Activision Not Impressed by Wii U Launch


Kotick is worried that the Wii U’s slow sales could hurt Skylanders.

The Wii U’s slow launch seems to be making a lot of big names worried. With Disney snapping at its heels with the upcoming Disney Infinity, Activision is trying to cement Skylanders as the game du jour for wringing cash out of 6-to-11-year-olds. Unfortunately, the Wii U’s slow start means the audience of impressionable proto-humans isn’t as big as Activision might like.

“As you know, we were somewhat disappointed with the launch of the Wii U,” CEO Bobby Kotick explained during an earnings call. “And I think it’s a challenging environment this year, and one of the things we are concerned about is what the install base of hardware will be like for 6-to-11-year-olds. But we have a lot of confidence in the franchise in the long term. I think we’re delivering another great product this year.”

Skylanders, a toy/game franchise juggernaut hewed from the bones of the Spyro the Dragon series, is in with a shot of replacing Call of Duty as Activision’s primary money spinner, having shifted 30+ million toys since its launch in March, 2012. Judging by how many adults I know that are caught in the game’s thrall (myself included), Activision may not have to worry about the 6-to-11-year-old market after all.

Like the 3DS, the Wii U is going through a troubled launch. Unlike the 3DS, the Wii U won’t be receiving a price cut, as Nintendo President Satoru Iwata explained last month. So what’s the problem exactly? Well Ubisoft’s Xavier Poix reckons the target audience simply doesn’t grasp how the console works.

“It’s different from the Wii, where seeing was believing,” he said. “With the Wii U, people really need to experience it.”

Iwata is putting the slow sales down to a far more mundane problem: The product lineup has “not yet fully communicated the value of our product.” In other words: There ain’t enough games.


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