The Wii U’s early death, rumored back in March, now appears to be coming true—and, according to Eurogamer, it’s happening this week.
Citing “multiple sources,” the gaming news outlet has come to learn that Nintendo’s Wii U production line will crank out its final run of consoles and shut that specific line down this week. Specifically, the sources indicated on Tuesday that the order deadline for Wii U consoles expired yesterday, and a “small number” of systems were ordered in that run—meaning that Nintendo will almost certainly print and assemble that small number by the end of this week.
The story matches up with a report from Japanese financial news outlet Nikkei saying that Nintendo would shut down Wii U production by year’s end—a report that Nintendo was quick to officially and publicly deny at the time. When reached for comment on Tuesday, Nintendo declined to respond to Eurogamer.
This may be the first instance in which Nintendo halted console production so long before a system’s software release schedule had dried up. To be fair, the Wii U’s upcoming software schedule is pretty barren, but Nintendo is still on target to launch The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the system at some point next year. Zelda, after all, is the kind of series that can drive new-system buyers, but by the time it launches, those interested shoppers might be battling for limited Wii U stock (or abandoning ship in favor of the Nintendo Switch, on which Breath of the Wild should also launch simultaneously).
That’s not to say Nintendo is taking a breather this Christmas season. In particular, the company will probably struggle to keep store shelves stocked with this month’s NES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the 1985 Nintendo Entertainment System pre-loaded with 30 games and packed with a single, tiny-corded NES controller. (Japan is getting a similar product, though obviously with Famicom branding.) Those systems are already sold out at most online retailers; perhaps those suspended Wii U production lines can be quickly reconstituted to make more tiny NESes and Famicoms.
The Wii U’s apparent early death comes shortly after the Nintendo Switch’s public debut, which indicated that we wouldn’t see returns of second-screen play or a disc drive—and those spell bad news for hopes of raw backward compatibility with the Wii U. Rumors have mounted that some of the Wii U’s most popular games will receive Switch-specific ports as early as the system’s launch, and the new console’s reveal advertisement seemed to confirm that hunch, since its screens (doctored as they may have been) contained footage of Mario Kart and Splatoon that largely resembled those series’ Wii U versions.