4/09/2013 Preemptive I Told You So: Wii U To Outsell PS4 And Xbox 720 This Holiday Season
4/09/2013 Preemptive I Told You So: Wii U To Outsell PS4 And Xbox 720 This Holiday Season
One of the surest ways to get hits on a gaming website is to take the console that’s doing more poorly. It’s the gaming media equivalent of throwing dodge balls at the fat kid. Say a system is doomed and you’ll instantly attract fan boys on each side of the fence. We’ve had a long line of doomed consoles from the DS (which was bound to be destroyed by Sony’s more powerful PSP), to the Wii (pre launch everyone had written it off), the PS3 (599 US Dollars), to the 3DS (my godz the iPhonez are going to keel it), the Vita, and now the Wii U. We even have the Xbox 720 getting its fair share of doom and gloom before the system has even been announced! We need something to bash for cheap hits, and our collective history of awful predictions hasn’t stopped us from hopping aboard the doom train.
Because of all the doom facing the Wii U, I want to go on record with the following. The Wii U will outsell the PS4 and the X-Box 720 this year (not combined) from each system’s launch to the end of the year.. I’m confident enough to put that here for the record, and I will update this article when December 2013 NPD numbers are in for a hearty I told you so. If by chance I’m wrong, I’ll also update the article and allow everyone a chance to laugh at my awful predictions (it will be especially fun for you guys if I’m wrong cause I’m being a little bit of a ****).
Why do I think this will happen? Well, lets examine…
Note: Before I write this, I’m operating on the following assumptions. I’m assuming the Xbox 720 is a console who’s power is in line with the PS4, and is offered as a traditional console (not a cable box or something). I’m assuming both consoles will launch in November, or perhaps late October. If Microsoft pulls a Sega at E3 and says “The 720 will be available tomorrow” that would obviously change things.
How Much Did The Xbox 360 and PS3 Sell At Launch?
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For all the Wii U doom and gloom, sales for the console are about even with the Xbox 360 and PS3 at launch. In its first 4 months, the Wii U is slightly behind the PS3 and slightly ahead of the 360. For our purposes, we’re concerned with the launch date to the end of the year. From its launch to the end of 2005 the Xbox 360 sold about 1.1 million units, although there were supply constraints. The PS3 sold about 1.25 million units from launch to the end of 2006. However, the PS3 was launched several months later in Europe. Factoring in the first 2 months of European sales, we’re at just about 2.05 million units. The Wii U sold 2.25 million units from launch to year end (doomed I say!).
With this in mind, how much should we expect the Xbox 720 and PS4 to sell at launch? There are a few things to consider. Firstly, we have to consider price. . The PS4’s specs are far from anemic, but they’re also far from cutting edge. Anything around the 300 dollar mark would seem outside the realm of possibility, especially considering the current selling price of the PS3. The PS3’s launch price of five hundred and ninety nine US dollars seems unreasonably high. 400 dollars would be an optimistic guess, and 500 would be slightly pessimistic. The PS4 should be 450 to 500 dollars, and the Xbox 720 will likely hit the same price point.
X-Box 720 Sales Potential
Ray Bradbury is in his grave freaking the **** out.
Reasons That The 720 Might Perform Better Than The 360: The Xbox 720 (or Durango or w/e) will launch in a different circumstance than the X-Box 360. When the Xbox 360 launched it was succeeding the weak Xbox. The PS2 was still seeing strong support, and the PS3 was looming ahead. This was before Sony’s disastrous E3 2006, and many were still anticipating that the PS3 would be significantly better than the 360. Meanwhile, the X-Box 720 is following the X-box 360 which was very successful, especially in the US. The PS4 is a known quantity and should be in line with the 720 in terms of power. I would imagine that due to the competition from Sony, Microsoft will be sure to have more units at retail.
Reasons the 720 May Perform Worse Than The 360: Many signs indicate that Microsoft could be doing some unusual things with the 720. We already saw a bit of a kerfuffle with the prospect of always on DRM, and the 720 looks to have a strong emphasis on media to the point where it may use a non-traditional subscription based model that Microsoft has been toying with. The 720 will launch directly opposite the PS4 with the Wii U already on the market.
Prediction: I think the 720 should do a bit better than the 360 did. Xbox is a more established brand, gaming is a bigger market, and gaming companies have become a lot more efficient at building hype and a pre-order culture. I’m going to be incredibly optimistic and predict sales of 3.3 million units between the 720 launch (presumably in mid November) and the end of the year. This would be about 2 million more than the 360 sold at launch, about a million more than the Wii U, and about 1 million more than the PS3.
