Nintendo Japan Halts Wii Production
The beginning of the end of the Nintend Wii era
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 28, 2013 14:10
The Nintendo Wii is dead. Long live the Nintendo Wii U. Well, sort of.
Nintendo announced last week that production of the Wii game console in Japan has come to an end. That means there will be no more new copies of the system produced in the very country that spawned it.
However, it was unclear as to how this would affect other countries. Turns out, it won’t – at least, not for a while to come.
“The announcement that the Wii console has been discontinued is specific to Japan,” a Nintendo of America representative told GameSpot. “There is no change I the status of the Wii in the United States, and it is available for purchase this holiday season.”
The Nintendo Wii has gone through some odd transitions. While it was once the undisputed champion of the console market, times are hard for the little white rectangle.
Of course, much of that can be attributed to market saturation; just about everyone who wants a Wii already has a Wii, and so hardware sales are down. And, of course, the system is about eight years old at this point, with its successor – the Wii U – taking the place of Nintendo’s favorite home console (even though that system sells as poorly as the Wii sold well).
While the Wii had an amazing run in terms of sell-through (how many systems shipped out of retailers), its attach rate was abysmal (the number of games customers bought for their system afterwards).
That was never much of a short-term problem for Nintendo, since they profited from every system sold – that’s what happens when your console is nowhere near as powerful as its competitors. However, it may have attributed to the Wii U’s terrible third-party support. Even Ubisoft, the perennial purveyor of software on new platforms, has mostly backed out after a fairly strong initial showing.
The publisher’s Wii U exclusive Rayman: Legends was pushed back from its launch this spring. That’s because Ubisoft needed the time to make it un-exclusive, and port it to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PlayStation Vita.
Now, the upcoming Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is still coming to the Nintendo platform, but it won’t be bringing any of its downloadable content with it. To drive that point home, there’s no exclusivity deal keeping Ubisoft from porting the DLC (besides a small expansion coming exclusively to PlayStation). Ubisoft simply doesn’t think it’s worth the minimal time and effort to make existing content work on the Wii U version of the game.
When a company like Ubisoft has so completely abandoned ship, you know there’s a problem.
That problem, however, doesn’t extend to Nintendo as a whole. Their portable console, the Nintendo 3DS, is doing just fine – better than fine, in fact.
Monster Hunter 4 released exclusively to the handheld earlier this year, making it one of the most sought-after pieces of hardware in Japan (the Monster Hunter series, while never a smash-hit anywhere else, is one of that country’s biggest gaming phenomena). On top of that, Pokemon X and Y, released just a few weeks ago, scored over four million sales in just two days.
Meanwhile, the much more powerful PlayStation Vita hasn’t seen the same success. A recent price drop, a slew of new games, and the promise of running all PlayStation 4 games on the handheld have bolstered sales somewhat, and may continue to do so. However, Nintendo is the undisputed king of the handheld market at this time, in terms of raw sales.
While this isn’t the end of the Wii, it is the beginning of the end. Not only of the Wii console itself, perhaps, but possibly Nintendo’s serious contention as a home console manufacturer.
So I choose to say goodbye to the Wii, now. Goodbye, you oversized domino. You probably won’t be missed very much.