The Wii bubble has burst

Inevitably, and for reasons explained many times on here, the Wii bubble has finally burst. In the half year to the end of September sales were down by 40% compared with the year before. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has no option but to admit: “Wii has stalled” he even admitted that the price drop has failed to arrest the decline: “With the price drop, sales returned to a certain level, but they just did not reach the level of last year around this time”. Which was all as inevitable as night follows day.

A lot of the success of the Wii was fad. People becoming lemmings under the onslaught of peer pressure. Just like the Hula Hoop and Rubik’s Cube for previous generations. And fads have very sudden endings as the zeitgeist moves on to something new.

The Wii is a very strange and paradoxical device, its hardware capability is mainly last generation yet it boasts an innovative and compelling gesture interface. Most Wiis are bought as family toys and are little used yet it has some amazing games including possibly the stand out title of this generation, Super Mario Galaxy.

The Wii has had its popularity and life massively extended by the Balance Board and Wii Fit, but there are only so many overweight middle aged women willing to pay so much in a feeble attempt to assuage their vanity. So it looks like this market is exhausted, much to the dismay of the many publishers who thought that this was a bandwagon they could jump on. The reality is that the Balance Board is panning out as being the Reebok Step mark 2.

It doesn’t help that you can buy a vastly better machine, the Xbox 360, for less money. Even Sony have tried to be more price competitive and have improved their act in many other ways. Both these machines are introducing gesture interfaces that will finally remove the Wii’s main trump card.

We have known for a long time that the Super Wii is in the way with HD graphics and a rumoured Bluray disk drive. But this is thought to be coming some time after the middle of next year and the market needs it now. Nintendo have got their timing very wrong this time.

It has to be said that the Wii has done video gaming a massive amount of good. It has taken the medium to new markets and new demographics, vastly expanding it for everyone’s benefit. They have introduced new genres of games and extended old genres in a prodigous burst of creativity. And they have continued in their fine tradition of production values that put most of the rest of game publishing to shame.

So what is going to happen? Well it is a golden opportunity for Microsoft (and to a lesser extent Sony) to make hay whilst the sun shines. They can fill the vacuum that Nintendo have created. They need to give tens of millions of Wii owners a compelling reason to upgrade and I am sure that their marketing teams are working at doing exactly that. And my prediction still holds that the Xbox 360 will ultimately sell more units than the current non HD version of the Wii.


  1. It’s been a long, long, long, long, long time since you predicted that this would happen. Despite all odds you seemed to be proven wrong so often. But at last the Wii sales have slowed. Bravo.

  2. Big deal, they made $750 million in their profits.

  3. very true, but the PS3 will probably out sell the 360 and thus the Wii. Don’t mean to sound like a fanboy (unlike the writer of this article).

  4. It’s funny that this site was saying for so long… around a year ago… that it was going to pop.

    …but the Wii kept going. It’s still so massively ahead of everything else, and doing ridiculously well. Just because it’s not doing *quite* as well as before, this site says the “fad” is over? Has it occurred to the writer that all products eventually start to sell fewer units?

    Does it ever hurt your ego to be wrong so often? What are you going to do when the 360 doesn’t catch up to the Wii? Will you shut your site down? I hope so!

    PROTIP: There’s a reason why this site isn’t very popular 😛

  5. LOL BC!

    Anyways,I doubt xbox 360 will sell more because you have to “pay to play” online,and I heard they were gonna boost the xbox live fee!

  6. Although Nintendo’s strategy may have allowed for more time for the Super Wii you can hardly call what they sold a failure – fad or not.

  7. How much did microsoft pay you for this article? You must be getting paid because only an idiot would believe that the 360 can bring back a 22 million gap. Even if no one bought a single wii from now on it would take the 360 over 3 years to bridge the gap. Your logic is flawed beyond belief. The 360 to beat the wii about as likely as Elvis to ride down the streets of Atlantis in the loch ness monster.

  8. Bruce, you’re a joke. You prove your prophesies of the era to come where X360 will rule them all by referring to an article in which you state that X360 has gained a strong foothold in Japan?

  9. You know what’s funny? As Bruce so correctly pointed out Nintendo’s Wii has seen some of it’s worst sales over the past 6 months……..yet, during that exact same time frame when the Wii’s bubble “Burst” it STILL outsold the crapbox 360.

    What does that say about how badly the 360 is doing???

    Also – anyone who thinks the 360 is vastly better than the Wii is losing it. Last time i checked the Wii didn’t get the RROD and blow up every 10 minutes.

  10. Oh-Oh Bruce, you’ve annoyed the Wii-Cultists! They should be at your house with torches and pitchforks pretty soon, unless someone else dares insult their beloved dust-covered Wii-machines on another message board. As for the PS3, it’s doing well now, but compare it to the PS2 and it’s an EPIC FAIL.

  11. Hoboy – the PS2 has been out for a good 6 years LONGER than the PS3 so it SHOULD have sold more. Or did you expect the PS3 to sell 150 million in 3 years??? LOL – do you even follow the games industry at all?

    The Xbox was a fail. The Gamecube was a fail (At least compared to the PS2). The PS3 can’t be compared to the PS2 because it hasn’t come to the end of it’s lifespan yet. Once the PS4 comes out you can look back and see how well the PS3 has done then.

    By your logic the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii are both EPIC FAILS as well because they haven’t sold the same amount as the PS2 yet……now do you realise how stupid you’ve made yourself look?

    LOL………you fanboys are masters of self – ownage.

  12. Nintendo’s sales are higher than their competitors but they are dropping and Nintendo knows this and it’ll affect their company stocks if the Wii continues to decline. Refreshing the hardware to compete with the more competitively priced HD consoles who will also include motion controls is their only strategy.

    I’d predict Nintendo releasing a Wii-HD as a followup to the Wii, much like how DS-i is a follow-up to the DS-Lite. It’ll still us DVD. And games will be compatabile on both the Wii and Wii-HD, he only difference is that the Wii-HD will render games at HD resolution. So old Wii games will be upscaled on Wii-HD. Newer Wii games will run at SD on the old Wii and in native HD on the Wii-HD. And as well I’dpredict that there will be Wii-HD exclusive games, much like how DSi gets exclusive games that take advantage of the system. I’m going to predict Nintendo reveals the Wii-HD in late 2010 and will release it in early 2011, much after the PS3 launches it’s motion controllers in early 2010 and Microsoft launches Natal in late 2010. The Wii-HD will cost more than the Wii, or cost the same with the Wii getting a price drop and cleared off shelves. The Wii HD will have controllers with M+ built in.

    By 2011 all three consoles will be evenly priced and bundled with motion controls. Everything will come full circle. Nintendo will still likely have the market lead this generation. And Sony will outsell Microsoft at some point because of rising blu-ray adoption.

  13. I think that most people that want a current gen console have bought one. Im still holding out until the PS3 drops below £200 and there are a reasonable sized catalogue of exclusives out. Not really bothered about online play as I burned that time-sink out of myself years ago with CS on the PC lol.

    The people who post on games forums are not the majority of Wii owners. Everyone in my social has bought a Wii, but none of them would consider themselves a gamer. It is the ultimate xmas gift though. Although everyone now seems to own one. Every single one of them bought a few games, and about a year after it sits proudly under their living-room TV gathering dust. It doesn’t have a Gran Turismo clone for fourty something MLC types like my dad to play occasionally, I dont think he would like the youngish and simplistic gameplay that something like Mario kart offers (not hating Mario kart before I’m targeted for termination by the Ninty police, just cant see it appealing to a section of gamers Ninty and no-one else has been able to tap into).

    Im not sure a HD all singing all dancing Wii would change the exhausted Niche Ninty have themselves in. Im not sure M$ or Sony, with their motion controllers and “casual” games will change peoples perceptions until the next round of consoles.

    Sony will probably claw their sales back next year (either level out or slightly over-take the 360) due to peeps like me being non-fanboyish and just seeing them as lumps of plastic for content and buying a second console.

    I really couldn’t care less about the Wii. Dont care for motion controllers, and Im just glad this “casual revolution” hasn’t had a dramtic effect on the development of the games I like.

  14. It’s called market saturation! The wii has sold that many units that the market has become saturated. It is common knowledge that most wii owners have a second HD console, which they play when they nan isnt around. This Christmas season I’m willing to bet that the PS3 will be the one console to benefit from the wii’s slump

  15. ps3 will not out sell xbox due to fact ps3 arnt making money, the multiformat games have hardly sold compared to mulitformat on xbox, and uncharted the savior of ps3 did sell any where near the same amount of copys as halo 3 or gears 2 did in the first week of release, ps3 make no money from online, more teenagers have xbox’s and manly play cod which why more teenagers buy xbox to play with friends. so i extreamly doubt that ps3 will out sell xbox and i also doubt that there will be a ps4, which is sad because sony have some of the best exclusives but they just dont make the same amount of money

  16. I don’t think Nintendo will be releaseing a “Wii HD” until the next generation. What Nintendo needs is not HD graphics – they need more top quality exclusives. Now that Sony are bringing out their heavy hitters like Final Fantasy XIII (Exclusive in Japan and Versus XIII is exclusive everywhere), Gran Turismo 5, God Of War 3 and Heavy Rain Nintendo need something to counter that and i think it may take more than just Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Monster Hunter Tri.

    Think about it – Wii Sports Resort in HD is still just Wii Sports Resort. Nintendo don’t need higher resolutions, they need higher quality games.

    Nintendo can expect to take a big hit in Japan this December when PS3 sales skyrocket off the release of Final Fantasy XIII and then again next March/April when GT 5 lands. However it all just depends on how much of the gap Sony can close with their software lineup over the next 6 months. As it stands Nintendo are seeing sales slow but they’re still top by a huge margin, they can afford to take a setback or two…….or even 4.

  17. Lol at the second to last paragraph; first party games have been great, but my god, the shovelware . . .

  18. Omi25p – The PS3 has outsold the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii in all 3 regions of the gaming globe throughout September.

    Also, the multi – format game Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 has sold 3 times as many copies on PS3 than Xbox 360.

    As for exclusives – if you add the two “AAA” games on the 360 – Halo and Gears Of War together they would STILL have sold LESS than Gran Turismo.

    Also, in case you’ve been living under a cave since early 2007, Sony won the HD format war with their Blu – Ray technology. That grants them exclusive access to the HD movie market worth approximately $10,000,000,000. So don’t say Sony have no income.

    You really should do some research before posting garbage like that.

  19. In the end all the people that choose Nintendo or Microsoft over the “overpriced” PS3, are going to loose more money, because how many years are you going to pay for the xbox live?, or if you want HD gaming with Nintendo now you will need to buy another console, if you really analize close enough the game industry, Sony will be the real winner in the next 2 years.

    You can post this and now you will be the guru of the videogame industry.

  20. The PS2 was #1 for that entire generation. PS3: Dead last.

  21. What an idiot. Still the best selling console on the market yet the bubble has bust? gotta love this really. So desperate to be validated you’re making yourself look even dumber. Some fanboys just cant handle worshiping a loser and need to try to take away from what the winner has done.

    @ all the other Wii haters saying they collect dust. Every time the surveys come out, its the PS3 with the least amount of play time. It’s also the PS3 with the lowest attach rate and thats counting demos and free games.

  22. I bought a Wii for Zelda

  23. Some of the abuse in these responses is pathetic. Can’t we make our points without rudely throwing around accusations of incompetence and fanboyism?