PS4 Sales Potential
Supercharged PC Architecture is the new blast processing
Reasons The PS4 May Perform Better Than The PS3: We’ve already seen the PS4. It looks like it’s a good console that should appeal well to Sony’s core fanbase. The hardware specs are good, and the online features are strong. That being said, unless the Xbox 720 pulls a PS3 or Sony does something absolutely brilliant, I don’t see Sony expanding its audience very much. The PS4 will appeal to the same market the PS3 did. The question is how many of Sony’s PS3 fans will be early adopters.
On the plus side for the PS4, it won’t be a year behind the Xbox 720 which is a more direct competitor than the Wii U. It’s important to note that the PS4’s debut was FAR better than the PS3’s. This initial enthusiasm may wane when the price is announced. Once you realize you’re going to have to spend real money, your enthusiasm goes down.
Reasons The PS4 May Sell Less Than The PS3: On the negative side, the PS3 came out when the PS2 was fading and the Gamecube and X-Box were irrelevant. The PS4 will have to deal with not only the Wii U and the Xbox 720, but will also have to contend with the PS3 and X-Box 360 which will each sport a great holiday lineup. Sony may have to struggle to convince people to upgrade more so than they did the last time around. The PS4 should launch for less money than the PS4. $599 is still too much.
Prediction: Barring some disaster, the PS4 should perform far better than the PS3 did. Again, I’m going to be incredibly optimistic and predict sales of 3.8 million. This would be nearly quadruple what the 720 launched with, about 1.6 million more units than the PS3 sold at launch, and 1.4 million more than what the Wii U launched with.
What Are The Wii U’s Holiday Prospects?
Even if those pretty lofty estimates for the PS4 and Xbox 720 happen (I went overly optimistic and predicted nearly double the amount of early adopters from last generation), the Wii U should still soundly outperform either console. Here’s why.
First off, consoles typically perform in their second holiday than their first. This has been true for all three of the last home consoles. Why do consoles typically improve from the first to second holiday? Mainly, this is because of games, which we’ll get to later, but there are other factors as well. Another year means more people will be ready to upgrade their consoles. The year also means that older consoles become less attractive to perspective customers, although in this case, the PS3 and 360 still have a very strong lineup. Another year also means more time to market (which Nintendo should be starting… any day now…), and more people who have been exposed to the console via demos or playing at a friend’s house.
In the case of the Wii U, the packages that Nintendo offers will likely be different than the packages they are offering now. A price cut is a possibility, and I wouldn’t be completely shocked if Nintendo cut prices on both Wii U packages by $50 in September or so. The drop in the value of the yen gives Nintendo a little more leeway in pricing for the US and Europe. New bundles are more likely than a price cut. Nintendo has already had 5 seperate SKUs of the Wii U globally which is a sharp departure from the Wii, which only saw a few different bundles over its lifespan. Nintendo would be wise to create a bundle that features New Super Mario Bros U. A special “holiday bundle” that ads NSMBU to the deluxe Wii U package would be a good idea. A Wii Fit U bundle at some point during the year is almost a given, and hopefully that will be maintained until the holiday. I’m not going to commit to this, but I think Nintendo will have a Deluxe/Mario Bundle for $350 over the holidays, and a Wii Fit U bundle for $400. The basic bundle may be phased out by then.
The Wii U Lineup
The main factor in the Wii U’s success over the holidays will be its games. Fortunately, the Wii U’s line up over the coming year has a ton of star power. Nintendo looks like it is planning to use the one two punch of Mario Kart and 3D Mario that they used to resuscitate the 3DS. Mario Kart is one of the biggest franchises in gaming. Mario Kart Wii has sold over 33 million copies. Mario Kart DS has sold over 22 million copies. Mario Kart 7’s sales are above the pace set by Mario Kart DS, but below the Wii version’s pace. The franchise is still going strong. Mario’s 3D games sell less than his karting games (although on par with franchises like Halo), but are highly regarded among Nintendo’s biggest fans. Assuming the newest 3D Mario game lives up to the quality set by Mario Galaxy ½ (the first and third most highly rated games ever on gamerankings.com), tons of Nintendo fans who have been holding out will buy a Wii U.
Looking past Mario, Nintendo has two other major franchises. Wii Party will be coming out for the Wii U. You may not realize how big the first game in the series was, but Wii Party has sold more copies than any game in the Gears of War, Uncharted, or God of War franchises. The Wii U is built around local multiplayer, and Wii U party will be essential in getting the Wii U message across. I doubt many people reading my article will be too jazzed for the game, but I expect it to be one of the cornerstones of Nintendo’s marketing.
