Wii U has two options: Go the route of PS3 or GameCube

The popular belief is that the Wii U will be lucky to replicate the 21 million sales of the Nintendo GameCube. Both consoles struggled at points in their life (Wii U right out of the gate, Cube during holiday 2002 and after) and had delayed first party titles (Mario Sunshine was seen as too late in Aug 2002, much like the many delayed Wii U games) among other similarities.

I get it, the Wii U is trending lower than the GameCube in the same time frame. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee the system’s fate, as so many are willing to write it off today. Everyone should take a step back though because there is another console that sold very similarly to the GameCube and that console is Sony’s Playstation 3.

Let’s look at a comparison between the Wii U, PS3, and GameCube in NPD hardware sales for their first six months respectively. Between November 2001 and May 2002 the GameCube sold about 1.6 million units in America. It actually had a pretty decent start out of the gate, not posting a number like 30k in a month like the Wii U has. The Wii U’s 1.15 million sales in America from November 2012 through May 2013 looks bad by comparison until you notice how the PS3 only sold 200k more in the same time frame.

That’s right, the PS3 sold 1.35 million units in America from November 2006 through May 2007. It had its share of bad months too. Of course, there is a lot of things to note about this. The PS3 was $499-$599, one of the more expensive consoles in history. The fact that it put up those numbers at all with that price is pretty astounding. It took years for the system to really take off and now it is closing on 80 million systems sold. Eighty million!


Remember, the PS3 didn’t pass the GameCube’s 21 million sales until spring 2009, almost 2 and a half years after it came out. The PS3 saw a pretty big resurgence in pretty much every region once the slim model and $299 price tag was introduced in late 2009. Another 50 million PS3 units have been sold since spring 2009 when it passed the GameCube’s 21 million sales. That’s 50 million in just about 4 years, where as it sold about 20 million in its first two years on the market.

So why do people say the Wii U will be a repeat of the GameCube’s low sales when the PS3 defied the odds with an even higher price and less third party exclusives initially?

A new game system comes out and is considered over priced by the masses and while it has good first party software it misses out on a bunch of third party exclusives save for a few major ones. Sound familiar? No, I’m not talking about the Wii U, I’m talking about the PS3. In addition to costing too damn much in 2006-2007 it missed out on good games like Saint’s Row, Mass Effect, Bioshock, and others.


If Sony can turn around a $600 PS3 with its first party software and good marketing then so too can Nintendo. Nintendo can turn around the Wii U and surpass GameCube levels of success, even if it will never reach the Wii’s 99 million install base.

First off, the Wii U is in a better spot to improve in sales than the PS3 was due to a lower price. Consumers see the Wii U as over priced both because it doesn’t have enough compelling software and because $349 is a bit much. If Nintendo can get the system’s price down to $250 along with a line up of stellar first party games they could do the same thing Sony did with the PS3.

Sony’s marketing improved greatly in 2009 along with a price cut. These improved sales helped the PS3 gain franchises that weren’t on it previously, like Bioshock, Mass Effect, and others. I see no reason why Nintendo can’t do the same.


They need better marketing for the system, that’s for sure. A price cut is need too but a better games will help even more. This holiday could be the first step on re-launching the Wii U and having it gain some momentum. A line up like Pikmin 3, Wonderful 101, Donkey Kong, Super Mario 3D World, Wind Waker HD and Wii Fit U could be combined with a good third party line up (Rayman, Splinter Cell, Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty potentially and Batman Arkham Origins) and better marketing to make those Wii U systems move off store shelves at a quicker rate.

The Wii U is not doomed to repeat the failures of the GameCube, not anymore than the PS3 was. That could very well happen if Nintendo doesn’t improve marketing, cut the price and release heavy hitting first party games. It is up to Nintendo to change the course for the system and Sony has already provided them with a blueprint for doing just that. Nintendo can have the Wii U go one of two roads: The low sales of the GameCube or the success of the PS3. We shouldn’t be writing off the system just yet.

