Nintendo global president and newly minted America CEO Satoru Iwata recently addressed investors to explain his company's performance. Ever the humble executive, Iwata admitted the Wii U suffered from lacking software and a confused customer base.
"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," said Iwata of the system's performance. "We initially hoped that Wii U would be showing more of a presence in the market by now, but the current situation shows that we need to spend more time on and put much effort into recreating the momentum.
"The release intervals of first-party key titles have been so much longer than we expected at the Corporate Management Policy Briefing in January that we have not successfully maintained the momentum of the platform. In addition, we have not been able to solidly communicate the product value of Wii U to our consumers yet, which has been a grand challenge for us."
According to Iwata, the other major hurdle faced by the Wii U is customer perception. The system has struggled against the idea that the Wii U is just a regular Wii with a gimmicky new controller.
"Some have the misunderstanding that Wii U is just Wii with a pad for games, and others even consider Wii U GamePad as a peripheral device connectable to Wii. We feel deeply responsible for not having tried hard enough to have consumers understand the product.
"Wii U might still have no such captivating game title as Wii Sports for Wii, with which people immediately comprehended its product value, but it surely has a lot of factors appreciated by users. We would like to take time to work thoroughly for its penetration, by making various efforts to have many people understand its product value as well as enriching the software lineup."
Iwata blames this lack of first-party consistency for the system having "lost momentum," but promised investors Pikmin 3 in July will see the company's lineup reignite. He was similarly hopeful about the 3DS, which he also believes has lost its vigor, but is due a resurgence.
"In the US and in Europe we were unable to create sufficient momentum of the Nintendo 3DS system during the holiday season, and so the situation was not looking good at the beginning of the year," he confessed. "However, Fire Emblem Awakening was launched in February in the US and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was launched in March in the US and in Europe, both of which were well received by our consumers.
"An overseas edition of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was also launched in March. Recently, with the launch of titles like these, we are seeing that the Nintendo 3DS sales are gradually gaining momentum."
Modest words from Nintendo's honcho, but he's done this a lot lately. One has to wonder if it's beginning to ring hollow with the shadowy cabinet of money-men he has to answer to.