Nintendo Wii U Forecast Calls for Heavy Sales, Easing Later

Pent-up demand by Nintendo fans may ensure that the new Wii U console starts off with a bang, but maintaining interest over the long term may prove to be the bigger challenge.

A report released by IHS Screen Digest today is forecasting sales of 3.5 million units between next week’s launch and the end of the year. At that rate, the console will outsell the original Wii, which sold 3.1 million units during the same period in 2006. But IHS warns that trouble may be on the horizon and that a successful launch doesn’t necessarily equate to ongoing momentum.

“This time around, Wii U’s pure innovation, coupled with a limited volume of high-quality Nintendo software, will not be enough to drive the ongoing sales momentum we witnessed with the Wii console, especially at a higher price point,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, IHS’s head of games. “Nintendo is still some way short of delivering a comprehensive engagement-led value proposition at the launch of the Wii U.”

During the first three years of sales, IHS is expecting Wii U sales to come in substantially below the original Wii, which cost $50 less and wowed consumers by offering innovative gesture-based controls. The base price of the Wii U is $300, with a deluxe version being sold for $350. Nintendo’s big point of differentiation this time around is an integrated tablet that can be used to control a game or a TV.

Currently, Microsoft’s Xbox is the leader, having racked up 22 straight months as the best-selling videogame console in the U.S. In October, Microsoft sold 270,000 Xbox units, and based on data from the NPD Group, holds a 56 percent market share of the current generation of consoles in the U.S.

IHS also warned that Nintendo could encounter supply shortages over the holidays, leaving some shoppers empty-handed. Many retailers have already sold out of pre-sales, with more units expected to be available for the Nov. 18 launch day. Here’s a look at how IHS expects Wii U sales to trend after the holidays:

 


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus