The Wii U era will end relatively soon, according to statements from Nintendo’s Japanese headquarters and US subsidiary.
Official word about the impending end of the Wii U first came from Nintendo’s own Japanese website (Google Translate), which says that both the base system and a splatoon bundle will see that “production will stop soon (in Japan).”
“As recently posted by Nintendo on the Wii U website in Japan, production of the Wii U will end for the Japanese domestic market in the near future,” Nintendo of America told Ars Technica. “We have nothing to announce in terms of exact timing.”
And what about the fate of the system outside the company’s Japanese home? “We can confirm that as of today, all Wii U hardware that will be available in the North American market this fiscal year has already been shipped to our retail partners,” said Nintendo of America. “We encourage anyone wanting Wii U to interact with their preferred store to check availability.”
Nintendo’s fiscal year ends in March, meaning Nintendo of America has said it will stop sending Wii U hardware to retailers for the next five months. The retail channel usually only holds console hardware inventory it plans to sell in the next two months, according to industry analysts, so this strongly suggests that Nintendo of America has no plans to produce additional Wii U consoles during this time either.
It’s technically possible that North American production could start up again next fiscal year, we hypothesize. Still, coupled with Nintendo’s statement of Japan and the Nintendo Switch launch in March, that seems extremely unlikely.
The update on the Wii U’s fate comes just a week after Eurogamer reported that “multiple sources” said the Wii U would stop production anytime soon. Nintendo opposed that report at the time, telling a Japanese newspaper that “although the Nintendo Switch goes on sale, [Wii U] production is slated to continue.” However, that statement seems difficult to reconcile with Nintendo’s final word.
Even with the Nintendo Switch scheduled to launch in March, a better-selling Wii U could remain a market power for years to come. For example, the much older Xbox 360 was produced until April, and production on the old PlayStation 2 continued through early 2013 (PlayStation 3 production continues to this day).
As we’ve previously reported, any shutdown of the Wii U this year would make it Nintendo’s shortest-lived home console by a good margin. However, Nintendo fans can take solace in the fact that the Wii U’s lifespan outlasted Sega’s Dreamcast production run, which lasted less than two years. And unlike Sega, Nintendo will follow up on its biggest hardware flaw in the house with a new console.