PS4’s late Japan release presents opportunity for Wii U

Sony announced a few days ago that the PS4 won’t be shipping in Japan until February of next year. This probably upset a few Japanese gamers hoping to get the system this year but ultimately its just a small bump in the road for Sony. I’m sure that most of the people who wanted to buy a launch PS4 in November/December don’t mind waiting two extra months.

The biggest news in this isn’t necessarily that Sony is missing out on the holidays in Japan. The PS4 will do just fine launching two months into 2014. What could be a big deal is if Nintendo can manipulate this late PS4 launch to get more Japanese consumers to consider Wii U this holiday.

Let’s admit that even though the Xbox One is shaping up to be a great system it will probably not make much impact on the Japanese market. Its just that easy to see coming. It may sell out right away in Japan but I can’t imagine it will outsell the 3DS, PS Vita or even PS3 during the last part of 2013. The only console maker who could really benefit from not having the PS4 on Japanese shelves this year is Nintendo.

This all comes down to Nintendo. Sony has handed them a pretty big opportunity by not launching PS4 this year in Japan. If Nintendo can market the Wii U well and follow a wave of hype for their first party lineup they could convince some consumers to choose their system as their big ‘end of 2013’ purchase.

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Super Mario 3D World is shaping up pretty nice and as always has tremendous appeal as a 3D Mario platformer. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze may not be as popular as Mario but still adds a sizable gem to the system’s small library. Not to mention big titles coming out this year like Wind Waker HD, Wii Party U, and Wii Fit U. If Nintendo can finally get the balling rolling with Wii U marketing perhaps they could take advantage of Sony’s PS4 delay.

Of course Nintendo is known for not marketing the Wii U very well. Even with a major opportunity like this they might not benefit at all if they can’t get their messaging right. The Wii U’s $50 price drop could help spur some increased interest in the system but by no means is this a perfect storm for Nintendo.

They still have a lot to prove and communicate to consumers about why they should be buying a Wii U. They need to focus on convincing the Japanese consumers who were hoping to get a next-gen system this year that Wii U is the console they are looking for.

If Nintendo is smart they’ll see the PS4’s February release in Japan as an early Christmas gift. They need to capitalize on this extra holiday season without major Japanese next-gen competition. In a few years when the PS4 outsells the Wii U in Japan people will look back and say that this holiday season was the moment Nintendo could have turned the tide for their home console in Japan.