Shigeru Miyamoto has requested patience. Speaking with CNN in early April, he urged consumers to give Wii U a chance, to give Nintendo an opportunity to communicate the usefulness of the console’s second screen and to look forward to the games coming in late 2013. But with low sales in every territory for Nintendo’s latest console, Christmas may be too late.Wii U’s figures tell an unprecedented story. Nintendo has shifted 3.45 million Wii Us worldwide, with only 390,000 of those sold in 2013. While Nintendo stays tight-lipped on exact monthly sales figures, estimates from NPD Group data state that Wii U sold around 57,000 units in January and 64–75,000 in February in the US, a long way short of 360’s 302,000 and PS3’s 263,000 in February alone. In fact, in no four-week period on record has 360 or PS3 sold as few units as Wii U at its lowest ebb.While these numbers paint a dismal picture, the future looks darker still. Titles championed by Nintendo at the console’s E3 debut have been delayed or ported to other platforms, and publishers that shared Nintendo’s stage at Wii U’s E3 announcement have drifted away. Rayman Legends has gone multiplatform, Metro: Last Light and Aliens: Colonial Marines have been cancelled for the console, none of EA’s key 2013 titles – Dead Space 3, Crysis 3 and Battlefield 4 – are heading to Wii U, and both Madden and FIFA are running one year behind their PS3 and 360 counterparts. “Imagine a shooter like Battlefield… brought to you on a Nintendo system with that breakthrough controller,” said John Riccitiello at Nintendo’s 2011 E3 conference. Two years on, and imagination is the closest anyone will get to a Wii U version of EA’s FPS series.EA won’t be bringing Battlefield 4 to Wii U.

“Nintendo always went against the grain,” says EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich. “It’s risky for publishers to jump on revolutionary technology from day one and this puts tremendous pressure on the firstparty studios to lead the charge. With Wii U, a few key firstparty titles were delayed, and without them consumers are still on the fence about the console.”“Third parties won’t say this on the record, but many have confided in me that they are sceptical about Wii U,” says Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. “The control scheme is very DS-like, the graphics are comparable to current-generation consoles, and the price point is relatively high. Although Nintendo did a commendable job with launch support, the lack of support from big publishers – Battlefield 4 and GTAV, for example – speaks volumes.”The clock is ticking on Wii U and the platform’s success now depends on the power of Nintendo’s firstparty titles to revive its fortunes. Mario Kart, Zelda, Super Smash Bros and Mario games have been announced, but with no release date. Pikmin 3, Bayonetta 2, The Wonderful 101 and an untitled Yoshi platformer have been shown off, but also have no date attached to them. “I suppose the right question is why they didn’t have more firstparty titles available at launch,” says Pachter. “And the answer is likely that they didn’t plan very well.”E3 will no doubt give shape to some firstparty games – Nintendo still intends to hold a press event, despite shunning the big stage – but the company’s attempt to court hardcore players failed long before the launch of Wii U. The barrage of ‘core’ games for Wii in 2010 was a clear shift in direction. As far back as 2008, Nintendo had set about securing the rights to Monster Hunter, guaranteeing Wii’s ongoing success in Japan, and the 2010/11 years saw it finance and publish Metroid: Other M, Pandora’s Tower, The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles at extraordinary expense. All three were costly and underperformed, particularly in the west.