The jerk-ass kid in is LOVING this giant plate of shit Nintendo is having to eat.While I never want Nintendo to go the way of Sega, I'm really hoping they learn continue to get stomped on this gen. Every goddamn thing Nintendo has done since the introduction of the WiiU has reeked of Sony with the whole PS3 fiasco. Here's a fact Nintendo never seemed to understand. I know 4 non gamers (including my mom!?) that bought the Wii as a novelty. Do you know what they did after a month? Like 90% of Wii owners, it was put away to collect dust. The casual crowd that Nintendo so coveted moved on while the loyal, hardcore crowd switched to Sony or MS because they felt left in the cold. It isn't very hard to understand why the WiiU is selling like warm shit.
  • Redeater - December 13, 2013 9:40 p.m.

    GR really needs an edit button. I almost always post from my phone but more than half the time if I don't get a phone call I have to attend to something work related and when I come back I'll notice after I have pressed the post button that my phone has auto corrected something or I never completed a sentence I was typing. Sure I try to double check but sometimes I miss it and would appreciate the inclusion of an edit button. Then again this is the internet so gramma don matta.
  • shawksta - December 13, 2013 11:09 p.m.

    Its not like this hasn't happened before. Iwata had to apologize and show a revised list of upcoming 3DS games that was well worth back then after the shittiest launch to ever happened. Hell, he even made a personal apology to all the early adopters after that Price-cut. By no means im saying the Wii U will follow the 3DS, more or less the same situation will happen where Nintendo, as usual, will admit their mistakes to the public and do something about it. People pretend as if Nintendo isnt one of the few devs to apologize and admit their mistakes.
  • Redeater - December 14, 2013 1 a.m.

    I think the problem with that is that in the case of the 3DS people didn't have a lot of choice between handhelds. Let's face it, it was either a 3DS or Vita (which is still suffering from enormous problems). When it comes to consoles they can spend their money on the two popular consoles with all those shiny graphics or they could buy a PS3/360 for whatever cheap price they are going for, and a HUGE library of games. Or, (and I'm guilty of this one) they could buy an overpriced last gen console with awful ports and still only a handful of games after a fucking year. I'm not trying to be a Debbie downer and I do agree with you but I don't see this ending well at all for Nintendo. They will survive and ultimately make a profit in the long run but something tells me if the next console isn't a winner we are going to have another Sega on our hands.
  • shawksta - December 14, 2013 1:04 a.m.

    Technically speaking you can play Wii games in said Wii U. Anyways though your right, but its too early to start talking about their next console. Its currently about how Nintendo will handle the Wii U's situation.
  • Effinae - December 13, 2013 9:01 p.m.

    Nintendo will continue to be fine if only from the 3DS finally being in full swing.
  • Cyberninja - December 13, 2013 8:27 p.m.

    I think more games is the only right way to handle this. Contrary to popular belief there is no problem with the hardware, if it is more powerful then a PS3, since people who want to bring there games to Wiiu can and Nintendo showed that they no longer care about having the most powerful hardware with the Wii in the first place, besides people already complain about the price of the wiiu at the reasonable range its already at, making a "next gen" system wouldn't help them since it would just mean a higher price and no guarantee that third parties would make stuff for it. Yes marketing could be better, but it can only do so much without games that make people want to buy it. In my opinion I prefer the Wiiu lineup to anything for PS4 or Xbone except KH3, but there is still a ton of room for improvement.
  • BladedFalcon - December 13, 2013 8:25 p.m.

    ...So the people in charge of Nintendo are now as delusional as their hardcore fans are? a match made in hell, I suppose. And just watch, they haven0t arrived yet, but there's ALWAYS people in these articles who will make up excuses but say that overall Nintendo is FINE and that they will either make it right sooner than later, or that it's everyone else's fault that we don't appreciate their genius anymore. Me? I am honestly just cackling that so many articles like these are popping up now, when I fucking called that this same exact scenario would happen since a year and a half ago. But hey, just like their hardcore fans, I don't see Nintendo giving up anytime soon, for better or worse. One just have to wonder if they will ever learn from their mistakes.
  • Redeater - December 13, 2013 10:02 p.m.

    I think any gamer who wasn't a frothing at the mouth fanboy called this within the first year of the Wii. We all knew this was going to happen.The only one that didn't know what was going to happen was Nintendo. Let's face it, Nintendo creates great games. Sometimes they are groundbreaking but more often than not they follow the same formula as their last 3 games (which isn't a bad thing for my money). When it comes to understanding anything outside of creating games.......Nintendo is fucking brutal. I'm not even going to touch the multitude of ass-backwards decisions they are constantly making. People can talk all they want about the Xbone but I thought the Wii U launch was even more of a clusterfuck.At least MS was trying to step into the future (albeit poorly), Nintendo just had to tell people "Hey morons, this is our new fucking console. It's got a tablet for a controller". I tried to dig up every scrap of info I could on the Wii U reveal and I think I was less confused than the editors who saw the damn thing in the first place!! I can't even imagine how that must have confused a casual gamer. I'm not even sure we were told about the actual console until almost a week later!!??
  • Redeater - December 13, 2013 10:11 p.m.

    That was an unusually long rant from me. Now let's all point at Nintendo and laugh at them because they have definitely had this coming. "Haw-haw!"
  • BladedFalcon - December 13, 2013 10:44 p.m.

    I agree with you on this, and I'm actually glad there's someone else here that comes from the same state of mind that I do. Nintendo makes fantastic games... but terrible consoles... And business decisions.

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