The numbers don’t lie, but sometimes they do need to be considered in a wider context.
The comparison is obvious, of course. Nintendo’s big new console could only sell half as much as Microsoft’s aged Xbox.
There’s more fuel you can add to that fire, too. The original Wii sold 475,000 units in its first week, and that was a console that the world had derided (before it went on to set the world alight).
But of course, none of this is quite how it seems.
We don’t know for sure how much Wii U stock was available for the US launch. You can forget any notion that Nintendo has deliberately under-supplied the channel to create hype. That never happens. But what can happen is the manufactured impression of shortages to create hype.
Nintendo’s American boss Reggie Fils-Aime said that the console “essentially sold out” during its launch week.
And that claim seems to be backed up by retailers, too. GameStop.com is completely out of stock while the only Wii U consoles available on Amazon are from private sellers.
Both Best Buy and Walmart are out of stock online, with the latter saying that some units are available in-store.
We’ll never know how many units Wii U could have sold in its first week. And the European and Japanese launches are also likely to be limited by stock. We’ll have to wait until well into 2013 to get a real feel for how Wii U is performing on the market.