  • bigwigglystyyle

    Why do all the articles say the U is $349, that’s ridiculous. I got mine for $299.. not everyone wants the deluxe version..

    • David

      They’re discontinuing the basic version.

      • EssentiaX

        Nintendo has confirmed that they are NOT discontinuing the basic version.

        • gimmegimmekevin

          Yea, they aren’t discontinuing it yet but it has been said in the past that the Deluxe SKU makes up a majority of the system’s sales, some even saying up to 80%. I think consumers know that you get more value with the 32GB model so unless they put all of the good stuff from the Deluxe (Nintendo Land, etc) into the Basic SKU than I think most consumers will continue to act like it doesn’t exist.

  • David

    “So why do people say the Wii U will be a repeat of the GameCube’s low
    sales when the PS3 defied the odds with an even higher price and less
    third party exclusives initially?”

    Because the Ps3 has power, allowing it to be a viable competitor to the 360, sharing many of the multiplats and being the primary system for a number of gamers. It received titles such as Dead Space 1 and 2, Red Dead Redemption, Portal 2, Fallout New Vegas, Borderlands 1 and 2, Skyrim, Dragon Age, XCOM Enemy Unknown, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter IV, Tomb Raider, GTA V, and Bioshock Infinite.

    The WiiU does not. When the Ps4 and Xbox one come out, the WiiU will not recieve their multiplat games, and thus not be a viable primary system for someone who wishes to get the most out of gaming. It will be a niche system for Nintendo fans at best, and a complete irrelevance at worst.

    So no, its not a choice between being the Ps3 or the Gamecube. Its a choice between being the Gamecube, and the Atari Jaguar.

    • Bob

      That is also a big issue for the Wii U, the next generation is around the corner and at very affordable price this time. If I had to place a bet on the future of the Wii U, I’ll bet it will be a commercial failure.

  • Bob

    You are forgetting something about the PS3 when it came out, yes it was $599, but it was also a blu-ray player, remember that all dedicated blu-ray players at the time were at least $999, and for the first couple of years if you counted all blu-ray players sold in the US, the PS3 represented almost 80%. There were many people who initially bought the PS3 only for the blu-rays. It also had an HDD included in all models. Now if you think of the Wii U price, at $349, it is way too high for three reasons: 1) no HDD (which is insane for today standards), 2) old technology (they got away with it on the Wii, but that won’t work again), and 3) not introducing new features (like the blu-ray player on the PS3 or the motion controller for the Wii, and no, a touch pad is not a NEW feature). Add to that the lack of first party games (not to mention the loss of 3rd party support) and the incredible lack of marketing (lots of people still don’t even know the Wii U exists) and you have a very different scenario from that of the PS3 six years ago. So your assumptions that the Wii U will be just fine because after all the PS3 did great are wrong. These are two very different consoles in two very different situations. I find it hard to believe that the Wii U can even make it to the 21 million units as the Gamecube did. There are just too many things wrong with the Wii U compared to the mistakes done in previous generations.

  • Serialmania

    Wii U is good. It’s just need a few tweaks here and there and its good to go. Maybe a little price cut will help it a long way!

  • heavenshitman1

    I just bought Lego Batman 2 for WiiU. And found the game to be horridly lower grade than I thought with a review that praised the title with high marks. The game is a headache from the start menu. I also own Lego City Undercover, which for me by comparison, annihilates the other Lego City games, yet received a roughly a no better review.
    This for me is yet another demonstration of how Nintendo software in a lot of cases is deliberately given flak, when in fact it’s so good. I’m getting more convinced that Nintendo makes great software and no body knows about half of it. Sometimes I can’t believe the kind of trite software that Sony and M’soft goers buy.
    WiiU in my opinion is a competitive system with competitive software (on its way at least). Just everyone refuses to take a look at it

    • heavenshitman1

      typo above
      ” I also own Lego City Undercover, which for me by comparison, annihilates the other *Lego* games”

  • Stealth

    wii u will be fine. look at 3ds

  • miigamerz

    great read. Came here expecting another article taking a dump on the Wii U. Pleasantly surprised