Wii U sales a disaster in South Africa

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So you probably saw the Wii U firesale that happened last week and over the weekend, when several local retailers ran sub-R1000 specials on Nintendo’s latest console. ToysRUs, CNA and certain branches of Incredible Connection all dropped prices for a limited period of time or for a certain number of consoles. The question is, have you asked yourself why the revolutionary-uber-console-cum-tablet is being flogged off at such low prices?

We did, so we started asking around about how well Wii U has been doing that might lead to such desperate tactics. The answer is pretty grim for Nintendo.

According to analysts at GfK, which tracks sales data at retails over a variety of markets internationally, by the end of April 2013 fewer than 2 000 Wii U consoles had been bought in South Africa in the six months since its launch in November 2012. To put this in perspective, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 sold well in excess of 50 000 units over the same period of time, and distributors are telling us that Sony PlayStation 3s have sold even more. According to other sources, even the original Wii sold around ten times the number of the Wii U, helped by the introduction of the colourful new Wii Mini.

Kali Moahloli, Business Group Head at GfK TEMAX South Africa, says that the gaming market overall is fairly weak at the moment. He believes this is due to high prices – a result of the weak Rand – and customers waiting to see what happens with the forthcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

“Overall sales in the gaming space are down by between two and five percent,” Moahloli says, “But revenues are up by 1-2%.”

The overall consumer electronics market was up 6.4% year on year for the first quarter of 2013, although Moahloli warns that the rising Rand is going to be a problem over the next few months.

Pricing for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is still unconfirmed, but neither console is likely to be less than R4 000, which may lead to increased demand for older models and increased trade in the secondhand market.

Sales of the Wii U’s games aren’t much better than those of the console itself. A retailer who didn’t want to be named told htxt that there are fewer than two games per console out there, and the platform’s top-selling game, Super Mario Bros U, sold less than 500 copies.

All these figures are taken from before last week’s sales took place.

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.