UK retailers call for Nintendo support as Wii U falters

UK retailers concerned about Wii U sales have called on Nintendo to act now in order to avoid a repeat of the GameCube, which ended up playing third fiddle to PS2 and the original Xbox.

Wii U has made an underwhelming start at retail and the competition is only going to get stronger when Sony and Microsoft launch their new consoles, both of which are expected to arrive this year.

Amazon, Walmart-owned supermarket chain Asda, and specialist retailers ShopTo and GameStop have all cut the Wii U price in the UK in a bid to drive sales, but the move doesn’t appear to have had the desired effect, at least in some quarters.

A source described as a top buyer at one of the UK’s biggest games retailers told MCV their company is planning to cut shelf space dedicated to Wii U. “Their mix of sales is down. We are looking to reduce slightly but must admit their silence on strategy is deafening at the moment. They’ve got to do something otherwise it is GameCube all over again.”

Meanwhile, ShopTo purchasing director James Rowson said the retailer’s decision to cut the Wii U price “has resulted in a smaller than desired increase in sales at this stage”.

For its part, a Nintendo UK representative said the company will meet directly with retail partners “over the next few weeks to take them through our plans for building Wii U momentum over the course of 2013”, adding: “We have a strong and broad line-up of software launching this year and we look forward to updating – and exciting – our retail partners over the coming weeks.”

In January, Nintendo cut its Wii U sales forecast for the business year ending March 31, 2013 from 5.5 million units to four million, but president Satoru Iwata expressly ruled out the possibility of the company itself introducing a Wii U price cut to boost momentum, noting: "With Wii U, we have taken a rather resolute stance in pricing it below its manufacturing cost, so we are not planning to perform a markdown. I would like to make this point absolutely clear.”