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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore