UPDATE (23/3/16): Despite Nikkei saying that the Wii U will cease production sometime in 2016 (see original story below), Nintendo has denied the report, telling ITMedia that the report is “not an official announcement. We plan to continue production through the rest of the year.”
That said, there’s not a significant difference if Nintendo ends Wii U manufacturing in December 2016 or January 2017, and the statement says nothing about Nintendo’s long-term plans here. Given that the NX console is on the horizon and the Wii U’s upcoming game lineup is seriously thin, we wouldn’t be surprised if production ends as soon as the year’s up.
ORIGINAL STORY (22/3/16): Nintendo’s Wii U is a very unique system with several great games you won’t find anywhere else, but it’s been a failure by sales standards – particularly compared with the original Wii – and most third-party developers bolted after the first year.
And 2016 could be the console’s last year of production. Japan’s Nikkei newspaper, which often has the inside scoop on what Nintendo’s next moves are, reports that the company plans to stop manufacturing the Wii U sometime in 2016. According to the report, Nintendo has already ceased producing some peripherals.
Why the proposed end in sight? Well, the Wii U has reportedly sold only about 12.6 million units since launching in 2012, whereas the later PlayStation 4 has sold about 37 million, and the Xbox One is estimated to have sold around 19 million units. The contrast is significantly amplified against the previous Wii console, which sold more than 100 million units during its lifespan.
Software support for the console has been thin, especially lately, with the 2015 holiday season looking especially dire after a couple big games were delayed into 2016. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD and Pokken Tournament are recent picks, while the brand new Legend of Zelda and Star Fox Zero are still coming, but there isn’t much else announced for the Wii U.
And Nintendo’s next moves are taking shape. Its next home console, codenamed NX, will be revealed sometime this year (possibly June at E3), and is rumoured to be released in 2016 as well. Meanwhile, the company’s first proper mobile app – Miitomo – launched in Japan last week and shot to the top of the charts on both iOS and Android. A worldwide release is expected before the month’s end, and more mobile games are planned.
Even as production reportedly comes to a close this year, Nintendo will still surely have many units left to move, and it’s becoming easier and easier to find discounted bundles. As we’ve shown, the Wii U has some truly excellent games worth savoring, but the dearth of software – particularly multiplatform franchises – makes it a better secondary console than a primary one.
Read More › Nintendo NX preview