Nintendo's Wii U might be in deep trouble in the U.S.
In a research note to investors today, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said that he believes Nintendo sold just 80,000 Wii U units in February -- the same number of original Wii units that sold. What's worse, the Wii U's sales were about half of the 165,000 PlayStation 3 units sold last month and far behind the Xbox 360's 225,000 unit sales, according to Pachter.
Although Pachter is not the final word on game industry sales -- NPD, which plans to release its February findings later this week, fills that niche -- his low estimate might not be that far off. In January, Nintendo sold just 57,000 Wii U units, prompting some to wonder whether the console is in serious trouble. Nintendo has, of course, scoffed at such claims, saying that the Wii U will be just fine. But Pachter, for one, isn't so sure:
The Wii sold nearly double our estimate as the Wii U vastly underperformed our expectations, likely due to a relatively thin release slate and an unusual number of returns. It is difficult to envision a turnaround in Wii U hardware sales without a price cut or until more compelling software becomes available, but we think that weekly sales of 20,000 units is likely. We think that the long-term appeal of the console will be severely limited by the perception that the next consoles from Microsoft and Sony will be much more powerful with greater online integration and multimedia functionality.
The idea of cutting the Wii U's price has been tossed out by Nintendo, which has said on numerous occasions that the console is priced right. However, at $300 for the Basic version and $350 for the Deluxe set, which adds Nintendo Land and some accessories, the Wii U is the most expensive console Nintendo has launched. And judging by sales, consumers aren't happy.
CNET has contacted Nintendo for comment on Pachter's estimates. We will update this story when we have more information.