Nintendo's Japanese launch of Wii U may be lagging original Wii

The company says both sold out so comparisons don't make sense, but data shows the Wii had a better launch in Japan

Sales of Nintendo's new Wii U game console appear to be lagging those of its famous predecessor in Japan after its opening weekend, though the company says both sold out and comparisons are largely meaningless.

Two Japanese publishers said the Wii U sold about 308,000 consoles on Saturday and Sunday. Enterbrain, the respected publisher of gaming magazine Famitsu, put the number at 308,570, while data vendor Media Create separately estimated 308,142. Both extrapolate from sales figures at some domestic retailers.

Back in 2006, Enterbrain estimated the Wii sold 372,000 units over its first two days. That console quickly sold out on its launch day, which also came early in December.

Nintendo has released no official numbers on the early sales performance of the Wii U, but spokesman Makato Wakae said it had a strong launch in Japan.

"Both consoles sold out after launch, so it doesn't make sense to compare the two," he said.

Unlike the original Wii in 2006, however, the Wii U was available at some major retailers Tuesday, three days after launch. Amazon's Japan site had 10 units available through a third-party vendor, and online shopping mall Rakuten showed multiple online shops with stock available, though many were selling at inflated prices.

The Wii U launched in North America on Nov. 18, and Nintendo America president Reggie Fils-Aime told U.S. media that it sold 400,000 units there in opening week. He said he didn't expect the Wii U to be as scarce as the Wii was back in 2006, due in part to the company making more units available.

Nintendo aims to sell 5.5 million Wii U consoles globally through March.

The earlier Wii, which introduced gesture-based gaming to the mainstream market, is one of Nintendo's most popular consoles ever. It had sold over 97 million consoles as of September of this year.

Nintendo's best-selling device remains the Nintendo DS portable game, which has sold over 150 million units.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
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