The Wii U will also be sporting Wii Fit U. For those of you who think the Wii Fit fad is over, I offer this information. Wii Fit Plus sold over a million copies in 2012. For a 3 year old update of a 5 year old game, that’s pretty incredible. Wii Fit is the 5th best selling game ever (not counting games that have been bundled). Wii Fit Plus is the 7th best selling game ever. Will Wii Fit U be as successful as its predecessors? Probably not at first, but Wii Fit U will cause a large surge in Wii U sales, and will be in demand over the holidays.
I’m not going to detail every Wii U title coming out this year, but I’ll give a brief overview. Wonderful 101 and Game and Wario should be modest successes. Pikmin 3, Yoshi’s Epic Yarn, and Wind Waker Reborn all have strong sales potential. While it hasn’t been officially announced, Bayonetta 2 should arrive by the year’s end, and it will drag a good amount of kicking and screaming devoted fans with it. It’s unclear whether or not Monolith’s new RPG will be released this year, but there is a reasonable chance it will. It has been about three years since the last game released in Japan.
Even if Nintendo doesn’t announce any new games that will release by the end of 2013, the Wii U has a pretty stacked first party lineup. Third party support is still iffy. We know that Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed 4 will come to the Wii U, and we know that Battlefield 4 won’t. Grand Theft Auto 5 will not come to the Wii U unless Nintendo is preparing a surprise. I expect that the rumored upcoming Batman game will be available for the Wii U (edit: apparently that game has just been officially announced and will be available on Wii U. As of now, PS4 or 720 versions have not been announced, although that will likely change), and Call of Duty should be available as well. Third party support will be underwhelming but at least a decent amount of big franchises will be available.
I’m not suggesting that the Wii U’s lineup will convince devoted Xbox or Playstation fans to switch sides, but to old Wii fans, or people looking for their first console, the Wii U has a very attractive lineup that should be stronger than either of its competitors.
How Much Will The Wii Sell In Its Second Holiday?
In its second holiday on the market, the PS3 sold about 3.1 million systems. The 360 in its second holiday sold about 2.6 million. The Wii sold about 5.4 million units. The Wii U’s current sales trajectory is most similar to the PS3.
The PS3 had a pretty strong lineup in 2007. The highlights of the year were two third party titles, Modern Warfare and Assassin’s Creed, which may have convinced people to trade up from their old PS2s. In terms of exclusives, the PS3 had Uncharted, but that series did not take off right away. Later, the game would become a success due to strong word of mouth sales. Gran Turismo 5: Prologue was released, but only in Japan. Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction also was released along with Heavenly Sword. While this was a pretty darn decent lineup, the Wii U’s looks to be significantly stronger. Mario Kart may not be as strong of a brand as COD is now, but it is far bigger than COD was in 2007. Ditto for Wii Fit and 3D Mario. These games are also all exclusive titles. Uncharted was not a huge system seller when it first came out, and Ratchet and Clank is only a moderately big franchise.
You also need to consider that Nintendo products have typically fared better than their competitors during the holidays. It’s no secret, and not a bad thing by any means, that Nintendo has a stronger following among younger fans. The wider range of games makes Nintendo product a better gift idea for a family, and for gamers who don’t quite fit into the traditional gamer demographics (i.e. females, anyone over 35 or under 15, etc). Combining Nintendo’s typically strong holiday performance with its lineup of games, the Wii U should sell better than the PS3 did in its second holiday.
Prediction: I’m predicting sales of about 4 million for the Wii U. This number might actually be a disappointment for Nintendo (they would be lower than the Wii ever sold during a holiday until the Wii U came out). Considering that Nintendo looks like they’re going to have 5 of their biggest Wii franchises available (not to mention several smaller ones and potentially unannounced titles), I don’t think this is unreasonable. If Nintendo announces a really brilliant new IP, or the Wii U has a price cut by the year’s end, the Wii U could sell closer to 5 million.
Go Ahead Tell Me I’m Wrong
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I don’t expect many people to agree with me. I expect to hear the typical “Teh casuals have left Nintendo, Nintendo is d00m3D, lol Wii U sucks” and so on. My point is not to convince people, but simple let you guys know whats going to happen, and provide some perspective for later on. People tend to have very poor short term memories, especially when it comes to being wrong. The same people who are talking about how the Wii U will fail are the same people who were talking about how the PSP would crush the DS, the PS3 would be dead by 2008 (I was one of those, I admit), the NGP would beat the 3DS, and so on. Once their predictions are wrong, these folks simply whistle and move on.
Feel free to tell me how stupid my predictions are.Feel free to ask me what I’m smoking, or how the Nintendo kool aid tastes. You can do so in the comments section, or on my twitter account @GotGameJustin. If you do though, just be prepared to eat a heaping spoonful of crow after NPD numbers for December 2013 are released. If I’m wrong (don’t think so, but stranger things have happened), I’ll be man enough to post an updated version of this to show how wrong I was. See y’all in about 8 months.