Nintendo is attempting to stave off reports that it is planning to kill its struggling Wii U game console. Rumors have persisted for months that Nintendo was planning to scrap the game system this year as the company begins work on its new system, rumored to be called, the NX. The rumors picked up steam last month when they were reported by the Japanese newspaper Nikkei.
Last week, in a statement to quell those rumors, Nintendo said to IT Media, “This isn’t an announcement from our company.” They added, “From the next quarter and thereafter as well, production is scheduled to continue.”
The Wii U, the follow up to the wildly successful Wii game system, has struggled to match the success of its predecessor, since its released in November 2012.
Video game history has a powerful lesson on ending support for a current console, in an effort to get a jump on the next generation of game systems.
At 1997’s E3 gaming convention, the President of SEGA of America, Bernie Stolar, spoke the now infamous words, “The Saturn is not our future.” With that single statement, Stolar shattered any confidence in the Saturn, at a time when the system was already struggling in North America. He also shredded confidence in SEGA, as the company had already abandoned the Saturn’s predecessors, the SEGA CD and SEGA 32X. The shocking announcement caused retailers, game developers and consumers to reject the system, worsening its struggle in America and unnecessarily slowing its tremendous success in Japan.
Many cite Stolar’s remark with not only killing the Saturn but also putting the final nail in the coffin of SEGA as a hardware developer. After the Saturn, SEGA was riddled with debt and only produced one more game system, the Dreamcast in 1999.
Nintendo finds itself in a similar situation as SEGA in 1997. While Nintendo had record success with the Wii, it has struggled with many of its more recent consoles, including the Gamecube and even the N64 (which caused Nintendo lose a significant amount of market share to its competitor, Sony).
In an unfortunate “milestone” reached by the Wii U in October, the system finally crossed over the 10 million sold mark. This was widely reported with headlines that pointed out that the system had finally outsold the SEGA Dreamcast. What makes this unfortunate is it means it took the Wii U three years to sell the same amount of systems that led to the discontinuation of the Dreamcast in two years.
The Wii U has sold 12 million units to date.