    Anyway, Bruce, I’d like to *politely* suggest you’re wide of the mark when you suggest ‘you can buy a vastly better machine, the Xbox 360, for less money’. The Xbox 360 is a gamers’ machine, the sort of thing that appeals to people who bought Xboxes/PS2s, PlayStations/Saturns, SNES/Mega Drives, and if they’re old enough, Commodore 64s and Spectrums. The hardcore gamers. The Wii is for the less hardcore gamer, the sort of person who enjoys the odd game of Luxor or Bejewelled on the PC they bought for web surfing and email, but never even considered buying a console before the Wii. In my opinion (which I don’t elevate to fact), comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. It just can’t be done.

    I think you’re right about the Wii suffering a slow-down now, though. Remember how Band Aid’s ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ went straight to number one, but only stayed there for five weeks, not despite but because of the fact that it was the best-selling single of all time? It saturated the market very quickly, so it wasn’t long before everyone who wanted one got one. Bryan Adams’ ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It for You’ managed 16 weeks, by selling much more slowly. I think the same is true for the Wii. Whether the bubble has burst remains to be seen, but past sales levels are obviously not sustainable.

  24. Are you comparing the Wii to Bryan Adams?

    Even Bruce never went that far.

  25. @Ian Osbourne : well said, both the point about being more polite (really, does everyone realize how pointless and silly insults and threats are on the net?) and on your view of the Wii. Oh…have to say it as well…had a flashback to Osbourne computers when I saw the name 🙂
    As I think several of us have mentioned before…Nintendo successfully targeted a different niche with the Wii, and it worked out for them. They generated a great deal of revenue I assume (the details of their profits I have no idea of) and did well with it. To those who say there is better value in the other platforms because of online services etc etc, perhaps…but for my parents who bought a Wii, they will never, ever use it online. It mainly exists so they and my five year old can bowl or play baseball occasionally 🙂 So, regardless of how much it is used, it was still a unit purchased.
    Nintendo was a winner for the last little while in some respects….doesn’t mean the others were losers. Sony may be the winner for the next while…again, this does not mean the others have ‘lost’. Perhaps Microsoft will come out ahead in the next while. Looking at all the opinions and statistics bounced around here, I’m sure we could put enough spin on things to make any one of the three appear the winner from a sales aspect if we chose the timeframe/area/age demographic carefully enough. ‘Amongst left-handed redheads in the continental North Americas, sold the most units in the first half of September’.

    As Ian referenced above, sometimes the comparisons are a bit like apples and oranges. Also, those of us who have gamed for a long time have seen similar trends as well as ups and downs. We all regularly see the next big thing that is touted as the be all and end all. There are always the game-of-the-minute people out there who only live for the next big title or platform, just like the flavour of the week in music. Nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t any more valid than those who stay with a platform or certain games longer.
    For us at the consumer end of the games industry, its supposed to be about fun. Celebrating our favourite game or platform doesn’t have to include trashing others.
    Ok, I’ve run on too long here, and probably said nothing all that earthshaking 🙂

  26. Hoboy – last time i checked this generation was still going, i’d have thought even you would have been able to figure that one out.

    PS3 is last right now but it outsold the Xbox 360 and the Wii for the entire month of September and has been on a constant hot streak since then. The gap between the PS3 and the 360 gets slimmer every week, so saying the PS3 has already lost makes you sound like a blind fanboy.

  27. I agree with what you have already said previously about the Wii’s bubble being ready to burst. I totally agree with the fad idea you put towards the Wii, although there is one thing I think you are a bit off with.

    That is the PS3, I think you have underestimated it and I also belive it will outsell the 360 by the end of next year. But I also belive that xmas 2009 will show a huge shift in favour of the PS3. We shall see.

  28. Well, even with 40% drop it is still selling almost twice as much as 360. Wii sold 3.5 million in last quarter while 360 sold 2.1 million. So how could 360 outsell Wii when 360 sales are still miserable compared to Wii.

