Nintendo Wii U... It's here! Thousands of gamers set to queue for Christmas gaming gadget

Executives are hoping that a successful new console can end what has been the worst year in the Japanese company’s history

Thousands of gamers across the country are expected to queue up into the early hours to get their hands on Nintendo’s new Wii U console, with stores reporting that stocks of the eagerly anticipated follow-up could run out.

But its launch masks greater concerns at Nintendo, where executives are hoping that a successful new console can end what has been the worst year in the company’s history on a high note.

In April, the Japanese company posted its first annual loss in three decades, while its half-year report for 2012 showed a further loss of £219m thanks to weaker than expected sales of its 3DS handheld console. The Wii U’s American launch saw first-week sales of 400,000, a figure eclipsed by the 750,000 shifted in the same frame by the seven-year-old Xbox 360.

It has been an annus horribilis for the entire industry. August saw the closure of the highly regarded Sony Liverpool studio, while software sales hit a record low. The latest instalments of tentpole franchises such as Halo and Call of Duty failed to sell as many copies as their predecessors.

But outside Oxford Street, fans’ enthusiasm is undimmed. Four games developers pitched their tent on Saturday afternoon having already decided who would be the first to get their hands on the Wii U in a Mario Kart tournament in September.

The winner, 25-year-old Izzy Rahman, travelled from Luton for the launch. “If I hadn’t started playing Nintendo games as a child, I could have been living a life of crime,” he said. “The first game I really got into was Zelda, and I became really passionate about it. It was then that I wanted to become a games designer and my results started getting better at school.”

Second in line, Sing Duong, 26, said he loved Nintendo’s “innovative” approach to gaming. “I’m a games fan, so I play everything, but one of the reasons I’m a Nintendo fan is that the graphics don’t matter. Playing Pong is still fun, and it wasn’t successful because of its graphics.”

Analysts have been more sceptical, pondering whether the console’s unique features – including a game pad with a separate screen – make up for its poor specs.

Oli Welsh, deputy editor of Games website Eurogamer, said: “The twin screen aspect could be very big, and Microsoft and Apple will definitely be watching. But from a gaming perspective, it’s a difficult sell. People may not see how it could be beneficial to the gaming experience.”

He anticipated that the Wii U would do “very well in the short term,” but added: “there is a worry once the more powerful consoles release that it won’t get the best versions of the top-selling multi-platform games like Fifa and Call of Duty.” There are also concerns over price.

“The Wii U, at £250 for a basic package, is a bit more expensive than the Wii, and it’s coming out in an economic climate where it’s harder to persuade families to part with more than £300 for a console and games.”

Neil Saunders, managing director of retail analysts Conlumino, said the Wii’s appeal for casual gamers was the key to selling almost 100 million worldwide units. But this could create a problem for its successor. “Retailers are fairly optimistic about the Wii U, but there is a worry that the older consumers who played video games for the first time on the Wii will decide they don’t need the new console, as the old one works just fine for them,” he said.

A HMV spokesman said: “The industry is excited that we’ve got a new product. The Wii had such a great family application and we hope that the Wii U has the same appeal.”

Nintendo bosses will be hoping to match company’s projection of selling 5.5m Wii U units by April, especially since its president Satoru Iwata slashed their bonuses in response to lower than expected sales.

But it’s not the first time they have been written off. Gamers were initially sceptical about the Wii’s remote, which was dismissed as unwieldy, while the firm’s apparently reduced purchase on the hardcore gaming market never evidenced itself in lost sales.

“It’s unwise to bet against Nintendo: they’ve been in the business longer than anyone. But I don’t think the Wii U will be bigger than the Wii,” said Mr Welsh.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The JobAre you a trai...

Year 3 Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering