Nintendo’s President said a lack of compelling titles for the Wii U is hurting sales, and promised to improve the console’s lineup this year.
The comments from Satoru Iwata came Wednesday, a day after the Kyoto-based company revealed it had sold 3.45 million Wii U consoles worldwide by the end of March, only 60 percent of its goal when the console went on sale late last year. Nintendo also failed to reach the more modest goal of selling 4 million consoles that it set in January.
“As for Wii U, it took off smoothly in the holiday season, but due to the lack of new software titles, we were unable to maintain the momentum this year,” he said in published comments from a talk given to Japanese analysts and media.
“As a decisive factor in buying a console is that you cannot play a much-anticipated title without the hardware, we will do our best to have you feel from this summer to the end of the year that there are plenty of great games for Wii U.”
Upcoming titles for the Wii U include a version of the company’s fitness series, Wii Fit U, real-time strategy title Pikmin 3, and a highly anticipated version of its Zelda franchise. Nintendo has repeatedly turned to its in-house armada of popular game lines to spur sales in the past.
Iwata said the company will also continue to offer more online content, as 80 percent of Wii U consoles are now connected to the Internet. He stopped short of saying Nintendo games would require a connection, a sensitive issue for many gamers.
The company is also considering allowing Japanese gamers to make purchases using the Wii U’s NFC with “Suica” cards, the touch-card payment system backed by JR East, Japan’s largest railway company. Suica cards can be linked to credit cards or charged up using ticket machines in train stations.
“If this becomes a reality, Wii U will be the first home game console that has a payment function that utilizes an e-money card and is connected to the Internet,” Iwata said.
Although sales of Nintendo’s 3DS portable console have also failed to meet company targets, the executive said the console is selling well in Japan. In both Europe and the U.S., the device has increased its share, but unit sales are down because the overall market is shrinking.
Iwata said he disagreed strongly with critics who have said the 3DS cannot succeed in the face of the booming game market for smartphones and tablets, pointing to the success of recent titles such as “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” in Japan. The game, in which players customize their characters and interact with animals, has sold nearly 4 million copies domestically, and will be released internationally in June.