  29. Also many people here are dismissing New Super Mario Bros Wii. New Super Mario Bros DS has sold almost 20 million copies worldwide so NSMBWii is likely to sell huge amounts of copies this holiday. It is a big system seller so Wii could have huge holiday this year. It may not appeal hardcore gamers but it is still system seller.

  30. I do love it when fanboys get the knickers in a twist.
    ‘How dare you criticise the device that I worship!’ they say.
    Who cares which console sells the most? What difference does it make? I certainly don’t care. What annoys me is that so few games make use of what the Wii can do. And no I’m not paid by Sony, MS or Nintendo and have all three consoles.

  31. Way to act like if that prediction was insightful. It wasn’t. My 3 y/o daughter know that, eventually, consoles start selling less, especially 4 years old consoles and especially in an economic downturn.

    PS : I’m not an Official Nintendo Fanboy. On the other hand, I am a fanboy of rationality, and rationality tells me that this “prediction”, and gloating about it, sucks.

  32. Prediction: XBox 360 will eventually sell more units than current, non-HD Wii.

    Question: Ignoring how the time required to sell those units and any other sales (if Nintendo were to release an HD version of Wii, for example) are important considerations that are being completely ignored, why would this even matter?

    For the companies backing the consoles, profits matter more than unit sales. For the people playing games, having something they enjoy playing is more important than unit sales. In either case, this claim seems like a platform for fanboys to argue over rather than something that should matter to gamers.

    Nintendo has generated enough profit from Wii that if they were to essentially abandon it now and release a newer console, it would be hard to fault them. Microsoft has gained tremendous support for their brand this generation and should be a force in future generations. Congrats to both of them! Sony might’ve fallen from the dominance they saw with PS2, but are now gaining ground with PS3 and looking stronger all the time… so even the “loser” for this generation looks like a great option. The big winner: gamers of all sort (casual or core) who have more good options available than ever before.

  33. “There is no end to the desire of those who just want more. Give them one, they ask for two. Give them two and the next time they will ask for five instead of three, their desire growing exponentially.” -Genyo Takeda

    “If [Nintendo] had followed existing roadmaps we would have aimed to make [the Wii] faster and flashier. We’d have tried to improve the speed at which it displays stunning graphics. But we could not help but ask, ‘How big an impact would that really have on our customers?’ In development, we came to realize the sheer inefficiency of this path when we compared the hardships and costs of development against the new experiences customers might have.” -Genyo Takeda

    I owned a Wii for 2 years and it has never failed me. I love playing games on it.

    Both quotes by Takeda-san are true. Think of the first quote as for wanting more chocolate bars. It’s not good. The other quote says you just need the right amount (portion sizes and the Daedalus and Icarus myth strengthen this fact).

    “The consensus was that power isn’t everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can’t coexist. It’s like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction.” -Shigeru Miyamoto

    I don’t want excellent graphics, I want excellent experiences. AKA, you don’t need the best performing console, you need the console that gives the best experience.

    You are spreading FUD and trying to force people off the Wii. Wii can use anything we want. It’s not your decision, it’s the Wii owners’ decision. The Wii console’s success surprised many people and some developers apologized for their low quantity, low quality GameCube games. Before you make a claim, do a lot of research to determine if the Wii will fail, because it’s currently selling big.

    Wii: 56.14 million units shipped (as of Sept 30 2009)
    Xbox 360: 39 million units sold (as of Jan 6 2010)
    PS3: 27 million units sold (as of Sept 30 2009)

    Currently there is a 17.14 million unit gap between the Wii and Xbox 360 according to current stats. Oh, and I play Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which is a proper fighting game made for the Wii, very often. I don’t play Wii Sports that much.

  34. November and December sales proved this article very wrong, and Untamo up there very right–with the exception of saying NSMBW doesn’t appeal to the hardcore…dude, Mario STARTED the hardcore! When he was still called Jumpman. ;p

    At any rate Untamo had more correct analysis in fifty or so words than Bruce has had on this subject for several years. I think Bruce should hand Untamo this website, if he wants it.

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